Reading the Quran as Charity for a deceased Muslim

By Imam Muhammad Ash-Shawkani (1250H)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Imam Ash-Shawkani was asked about reading the Quran on behalf of a deceased Muslim for charity and to explain what is the strongest position about this topic.


Imam Ash-Shawkani mentioned: The scholars differ over whether or not the deceased receives the reward for Quran readings.

Imam Ash-Shafa’I and a group of the Mu’tazilah don’t believe the deceased can be rewarded from the reading of the living without it being mentioned as a request in a will.

Other scholars such as Imam Ahmed, some Shafa’I scholars, Hanafi specialists, Ibn As-Salah, and Ibn Nahwi held the opinion that the deceased can earn charitable benefits for the Quran readings.

Imam Ash-Shawkani mentioned both opinions which don’t deny the possibility the deceased can feel the pleasure of this charitable deed while in their graves, but the first group of scholars made the condition for the dead Muslim to earn this benefit, is they must request it in their will.

Imam Ash-Shawkani said: The scholars with the first opinion use the verse: And that man can have nothing but what he does.[ An-Najm :39]

This ayah is general and covers all actions and rejects the idea that a person can be rewarded from the actions of others.

On the hand the scholars who hold the opposite view answered this theory by saying the verse was abrogated by the verse, “And those who believe and whose offspring follow them in Faith.”[At-Tur :21]

Ash-Shawkani said: An-Naskh(abrogation of rulings) are only effective and correct once there is certainty that the ruling revealed abrogating the earlier one came after it, and not based on the possibility there is an Ijma(concensus) of an abrogation. Moreover the verse from At-Tur isn’t suitable to abrogate everything in the first verse from An-Najm.

Furthermore, the scholars who reject the verse from An-Najm as proof their view say the intended meaning of ,” the man..” in the verse refers to the disbeliever. This understanding is erroneous as a Muslim and a non-Muslim are both included in word man; and this is understood from the linguistic, the Islamic, and the customary usage of the word.

Additionally, the scholars who say the deceased is unable to earn the reward of the Quran recital on their behalf use the hadith, “Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end, except for three: A continuous charity, knowledge by which people derive benefit, pious son who prays for him.”[1]

Imam Ash-Shawkani said: This hadith clearly mentioned a person’s deeds come to end in general, except for those three specifically mentioned.

Also, the ulema who concluded the dead are unable to profit from the readings of the living use the verse,” This Day shall every person be recompensed for what he earned.”[ Al-Ghafir:17]

Imam Ash-Shawkani said: being recompensed is general and applies to a reward or to a punishment  for the actions they performed, but this doesn’t mean that he can’t be rewarded for something done on his behalf.

There are proofs that are suitable for allocating specific Quran readings for general situations and can be used here in this issue.

 Ibn `Abbas narrated:

Some of the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) passed by some people staying at a place where there was water, and one of those people had been stung by a scorpion. A man from those staying near the water, came and said to the companions of the Prophet, “Is there anyone among you who can do Ruqya as near the water there is a person who has been stung by a scorpion.” So one of the Prophet’s companions went to him and recited Surat-al-Fatiha for a sheep as his fees. The patient got cured and the man brought the sheep to his companions who disliked that and said, “You have taken wages for reciting Allah’s Book.” When they arrived at Medina, they said, ‘ O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! (This person) has taken wages for reciting Allah’s Book” On that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “You are most entitled to take wages for doing a Ruqya with Allah’s Book.”[2]


Imam Ash-Shawkani mentioned the proof of this hadith is the Prophet (ﷺ) allowed a person to take wages for reading the Quran. This shows that person who the Quran is read to can benefit from someone else’s reading, and if the reciter was the only one who could benefit, then the Prophet (ﷺ) wouldn’t have permitted that transaction, and this would be a form of devouring people’s wealth unjustly.

You want to know how? Ok, the Prophet (ﷺ) made the recitation of the Quran among the things that entitle a person to take wages for. It’s well known that wages are only given to person in exchange for the employer’s benefit.

If the person’s intention to recite the Quran is to have an effect on the one read to, then there is no difference between the living and dead, for money or for free; and this is the right of any employee.

