Charity on behalf of the Deceased and Praying for him
Allah, the Exalted, says:
"And those who came after them say: `Our Rubb! Forgive us and our brothers who have preceded us in Faith.''' (59:10)
948. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: A man said to the Prophet (PBUH): "My mother has died suddenly. I think that if she were able to talk (alive) she would have given in Sadaqah (charity). So, if I give Sadaqah now on her behalf, will she get the reward?'' The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Yes (she will be rewarded for that).''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith plainly tells us that the reward of the alms given on behalf of a dead person reaches his or her soul just like the benefit of prayer, if accepted by Allah. Charity and prayer are two permissible forms of the transmission of blessing to the dead. But rites like `Qul' and `Chehlum' are all of Hindu origin to which the ignorant Muslims have taken a fancy. Similarly, Qur'an reading meant to transmit reward to a dead man's soul is against the Prophet's example. All such observances are of no use to the dead. Only scriptural channels can be beneficial to them and they are only two - prayer and charity. But only that charity counts which comes from the children of the dead and the Hadith too has specified it. Obviously, almsgiving by any other person than the offspring cannot be considered rightful or rewarding to the dead. For further detail, one can refer to Sheikh Al-Albani's Ahkam-ul-Janaiz.
949. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "When a man dies, his deeds come to an end, except for three: A continuous charity, knowledge by which people derive benefit, pious son who prays for him.''
Commentary: A thoughtful reflection of this Hadith will reveal that the three things are indeed man's own good deeds which somehow continue to exist even after his death. For example, places like a hospital, a mosque, a religious school and a well built by a man continue to operate like a trust as traces of his activity in earthly life. To quote the Qur'an:
"And We record that which they send before (them), and their traces [their footsteps and walking on the earth with their legs to the mosques for the five compulsory congregational prayers, Jihad (holy fighting in Allah's Cause) and all other good and evil they did, and that which they leave behind].'' (36:12)
So long as they exist and people benefit from them, the dead person will keep receiving his due reward. The same is pertinent to the spread of knowledge of Islamic disciplines to people's moral uplift. For instance, if during his lifetime he wrote books based on Qur'an and Hadith, advocated the cause of Islam, instructed lots of pupils in Islamic teachings, it will be counted as an unending activity on his part. To quote a Hadath: "The one who called people to adopt the Right Path will receive reward in the same measure as did those who had the good fortune to follow him.'' Besides, this Hadith tells us that, after his death, man will receive reward by the prayers of his virtuous children, and other Ahadith too confirm it. This clears the issue of sending the fruit of good works to the welfare of a dead person's soul. Charity or the continual charity from the part of a dead person himself, beneficial (religious) knowledge and prayer are acts of Sunnah under this rule. With the exception of these, all other deeds do not benefit the dead. However, if the dead person was under obligation to perform Hajj or had missed obligatory or vowed fasts, his heirs are commanded by the Prophet (PBUH) to observe them on his behalf. Because this is like a debt payable by the dead person and his heirs are under obligation to discharge it for him. Yet, this rule is inapplicable to other forms of physical worship.