Earning by Reciting the Quran – I
Concerning the following:
- In certain parts of Bengal, certain literate people* are invited to gatherings, to recite the Qur’ān or recite litanies, and its reward is donated to deceased Muslims. These people are then paid for their services, following a visit to the graveyard.
- 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 individuals accept such invitations and attend the gatherings in the greed of getting something.
- The way this is known [that payment is expected] is that these reciters will not revisit a house/place on another occassion, unless they have received some payment for the previous visit.
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?
We request you to issue a legal ruling; 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 expressed 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 one who pays 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 hires 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.
*miyānjī aur munshī: in days when literacy was scarce, the lettered and those who conducted people’s affairs invlolving reading and writing – such as teachers, schoolmasters and scribes, were referred as miyāNjī and munshījī with reverence; it used to signify respectability, though the word munshī has since ceased to mean anything but a clerk.