Completing a reading of the entire Qur'an for the deceased
Some people complete a reading of the entire Qur`an three days after a person's death. What is the ruling for this, and does the reward for it reach the deceased?
Reading the Qur'an is unrestricted in Islamic law
Reading the noble Qur'an is one of the best acts of worship that a Muslim practices to draw closer to his Lord. In Islamic law, the command to read the Qur'an occurs in an absolute sense; it is established in the principles of jurisprudence that unrestricted matters entail all places, times and conditions except what has been omitted or restricted by Islamic law.
Reading the Qur'an over a deceased
According to the consensus of scholars, it is permissible to read the Qur'an to a deceased at the time of his death or after; at his home, in the mosque, at his grave side or any other place and at time of burial or after.
Some Maliki scholars maintained that it is specifically disliked to read the Qur'an at the graveside. However, Sheikh al-Dardir, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "The later scholars from the Malikis maintained that there is no harm in reciting the Qur'an, making remembrance of Allah and dedicating the reward to a deceased; the reward for these acts reaches him by the will of Allah."
• Al-Qira`a 'ala al-Qubur by the Hanbali scholar al-Khalal;
• The Hanbali luminary Shams al-Deen al-Maqdisi wrote a treatise on this subject;
• Tawdeeh al-Bayan li Wusul Thawab al-Qur`an by 'Abdullah al-Ghamri; and others.
Evidence from the Sunnah on the Permissibility of Reading the Qur'an for the Deceased
• Ma'qal ibn Yassar, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet [pbuh] said: "Read Ya Seen over your dead" [Reported by Ahmed, Abu Dawud and ibn Majah. Ibn Hiban and al-Hakim declared it authentic]. The hadith demonstrates the permissibility of reciting Ya Seen both at the time of death and after.
• Ibn 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with them both, narrated that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) say: "When any of you dies, do not delay [his burial] but hasten to take him to his grave. Afterwards, read al-Fatiha at his head and the closing verses of Surat al-Baqarah at his feet" [Reported by al-Tabarani and al-Baihaqi in Shu'ab al-Iman. Ibn Hajar declared it fair]. Another phrasing of the hadith mentions 'the opening verses of Surat al-Baqarah instead of the Fatiha.
• Ibn 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with them both, instructed that the opening and closing verses of Surat al-Baqarah be read at his graveside when he is buried [Reported by al-Khalal. Ibn Qudamamh declared it authentic and al-Mawawi declared it fair]. It was mentioned in another narration that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said "read the opening verses of Surat al-Baqarah (i.e. first five verse)" instead of al-Fatiha."
• Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet [pbuh] said, "Whoever enters a cemetery and recites (Ya Seen), Allah will mitigate the punishment of the grave dwellers, and he will receive a reward equal to the number of deceased therein" [Reported by 'Abdul 'Aziz the student of al-Khalal. Ibn Qudama mentions it in al-Mughni].
The stronger opinion concerning this matter is the permissibility of reciting the Qur`an for the deceased and some scholars even maintain that there is a scholarly consensus on this matter; these include:
• The Hanbali scholar, ibn Qudama al-Maqdisi who said: "Any act of worship the reward of which is dedicated to a deceased Muslim will benefit him by the will of Allah … some scholars contend that if the Qur'an is read at the side of the deceased or its reward is dedicated to him, the reader receives the reward and the deceased will gain the mercy of its recitation … The opinion of our school which we have previously mentioned, is the unanimity of Muslims [on the permissibility of donating the reward of Qur`anic recitations to the deceased]; Muslims in every place and age have gathered to recite the Qur`an and dedicated its reward to their dead without any criticism" [Al-Mughni, 2/225].
• Sheikh al-'Uthmani cited the unanimous scholarly agreement in his book Rahmat al-Ummah fi Ikhtilaf al-A'immah, and said: "Scholars unanimously agreed that asking forgiveness for the deceased, supplicating for him, and the reward of giving out in charity, performing Hajj andmanumitting [slaves] on his behalf reaches and benefits him and that it is recommended to recite the Qur'an at the grave."
Scholars deduced the permissibility of reciting the Qur`an for the deceased from that of making Hajj on his behalf and the fact that its reward reaches him. This is because Hajj includes prayers which, in turn includes the Fatiha and other Qur`anic chapters. What reaches the deceased in whole reaches him in part; therefore, according to the majority of scholars, the reward of reciting the Qur`an reaches the deceased if the reciter intends to donate the reward to him.
The Shafi'is maintained that the recitation reaches the deceased as a supplication; one is to say: "O Allah! Give the deceased a reward similar to that which I earned for my recital"; the reciter must not donate the recital itself.
There should not be any controversy over this matter.
Allah Almighty knows best.