Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “The Sunnah of the Prophet and his companions, as reported in the sources, is to offer supplications and pray for the deceased. The Qur’an reminds us that we should pray for all the believers who have passed on before us. Besides offering supplications, there is no record in the sources that the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) and his Companions were in the habit of reading the Qur’an and sending rewards to their loved ones who had passed away.

However, the Prophet was asked on a number of occasions by individuals whether they were allowed to perform Hajj and give charity on behalf of their deceased parents. His answer to such questions always was in the affirmative. In other words, he did not stop people from making Hajj or giving charity on behalf of their deceased parents or relatives.

Scholars who reflected on the above traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) posed the question: Does this apply only to Hajj and charity? Or does it extend beyond these to include all acts of devotion and worship such as reading the Qur’an and performing nafl (supererogatory) prayers, etc.?

One group of scholars said it was only limited to Hajj and charity and could not be extended to acts of worship such as prayers and reading of the Qur’an. This view is held by a number of scholars from various accepted schools of jurisprudence. However, another group of scholars, belonging to all of the major schools, said: There is no reason to exclude reading of the Qur’an and prayers from the above permission granted by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Accordingly, they are of the opinion that a person is allowed to read the Qur’an and pray to Allah to send the rewards to their deceased parents and relatives. However, this group explicitly prohibits the practice of hiring people to read the Qur’an or making a ritual of gathering to read the Qur’an on a set date after death. Such a practice would amount to introducing a bid`ah (innovation).

The view that reading the Qur’an and donating the rewards to one’s deceased parents and relatives is permitted has been authenticated by scholars like Ibn Taymiyyah. However, he reminds us that the Sunnah of the Prophet and his companions was limited to offering du`as (supplications) for the deceased ones.”