Is there a contradiction between these Hadiths?
Ibn ‘Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) narrated that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “No one is to pray on behalf of another and no one is to fast on behalf of another but may feed on his behalf.”
‘Aaishah (radiyallahu ‘anha) narrated that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “ Whoever dies and has (pending) fasts let his guardian fast for him.”
While there is an apparent contradiction between these two Hadiths, the commentators have preferred the narration of Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radiyallahu’anhuma) and reconciled between them with the following explanation:
In the Hadith of ‘Aaishah (radiyallahu’anha), “fast on his behalf” has been interpreted as, “fulfill his obligation of fasting by doing what is done instead of fasting” i.e. the feeding of poor people. (Sahih Bukhari with Fathul Bari, Hadith: 1952)
The reason for this explanation is that Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radiyallahu’anha) herself is reported to have given a fatwa against her narration in question:
Sayyidatuna ‘Aaishah (radiyallahu’ anha) was asked about a woman who passed away with obligatory fasts still owed. Can her daughter fast on her behalf? She instructed the woman’s daughter to feed others on behalf of the deceased mother’s fasts and not to fast on her behalf.
(Sharhu Mushkilil Athar, Hadith: 2399, vol.6 pg.178)
Imam Tahawi (rahimahullah) explains that it is unlikely that Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radiyallahu ’anha), considering her stature and status in Din, would contradict her narration from Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) without the necessary evidence that supports her fatwa.
(Sharhu Mushkilil Athar, Hadith: 2399, vol.6 pg.179-180)
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar