Translated by: Manal Samhat
Is it permissible to earn money in return of working in the religious field and performing religious duties, such as pilgrimage, fasting, paying Khums and other acts on behalf of others?
This question might cross the mind of many people who would like to know the answer to it. Looking into the matter from a Shariah-based perspective, His Eminence, the late Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra), clarifies this point saying: “It is impermissible and unacceptable to hire the Mukallaf to perform the duties that are incumbent on every Mukallaf. In this sense, it is impermissible to hire a Mukallaf to perform the five obligatory daily prayer, to fast in the month of Ramadan, to perform pilgrimage or any other duties that he is meant to perform it himself without any return”.
Other acts that the Shariah has urged the people on performing are part of the Kifa’i duties (duties that are not obligatory on others if some carry them out, and that if everyone forsakes them, they receive punishment) as part of enjoining good and forbidding evil, judging among people and defensive Jihad… and so on. In this context, His Eminence (ra) says: “It is impermissible and unacceptable to hire a person to perform a Kifa’i duty that he is supposed to perform if it is of the kind encouraged by the Shariah to be performed in exchange of no return, as in enjoining good and forbidding evil, seeking Fatwas from the Mujtahid, judging among people, defensive Jihad and other similar acts.
Indeed, there is no problem if the state or any other side pays wages or offers gifts to those whom they employ or commission to perform these acts, yet not under the title of hiring, but under the title of cooperation on kindness and piety…
However, if it is not known whether the duty is deemed incumbent without receiving anything in return of it, such as washing the dead, preparing the corpse for burial, burying it and performing a prayer on the dead, teaching Islamic jurisprudence and other religious sciences, as well as performing missed acts of prayers and fasting on behalf of the dead and the like, then it is permissible to take money in return of performing these acts”.
Some might even go as far as asking about receiving money in return of recommended acts, such as the supererogatory prayers, supplications and invocations, or the night prayer or certain Tasbihs and the like, and the Sayyed (ra) answers as follows: “It is impermissible and unacceptable to take money in return of performing the recommended acts recommended for every Mukallaf, such as the supererogatory prayers, supplications, invocations and the like that are to be performed on behalf of oneself for no return and as a form of glorification to Allah and abidance by His orders. As such, it is impermissible to hire someone to perform the night prayer on behalf of himself, whether in the acts of worship or other acts, such as maintaining the relations with one’s kinship, visiting the sick and the like”.
His Eminence continues to clarify certain related issues: “However, if the recommended act is demanded an absolute manner, such as cleaning and building mosques, removing any dirt or obstacles from the roads of Muslims, fulfilling their needs and entering joy to their hearts or reciting Ashura ceremonies or the Holy Quran in public locations and reciting the Adhan, as well as many other recommended acts… then there is no problem in hiring someone to perform them and take money in return of performing them, and in this case, the reward goes to he who pays the money, whether he hires someone to do so on behalf of himself or on behalf of others, be they living or dead”.
Is it permissible to make up for certain missed acts of worship on behalf of someone who is dead and earning money in return of that, be they obligatory or recommended acts?
His Eminence (ra) replies: “There is no problem in hiring someone to perform certain acts of worship on behalf of the dead, be they missed obligatory acts that ought to be made up for, such as the daily prayers, the Ayat prayer, pilgrimage and fasting, or recommended acts, such as performing additional prayers, fasting and pilgrimage under the title of multiplying his rewards. Moreover, there is no problem in receiving money for performing recommended acts that are not acts of worship, such as reciting Ashura ceremonies, the Holy Quran and certain supplications dedicated to the dead.
Moreover, His Eminence (ra) highlights the importance of minding the moral aspect when dealing with the issue of hiring someone to perform these acts, and he (ra) says: “In every case where hiring someone is acceptable to perform an obligatory or a recommended act, the one hired shall not bargain over the price he wishes to receive or ask to raise it so as to preserve the moral and ethical aspect, especially if the person hired is a Alim (religious scholar)… However, if he does so, he is not considered to have sinned, and the others are not allowed to scold him for that…
[Extracted from Fiqh Ash-Shariah, vol. 2, p: 150-151]
In this article, we have tried to shed light on an issue that concerns the Mukallafs, and His Eminence, the late Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra), had tackled it in his practical thesis “Fiqh Ash-Shariah”.
Source text by: Bayynat editor