Anniversaries: Observing death anniversaries

Q38 :Is it proper to commemorate death anniversaries of one's forefathers by conducting feasts or giving charity and reciting parts of the Qur'an with the help of other people, including professional reciters of the Qur'an, as it is customary in certain parts of the Muslim world?

A38 : Let us ask ourselves why should we commemorate the death of any person? Is it to remember them and renew our sorrow for their departure? Or is it to organize some sort of occasion which we assume to generate some reward from Allah and hope that this reward will go to the deceased person? If it is for the first purpose, then such commemorations are unnecessary. If the deceased person is dear enough to us, we will always remember him or her. Every time we do, we can pray for the deceased and supplicate to Allah to forgive him or her. If it is for the second purpose, then we have to examine it in the light of Islamic teachings. The Prophet states very clearly that when a human being dies, "all his actions come to an absolute end, except in one of three ways: a continuous act of charity, a useful contribution to knowledge or a dutiful child who prays Allah for him." The first two are matters that the deceased would have done during his life. A person may decide to make a continuing act of charity, such as by allocating certain capital and ensuring that the proceeds of that investment or capital goes to charity. If, for example, a person decides that certain orchards that he owns should go to charity, he should make it clear that the orchard itself should not be sold. It is kept but the fruits that are produced are either given to the poor directly or sold and the price is given to the poor. Every time this is done, his reward from Allah increases. The third of these possibilities is prayer by a dutiful child. Now this should not be confined to annual anniversaries of death, but a dutiful child will continue to pray for his deceased parents every day of his life. If he recites the Qur'an, or passages from it, and prays Allah to give the reward of his recitation to his deceased parents, then it is hoped that this is acceptable to Allah. But it is only in such ways that a human being can do something good to a deceased person. Hiring professional reciter of the Qur'an is certainly not one of them. It is a practice that cannot be sanctioned by Islam.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )