Prayer for loved ones who have died

prayer for loved ones who have died

Prayers For Lost Loved Ones

The loss of a loved one can be one of the most painful parts of life. Grief and mourning come in many different stages and it is easy to let emotion consume you during these difficult times. However, it is important to keep God close to your heart instead of pushing Him away.  Remember that you need God now more than ever and He wants you to be happy again despite the loss and heartbreak you may feel.

In addition to losing a loved one yourself, it is also difficult to know how to help someone else who has lost someone close. One way to comfort them is to pray to God that they find peace and comfort in their time of need. With the love and reassurance God can provide, it is possible to ease the pain of those who are hurting. These 10 prayers can help you and your friends or family to cope with the loss of a loved one by asking God to pay close attention to them so they are able to move on.

Prayers for the Dead

By: A Muhammad

This article covers prayers for all who died, believers or disbelievers.
In the Quran, God forbids believers from offering prayers for the disbelievers and idol worshippers regardless of whether they are dead or alive:

It is not for the Prophet and those who believed to ask forgiveness for the mushrikeen, even if they were their relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are the companions of Hell. 9:113

In addition, if a person dies as a disbeliever or idol worshipper, nothing and no prayer can change his/her fate:

As for the one who has deserved the decree of punishment, can you rescue those who are in the fire? 39:19

If this truth is known to all Quran readers, and is not the subject of any dispute, what is the verdict in the case of offering prayers to the believers? For that, we will address two types of prayers:

Prayers for the believers who are still alive.

Prayers for the believers who have died.

First : Prayers for the believers who are still alive

When we pray for a living parent, a relative or friend, we usually implore God to cure them of an illness or assist them in adversity. This kind of prayer, which implores God’s Mercy on them while they are still alive, is encouraged in the Quran and is heard by God:

And lower the wings of humility for them through mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy on them just as they raised me when I was small.” 17:24

Some have interpreted this verse so as to extend its scope to include our loved ones who have died, however, if we examine this verse and the verse just before it, we find good indication that God is inviting us to pray for our parents while they are still alive. Let us read verse 23:

Your Lord has decreed that you shall not worship except Him and to treat your parents well. When one of them, or both of them, reach old age, you shall not say to them, “Uff” (word that expresses annoyance), nor shall you scold them; you shall speak kindly to them. 17:23

The words “you shall speak to them kindly” can only mean while they are still alive, it is not possible to speak kindly to a dead person!

Once they are dead, they will receive their judgement in accordance to their work on earth and in accordance to God’s Mercy, nothing we do can change that.

We also read that the angels offer prayers for those (living) on earth and not those who died:

The heavens almost shatter from what is above them, and the angels glorify their Lord with praise and they ask forgiveness for those in the earth. Indeed, God is the Forgiver, the Merciful. 42:5

The significance of the words “for those in the earth” is quite clear.
Prayers for the living believers are encouraged by God for a number of reasons:

Prayers for the living believers are not related to the judgement they will receive from God on Judgement Day. This judgement is exclusively reserved for the Almighty and we are told in the Quran that it is based primarily on people’s deeds and the purity of their faith while they were on earth. Consequently, by praying for living believers, we are not imploring God to alter the judgement they receive on the Day of Judgement.

Prayers for the living believers are an expression of our worship of God. To implore God is to trust and accept His absolute authority to answer our prayers. It is also an acceptance that God alone has the absolute authority to alleviate hardship off the ones we pray for. The link between imploring God and worshipping Him is made evident in the following Quranic words:

Your Lord said, “Implore Me and I will respond to you. Surely, those who are too arrogant to worship Me will enter Hell forcibly.” 40:60

The words “Implore Me” and “Worship Me” in this verse confirm that ‘Imploration’ is indeed an essential expression of worship, (see: Worshipping God).

And if those who worship Me ask you about Me, I am near; I answer the caller’s call if he calls on Me. Therefore, they shall respond to Me and believe in Me so that they may be guided. 2:186

Second : Prayers for the believers who died

What about the prayers offered for the believers who have died? Are we permitted to pray for them? Do our prayers make a difference to their judgement on the Day of Judgement?

By definition, a prayer for a dead person is a form of intercession and the Quran states categorically that there will be no intercession allowed by God, see: The Myth of Intercession

As mentioned above, when we pray for a living relative or friend (believer) we usually implore God to cure them of an illness or to alleviate hardship off them. This kind of prayer implores God’s Mercy on them while they still live. We have seen how this prayer is encouraged in the Quran.

Prayer for a loved one, who we believe to have died as a believer, is categorically different, for here we are not imploring God to cure them of their illness or assist them in adversity, but we are imploring God to grant them mercy on the Day of Judgement. Initially, the concept is improper. If we accept that God is the Most Merciful, and that He has decreed mercy upon Himself, why would be imploring Him to show mercy? Say, “To whom belongs what is in the heavens and the earth?” Say, “To God.” He has decreed mercy upon Himself. 6:12

Are we imploring God to amend, or improve the judgement He decrees on a person on the Day of Judgement? What this means in reality is that we are interceding with God to issue the dead person a more favourable judgement!

The concept of intercession is categorically refused in the Quran:

O you who believe, you shall give from what We provided you with before a Day comes in which there will be no trade, no friendship and no intercession. The disbelievers are the transgressors. 2:254

Many verses in the Quran make it very clear that on Judgement Day, and in accordance with God’s Absolute Justice, no person shall be credited for anything other than his/her own work, equally that no soul would carry the burden of another:

No person benefits except from his own work, and no burden-bearer bears the burden of another. 6:164

The human being will benefit from nothing other than his own work. 53:39

On Judgement Day, no soul will benefit except from what it has personally earned and not from the prayers of their loved ones. All our prayers to a dead person will not alter his/her judgement. Many practises undertaken by many Muslims today for their dead parents or next of kin are utterly useless. It is utterly useless to observe and dedicate a Hajj or Umrah to a dead parent or relative; they shall not receive the credit since they have not observed the Hajj themselves. The same applies to fasting on behalf of a dead person or giving Zakat on their behalf. All these acts are totally useless. The Salat, Hajj, Fasting and Zakat are all acts of worship, and God does not accept any acts of worship by proxy!

Sura 82

It is the Day when no self possesses any power to help any other self, and all matters on that day will be decided by God alone. 82:19

The moment the human being dies his/her record is sealed and nothing can alter it one way or another. Sadly many Muslims reject these Quranic truths and prefer to believe baseless hadith that advocate what is contrary to Quranic teachings!

God’s Infinite Mercy

When we analyse this issue closer, we note that to pray for a dead person, even if they were good sincere believers, is an indirect rejection of Quranic truth. Let us look at the following verses:

Say, “O My servants who transgressed exceedingly against themselves, do not despair of God’s mercy, for God forgives all sins; He is the Forgiver, the Merciful.” 39:53

God does not forgive the setting up of partners with Him, and He forgives other than that for whomever He wills. 4:48

By virtue of these two verses, as well as other Quranic verses, we are given a glimpse of God’s Infinite Mercy. God would actually forgive all the sins of believers as long as they avoid idol worship.

If we still pray that God would forgive the sins of dead believers, would we not be guilty of disbelieving God’s promise in 39:53?

Commentary on some related verses

The significance of 14:41

Some writers have quoted 14:41 to claim that we are invited in the Quran to pray for our parents and implore God to have mercy on them on Judgement Day:

My Lord, forgive me, my parents and the believers on the Day when the reckoning takes place. 14:41

Immediately, we note a very important difference between 17:24 (above) and 14:41. In 17:24, the prayer was for the parents in their lifetime. However, in 14:41 the prayer for forgiveness on the Day of Judgement, is not a prayer given by God, it was a prayer spoken by Abraham.

Many would quickly say, “Is a prayer spoken by God’s own Prophet Abraham not good enough as a prayer that we should follow?”

The answer to this question is as follows:

The prayer in 14:41 was a personal prayer spoken by Abraham, thus it cannot be regarded as an instruction from God for us to follow.

