Praise be to Allah the Lord of the worlds and may Allah raise the rank of our dear Prophet Muhammad.
Reading of the Qur’an, it is a rewardable deed with the right intention and with the proper articulation of the Arabic letters, even if it were upon the Muslim dead.
Imam An-Nawawiyy (d. 676 H.) said in his book Al-AdhKar: “It has been reported to us through Sunan Al-Bayhaqiyy with a chain of narration classified as hasan, that Ibn `Umar regarded the recitation of the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah and its ending upon the grave of a newly buried Muslim as a mustahab (likeable) matter”. He also said: “Ash-Shafi`iyy and his companions in his madhhab said that it is a mustahab (likeable) matter to recite some of the Qur’an upon the grave of a Muslim, and they added that if the Qur’an was recited in its entirety then that would also be a rewardable matter”.
Imam Ahmad and other scholars also relayed the same ruling. Imam Al-Qadi Abul Fadl `Iyad said something to that effect in his commentary book to Sahih Muslim when explaining the Hadith of the female slave in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, said about two recently buried Muslims, after he split a moist palm branch into two and fixed the two branches over the graves: “We hope that any punishment will be eased while the branches are still moist”. Specifically, Al-Qadi `Iyad said: “Scholars deduced from this Hadith that it is likeable (mustahab) to read the Qur’an upon the dead, because if punishment could be eased by the tasbih (glorifying Allah) of the branches which are objects, then given the priority of the Qur’an, its recitation upon the dead would be likeable”. This ruling was also conveyed from him and it was agreed upon by Al-Abiyy in his explanation book to Sahih Muslim. Another piece of evidence testifying to the benefiting of the dead Muslim from the Qur’anic recitation of another is the Hadith narrated by Ma`qal bin Yasar in which the Prophet peace be upon him says: “Recite the verses of Surat Yasin upon your dead” (narrated by Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’iyy and Ibn Majah, who classified it as a Sahih Hadith).
It has also been confirmed by way of Prophetic traditions which are classified as Sahih Hadiths that charity, fasting the Hajj and the `Umrah done on behalf of a dead Muslim reach him. Reciting the Qur’an is another form of worship and it reaches the dead, because all are forms of worship. This ruling is clearly deduced from the confirmed Prophetic traditions, and there is no Islamic disproof to its legitimacy and validity. Al-Qurtubiyy said in his book At-Tadhkirah: “The source of the ruling in this matter is the confirmed reward of the charity which reaches the dead. By the same token, the recitation of the Qur’an and the supplications to Allah for forgiveness for the dead reach him”.
Another issue which points to the legitimacy of the recitation of the Qur’an upon the dead, is the Janazah (Funeral) prayer. This prayer has been ruled upon us, and it certainly brings a benefit to the dead from what it contains of Qur’anic recitation and supplication to Allah for forgiveness. If the supplications for forgiveness in the prayer reach the dead, then the Qur’anic recitation in the prayer also reach the dead. In addition, these recitations reach the dead whether they have been completed part of the prayer in a combined form, or whether they’re carried out separately as a form of worship outside the prayer. Allah orders us towards guidance, and He is the one that guides his slaves towards the straight path. The general order in the Qur’anic ayah which means “Do good deeds as such will lead to success” also points to this meaning.
The second matter in your question was related to talqin, which happens after the person is placed in the ground. Imam An-Nawawiyy says in Al-Adhkar:
“Many of our companions said that it is likeable (mustahab) to make talqin to the dead Muslim after his or her burial. From those companions [An-Nawawiyy’s] is Al-Qadi Husayn in his Ta`liq, his friend Abu Sa`id Al-Mutawalli in his book At-Tatimmah, Ash-Shaykh Imam Abul Fath Nasr bin Ibrahim bin Nasr Al-Maqdisiyy, Imam Abul Qasim Ar-Rafi`iyy and others. Qadi Husayn also conveyed that matter from way of his companions. As to the exact phrase Ash-Shaykh Nasr said the following: “Once one finishes from burying him, they stand at his head and they say “Ya fulan ibn fulan” [calling him]! Remember the covenant by which you exited this world; the testification that there is no God but Allah who has no partners and the testification that Muhammad is the messenger and slave of Allah, also remember that Judgment Day is coming no doubt and that Allah resurrects those in the graves, say: ‘I have accepted that my Lord is Allah, that Islam is my religion, that Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam is a true Prophet, that the Ka`bah is the true direction for prayer, that the Qur’an is my guider and that the Muslims are brethren’. Testify that your Lord is Allah, there is no God but Him and that He is the Lord and Creator of the great Throne (`Arsh)”. Those were the words of Shaykh Nasr Al-Maqdisiyy in his book At-Tahdhib, and the expressions of others are similar to that. Also there are those that say: Ya `Abdallah ibn amatillah” - O slave-of-Allah son of the slave-of-Allah [the mother] – while others say “Ya `Abdallah ibn Hawwa’ ” - O slave-of-Allah son of Hawwa’ (Eve) – and some call him by his name followed by “ibn amatillah”. All these expressions imply the same meaning.
“Ash-Shaykh Imam Abu `Umar ibn As-Salah, may Allah have mercy upon him, was asked about the talqin to which he replied in his book of fatwa: “At-talqin is what we have accepted, and by which we practice. Some of our friends from Khurasan have mentioned that a Hadith about it was reported to them from the way of Abu Umamah whose direct transmission is not strong, nevertheless the matter has been supported by other narrations, as well as by the practice of the people of Ash-Sham which dates back to the early days” – [from An-Nawawiyy’s book Al-Adhkar]. Al-Hafidh ibn Hajar said in his book Talkhis Al-Habir that this Hadith has a salih (strong) transmission.
