We want our children to be akhira-focused and learn compassion for others. So how do we teach them about making dua for deceased loved ones? And when do we start?
Dua for deceased loved ones can be supplications taken from tradition, verses of the Qur’an, or that which comes to mind.
Duas from hadith
1. Perhaps the most popular dua for the deceased is the following supplication attributed to the Prophet (s) in Sahih Muslim (963):
O Allah, forgive him/her and have mercy on him/her, protect and pardon, honor their station, and make their resting ground spacious.
اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ له وَارْحَمْهُ وَعَافِهِ وَاعْفُ عنْه وَأَكْرِمْ نُزُلَهُ وَوَسِّعْ مُدْخَلَهُ
And wash him/her with pure, fresh and cold water and purify him/her from any mistakes as white clothes is purified
وَاغْسِلْهُ بمَاءٍ وَالثَّلْجِ وَالْبَرَدِ وَنَقِّهِ مِنْ اَلْخَطَايَا كَمَا نَقَّيْتَ الثَّوْبُ الأبْيَضُ مِنَ الدَّنَسِ
O Allah, make his/her abode in the Hereafter better than his/her own home and his/her company better than his/her company [in this life].
وَأَبْدِلْهُ دَارًا خَيْرًا مِن دَارِهِ، وَأَهْلًا خَيْرًا مِن أَهْلِهِ
And cause him/her to enter paradise and protect him/her from the torment of the grave and the torment of the fire.
وَأَدْخِلْهُ اَلْجَنَّةَ وَقِهِ فِتْنَةَ القَبْرِ وَعَذَابَ النَّارِ
2. A powerful dua mentioned in Sahih Ibn Maja (1/251) and Musnad Ahmad b. Hanbal (2/368) is the following:
O Allah, forgive our living and our dead
اللهُـمِّ اغْفِـرْ لِحَيِّـنا وَمَيِّتِـنا
those who are with us, and those who are absent
our young and our old
our menfolk and our womenfolk
O Allah, whomever you give life from among us
اللهُـمِّ مَنْ أَحْيَيْـتَهُ مِنّا
give him life in Islam
فَأَحْيِـهِ عَلى الإِسْلام
and whomever you take away from us
وَمَنْ تَوَفَّـيْتَهُ مِنّا فَتَوَفَّـهُ عَلى الإِيـمان
take him away in faith.
اللهُـمِّ لا تَحْـرِمْنـا أَجْـرَه
O Allah, do not forbid us its reward,
وَلا تُضِـلَّنا بَعْـدَه
and do not let us go astray after it.
اللهُـمِّ اغْفِـرْ لِـ-فُلاَنٍ (باسـمه)وَارْفَعْ دَرَجَتََـهُ فِي المَهْـدِيّيـنَ ، وَاخْـلُفْـهُ في عَقِـبِهِ في الغَابِِـرِينَ، وَاغْفِـرْ لَنَا وَلَـهُ يا رَبَّ العـالَمـين، وَافْسَـحْ لَهُ في قَبْـرِهِ وَنَـوِّرْ لَهُ فِيهِ (Muslim, 2:634)
Duas from the Qur’an
We should never underestimate the power of the Qur’an, and the case of death is no exception. Reciting the following parts of the Qur’an for the deceased have all been mentioned in hadith as being beneficial:
- surat al-Fatiha (1:1-7)
- ayat al-kursi (2:255)
- surat Yasin (36:1-83)
And there is plenty in the way of duas in the Qur’an that we can used for the deceased, such as:
رَبَّنَا ٱغْفِرْ لِى وَلِوَٰلِدَىَّ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَوْمَ يَقُومُ ٱلْحِسَابُ
Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and all the faithful, on the day when the reckoning is held.’ (14:41)
رَبَّنَا ٱغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَٰنِنَا ٱلَّذِينَ سَبَقُونَا بِٱلْإِيمَـٰنِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِى قُلُوبِنَا غِلًّا لِّلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ رَبَّنَآ إِنَّكَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
Our Lord, forgive us and our brethren who were our forerunners in the faith, and do not put any rancour in our hearts toward the faithful. Our Lord, You are indeed most kind and merciful. (59:10)
Sending help for the deceased
The Prophet of Islam (s) is reported to have said:
إِذَا مَاتَ الإِنْسَانُ انْقَطَعَ عَنْهُ عَمَلُهُ إِلاَّ مِنْ ثَلاَثَةٍ إِلاَّ مِنْ صَدَقَةٍ جَارِيَةٍ أَوْ عِلْمٍ يُنْتَفَعُ بِهِ أَوْ وَلَدٍ صَالِحٍ يَدْعُو لَهُ
It is, thus, possible to continue to continue to do good deeds in the name of the deceased. One of the best things we can do is remove obstacles that may prevent the deceased from receiving Allah’s mercy and blessings. These obstacles include:
Debt: In Sahih Bukhari (Book 39, Hadith #6), the Prophet (s) reportedly refused to lead the prayer for the deceased (salat al-janaza) for one who was in debt. Abu Qatada then said, “O Messenger of Allah, I undertake to pay his debt!” It was only then that the Prophet (s) led the prayer.
Missed fasts: A woman reportedly asked the Prophet of Islam (s) if she should perform the fasts missed by her deceased mother. The Prophet (s) reportedly asked rhetorically, “If your mother had debt, would you pay it?” “Yes,” she replied. “Well, the debt of God—mighty and glorious is He—is more worthy of being paid back.” (Musnad Ahmad, 3, 313)
The obligation of hajj: A woman reportedly came to the Prophet (s) and shared that her mother vowed to perform hajj but died before performing it. The exchange that followed closely resembles that which is included above for missed fasts. (Sahih Bukhari, 7315)
Making Dua When Someone Dies While Considering the Disposition of Children
To be a child is, in one sense, to not be bound by time the way many adults are. Children are fully alive and present in the moment. Still, death is a reality that we must confront. And teaching the community to make dua when someone dies is only natural.
So when do we start? Despite the timeless nature of childhood, our children become naturally interested in both time and life after death as young as age three. This is even truer if a family member or close friend of the family has passed away.
Sometimes, we may need to recalibrate how we think of death. While a materialistic worldview pushes us to forget about the reality of our time in this world coming to an end, death is clearly an important part of how all human beings, including children, learn more about Allah and grow nearer to Him. It is in that light that we should value teaching dua for deceased loved ones.
Noor Kids wanted to make sure that children are given the opportunity to read, think through, and talk about these more abstract concepts of death and the hereafter. We developed the book Happily Ever Hereafter for Muslim kids to help both parents and children talk about death in Islam.
Dua for Those who Passed Away Through the Eyes of a Child
A Muslim child’s understanding of death in Islam is first tempered by his or her own utter being in the present.
Children are thoughtful and compassionate by nature and can even provide adults with perspective and solace after death. Further, making dua for those who passed away could be entirely within their capacity.
Still, making sense of where exactly a loved one has gone can often be difficult for a child, as it continues to be even for some adults. So how do we be sensitive to this while also teaching dua for deceased loved ones?
Surprisingly, some children have unwavering faith in Allah and Resurrection, and they themselves can be powerful sources and solaces for us as parents when we attempt to teach them about life after death in Islam. You may even find that when making dua for dead parents, your children’s memories and love for their grandparents helps you put things in perspective.
Even Muslim kids with basic knowledge of the hereafter in Islam may articulate with surprising accuracy their desire for jannah. They may also have a sense of how the souls of passed family members somehow dwell in an intermediary realm (barzakh). This is a theme that is addressed in Happily Ever Hereafter. And knowing what to recite when someone dies in Islam is important as well. (See the first section above.) Further info can be found here.
Making Dua for Deceased Loved Ones With Your Child
Whether our Muslim children are confident about the concept of life after death, or afraid and unsure about death in Islam, one of the most powerful tools we can use to help them process the death of a loved one is dua for deceased loved ones.
In our efforts to emphasize salat or formal obligatory prayer as parents we sometimes forget to share with our children the sweet, sacred act of making dua. The Prophet of Islam (s) is reported to have said, “Supplication (dua) is the essence of worship.” (Jami’ al-Tirmidhi, Book 48, hadith #2) Elsewhere, he (s) is reported to have said, “Supplication is worship.” (Riyad al-salihin, Book 16, hadith #1) There is life in dua, which makes it a powerful coping mechanism for working through death.
Parents can take time to make dua with their children for a loved one who has passed away as a way of honoring the deceased person and also as a teaching tool.
To start, find a cozy spot on a prayer rug with your child after salat or stay with them right before they go to sleep. Be sure to model for your child how you hold your hands cupped and raised toward the Most High.
Lead your child in prayer in whatever language you are most comfortable in. This is an important part of teaching your child to talk to Allah (God) in a familiar way.
Your prayer can include thanking Allah for the memories of the loved one, or asking Allah to bless that person in any way that your child feels is right.
Then, give your child a chance to lead. Pay close attention to the words and sentiments your child expresses, as they are important indicators that reveal how your child understands the concept of life after death in Islam.
A Special Way to Have Conversations about Death and Dying
For a Muslim adult, it goes without saying that making dua is a crucial part of coping with death and putting it in proper perspective. But children can be encouraged to engage in the same process, and they may even pray with more insight.
Dua helps all of us remember that losing a loved one is a natural part of life. It is a true test and mentioned in the very context of the verse of the Qur’an that we often recite upon such tragedy (2:155-156):
We will surely test you with a measure of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth, lives, and fruits; and give good news to the patient
وَلَنَبلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيءٍ مِنَ الخَوفِ وَالجوعِ وَنَقصٍ مِنَ الأَموالِ وَالأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَراتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصّابِرينَ
—those who, when an affliction visits them, say, ‘Indeed we belong to Allah, and to Him do we indeed return.’
الَّذينَ إِذا أَصابَتهُم مُصيبَةٌ قالوا إِنّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنّا إِلَيهِ راجِعونَ
So there are valuable lessons to be learned about patience and redirecting our focus toward benefitting the deceased in the Afterlife. Thus, making dua along with your child can be an opportunity to grow spiritually with your child and begin the healing process in the way of drawing nearer to Allah.
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