Can You Do Qurbani for the Deceased?

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Can I offer a qurbani / udhiyah sacrifice for loved ones who have passed?

Yes, it is permissible, but it has restrictions based on the way, or sunnah, of the Prophet, on him be peace, and the practice of his Companions following him.

Within its proper conditions and guidelines, offering qurbani / udhiyah sacrifice for the dead is considered a kind of sadaqah jariyah, or ongoing charity, because it benefits the one offering the sacrifice, the deceased on whose behalf it is offered, and the living who receive its meat offering as gifts.

Of sadaqah jariyah, which you can read about here, the Prophet, on him be peace, said:

When a human being dies, all one’s deeds cease, save three: a ṣadaqah jâriyah (charity everflowing), [religious] knowledge [one leaves behind] from which others benefit, and a righteous child who prays for one.” (Muslim)

What are the restrictions on qurbani / udhiyah for the dead?

First, Allah has prescribed udhiyah for the living. The Prophet, on him be peace, offered his sacrifices for himself, his family, and his Ummah, the Muslim nation. The Companions followed this practice.

This means that the Prophet, on him be peace, and his Companions after him, never offered qurbani / udhiyah sacrifices exclusively for the dead. Rather, the dead can be seen as included in the qurbani / udhiyah sacrifice of the Prophet, on him be peace, as included in his offerings as part of his family and his Ummah through his expressed intentions in these sacrifices.

This is the best way to offer qurbani / udhiyah sacrifice on behalf of your loved ones who have passed because it follows the prophetic way, and this is what the Companions of the Prophet, on him be peace, and may Allah be pleased with them, did after him.

Are there other causes for offering qurbani / udhiyah on behalf of those who have passed?

Yes. In addition to offering qurbani / udhiyah sacrifice on behalf of all your family, including those who have passed away, may Allah bless and accept them, there are two additional conditions that are acceptable for offering sacrifice for your deceased loved ones.

  1. If the dying include in their last testaments or wishes (wasiyah) the desire that a qurbani / udhiyah sacrifice be offered on their behalf, it is obligatory for one to fulfill this instruction on their behalf after they depart to the mercy of Allah.

    Allah admonishes us in the Quran:

    “Thus whoever changes a will after hearing it from a testator, the guilt of sin shall fall only upon those who make the change in it. Indeed, Allah is all-hearing, all-knowing.” (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:181)

    So we should fulfill the dying requests of our passing loved ones after them, if we are able. If one is financially or otherwise unable to meet such a last wish, then one is relieved of that obligation because there can be no undue hardship placed upon any believer in Islam.

  2. Muslim scholars, generally, see as permissible offering a separate qurbani / udhiyah sacrifice on behalf of our loved ones who have passed away, like a mother or father, if the one who offers the sacrifice does so voluntarily and makes it an independent offering.

    The scholars of this opinion say that the reward of the qurbani / udhiyah sacrifice on behalf of the dead will both reach and benefit them, just as giving sadaqah charity on their behalf would.

    But other scholars (including some of those who deem this practice of offering qurbani / udhiyah sacrifice on behalf of the dead permissible in Islam) still discourage this practice of making separate sacrifice on behalf of the deceased because there is no evidence that the Prophet, on him be peace, or his Companions, Allah be pleased with them, ever did so.

Is the ‘Sacrifice of the Grave’ (Udhiyat Al-Hufrah) valid in Islam?

No, and it is sinful.

In some communities, people believe one should offer sacrifice on the one-year anniversary of a loved one’s death, claiming that divine reward for this sacrifice will then go exclusively to the one who has died and no other.

This practice is wrong and misguided. Some even do this instead of offering qurbani / udhiyah for themselves and their families for Eid Al-Adhah, and this is sinful and a deceit from the Deluder that deprives them and their families, living and dead, of a properly intended qurbani / udhiyah and its great reward.

Can you summarize qurbani / udhiyah on behalf of the dead?

When a head of household pays for a qurbani / udhiyah from his or her own pure wealth and then makes that select sacrifice in its proper time and way for oneself and household (see What Is the Qurbani Sacrifice?), it tremendously benefits that person and the living and dead of one’s family.

  1. The udhiyah of the living, properly intended and carried out – this is the best way to offer sacrifice for one’s loved ones who have passed away because it is what the Prophet, on him be peace, did.

  2. If a deceased loved one has made a bequest for qurbani on his or her behalf or expressed a last wish for it, then his or her heirs must fulfill it, if they have the means to do so, as an obligation.

  3. If one voluntarily offers a separate sacrifice of qurbani / udhiyah on Eid Al-Adhah for a loved one who has passed way, one may do so and the reward of the offering will, insha’Allah, reach the deceased, though neither the Prophet, on him be peace, or the Companions are known to have done such separate udhiyahs for their dead family members or loved ones.

And Allah alone knows best.