The third matter in your question was related to sitting for condolences. Imam An-Nawawiyy said about this in his book Al-Adhkar: “Imam Ash-Shafi`iyy and our friends, may Allah have mercy upon them, said that it is a makruh (disliked) matter to ‘sit for condolences’ (with that specific intention). They added that to ‘sit for condolences’ implies that the kin of the dead person sit at their house with the intention of being visited for condolences, rather these people are asked to go about their daily lives…” The disliked matter is to sit at home in order for people to come and give their condolences, and thus the sitting with that intention is the implied meaning. On the other hand, if a man was overwhelmed by the happening as a result of which he sat, and then the people came to give their condolences, in that case it is not makruh (not disliked). The proof for that last ruling is taken from the confirmed Hadith of `A’ishah, may Allah be reward her, in which she says that when Zayd bin Harithah was killed along with Ja`far and Abdullah bin Rawahah, the Prophet peace be upon him, sat in the mosque while he was cheerless (related by Abu Dawud). Furthermore, Al-Hattab Al-Maliki said in Mawahib Al-Jalil: “Categories: Category 1: Sitting for condolences. It is permitted for a man to sit to receive condolences.” Furthermore, he mentioned the narration of the Hadith in which the Prophet sat in the mosque.
The fourth matter in your question was related to preparing food for the family of the deceased. Abu Dawud related in his Sunan in the section on preparing food for the family of the deceased from the chain of Abdullah bin Ja`far that he said: “The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘Prepare food for the family of Ja`far, as they have been engaged with a matter that has come before them’”. This Hadith was also related by Ahmad in his Musnad, At-Tirmidhiyy, ibn Majah and Al-Hakim in Al-Mustadrak and he classified it with a Sahih chain of narration (the Messenger of Allah said this, when Ja`far was killed and the news reached him). Ibn Al-‘Athir said that the Prophet wanted them to cook and make bread, hence it is a likeable matter for the neighbors and the far relatives to do this. Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhiyy classified this Hadith to be of a Hasan Sahih classification. In addition, some scholars to the likes of Ash-Shafi`iyy said that it is a likeable matter to perform things on behalf of the family due to their engagement with their calamity. At-Tibiyy also said that it is a likeable (mustahab) matter for the relatives and the neighbors to prepare food for the family of the deceased.
As to the Hadith of Jarir bin Abdullah Al-Bajaliyy, may Allah be reward him, which is related by Imam Ahmad, and which states that in the time of Al-Bajaliyy they used to count the meeting at the family home of the dead on the same day after the burial where food is made out of overbearing pride (fakhr) for the visitors as part of niyahah (voluntary loud wailing indicating non-patience; it is Haram) - this Hadith is not related to condolence per se, but rather it carries a specific prevention from making food by the family of the dead out of overbearing pride in order to feed visitors. In this Hadith there is no implied meaning related to the regular case of giving condolences. In addition, this Hadith is also applied to the case where the food is prepared for the females committing the niyahah and nadb (mentioning the good traits of the dead with a loud voice as a sign of non-patience; it is Haram) or out of overbearing pride as was the case during the era of ignorance (jahiliyyah) at the hands of those who do not believe in the Hereafter. On the contrary, if the family of the dead provided those giving their condolences with something then this offering is not the intended meaning of the above mentioned Hadith, because being hospitable to visitors is a praised matter in the Religion of Islam. As a result, if there are people in the home of the deceased who are preparing food out of overbearing pride, to the likes of those in the era of ignorance (jahiliyyah), whereby they are praised as being generous and giving and hence seeking to be elevated and praised by others, then such is an insincere sinful act.
After providing you with the above proofs and clarifications from the books of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal Jama`ah, which is only part of the many available verifications, I hope that we have managed to eliminate any misconceptions about this matter.
Furthermore, we will provide you with another benefiting advice which is the invalidity of the general statement that says: “Everything the Prophet did not do or say is taken to be Haram (disallowed)”. The above statement is wrong, because it is in disagreement with the Qur’an, the Sunnah and the Ijma` (scholarly consensus). Rather this matter is detailed as follows: “Every newly introduced matter to Islam that disagrees with the Qur’an, the Sunnah and the Ijma` is not a part of Islam , and every newly introduced matter that is not in disagreement with the Qur’an, the Sunnah and the Ijma` is not not a part of Islam.” This rule was stated by Imam Ash-Shafi`iyy, may Allah be reward him. This last rule conforms with the Prophetic Hadith which says: “The one who innovates a good innovation in Islam receives its reward and a reward similar to that of all those who practice with it after him without any lessening from their reward. And the one who innovates an innovation of misguidance commits a wrongdoing and carries its sin and a sin similar to that of all those who practice with it after him without any lessening from their sins” (related by Imam Muslim).
Amongst the practices which the Prophet never performed nor did he mention, yet many people of knowledge and piety practiced with, is what the Khalifah Ar-Rashid `Uthman bin `Affan, may Allah be reward him, innovated from second ‘Adhan (call for prayer) for the Friday khutbah (speech). Another example is the placement of the dots on the Arabic letters of the Book of the Qur’an, as did At-Tabi`iyy Al-Jalil Yahya bin Ya`mar who met the companions. Another of such practices is the formation of the hollow niche in the mosques to mark the direction of Mecca , as did the Khalifah `Umar bin Abdul `Aziz, may Allah be reward him. All these listed matters, despite the Prophet not performing them nor mentioning them in his Hadith, do not contradict the Hadiths and the rulings of the Prophet, hence they are taken to be agreeable matters in Religion.
We ask Allah the Exalted to grant us further knowledge in his Religion. ‘Amin.
Allah Knows Best.