We are told later that Abraham was not to pray for his father who was an idol worshipper. This indicates that this prayer offered by Abraham (for his parents) could not have been authorised by God. We learn later that this prayer of Abraham was not accepted by God. We also read in 9:114 that Abraham’s prayer was unrighteous.

Just because a prayer was offered by a messenger does not mean that we should follow it or that it is a prayer that God would answer. In 11:74 we are read how Abraham attempted to offer another prayer for the people of Lot, which was also rejected by God (11:76). Similarly, the prayers of Noah for his son (11:46) and of Muhammad for his relatives (9:80) were all rejected by God.

If we examine 14:41 one more time, we would be able to see how it stands in disharmony with other Quranic words:

My Lord, forgive me, my parents and the believers on the Day when the reckoning takes place. 14:41

It is necessary now to compare the above words to the following Quranic words:

Intercession is of no use with Him except to those who are already approved by Him. 34:23

These words are quite conclusive in asserting that on that Day of Judgement, nothing will have any weight for our judgement except own deeds and faith and not on how devoutly others may have prayed for us.

The significance of 9:84

Before we analyse this verse a word has to be mentioned about one of the rituals practised in Islamic countries today when a Muslim dies. Shortly before the burial proceedings, the dead person is taken in his/her coffin inside a masjid and a salat is observed for the dead person. Some have interpreted the words in 9:84 to be related to this ritual which is known as “Salat Al-Janazah” (Funeral Prayer). However, it can be shown that this is a misinterpretation.

We read in 72:18 that the masjid serves only one purpose and that is to worship God. The masjid is not for taking coffins of dead people inside and offering prayers for them.

Moreover, the rule in 6:162 dictates that the Salat, as well as all other worship practices, should be dedicated to glorify the name of God and not for any other purpose. To observe a Salat, to offer prayers for a dead person is in violation of 6:162. It is also in violation of 20:14 which defines the sole purpose of the Salat as being the commemoration of God:

I am God, there is no god but Me. Therefore, you shall worship Me and observe the Salat to commemorate Me. 20:14

The proponents of the un-Quranic Funeral Salat will argue that it is not a Salat in the traditional sense since it has neither bowing nor prostration and is much shorter. This excuse is not acceptable simply because it is not the form that validates a ritual or invalidates it; it is the heart of the ritual and who it is dedicated to. Since this Salat is observed and dedicated to the dead person, then it is unlawful, whatever form it may take.

Now let us ponder on the words in 9:84:

‘La tussallee ala ahadan minhum’ (you shall not support any of them) who died, ever, nor shall you stand at his grave. They have disbelieved in God and His messenger and died in a state of wickedness. 9:84

The key words in this verse with regards to our research are “la tussallee ala ahadan minhum”. These words have been used in the Quran in a number of verses. They do not mean “do not pray for them” (as some have interpreted). Neither do they refer to the widely practised Funeral Salat. When we consult a number of verses where these same words are used ( 33:43, 9:103, 33:56) we realise that these words simply mean “do not support them”. The following verses confirm this meaning:

“He (God) is the One who “yussallee alaykum” (supports you), as well as His angels, to lead you out of darkness into the light. He is Merciful towards the believers.” 33:43

It is clear here that neither God nor the angels observe a Salat for the believers! Nor do the words mean to send blessings since the angels have no authority to bless us; all blessings come from God alone.

Take a charity from their money to cleanse and purify them with it and ‘sallee alayhum’ (support them). Your support provides them with tranquillity. God is Hearer, Knowledgeable. 9:103

Once again, it is clear that the messenger is not to observe a Salat dedicated to the believers!

God and His angels ‘yussalloon ala al-nabi’ (support the Prophet). O you who believe you shall ‘salloo alayhee’ (support him) and accept him fully. 33:56

Once again it is clear that neither God nor the angels conduct a salat for the Prophet, nor are the believers required to do so.

