Supplicating audibly at the graveside after burial
What is the ruling on supplicating audibly for the deceased by his grave after burial? This issue sparked a debate between those who carried a deceased to his grave.
It is sunna for those escorting the deceased to stand by his grave for some time after burial and supplicate for him. 'Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "After burying a person, the Prophet [pbuh] would stand at his grave and say, 'Seek forgiveness for your brother and pray that he be steadfast, for he is now being questioned" [Reported by Abu Dawud and Hakim who declared it authentic].
'Amr ibn al-`As said: "When you bury me scatter earth over me and stand by my grave for the time it takes to slaughter a camel and divide its meat so that I may take comfort from your presence and think of how I will answer the messengers of my Lord [Munkar and Nakir]" [Muslim]. And this takes place after the burial.
There is no harm if supplications for the deceased are preceded with a brief sermon, reminding of death, softening hearts and bringing humility to the soul.
Ali [may Allah honor him] said: "We were attending a funeral, when the Prophet [pbuh] came and sat down and we sat around him. He held a stick with which he scratched the ground and said: "There is none among you—not a soul—but has its place in paradise or hell assigned for him and it is determined for him whether he is among the blessed or the wretched.' A man said: 'Should we not depend on what was preordained?' The Prophet [pbuh] replied: 'Work hard, for every person was facilitated to do what he was created for" [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim. Imam Bukhari dedicated a chapter to this issue which he entitled "Exhortations and remaining by the graveside of the deceased"].
Imam Nawawi stated in Al-Adhkar: "It is recommended to stand by the grave of the deceased for the time it takes to slaughter a camel and divide up its meat. Those attending should occupy themselves with reciting the Qur`an, supplicating for the deceased, preaching and telling stories of the pious. Imam al-Shaf'i and his students stated that it is recommended to recite some portions of the Qur'an by the grave of the deceased and it is better to complete it.
Audible or silent?
Allah left the manner of supplication for the deceased open. Therefore, if Allah legislates something, leaving it general while it can be executed in more than one manner, then it is not valid to restrict it in any way without the existence of evidence, since it would then be considered a reprehensible innovation. Consequently, it is impermissible to dispute over such matters.
The Prohibition of delving into things on which Allah remained silent
The Prophet [pbuh] forbade persistent questions and debates and clarified that if Allah Almighty remains silent upon a certain matter, it is out of His mercy and generosity. The Prophet [pbuh] said: "Allah prescribed some duties so do not neglect them; prohibited certain things so do not violate them; set down certain limits so do not transgress them; He remained silent about some things, out of mercy for you and not out of forgetfulness, so do not delve into them" [Reported by Darqatni and others through Abu Tha'laba al-Khushani may Allah be pleased with him].
The scholar Taftazhani wrote in his commentary on Imam Nawwai's 40 hadith: "What is meant by 'do not delve into them' is not to ask about their rulings because asking about matters on which Allah remained silent leads to them becoming obligations which may be difficult to observe; so the general principle of permissibility of things stands."
The Prophet [pbuh] illustrated the grave offence of those who caused restrictions upon Muslims due to their insistent questioning and delving into matters by saying: "The gravest sinner amongst Muslims is the one who asks about something and probes into it, so it becomes prohibited due to his insistent questioning." [Reported by Muslim through Amir ibn Sa`d through his father may Allah be pleased with him].
Abu Huraira [may Allah be pleased with him] said: "The Prophet [pbuh] delivered a speech and said: "O people! Perform Hajj for Allah has made it obligatory upon you." Hearing this, a man said, "O Messenger of Allah! Should we perform it every year?" The Prophet [pbuh] remained silent, but when the man repeated the question thrice, he said, "If I say yes it will become obligatory upon you and you will be unable to do it." He continued, "Do not ask me about matters on which I remain silent; the people who came before you were ruined because of their incessant questions and disputes with their prophets. So, if I forbid you to do something, keep away from it, and if I order you to do something, then do as much of it as you can" [Bukhari and Muslim].
Supplications made in a group are more likely to be accepted and require submission and humility of the soul, especially if made during a sermon. Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them both, narrated that the Prophet [pbuh] said: "The help of Allah is with the Jam`ah [group]" [Reported by Tirmidhi and declared fair by Al- Nisa`i].
Allah Almighty knows best.