Islamic beliefs and knowledge
Benefit the deceased
Muhammad Adnan Chishti
The favours and blessings of Allah Almighty are upon all of creation. However, the generosity, blessings and bounties He bestows upon the people of faith are unique. From amongst His countless blessings is that He granted believers the knowledge and ability to perform deeds by means of which they attain reward and goodness. Not only this, but those who have left this world and can no longer perform good deeds can also receive the benefit and reward of such deeds. In simple terms, the deeds of the living can benefit deceased Muslims. This is a matter proven from hadith and is a part of the beliefs and practices of the Ahl Al-Sunnah.
The result of 100 Muslims offering a funeral prayer
The Final Prophet of Allah صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has stated: مَنْ صَلَّى عَلَيْهِ مِائَةٌ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ غُفِرَ لَهُ, meaning, ‘Whichever deceased has 100 Muslims offer his funeral prayer will be forgiven.’
It is evident from this Hadith that a deed performed by the living benefits the deceased. This is the grace of Allah Almighty. Peruse the following two narrations and express gratitude to Allah for His grace and favours.
The result of 40 Muslims offering a funeral prayer
Sayyiduna Kurayb رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ stated: ‘The son of Ibn Abbas رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ passed away, and so he said to me: “O Kurayb, [go and] look at how many people have gathered.” I went to see and found people had gathered, and so I informed him. He asked, “Do you think they are 40?” I replied, ‘Yes.’ Then, Ibn Abbas رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ stated: “Bring him (the deceased) out, as I have heard the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم say that if a Muslim passes away and has 40 Muslims offer salah upon his deceased body, Allah Almighty will accept their plea in favour of the deceased.’’
Paradise becomes incumbent
The Final Prophet of Allah صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has stated: ‘If a Muslim passes away and has three rows of Muslims offer the funeral prayer upon him, Allah Almighty makes Paradise necessary for him.’
What can be said about the mercy of Allah Almighty! Sometimes due to a 100 people, other times due to 40, and sometimes due to just three rows, Allah Almighty forgives a deceased Muslim. Also, from amongst the good deeds performed by the living that benefit the deceased is the placing of fresh branches or flowers upon graves and shrines. It is permissible and desirable (mustahab) in shari’ah to place fresh branches upon graves or plant them on top. Similarly, it is also commendable (mustahsan) to place flowers on graves.
Placing fresh twigs upon a grave is proven from the actions of the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. The honourable companions would act upon this, the generation after the companions (taabi'een) willed for this, and the jurists (fuqaha) and scholars of Hadith (muhaditheen) continue to explain the goodness of this action. Sayyiduna Abdullah Ibn Abbas رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ stated: ‘The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم passed by two graves and stated: “These two are being punished, and this is not due to anything major. Rather, one of them did not save himself from sprinkles of urine, and the other was a tale-teller.” Then, he took a fresh branch, broke it into two and planted one on each grave. The companions عَلَیْہِمُ الرِّضْوَان asked: “O Messenger of Allah صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, why did you do this?” He صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم replied: “Their punishment will be lessened for as long as these do not dry.”’
Imam Abu Abdullah Hussayn Bin Ibrahim Joorqani رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْـه (d. 543 Hijri) mentions a similar narration from Muslim and writes: وَفِيهِ دَلِيلٌ عَلَى اسْتِحْبَابِ وَضْعِ الْجَرِيدَةِ الرَّطْبَةِ عَلَى الْقَبْرِ عَلَى مَا فَعَلَهُ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, meaning, ‘there is evidence in this Hadith that placing a fresh branch upon a grave is desirable as the Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم did so.’ An exegete of al-Bukhari, Imam Siraj al-Deen Abu Hafs Umar Bin Ali—also known as Ibn Mulaqqin al-Shafi’i رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْـه—has also narrated this passage.
A narrator of the six authenticated Hadith compilations (sihaah sittah), Sayyiduna Muwarriq al-Ijli رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْـه stated: أَوْصَى بُرَيْدَةُ الأَسْلَمِيُّ أَنْ تُوضَعَ فِي قَبْرِهِ جَرِيدَتَانِ, meaning, the Prophet’s Companion Buraydah al-Aslami رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ made a will for two branches to be placed upon his grave. Sayyiduna Muwarriq al-Ijli رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْـه says: ‘Buraydah al-Aslami رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ passed away near Khurasan. فَلَمْ تُوجَد إِلَّا فِي جَوَالِقِ حِمارٍ (We found those two branches in the pack-saddle of his donkey). When it was time to bury Buraydah al-Aslami رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ, those two branches were placed upon his grave.’
The Prophet’s Companion Sayyiduna Abu Barzah al-Aslami رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ would say that the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم passed by a grave in which the deceased was being punished. He صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم then planted a twig on it and said: ‘His punishment will be lessened for as long as this remains fresh.’ Sayyiduna Abu-Barzah رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ made a will for two fresh branches to be placed alongside him in his grave. He passed away between the regions of Kirmaan and Qawsayn, and those accompanying him said: ‘He made a will for two fresh branches to be placed in his grave, but there is no sign of fresh branches here.’
As they pondered over the next course of action, riders hailing from Sijistaan who had fresh branches suddenly appeared. They took two branches from them and placed them in the grave alongside Sayyiduna Abu Barzah رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ. Khaatam al-Muhaditheen Imam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti Shafi’i رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْـه writes: ‘Scholars have said that if there is a lessening in their punishment due to one branch, then what can be said about the degree by which punishment is lessened when Muslims recite the Holy Quran? The basis for planting trees near graves is this Hadith.’
The illustrious taabi'i, Imam Abu Aaliyah Rufee’ Bin Mehraan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْـه also requested for date tree branches to be placed upon his grave. Sayyiduna Aasim Ahwal رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْـه states in this regard: ‘أَنَّ أَبَا العَالِيَةِ أَوْصَى مُوَرِّقاً العِجْلِيَّ أَنْ يَجْعَلَ فِي قَبْرِهِ جَرِيْدَتَيْنِ’, meaning, Abu al-Aaliyah رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْـه requested Muwarriq al-Ijli رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْـه to place two fresh branches in his grave.
 Ibn Majah, Vol. 2, p. 213, Hadith 1,488
 Muslim, p. 368, Hadith 2,199
 Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, p. 270. Hadith 3,166
 Fatawa Sadr ul Fazil, p. 303
 al-Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 96. Hadith 218
 al-Abaateel wa al-Manakeer wa al-Sihaah wa al-Mashaheer, vol. 1, p. 361, Hadith. 347
 al-Alaam bi Fawaid Umdah al-Ahkam, vol. 1, p. 544
 Tabaqaat Ibn Sad, vol.7, p. 6, no. 2826, Siyar Alaam al-Nubala, vol. 2, p. 470
 Tabaqat Ibn Sad, vol.7, p. 6, no. 2826
 Tareekh Ibn Asakir, vol. 62, p. 100, no. 7,891
 Sharh al-Sudoor, p. 313
 Siyar Aalam al-Nubala, vol. 4, p. 213, Tabaqaat Ibn Sad, vol. 7, p. 84, no. 2,990