It goes without saying that showing kindness towards one’s parents is one of the main duties upon man. Allah Almighty says: “Thy Lord has decreed, that you worship none save Him, and (that you show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, say not ‘Fie’ unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word.” (Al-Isra’: 23)
One should show all types of kindness to one’s parents. However, dutifulness to parents extends beyond their death and continues as long as we live. Therefore, one should supplicate and do other acts that benefit the dead as much as possible for his parents after their death.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “When a son of Adam passes away, he is cut off from his deeds except for three things: a current or perpetual charity, good knowledge that benefits someone, and a good child who makes du`a’ (supplication) for him.”
In this regard, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
“Our duties towards our parents, as we learn from the sources, do not cease with their death; rather they continue as long as we live. In a report cited by Imam al-Bukhari in his famous work al-Adab al-Mufrad we read, “A man approached the Prophet asking, “Is there anything I must do in terms of kindness towards my parents after their death?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, there are four things for you to do: Praying and asking forgiveness of Allah on their behalf, fulfilling their promises, respecting their friends, and fostering their ties of kinship…”
Moreover, it is highly recommended for us to visit the graves of our parents. Such visits serve as excellent reminders for us besides prompting us to remember and pray for our parents. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “In the past, I had forbidden you from visiting graves, but now you should do so, for it might remind you of the next world.”
After enjoining upon us the duty of excellence in rendering kindness towards our parents, Allah orders us in the Qur’an (Surat al-Isra’, 17: 24) to pray for our parents saying, “Our Lord, have mercy on our parents, even as they had mercy on us, while we were little!”
Lastly, there are traditions from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that indicate that often a person in the grave suddenly finds his station elevated or conditions change, and when he enquires why it is happening to him, he is told that it is by virtue of the good deeds or prayers of his offspring on his behalf.
Therefore, in light of the above, I urge you not to be slack in praying for your mother besides doing whatever good deeds you possibly can on her behalf.”
The eminent Muslim scholar, Dr. `Abdel-Fattah Idrees, Professor of Comparative Jurisprudence at Al-Azhar Univ., adds:
“Showing kindness to parents is not only during their lives but it also can be done after their death. A Muslim can show kindness and do acts expressing dutifulness to his parents after their death by making du`a’ for them, doing voluntary good deeds on their behalf, as well as fulfilling religious obligations such as Hajj, fasting, Zakah, Kaffarah (expiation), etc. on their behalf if they died before performing them or were negligent in performing them.
It is reported on the authority of al-Hajjaj ibn Dinar that a man asked Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him): “I used to show kindness to my parents during their lives, but what can I do in terms of kindness towards them after their death?” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “It is out of kindness after kindness towards parents that you offer prayers on their behalf along with your prayers and to fast on their behalf along with your fasting.”
There are also several hadiths reported on the authority of Ibn `Abbas and others to the effect that a Muslim can do several acts of righteousness as well as religious obligations on behalf of his deceased parents as a form of showing kindness to them after their death.