Al-Wajib al-Kifa'i (Arabic: الواجب الكفائي) (collective obligation) is a kind of religious obligation that addresses no specific person and if it is performed by some duty-bound (mukallaf) Muslims, the others will no longer held accountable. Burying a dead, enjoining good and forbidding evil and defensive Jihad are some examples of al-wajib al-kifa'i. Al-wajib al-kifa'i is the opposite of al-wajib al-'ayni (individual obligation).
Deference between al-Wajib al-Kifa'i and al-Wajib al-'Ayni
Al-wajib al-kifa'i is a compulsory religious act, the purpose of which is to have that act done with no regard for the specific individuals performing it. Put differently, al-wajib al-kifa'i addresses all Muslims in a same manner; thus, if some Muslims undertake the wajib, the others will no longer held accountable. Al-wajib al-kifa'i is the opposite of al-wajib al-'ayni, in which every individual must perform the obligatory act, such as: Salat. The performer of al-wajib al-kifa'i receives the reward for performing it, but if no one undertakes al-wajib al-kifa'i, all will held accountable as they have committed a sin by leaving this wajib.
The cases of al-wajib al-kifa'i are related to society's general interests, i.e. to have the act performed is the most important point in al-wajib al-kifa'i; unlike the case of al-wajib al-'ayni, in which performing the act by every individual is required. ghusl al-mayyit, shrouding the dead, performing Funeral prayer, cleaning Masjid from Najis, enjoining good and forbidding evil, surviving the life of someone who is in danger and studying theology and other branches of Islamic studies are some examples of al-wajib al-kifa'i.
General and Particular al-Wajib al-Kifa'i
There is two types of al-wajib al-kifa'i:
- General: A collective obligation that all Muslims can do, such as ghusl al-mayyit and enjoining good and forbidding evil. This type is obligatory on every duty-bound (mukallaf) Muslim.
- Particular: A collective obligation that only a special group of Muslims can perform, such as: treatment of patients, issuing fatwas and judging, which are respectively compulsory on doctors, jurists and judges.
Recognition of al-Wajib al-Kifa'i and al-Wajib al-'Ayni
Scholar of principles of jurisprudence maintain that Divine orders address every individual duty-bound person; thus every individual must perform His orders. Accordingly, when we are doubtful about a wajib, whether it is al-kifa'i or al-'ayni, it will be considered al-'ayni.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from واجب کفایی in Farsi Wikishia.