How the Living May Benefit the Dead

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from Imam ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad’s (q.s.) “Lives of Man”.  He was the quthb of his time.

Praying for dead, asking Forgiveness for them, and giving charity on their behalf are some of the things God Causes the dead in their graves to benefit from and be Protected by.  There are many ahadits about this, and may fine and virtuous people have witnessed it in their dreams.  Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah (r.a.) once said to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), “My mother’s soul departed suddenly, and had she been able to speak she would have given alms.  Would it bring benefit to her if I did so on her behalf?”

“Yes,” he replied.

So he dug a well for people to take water from and said, “This is on behalf of Sa’d’s mother.”

And another man asked, “O Messenger of Allah!  My parents have died; is there anything left with which I may be good to them?”

And he replied, “There are four things: praying and asking Forgiveness for them, carrying out their promises, being good to their friends, and giving proper attention to those kinship bonds which could only have been attended to by them.”

And the Prophet (s.a.w.) said “Were it not for the living the dead would have been doomed”; in other words, because of the prayers and request for Forgiveness and for Mercy which they receive.  And he said, “My Nation is a nation covered with Mercy.  Its members enter their graves with sins like unto mountains, and leave their graves having been Forgiven because the living have asked forgiveness for the dead.”

It is related that the gifts of alms, prayer, and Qur’anic recitation sent by the living to the dead reach them carried by the angels on plates of light, and adorned with silk handkerchiefs, and they say to them, “This gift is from so-and-so,” and in this way they find joy and delight.

A dead man was once seen in a dream and, upon being questioned about this state, said that he had been greeted by an angel who attempted to burn his face with a flame held in his hand.  But one of the living said, “God have Mercy on so-and-so!” and the flame went out.

One of the greatest things which one may offer to the dead is to recite Qur’an and send on the reward for it.  This is of great benefit and barakah. The Muslims have agreed on this everywhere throughout the ages, the majority of scholars and virtuous people have recommended it, and there are ahadits to confirm this.  Although these ahadits have weak chains of transmission, there is a principle, as the ahadits scholar Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.) has said, “Weak ahadits may be acted upon when they indicate acts of goodness,” And these are indeed acts of goodness.

All of the Qur’an is blessed and beneficial, but the most beneficial thing to offer to the dead is Surah al-Ikhlasw eleven times, and this has been seen in many blessed dreams.  Each person should recite this noble surah the said number of times, either each night, each day, or more, or less, or even only on Thursday night, and offer the reward to his parents, teachers, and all those who have rights over him.

He must not forget his dead ones when he prays, asks Forgiveness, or give alms, lest he in turn be forgotten after his death, for the one who remembers is remembered, and the one who forgets is forgotten.  Benevolence goes ahead of you, and God allows not the reward of those who have done good to be wasted.

As to those who believe and work righteousness, verily We shall not suffer to perish the reward of any who do a (single) righteous deed. (Surah al-Kahf:30)


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