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Last Updated: 2011/12/21
Summary of question
What is the duty of the son or daughter regarding the prayers and fasts of their parents who don’t observe their religious duties?
question
What is the ruling on paying for the prayer and fasts of a deceased person who, when alive, would pray only one month throughout the year despite being healthy?
Concise answer

According to the view of a majority of the jurists, making up for the missed prayers and fasts of one’s father is binding on the eldest son. This means that it is wajib for the eldest son to either personally make up for his father’s missed prayers, or to pay someone to do so. Of course, there are some of the maraje’ (jurists) who see it wajib to make up for the missed prayers of both the deceased mother and father.

What needs to be noted here is that some of the maraje’ have this view (of making up prayers for the parents by the eldest son) even in the case of the parents missing their prayers and fasts out of disobedience, but there are also some who in this case, don’t see it necessary anymore.

Here we will list some of the maraji’s viewpoints regarding the issue at hand:

Imam Khomeini (rah):

If one’s father hasn’t offered his prayers and fasts, it is upon the eldest son to make them up for him after his death, given that the father didn’t do so out of deliberate disobedience, and had the chance to make them up but didn’t. It is also obligatory for the eldest son to make them up for him or hire someone for this task, even if the father didn’t do so out of disobedience, and to also make up for or hire someone to make up for his fasts that he couldn’t perform due to travel, even if he didn’t get the chance to make them up in his lifetime.

Ayatullah Araki (rah):

If one’s father and/or mother have missed prayers or fasts, it is wajib for the eldest son to make them up for them or hire someone to do so, given that they didn’t miss them out of deliberate disobedience and had the chance to make them up in their own lifetime. It is also obligatory for the eldest son to make them up for them or hire someone for this task, even if they didn’t do so out of disobedience, and to also make up for or hire someone to make up for their fasts that they couldn’t perform due to travel, even if they didn’t get the chance to make them up in their lifetime.

Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi:

It is wajib for the eldest son (meaning the eldest son that is alive at the time of their death) to make up for his father and mother’s missed prayers and fasts, given that they didn’t miss them out of deliberate disobedience and had the chance to make them up in their lifetime. Even if they missed them out of disobedience, it is a recommended precaution that he still does so. Also, it is a precaution that he makes up their missed fasts due to travel, even if they never got the chance to make them up.

Ayatullah Sistani:

If one’s father hasn’t offered his prayers and had the chance to make them up, it is an obligatory precaution for the eldest son to make them up, given that they weren’t missed out of deliberate disobedience.

 

Ayatullah Nuri Hamedani:

If one’s father and/or mother have missed prayers or fasts, it is wajib for the eldest son to make them up for them or hire someone to do so after their death, given that they had the chance to make them up in their own lifetime. It is also wajib as an obligatory precaution, to make up for or hire someone to make up for their fasts that they couldn’t perform due to travel, even if they didn’t get the chance to make them up in their lifetime. But it isn't obligatory to make for the prayers and fasts they didn’t perform due to defiance and disobedience . This ruling [of the eldest son making up for prayers and fasts] holds regarding one’s father, and it is an obligatory precaution regarding one’s mother.

Ayatullah Khamenei:

In response to an inquiry regarding one’s father who hasn’t performed any of his worship deliberately, whether it is wajib for the eldest son to make up for his missed prayers and fasts, Ayatullah Khamenei has replied: “If not praying and fasting was due to defiance, making them up won't be wajib on the eldest son, although even in this case, precaution is that he does so.[1]



[1] Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 1, pg. 761, issue 1390.

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