Etiquette of Funerals

Ihda’ – Donating the reward of Qur’an

We have heard from “Salafi” sources that, contrary to the teaching of Ahl al-Sunna that we know, it is wrong to:

  1. To address the dead upon burial such as with the kalimaLA ILAHA ILLALLAH MUHAMMADUN RASULULLAH, or
  2. To recite from the Qur’an upon the grave, although the Prophet said to read Ya Seen over the dead.

What is the understanding of the reliable scholars of the Umma on these three questions?

IHDA’ THAWAB AL-QUR’AN ILA AL-MAYYIT

DONATING THE REWARD OF QUR’AN-RECITAL TO THE DECEASED

The condemnation by those who call themselves “Salafis” of the donation of the reward of Qur’an recitation to the deceased is another proof of an exaggerated and sectarian approach that deviates from the method and teachings of Ahl al-Sunna while claiming to uphold them, and we ask Allah for His protection from error. It is reminiscent of the Mu`tazila position whereby nothing we do can benefit the dead. Thus, in his book on the rulings that pertain to funerals (Mukhtasar ahkam al-jana’iz) published by “Jam`iyyat ihya’ al-turath al-islami,” Shaykh Nasir al-Din Albani lists among the rejected innovations in religion: “the recitation of the Qur’an for the dead and over them” (p. 104 #123, #126) and “recitation of the Fatiha for the dead” or of “Ya Seen over the graves” (p. 105 #147, #148) and “donation to the deceased Muslims of the reward of acts of worship such as the recitation of the Qur’an” (p. 106 #160) and many other such statements, all of which are false and rejected.

Donation of all kinds of acts of worship, among them Qur’an-recital, can and do benefit the dead, just as the simple supplication of a Muslim does. The Salaf believed the dead were helped and relieved by the living, as shown by the du`a of Abu Hurayra for the dead: allahumma in kana muhsinan fa zid fi ihsanihi wa in kana musi’an fa tajawaz `an sayyi’atihi — “O Allah, if he did good, then increase his goodness, and if he did evil, then forgive his evil deeds.” Malik narrated it. Moreover it is established that the best supplication is the Fatiha itself. We present in the following pages the authentic teaching of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a whereby recitation of the Qur’an for the dead and over them is ordered by the Prophet, especially Surat Ya Seen, and donation to the deceased Muslims of the reward of acts of worship such as the recitation of the Qur’an is not only permitted but recommended.

There are three parts to this answer in following with the tripartite phrasing of the question:

a) reciting from the Qur’an upon the grave (qira’a `ala al-qabr);

b) donation of the reward of Qur’an-recital to the dead (ihda’ al-thawab);

c) instructing the dead after burial (talqin al-mayyit).


a) reciting from the Qur’an upon the grave (qira’a `ala al-qabr):

The Prophet said: iqra’u `ala mawtakum ya seen “Read Ya Seen over those of you who are dying/deceased.” It is narrated by Abu Dawud in his Sunan (Jana’iz), al-Nasa’i in his Sunan (`Amal al-yawm wal-layla), Ibn Majah in his Sunan (Jana’iz), and Ibn Hibban in his Sahih (Ihsan), and he declared it sound (sahih).

`Abd al-Haqq ibn al-Kharrat al-Ishbili (d. 582) in his book al-`Aqiba (p. 255 #576) said: “The meaning of this hadith may be that the recitation is done over the person at the time the person is dying; or that it be done at his grave.” al-Qurtubi said the same according to Suyuti who adds: “I say: the vast majority of the scholars take the former meaning, while Ibn `Abd al-Wahid al-Maqdisi al-Hanbali [and others] take the latter in the monograph he compiled on the topic. Both apply.” Sharh al-sudur p. 312. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya in Kitab al-ruh (Madani ed. p. 18-19) also prefers the former meaning (“dying”).

The Prophet said: “Ya Seen is the heart of the Qur’an, no man reads it desiring Allah and the afterlife except he is forgiven. Read it over your dying/deceased.” Ahmad relates it in his Musnad (5:26) as part of a longer narration whose chain contains two unnamed narrators.

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