All praise is for Allah, may peace and blessings be upon His final messenger our noble master Muhammad, upon his pure family and his noble companions.
We live in a time where customary practices have crept their way into all walks of our life. Sadly in some parts of the world even our religious duties are so heavily influenced by our culture that at times it is difficult to differentiate between that which has been established through the Sunnah and the innovative practices which have been newly introduced in the name of Islam. A muslim must be extremely careful when engaging in such matters, we all know the seriousness of innovating in the deen. Those who innovate will be deprived from drinking from the fountain of kawthar when Rasoolullah sallalaho alayhi wasalam will be giving a drink to his ummah, such a drink after which a person’s thirst will be quenched to that extent that they shall never again feel thirsty.
The issues of visiting the graves and reading Quran on behalf of the deceased has caused much controversy throughout the years, indeed there are many people who go to extremes and often commit shirk naooudubillah and this takes them out of the fold of Islam. On the other hand we have those who say that other than burying the deceased person there is nothing else which is recommended. We can see that there are extremes on both sides, and Inshallah this article will discuss the permissability of those deeds that have been recommended by Rasoolullah sallalaho alayhi wasallam and also the opinions of the pious predecessors.
We hear on a daily basis that someone from amongst our relatives or friends have passed away(may Allah forgive them all) and after the death of an individual it is common that their family members organise for deeds to be done on behalf of that person, as to give them the reward of whatever is performed.
There are 2 categories of those deeds which can be done on behalf of the deceased. The first category is the conveying of the reward of charitable deeds such as building a masjid or digging a well on behalf of the mayit, this is called ibaadat e maaliyah.
The second category is conveying of the reward of physical deeds that do not entail wealth, e.g. Salaat, fasting, Dhikr, recitation of the holy Quran, Tawaaf of the Ka’abah etc on behalf of the mayit, this is called ibaadat e badaniyyah. The first form is unanimously acceptable by all of the 4 imams of fiqh and the second form is accepted as correct and jaaiz by Imam Abu Hanafi and Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal.
Despite Imam Shafiee not accepting the opinion of badani actions, there were a group of Shafiee scholars who held the opinion that recitation of Quran does benefit the deceased, 1 such imam was the great muhaddith Imam Nawawi. He mentions in his adhkar several narrations which indicate that Quran which is recited in the graveyard after a person’s burial does help the deceased person. Imam Nawawi clearly states that It is mustahab for those that frequent the graves to make duaa, engage in dhikr and recite Quran in the graveyards (adhkar of Imam Nawawi) .He also mentions that after a person is buried everyone should sit next to the grave, long enough to slaughter a camel and distribute its meat, and engage in recitation of Quran. He adds ‘I see no harm in reciting the entire quran next to the grave’ (adhkar of Imam Nawawi)
Several other ahaadith indicate that it is permissible and at times encouraged to recite Quran in the graveyards, inshallah some shall be mentioned below.
Abu Huraira radiyallo anho narrates that the Prophet sallalaho alayhi wasallam said ‘everything has a heart and the heart of Quran is Surah Yaseen and whosoever reads Yaseen, Allah gives him the reward of reading the entire quran 10 times, therefore read it upon your deceased’ (recorded by Imam Bayhaqi in Shu’bl Eeman)
A similar narration encourages recitation of Surah Yaseen over the deceased and is recorded in Abu Dawud, Nasai, Ibn Majah and Sahih Ibn Hibban
Another hadith narrated by Anas radiyallo anho states that if a person reads Surah Yaseen at someones grave then Allah will decrease that persons punishment. (Also recorded by Bayhaqi in Shu’bl Eeman)
Al Lajlaaj radiyallo anho had requested his son that after he leaves this world he should recite the beginning and end of Surah Baqara at the head of his grave. Lajlaaj mentioned that he heard this from Rasoolullah sallalaho alayhi wasallam (Mujamul kabeer of Imam Tabraani ; Hafiz Haythami has regarded the narrators of this as reliable. Refer to majmauz-zawaid vol 3 pg44)
Such has also been recorded to be the practise of Abdullah ibn Umar (sunan al-kubra of Imam Bayhaqi vol4 pg56) this narration has been classified as hasan by Imam Nawawi and Hafiz Ibn Hajr al Asqalani (al-azkaar pg212 hadith 493;al-futuhaat al-rabbaaniyya vol3 pg94)
Hafiz ibn Hajr al Asqalani has mentioned in a reply to a query of whether the reward of recitation of the Quran reaches the deceased that it is mustahab for one to do this form isaal e sawab abundantly (refer tawdehul bayan li wusooli thawaabil quran of shaykh Abdullah Siddique al Ghumariy pg2)
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal had also approved of the recitation of the beginning and end of Surah Baqara (refer atharul hadith of al-muhaddith Shaykh Muhammd Awaamah pgs 162-163). Another hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad in his musnad states that people will be in jannah enjoying great rewards and they will say that they did nothing to receive such bounties. It will be said to them that they are enjoying these bounties because their children did such and such on their behalf after they had passed away.
Imam Qurtubi states, ‘Just as the reward of charitable deeds benefit the deceased, similarly, the recitation of the holy Quran, Du’aa and Isghtifaar also do the same, because all of these are regarded as Sadaqah (charity) in Shari’ah.’ (al-Tazkirah pg.71). (This narration supports the views of Imam Nawawi in his adhkar which have been mentioned above).
On one occasion Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal had a conversation with Muhammad ibn Qudamah in which they discussed a hadith narrator named Mubasshir ibn Ismaeel. Imam Ahmad mention in this dialogue that this narrator was indeed reliable and that he had even written hadith from him in the past. Muhammad ibn Qudamah then mentioned a hadith that Mubasshir narrated which stated that a sahaba heard from Abdullah ibn Umar that surah Baqara should be recited at the head of a person’s grave. Imam Ahmad immediately accepted this opinion.
Imam Qurtubi writes in ‘at tazkirah li umoor il mawtal wa umoom il akhirah’ that imam Ahman ibn Hanbal said in clear words ‘when you enter the graveyard recite surah Fatiha, Surah ikhlas and the Muawwadithayn (surah al falaq and surah an nas) for the inhabitants of the grave because it actually helps them.’
and Allah knows best