What can we do to benefit the deceased?

What can we do to benefit the deceased?

What will reach the deceased in their graves?

As per the well-known hadith, when someone dies three things continue to benefit them in their grave. These are charity given on their behalf, beneficial knowledge and the duas of their righteous children. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

  “When the son of Adam dies, all his deeds come to an end except three: sadaqah jariyah (ongoing charity, e.g. a waqf or endowment), beneficial knowledge (which he has left behind), or a righteous child who will pray for him.” (Tirmidhi)

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported God’s Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying:

“Among the actions and good deeds for which a believer will continue to receive reward after his death are knowledge which he taught and spread, a good son whom he left behind, or a copy of the Qur’an which he left as a legacy, or a mosque which he built, or a house which he built for the traveller, or a stream which he caused to flow, or a sadaqah which he gave from his wealth when he was alive and well, for which he will continue to receive reward after his death.” (Ibn Majah and Baihaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman)

There are seven rewards for the servant while he is in his grave after his death:

سبعٌ يجري على العبد أجرُهن وهو في قبره بعد موته: مَن علَّم علمًا، أو كرى نهرًا، أو حفر بئرًا، أو غرس نخلًا، أو بنى مسجدًا، أو ورث مصحفًا، أو ترك ولدًا صالحًا يستغفر له بعد موته

  • Teach knowledge
  • Give water by giving access to a river or digging a well
  • Plant trees
  • Build a mosque
  • Leave the Qur’an
  • Leave a righteous child son who seeks forgiveness for him after his death. (Ibn Majah)

Charity – Sadaqah Jariah

One can give any charity on behalf of the deceased but ongoing charity (sadaqa jariah) is where there is recurring benefit to others, such as a water well or a school or a mosque, a library as long it is continues serving people, spreading knowledge eg by publishing beneficial books. The top of these is realted to Islamic knowledge but not restricted to it.

`Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that a man said to the Prophet (peace be upon him): “My mother has passed away, and if she could have spoken, she would have given something in charity. Will she receive a reward if I give something on her behalf?” He said, “Yes.” (Bukhari)

Beneficial Knowledge – Ilmun nafi’

Anything the deceased taught which continues to benefit others will continue to bring them reward in the grave. It can be any knowledge – a science book or anything they taught others which benefitted them.

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) as saying:

If anyone summons other to follow right guidance, his reward will be equivalent to that of the people who follow him, without their rewards being diminished in any respect on that account; and if anyone summons others to follow error the sin of which sins being diminished in any respect on that account. (Abu Dawoud)

Duas of righteous children – walad salih

The prayers of righteous children for their parents are particularly effective. One can recite any good dua from the heart and also recite these verses from the Quran:

“and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was young’” (17:24)

“And those who came after them say: ‘Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith’” (59:10)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“A man’s status will be raised in Paradise and he will ask, How did I get here? He will be told, By your child’s du’as (prayers) for forgiveness for you.” (Ibn Majah)

Pray for forgiveness and mercy for the deceased, and for Jannatul Firdaus and salvation from the Fire, and other good and beautiful du`as (prayers).

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the mother of Sa’d ibn Ubadah (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) died when he was away from her. He said: “O Messenger of Allah, my mother has died and I am away from her. Will it benefit her anything if I give in charity on her behalf?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “Then I ask you to be my witness that I am giving my garden al-Mikhraf (so called because it bore so many dates) in charity on her behalf.” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that a man said to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

“My father has died and left money behind. He did not make a wasiyyah (a will); will it expiate for his sins if I give some of it in charity on his behalf?” He said, “Yes.” (Nasai)

Sa’d ibn Ubadah said: “I said: O Messenger of Allah, my mother has died. Should I give charity on her behalf? He said, Yes. I asked, What kind of charity is best? He said, Providing water.” (Nasai)

Righteous children

Children whose righteous deeds were a direct result of what they learned from their deceased parents will benefit their parents through their actions. Other good deeds of the children will not benefit them unless they make the intention of gifting that reward to them.

Recite the Quran

It is permissible to recite the Quran with the intention of gifting the reward to the deceased. For an in depth discussion of this please read:

Can you hold a khatam for the deceased? Should you mark death anniversaries? Can you attend non-Muslim funerals? – Utrujj

Hajj and Umrah

One may perform Hajj, Umrah on behalf of the deceased if one makes the intention to do this for them, as per the hadith.

‘Abdullah ibn Buraydah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that his father (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “While I was sitting with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), a woman came to him and said: I gave my mother a slave-woman in charity, and now my mother has died. He said: You have got your reward, and your right of inheritance has brought your gift back to you. She said, O Messenger of Allah, she still had one month to fast. Can I fast it on her behalf? He said, Fast it on her behalf. She said, She never went to Hajj. Can I perform Hajj on her behalf? He said, Perform Hajj on her behalf.” (Muslim)

One may only peform a Hajj or Umrah for one person at a time. For instance one might perform it for their father or mother but not both at the same time.


Imam Nawawi said scholars differ on whether you can fast for the deceased or not and there are three opinions. If the deceased missed obligatory fasts from Ramadan, then someone can fast on his/her behalf or pay fidya, this is the Shafi opinion. The majority of scholars say it is not permissible to make up the fast of the deceased, however you can fast and gift the reward to them and they will benefit. The scholars are not all agreed on this matter.

Fulfil the oaths (nadhr) of the deceased

Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported that a woman came to the Prophet (peace and be upon him) and said: “My mother made a vow to perform Hajj but she died before she could do it. Can I perform Hajj on her behalf?” He said, “Yes, perform Hajj on her behalf. Don’t you think that if your mother owed a debt you would pay it off?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “Then pay off what is owed to Allah, for Allah is more deserving of having vows fulfilled.” (Bukhari)

Sacrifice at Eid al Adha and during the year

One may make sacrifice or dedicate a share of the sacrifice on behalf of the deceased by making the intention for them.

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) offered a sacrifice, he said:

“In the name of Allah, O Allah, on behalf of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad” (Muslim) and the family of Muhammad included both the living and the dead.

Planting trees

One of the charitable deeds that bring benefit to the deceased is planting trees on their behalf. The deceased benefit from the ones who take shade under it as well as the birds who eat from it and nest in it.

Regrets that you did not do enough for your parents in their lifetime

It is natural for children to feel they are not doing enough for their parents. During their lifetime this is a beneficial feeling as it leads to children exerting themselves looking after their parents. However once they have passed away, instead of wallowing in guilt it is better to channelise that emotion outwards in good actions on behalf of the deceased. For instance by doing charity on their behalf and making dua for them. They may also visit the graveyard to make dua for them.

Crying for the deceased

Is it permissible to cry for the deceased?

Crying over a deceased is allowed. It is natural and it releases emotions which is healthy.

There were numerous instances when the Prophet (peace be upon) himself cried over a deceased or someone who was dying.

Although shedding tears is allowed one should not shout or scream or wail. This is from the customs of PreIslamic times and is sinful.

While crying is natural if someone is unable to come to terms with the loss of a loved one, they should seek help to enable them to process their grief.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘O Ibn ‘Awf, it is mercy.’ Then more tears followed and he said, ‘The eye weeps and the heart grieves and we say nothing except what pleases our Rabb. O Ibrahim, we are grieved at your departure.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

We cannot complain when Allah sends us afflictions – big or small- because He is the All Wise. There is hikmah (wisdom) in everything He does, so there is no room to complain even if we do not understand the wisdom with our limited intellect.

As we learned from the Prophet (peace be upon him) to ask Allah Almighty to replace whatever we have lost with something better. In the story of Umm Salamah who lost her beloved husband, and made this dua, she was granted an even better husband – the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself.

Umm Salamah, that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

When a calamity strikes one of you, then let him say:

‘Indeed, to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return. (Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un).

O Allah, I seek reward with You for my affliction, so reward me for it, and replace it for me with something better’ [Muslim]

When Abu Salama died she said, “What Muslim is better than Abu Salama whose family was the first to emigrate to God’s messenger? ”(He and his wife, Umm Salama, were among those who emigrated to Abyssinia. Abu Salama died of wounds received at the battle of Uhud, and the Prophet later married Umm Salama.) She then said the words, and God gave her God’s messenger in exchange. [Muslim]

When Umm Salamah lost her husband, it was beyond her imagination that she could be granted a husband better than him. Yet she was taught to ask Allah for something better and to mean it.

Anyone going through difficulty, should know that with every breath they take Allah multiples their reward and elevates their status. On the Day of Judgement when they see the piles and piles of reward Allah prepared for those who are patient and preserved, they would wish they had been afflicted even more in the dunya.

Related posts

Duas for righteous children

What duas can I recite for the deceased? – Utrujj

Can you hold a khatam for the deceased? Should you mark death anniversaries? Can you attend non-Muslim funerals? – Utrujj

Download your FREE Booklet on Birth and Death Rites in Islam

Download the Urdu version

Download your FREE Booklet on Preparation for Death

How to perform salatul janaza

Is it wrong to cry when someone passes away? – Utrujj

Can women visit the graveyard

Duas for sadness

List of prophetic daily adkhar

Duas for protection from harm and hasad


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.