Serving food as Sadaqah in Ma''tam

Q 2: In the far west of Africa, when someone dies, they do not bury him until they collect a lot of money, sometimes thousands or millions of francs depending on the social rank of the dead person. After that the people of the village gather on the third, seventh and fortieth days after his death to offer Prayer and give charity on his behalf. This happens to the extent that when someone dies we feel grief just because it means that we have to collect money and distribute it to certain people and to the bereaved family only. This takes place on the day of the burial, the third, seventh and the fortieth days after death. Please explain to us the legal ruling on these matters which concerns every Muslim.

A: It is not authentically reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) nor from his Companions, nor from the Salaf (righteous predecessors) that they collected money for charity on behalf of the dead person, nor distributed it to specific people or to the bereaved family of the dead person. It is also not reported that they specified a charity to be given on behalf of the dead person nor invoked Allah for him on a specific day like the third, seventh or fortieth day after death and they did not meet to do all these things. What they used to do was ask Allah to forgive the dead after they buried him and ask Allah to make him firm when the angels ask him. They did not specify a certain time or conditions to give charity on behalf of the dead person or to invoke Allah for him. Therefore, not specifying a certain time or condition for giving charity on behalf of the dead person is evidence that it is not permissible to do so, especially that they experienced many deaths and martyrs. Accordingly, collecting money (Part No. 9; Page No. 153) from everyone after a person dies then distributing it to his relatives and gathering on the four days you mentioned as done by your people is a type of Bid`ah (innovation in religion) which Muslims should avoid and abandon altogether. Thus, any person who knows the ruling on this should explain the truth to them and reproach them for committing such Bid`ahs. The best thing is to follow the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the righteous predecessors (may Allah be pleased with them). When someone died, they used to offer Funeral Prayer over him, follow his funeral procession, invoke Allah for him at the burial and on visiting his grave, give charity on his behalf and prepare food for his family because the incident preoccupies them to prepare food for themselves. Therefore, it is not permissible for any Muslim to add to the matters related to the dead or any other religious affairs they do because every Bid`ah (innovation in religion) is an error.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.