Fatwa ID: 02452
Answered by: Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Can we pray to the dead people?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
There are two ways to look at your question. If by your question you mean praying or supplicating for them then this is something, which is permissible and is called in Islam as Isale Thawab. Isale Thawab (the conveying of an act of virtue to someone) is permissible regardless of whatever deed it may be, whether it is Salah, Fast, Hajj, Tawaf, Umrah etc… The scholars have also said that one should convey the reward for the entire Muslim ummah, male and female because it reaches them and the doer’s reward is not decreased at all. (Raddul Muhtar p.10 v.4)
Allah in the Holy Quran has said:
“O’ Allah! Forgive us and forgive our Muslim brothers and sisters who have passed away.” (Surah Hashr v.10)
Once a man came to the Prophet of Allah and said; “My mother has suddenly died and did not leave any will, but I suspect if she did that then she would have told me to give something to charity. Now if I offer something in charity on her behalf, will she get the reward? The Prophet of Allah replied; “yes”, then the man said that I make you (the Prophet) as my witness that I offer my garden full of fruits to charity.” (Sahih Bukhari p.386 v.1)
However, if by your question you mean asking the dead to fulfil your needs or desires then this will not be permissible.
The first Shirk on the earth happened due to the confusion regarding righteous persons (that they have attributed godly characteristics).
In the Sahih, Ibn Abbas commented on the verse:
"And they have said: You shall not leave your gods, nor shall you leave Wadd nor Suwa` nor Yaghuth nor Ya'uq nor Nasr (names of the idols)." (71:23)
He said: "These are the names of some righteous persons from Noah's (Nuh) people. When they passed away, Satan inspired their people to set up statues in their honour and set them in their gathering places, and to give these statues the names of those departed. They did this but did not worship them until these people passed away and knowledge of their origins were forgotten, then they were worshipped."
Ibn Al-Qaiyim said that most of our predecessors have stated: After the death (of the righteous persons), they confined at their graves and made statues and after much time passed they started worshipping them.
Umar (bin AI-Khattab ) is reported to have said that Allah's Messenger (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said: "Do not exaggerate in praise of me just as the Christians exaggerated in the praise of Jesus, Son of Mary. I am but a slave, so call me Allah's slave and His Messenger." (Al Bukhari and Muslim)
The conclusion we can come to from the aforementioned article is that it is unlawful for a Muslim to pray and seek assistance or help from the graves of our pious predecessors. However, to seek tawassul through or pious predecessors is permissible.
Allah states in the Quran: “O you who believe! Fear Allah and seek a means (wasila) to be closer to him…” (Surah Maida: 35)
In another ayah Allah states: “…If they would have come to you when they had wronged themselves to seek Allah's forgiveness and if the Rasool had also asked Allah's forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Forgiving, Merciful.. (Surah Nisa: 64)
It is clear from the above verses that tawassul is permissible and there is no difference between the living and the dead in this matter.
The most pious opinion and method is that the person asks Allah directly and if required through the status of his pious prophet or people and not the deceased (to pray to Allah on his/her behalf). As this could have an effect on the believes of the ordinary people, it is for this reason scholars state that it is undesirable for a person (ordinary individuals as well as scholars) to do dua with the words “bi haqqi rusulika” (right/status of the prophet) as the creation do not have any right over the creator. (Raddul Muhtar, Vol 5, P281) However the above versus clearly indicate the permissibility of tawassul, therefore, if one does use tawassul then one should be precautious in not having any wrong belief and should always remember that Allah alone has influence over everything.
Only Allah Knows Best
Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham.