Charging for Religious Services – 2

Concerning the following:

-In certain parts of Bengal, certain literate people* are invited to gatherings to recite the Qur’ān or recitation of litanies and donate the reward to the dead. These people are then paid for this service after visiting the graves.

-Even though an amount is not agreed upon beforehand, it is a tacit agreement that something has to be paid for this service and that such a payment is necessary.

-These literate folk accept such invitations and attend the gatherings in the greed of getting something.

-The method of knowing [whether an offering is expected] is that these reciters will not go to a house/place once again, if they are not paid anything the first time.

a) Is it permissible to give and accept such offerings as described above?
b) In such a case, will the reward of such recitations benefit the dead?

Please issue a verdict and may Allāh have mercy upon you and reward you.

If it is a tacit agreement to give and take [payment] as described above and is a common practice, then such a recitation is counted as ‘recitation for payment.’ Because, that which is common practice is counted as an express and spelled agreement [fa inna’l márūfa úrfan ka’l mashrūti lafžan].

And it is expressly forbidden [ĥarām] to give and receive payment for reciting the Qur’ān and litanies. Both the payer and the payee are sinful for such an act as described in Radd al-Muĥtār, Shifā al-Álīl and other books.

When such an act is a sin itself, then what hope is there for a reward that is expected to benefit the dead? It is an additional sin to expect reward from an act of sinning as described in Fatāwā al-Hindiyyah, Al-Bazzāziyyah and scholars have harshly reprimanded such practices.

However, if at all one wants the reward to be donated [in such circumstances where the reciters do not come except for a price], there is a workaround. Those who want to conduct the gathering hire the person for an hour or two during a pre-defined period and give him a salary for this period. For instance, the conductor of such ceremony says to the reciter: ‘I have appointed you in my employ for these two hours for a salary of x monies. And you shall do whatever I ask you to do.’

The reciter accepts these terms of employment.

After this, the conductor tells his employee: ‘Recite salawāt or kalimah or Qur’ān for such and such deceased’ [as a part of the employment].

This is a workaround to permit such payment; may Allāh táālā give good sense to Muslims. And only Allāh táālā knows best and His Knowledge is complete.

[Question sent by Abdu’r Rahman from Bari Sal District in Bengal]

*miyānjī aur munshī: in days when literacy was abysmal, those who were literate and literally conducted the affairs of the people – teachers, schoolmasters and scribes were referred to as miyāNjī and munshījī with reverence; it was a term of respect though the word munshī has since ceased to mean anything but a clerk.

Fatawa Ridawiyyah: 23/537
Fatwā #211