Consequently, it can be established that the prohibition in 9:84, which is related to the words “la tussallee ala ahadan minhum” is a prohibition from supporting any dead disbeliever. Support for a dead person can be in the form of taking part in the funeral, taking part in the burial, contributing to the cost of the funeral or memorials, and so on. The significance of 59:10

Some writers have quoted 59:10 and implied that the words in this verse allow us to pray for the believers who came before us and are now dead.

And those who came after them say, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us to the faith and do not place any animosity in our hearts towards those who believe. Our Lord, You are Benevolent, Merciful.” 59:10

Indeed the above words indicate that the people spoken of in 59:10 were offering prayers for the believers who came before them and would thus be dead at the time. Therefore, should we say that 59:10 allows us to pray for the dead believers? The answer is no. Not every narration given in the Quran constitutes a law from God that we should follow. In many verses God is simply narrating to us about what some people said or have done.

In other verses, God would be narrating to us about various sins committed by previous people who have long been dead. This again does not mean that God is authorising us to commit the sins mentioned.

One of the many such examples is the following:

And say, “My Lord, admit me an honourable admittance, and let me depart an honourable departure, and grant me from You a supporting authority.” 17:80

The difference between the prayer in 17:80 and that in 59:10 is that the one in 17:80 is a prayer authorised by God for us to say, this is apparent since the verse starts with the word “Say”, while the one in 59:10 is merely a narration of words spoken by previous people.

The prayer of the people mentioned in 59:10 is useless for 2 reasons:

Just because these people offered a prayer for the dead believers who came before them does not mean in any way that it was a prayer that God would answer. Let us take the following example where Abraham and Ismail said the following prayer:

Our Lord, and make us submitters to You and from our descendants a nation of submitters to You, and show us our rituals and redeem us. You are the Redeemer, the Merciful. 2:128

Was that a prayer that God would answer? Is it possible for God to create a whole nation of submitters when God tells us consistently that the majority of the human race are either disbelievers (12:103) or idol worshippers (12:106)?
In fact, God gives us Quranic evidence that Abraham’s prayer in 2:128 was not a prayer that could ever be answered by God:

We sent Noah and Abraham and We placed among their descendants the Prophethood and the Scripture. Some of them were guided while many were wicked. 57:26

Why was this prayer one that could never be answered? It is because the prayer itself was not in harmony with God’s grand purpose. God will not decree a nation to be submitters simply because Abraham prayed for that to happen! Rather, a nation can only be submitters if they themselves make the right choice and choose to submit to God.

This is not any different than if any of us prays:

“Please God make my brother a submitter!”

This is a useless prayer because God does not make anyone a submitter if others prayed for that to happen, instead becoming a submitter is a choice that must come from the person himself.

God tells us that had He willed He would have made all people submitters.


We must have full faith in God’s Mercy:

He said, “Who despairs of his Lord’s mercy except the misguided ones!” 15:56

Can we through prayers prompt God to exercise more mercy on our beloved ones when He has decreed mercy on Himself?

Say, “To whom belongs what is in the heavens and the earth?” Say, “To God.” He has decreed mercy upon Himself. 6:12

Since God forgives all sins for the believers (39:53), what exactly would we be praying for when we pray for a dead believer? Do we not believe 39:53?

Say, “O My servants who transgressed exceedingly against themselves, do not despair of God’s mercy, for God forgives all sins; He is the Forgiver, the Merciful.” 39:53

Can we ignore the truth of 53:19 and 6:164 and insist that our loved ones will benefit from our prayers?

The human being will benefit from nothing other than his own work. 53:39

No person benefits except from his own work. 6:164

Is it permissible to intercede on behalf of our loved ones who died when the Quran states that there will be no intercession on Judgement Day?

O you who believe, you shall give from what We provided you with before a Day comes in which there will be no trade, no friendship and no intercession. The disbelievers are the transgressors. 2:254

Belief in the Quran and its teachings should lead all believers to accept without any doubt that due to God’s Infinite Mercy, all believers will be ultimately pardoned, not because others prayed for them, but because of God’s Infinite Mercy.