The second proof suitable for assigning specific Quran readings for general situations and can be used here in this issue is the hadith,

Sahl ibn Sad as-Saidi that a woman came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, “Messenger of Allah! I have given myself to you.” She stood for a long time, and then a man got up and said, “Messenger of Allah, marry her to me if you have no need of her.” The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Do you have anything to give her as a bride-price?” He said, “I possess only this lower garment of mine.” The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “If you give it to her you will not have a garment to wear so look for something else.” He said, “I have nothing else.” He said, “Look for something else, even if it is only an iron ring.” He looked, and found that he had nothing. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Do you know any of the Qur’an?” He said, “Yes. I know such-and-such a surah and such-and-such a surah,” which he named. The messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to him, “I have married her to you for what you know of the Qur’an.”[3]

Imam Ash-Shawkani mentioned that the proof here is the Prophet (ﷺ) allowed the man’s recital of the Quran to be a Worldly benefit for him and a means to benefit others.

After the aforementioned two Hadith Imam Ash-Shawkani used the Qiyas(an analogy by comparison) as an evidence. He cited five examples, all which strongly support the deceased can benefit from the readings of the living.

Imam Ash-Shawkani mentioned;

  1. Based on the permissibility for a person to make Hajj on the behalf of others as found in the hadith. Ibn ‘Abbas (Radi Allahu anhu) narrated, The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) heard a man saying, ‘O Allah! Here I am in response to Your call (saying Labbayk on behalf.. ) on behalf of Shubrumah.’ The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) asked him. “Have you performed your own Hajj?” He replied, ‘No,’ then the Prophet told him, “You must perform Hajj on your own behalf first, and then perform it on behalf of Shubrumah.” [4]


Did Shubrumah leave it in the will that Hajj be made his behalf?


  1. Another incident suitable as proof is the hadith ,The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever dies while he still has some fasts to make up (of the days of Ramadan), then his heir (any of them) should fast on his behalf.”[5]


  1. Dua can be used as a comparison to deduct the proof that the dead benefit from the reading of the living. Allah said:And those who came after them say: “Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith, and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who have believed. Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindness, Most Merciful.”[Al-Hasr:10] Dua reaches the dead without them requesting it to be done on their behalf after their deaths.


  1. The superior virtue of a Muslim making Dua on behalf of his brother in his absence is another proof. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, “Whenever a Muslim supplicates for his (Muslim) brother in his absence, the angels say: ‘May the same happen for you too’.” [6]


  1. The Sunnah to make Dua when visiting the graveyards is also another proof. Sulaiman bin Buraidah narrated on the authority of his father (Radi Allahu anhu) that the Prophet (ﷺ) taught us that when we visit graves we should say, “Peace be upon you, O believing men and women, O dwellers of this place. Certainly, Allah willing, we will join you. We supplicate to Allah to grant us and you well-being.”[7]


Imam Ash-Shawkani mentioned next that Imam An-Nawawi stated there was a consensus that Dua for the deceased reaches them in their graves, and also there is an Ijma that charity given on behalf of the dead benefits them. Moreover the scholars unanimously agree that a debt paid for the dead helps them in their graves.[8]


Ibn Al-Nahwi said: “One should be absolutely certain that reading the Quran as charity benefits deceased; as it’s Dua.


In conclusion, Imam Ash-Shawkani’s arguments are strongly supported from the areas of the Sunnah and Qiyas. He established instances when the Quran reader benefited others through his recital from authentic ahadith ,and then summed up his argument with  5 angles of Qiyas. The closing arguments he focused on was the fact that there is an Ijma that Dua on behalf of the deceased benefits and what better Dua is there than the Quran.


So from this point on we need to make sure that we teach our children the Quran as parents, because every ayah they recite after our death will benefit us in the graves, and if they read Quran and give their readings to us when we are in that dark place, then their readings will bring some light to us when we will need it the most –Inshallah. And Allah knows best.



Taken Fathur Rabbani/ vol 6,page 3157


Arranged and presented by your brother in need of Allah’s Mercy,

Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle

Doha, Qatar 1437©


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[1] Abu Dawud(2880),At-Tirmithi(1376),An-Nisa’6/251),Ahmed(2/372)

[2] Al-Bukhari(2272),Muslim(2201)

[3] Al-Bukhari(5087)Muslim(1425)

[4] Related by Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah. Ibn Hibban graded it as Sahih

[5] Al-Bukhari(1952)Muslim(1147)

[6] Muslim/book 17/hadith 30

[7] Muslim (975)

[8] Sharh Sahih Muslim(8/26)


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