Death: Various traditions that follow

Q143 :In our part of the world, when a person dies, particularly in old age, his family follows a number of traditions such as bring a number of people from a local Qur'anic school to read the Qur'an near his grave. They take turns in order to maintain a 24 hour Qur'anic recitation until the following Friday. The deceased's family believes that by so doing, they prevent the angels from questioning their relatives in the grave until Friday when Allah forgives him. The reciters are well catered for with food and drink and clothes, and given some money at the end of their task. Other duties are also fulfilled at particular intervals, such as the third, tenth and fortieth days of the death of the person concerned. If the deceased has some married sons, their fathers-in-law are duty bound to bring clothes to all member of the deceased person's family. Every Thursday and on anniversaries of the death of the person concerned, his more dutiful children serve food to a number of poor people who are called in to recite the Qur'an on his behalf. Could you please comment on these traditions.

A143 : I have given a detailed answer on what actions may be of benefit to a deceased person, when performed by his relatives. I said that Allah may well credit to the deceased person the reward of any sadaqah or charitable donation or recitation of the Qur'an or pilgrimage made on his behalf. Allah also answers any supplication by living people to forgive the dead person and bestow His mercy on him. However, all that should be spontaneous, done with sincerity of purpose and purity of intention. It must have the right motivation and the proper method of Islamic worship. Thus, to gather students or teachers of the local Qur'anic school to recite the Qur'an for the deceased and then to reward them financially is not acceptable. To imagine that people can prevent the angels from accomplishing a task Allah has assigned to them is totally mistaken. To give financial reward to a person in return for his recitation of the Qur'an for any purpose is not permissible. Indeed it is forbidden to both the reciter and the one who employs him to do so. The reciter may not receive wages for his recitation and the other person commits an offense by hiring him for that purpose. Having weekly, monthly or 40-day or yearly anniversaries, when you perform certain tasks, is also an innovation. Although the tasks performed are aspects of Islamic worship, it is not permissible to institutionalize them in the way they have been in your area. As you realize, these traditions place a financial burden on relatives, but they do not earn them any reward in return. It is far better for the relatives of a deceased person to pray Allah to forgive him as often as they wish, without conforming to any social traditions associating such an action with a passage of so many days or years after his death. All these habits you have mentioned are totally unacceptable and completely un-Islamic.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )