Question # 277: What is the ruling on celebrations held in commemoration of one hundred days or forty days (chaliswa, chehlum) or one year (barsi) since the death of a person or meals offered at the time of death or praying Qu’ran (Quran khawani)?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Some of the widespread practices among the Muslims, such as preparing food by the family of the dead person for the people who come to offer their condolences or after forty days of his/her death or on the annual death anniversary, and the gathering of the people to recite Qur’an is bid’ah (innovation), and is contradictory to the guidance of our righteous predecessors.  On the other hand, it is better for neighbors and relatives to make food in their own houses then bring it to the household (of the deceased). As for the mourning, no one should mourn for more than three days for anyone who has died, except for a wife who should observe iddah over her husband’s death (four months and ten days).

Long Answer: What is widespread among some people in preparing food by the family of the dead person at his/her annual anniversary, or weekly anniversary, or after forty days of his/her death [(calling it “al-arba’een”)], etc.., and the gathering of the people at his/her house to recite the Qur’an is an innovation, and is contradictory to the guidance of our righteous predecessors.

[On the other hand,] it is better for neighbors and relatives to make food in their own houses then bring it to the household (of the deceased), because it was narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) ordered the preparation of food for the family of Ja’far when they heard that he died as a martyr and said: “Prepare food for the family of Jafar, what has befallen them has left them busy.” (Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah and Al Hakim; Al Albani and Arnout said ‘this is sound hadith’)

Jarir Abdallah Al Jabali said: “We consider the gathering of the people at the house of the dead person and the preparation of food for them after the burial, as being a lamentation (which is forbidden).”  (Reported by Ahmad, and Arnout said that ‘It is an authentic hadith’)

Hence, it is not permitted for the family to make food for people for the sake of the deceased. And in the same manner, it is not permissible to go to these meals and gatherings; rather what must be done is to tell people not to do that and to explain to them that it is contrary to Islam.

Therefore, Muslims have to stay away from innovations (newly invented matters in religion) as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever introduces into this faith of ones that which is not from it, it is to be rejected.” (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) also said: “The best of speeches are the words of Allah, the best guidance is the guidance of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), and the worst of the matters are innovations (in religion), and everything newly introduced (in this religion) is an innovation, and every innovation is a misguidance, and every misguidance is in Hellfire.” (Reported by an-Nasa’i and Al Albani said that ‘It is an authentic hadith)

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “One of the things that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) taught was to offer condolences to the family of the bereaved, but it is not part of his teachings to gather together to mourn and read Qur’an for him (the deceased), whether that is at the grave or elsewhere. All of that is bid’ah and a reprehensible innovation.” (Zaad al-Ma’aad)

‘Ali Mahfooz (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “What people do nowadays of offering food to the people who come to offer their condolences, and going to great expense on the nights of mourning, and subsequent occasions such as Friday nights and the forty-day anniversary of the death (al-arba’een), all of that is reprehensible bid’ah which goes against the practice of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and the righteous salaf after him.” (Al-Ibdaa’)

The Sahaabah did not commemorate [Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه و سلم)] death, even though no person has ever been more dearly loved than the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was loved by the Sahaabah or the Taabi’een or the righteous salaf (may Allah have mercy on them). If there had been any good in doing so, they would have done it before us…  (Al-Bida’ al-Hawliyyah li Shaykh ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Ahmad al-Tuwayjri)

[As for] gathering to read Qur’an and give the reward for that to the deceased is a bid’ah (reprehensible innovation), even if it is not done in return for any payment. If it is done in return for payment then it is haraam, because it is being done for a reason other than for the sake of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and any such action will not earn any reward. But if a person reads Qur’an by himself and gives the reward for that to a relative or friend, without gathering with others for that purpose and without seeking payment, then there are two scholarly views in this case, one of which says that it is permissible and that the reward for the reading will reach the deceased.

The second view is that it is not prescribed to give the reward for the reading to anyone, because there is no evidence (daleel) to indicate that this is prescribed.

[As for the mourning, no one should mourn for more than three days for anyone who has died, except for a wife who should observe an official period of mourning as prescribed in Shari`ah over her husband’s death, and this last for four months and ten days. This is due to hadith of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) who said: “It is prohibited for a woman who believes in Allah and the day of judgment to mourn any dead person more than three days except her husband four months and ten days” (Reported by Bukhari) This period is called the Iddah (Waiting period) which is prescribed by Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) in the Qur’an: “And those who are taken in death among you and leave wives behind – they, [the wives, shall] wait four months and ten [days]. And when they have fulfilled their term, then there is no blame upon you for what they do with themselves in an acceptable manner. And Allah is [fully] Acquainted with what you do.” (Soorah Al-Baqarah, 2: 234)]

(Most part of the above reply is based on various answers provided by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs and various answers by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam