Date : 06-09-2020

Question :

What are some of the good deeds that can be done on behalf of the deceased and are beneficial to him/her in the Hereafter? This is instead of offering food during gatherings made for  consoling the family of the deceased, in addition to other related expenses.

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions..

Islamic Sharia admonishes consoling a Muslim for the death of a relative. Prophet Mohammad(PBUH) said: "There is no believer who consoles for his brother for a calamity, but Allah will clothe him with garments of honor on the Day of Resurrection.”{Related by Ibn Majah}. Jurists have limited the condolence period to three days. Al-Imam Zakaria Al-Ansari, a Maliki scholar, said: "It is disliked to offer condolences for more than three days since the wisdom behind it is making the heart of the afflicted tranquil and most likely it becomes as such after three days from the calamity, and this way his/her grief is settled. Prophet Mohammad(PBUH) said: "It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to mourn for anyone who dies for more than three days except for a husband; she should mourn for him for four months and ten (days)."{Bukhari}"{Asna Al-Matalib, 1/334}.

Sharia also admonishes making food for the family of the deceased and not burdening them with costs or expenses at this time of hardship. Prophet Mohammad(PBUH) said: "Prepare food for the family of Ja'far for there came upon them an incident which has engaged them.{Abu Dawood and Tirmizi}. It is stated in the Shafie book {al-Mukhadima al-Hadramia, V.1:P.334}: "It is likeable for the neighbors as well as the distant kin of the family of the deceased to make food that suffices the latter for a day and a night and to insist that they eat it." However, if nobody made food for the family of the deceased, then it is permissible that they make it for themselves and for their relatives coming to console them. This is provided that they avoid extravagance and overburdening themselves with expenses.

It is worth reminding that these expenses may not be taken from the estate of the deceased save with explicit approval of the heirs and in case one of them is a minor then it isn`t permissible to take any portion from his/her  share to that end. It is also worth pointing out that funeral preparations, payment of deceased`s debts and bequests must be covered from the estate. This particularly applies to Allah`s debts: the deceased is liable for obligatory Hajj, Zakah or vows. Moghni al-Mohtajj, V.4:P.7 states:"Funeral expenses are paid from the estate of the deceased, then his debts then his bequests are covered from the third of the remaining amount."

Moreover, there are so many good deeds that can benefit the deceased before Almighty Allah, such as invoking Allah to have mercy on him/her and reciting Quran on his/her behalf. This is in addition to other good deeds whose reward can be gifted to the deceased. Al-Shirbin (May Allah have mercy on him) said: "Ibn Al-Salah says:"O Allah, accept the reward of our recitation on behalf of so and so is a form of Du`aa which isn`t denied by any of the scholars." {Moghni al-Mohtajj, V.4:P.111}.

The best thing to do for the deceased is to perform Hajj and Umrah on his/her behalf in case he/she hasn`t performed them. The expenses of Hajj must be paid for from the estate. This is attested to in the following Hadith: ‘Abd Allah bin Abbas said Al Fadl bin Abbas was riding the Camel behind the Apostle of Allaah(PBUH). A woman of the tribe of Khath’am came seeking his (the Prophet’s) decision (about a problem relating to Hajj). Al Fadl began to look at her and she too began to look at him. The Apostle of Allaah(PBUH) would turn the face of Fadl to the other side. She said Apostle of Allaah(PBUH) Allaah’s commandment that His servants should perform Hajj has come when my father is an old man and is unable to sit firmly on a Camel. May I perform Hajj on his behalf? He said yes, That was at the Farewell Pilgrimage." {Related by Bukhari}.

Another good deed that can be done on behalf of the deceased is giving charity. 'Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: A man said to the Prophet (PBUH): "My mother has died suddenly. I think that if she were able to talk (alive) she would have given in Sadaqah (charity). So, if I give Sadaqah now on her behalf, will she get the reward?" The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Yes (she will be rewarded for that)." [Related by Bukhari]. And Allah the almighty knows best.