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Losing a loved one can bring about a sudden feeling of shock and trouble. Reciting a traditional prayer for comfort can help to bring you consolation and reassurance. Here is a look at some great prayers for loss of a loved one.

Prayer #1

Comfort me with Your love O God
Wrap me up in Your strong embrace
Shelter me from the storm O Lord
Envelop me in Your tender care

By day I pour out my heartbreak to You
By night I give you my racing thoughts

In You I take refuge
In You I will not be afraid
For you hold me strong, You hold me safe

Calm my fearful heart O God
Still my anxious mind O Lord

For all my life is found in You
All my being is given to You
All my hope begins in You

Prayer #2

Lord, at the moment nothing seems to be able to help the loss I feel.
My heart is broken and my spirit mourns.
All I know is that Your grace is sufficient.
This day, this hour
Moment by moment
I choose to lean on You,
For when I am at my weakest Your strength is strongest.
I pour out my grief to You
And praise You that on one glorious day
When all suffering is extinguished and love has conquered
We shall walk together again.

Prayer #3

Our Father in heaven, may Your Name be honored. There is none greater than You. You are our refuge and strength. You are always ready to help in times of trouble. We praise You, Lord. We lift our hearts with praise. It is good to sing praises to You, our God; how delightful and how right! Lord, You are great and mighty in power. Your understanding is infinite. We thank You, Father, for the life of our loved one(s) who have gone on to be with You. Thank You for their time on earth and the impact they had on our lives. We are thankful to You and we bless Your Name.

Prayer #4

Father, You can count the stars and call them all by name. Your power is absolute. Your understanding is beyond comprehension. You support the humble and bring the wicked down into the dust. You comfort those who mourn. We declare that those grieving the death of a loved one; mourning will turn into dancing. We confess that You are their rock, fortress, and Savior in whom they will find protection. You are their shield, and the strength of their salvation. Father, You are their stronghold. As they call on You, You have promised to answer. We believe that You will be with them during this period of bereavement, rescue them from grief, honor them, and give them Your salvation.

Prayer #5

Father, we ask You to send Your peace to those persons who are mourning. Continue to surround them with family, friends and loved ones who will offer words of comfort. Give them sweet and restful sleep. Father, remove the spirit of heaviness, and give them garments of praise. In due time, bless their lives to overflow with laughter and joy again. As they take refuge in You, please help them to put their trust in You. Holy Spirit, we ask that You settle the hearts and minds of those who are feeling any guilt, resentment, bitterness, or anger. Help them not to look back but to press forward.

Prayer #6

Father, forgive the bereaved for any sins they have committed through thoughts, words, or deeds. Forgive them if they have not meditated on Your Word to find comfort. Father, forgive them if they have not been totally submissive to Your perfect will for their lives. Forgive them for any hurtful things they may have said or done to the deceased. Lord, help them to forgive the deceased if necessary. Please remind them of anyone they need to forgive; and help them to forgive quickly.

Prayer #7

Loving Father, I am finding it so hard to even get up out of bed to start the day, knowing that I have to face it alone and without the one I love so dearly – I know that without Your grace and sufficiency I could never get through the day – but I thank You that You have promised to be with me and to provide me with Your strength for the day as well as bright hope for tomorrow.

I can’t imagine tomorrow being anything but a day filled with pain – as I do not have my loved one beside me, but I ask that in Your grace You will give me the strength to get through today, step by step – knowing that You are there to carry me, even when my heart seems to fail from the grief and pain that I am going through.

Thank You that You have promised to carry our pain and thank You that Your grace is sufficient for every eventuality in our lives. Give me the strength and to cope with the loneliness I feel and help me to move forward in my life-plans, knowing that You are with me, to support and strengthen.

Give me hope for tomorrow – for my hope and my trust is in You, Lord. Hold me close I pray and thank You for always being with me and the great comfort that I have in knowing You, as my own dear Saviour and friend.

Prayer #8

Loving Lord and Heavenly king, I want to lift up some dear friends of mind that are going through much grief at the moment and are finding it so difficult to come to terms with all that has taken place in the last few days…

I humbly ask that You would come to them and provide the comfort they need to come to terms with all that has happened – and the strength to face the reality that things will never be as they were.

Lord I know that their grief seems to be overwhelming them and I am hurting for them, and know not what to do to help – and so I am coming to You to in prayer, to ask that You will meet each of them at their point of need and help them to turn to You at this sad time.

I pray that as the day passes Your healing touch will comfort and succour them in this time of distress and may this be a thing that causes each of them to draw closer to You, knowing that You alone can heal the broken-hearted and bring joy out of pain.

Thank You Lord for being there for me and into Your hands I place each one of these dear ones who have such sadness in their hearts – I KNOW in Whom I believe and an confident that You will bring good out of this situation – and to You be all the praise and glory, Amen

Prayer #9

Loving Lord I am filled with grief and sadness at the loss of my precious loved one – and yet that pain is tinged with gold, knowing that they trusted you as their Saviour and that they are now in Your presence.

I know that I am going to miss this precious one, who has been my strength and my joy for so long, and thank You for the precious times we had together.

Often Lord I expect my dear one to just be there, or walk through the door – and then remember that they have gone home to be with You. At times this is quite hard and yet I know that I must not grieve as those that have not hope in Jesus – but rejoice knowing that the day is coming when we will be together with You and You will wipe away all tears from our eyes – but at the moment my loss is like an open wound – and I pray that You will heal my brokenness and the loneliness I feel… and draw me every closer into Your arms of love my Lord and my God.

Thank You for all You are to me and may I rest in You in Jesus name, Amen

Prayer #10

My heart is reaching out to you,
For what you’re going through;
I’m thinking of you frequently
And praying for you, too.

If there’s something I can do,
Anything at all,
Think of me thinking of you,
And don’t hesitate to call.

Prayer #11

When someone we love passes away,
We ache, but we go on;
Our dear departed would want us to heal,
After they are gone.

Grief is a normal way to mend
The anguish and pain in our hearts;
We need time to remember and time to mourn,
Before the recovery starts.

Let’s draw together to recuperate,
As we go through this period of sorrow;
Let’s help each other, with tender care
To find a brighter tomorrow.

Prayer #12

If we could bring you back again,
For one more hour or day,
We’d express all our unspoken love;
We’d have countless things to say.

If we could bring you back again,
We’d say we treasured you,
And that your presence in our lives
Meant more than we ever knew.

If we could bring you back again,
To tell you what we should,
You’d know how much we miss you now,
And if we could, we would.

Prayer #13

If there was ever a time in my life I was weak, it was the days, weeks, and months after my daughter died. To know that God’s strength was at it’s best when I needed it the most gave me courage to take another breath. It seems impossible to “glory in my affirmities” when you don’t feel you have the strength to go on with your life, but God’s grace *is* sufficient. There is power through Christ Jesus to sustain you when nothing else can. You must allow Him to carry the burden – there are things too big for us to handle on our own. We cannot as mothers (and fathers) get through the loss of a child and retain any sanity without His help.

I don’t think it’s wrong to ask “why” – I have many times over the years. But you have to recognize God’s authority and know that whatever purpose there was for your child, it was fulfilled during the time you carried him or her. We don’t understand all of it, and honestly I don’t believe we have the capacity to. But I take comfort knowing that one day, God will hold me close and explain it to me in a way that I can understand.

Prayer #14

Praise God that He is close to those who are suffering. He knows the pain we’re going through and He keeps us from being consumed by it. I know without a doubt that had it not been for the grace of God, I would have come through my daughter’s death a bitter and downtrodden woman. But through His love and compassion, He saved me from being crushed by the weight of the burden I carried. My heart still aches for my baby and it’s been seven years since she died – the ache has dulled some with time, but I don’t believe it will ever go away completely. I still cry at times talking about her, but I rest in the knowledge that God is near and will continue to carry me if I allow Him to. It’s a choice – a conscious decision you have to make. You have to acknowledge that you need help getting through it, and God is the only answer.

Dianne Gray, head of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation discusses the five stages of grief and the classic book, ‘On Death and Dying.’

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