Gifting the One in the Grave

Mufti Abdul Wahab Waheed
February 25, 2024

In this life, we lavish our most beloved ones with gifts; a symbolic gesture and sincere offering out of affection and cherishment for them. Once we are lying beneath the dirt, the deeds and du’as of our loved ones become gifts for our lengthy stay in the grave.


Imagine being all alone, buried deep inside a grave, enveloped by nothing but darkness and dust. Life in this unfamiliar pitch-black space, is the first stage of the Hereafter. Distant from our families, in this new home where earth blankets our entire body, the only way that light can now touch our gaze is through the provision which we have prepared ourselves with — our deeds, which will accompany us every step of our journey in the metaphysical realm.

As the Prophet (ﷺ) has informed us, the grave is either a lush illuminated garden or a pit of doom — depending on the deeds that the believer has accumulated in their lifetime, and in accordance with their level of piety. He (ﷺ) also mentioned that our deeds will be discontinued once we die, with the exception of three things:

صَدَقَةٍ جَارِيَةٍ ، أَوْ عِلْمٍ يُنْتَفَعُ بِهِ، أَوْ وَلَدٍ صَالَحٍ يَدْعُو لَهُ

Sustainable charity, beneficial knowledge or the supplication of a righteous child (Muslim)

While in the grave, the deceased anxiously anticipates being gifted by those they left behind. This is why gifting them with beneficial deeds on their behalf, and making sincere supplications steadfastly for them, plays a significant role for their state while in their final resting place.

The Gift of Light

Our deeds and dua’s are treasured gifts for our loved ones who have transitioned to the next stage of life. The pious predecessors claim it is even more valuable than food and water is to the living. A statement by the Prophet (ﷺ) confirms this:

مَا الْمَيِّتُ فِي الْقَبْرِ إِلَّا كَالْغَرِيقِ الْمُتَغَوِّثِ يَنْتَظِرُ دَعْوَةً تَلْحَقُهُ مِنْ أَبٍ أَوْ أُمٍّ أَوْ أَخٍ أَوْ صَدِيقٍ فَإِذَا لَحِقَتْهُ كَانَ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا وَمَا فِيهَا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى لَيُدْخِلُ عَلَى أَهْلِ الْقُبُورِ مِنْ دُعَاءِ أَهْلِ الْأَرْضِ أَمْثَالَ الْجِبَالِ وَإِنَّ هَدِيَّةَ الْأَحْيَاءِ إِلَى الْأَمْوَاتِ الِاسْتِغْفَارُ لَهُمْ

“A dead man in his grave is just like a drowning man calling for help, for he hopes that a supplication from a father, a mother, a brother, or a friend may reach him, and when it does it is dearer to him than the world and what it contains. God most high brings to those who are in the graves’ blessings several times as great as the size of the mountains because of the supplication of those who are on the earth. The gift of the living to the dead is to ask pardon for them.” (Mishkat al-Masabih)

There is consensus that the deceased will receive these gifts, and they will become so elated upon receiving this glad tiding. Every single virtuous act we’ve made for the deceased will be presented on fancily draped trays, which will radiate like the beautiful glow of the moon, or in some narrations, like a mountain of light.

According to Imam al-Suyuti when a person performs a virtuous act for the deceased, Jibril places it in a gleaming tray and takes it to the edge of the grave, stands there and says, “O the one in the grave! Your family members have sent this gift, accept it.” The deceased will become overjoyed, while others in neighboring graves who are deprived of such gifts will become sad.

Every single day, the deceased will await with such tremendous hopes and expectations to the point that they will feel disappointed by the absence of gifts from their loved ones. Ibn Rajab conveyed that a man dreamt of a pious person who complained saying, “Why have you stopped sending us your gifts?” When he asked, “Do the deceased recognize the gifts from the living as well?” The pious person said, “If the living did not exist, then the deceased would have been destroyed.”

We can find many dream narrations reported by scholars to the same effect. A similar anticipation is displayed by the deceased when we visit their grave – because our presence is felt by them. In fact, they recognize us, and our supplications at their grave is a means of support for them, as well as other dwellers in the graveyard.

Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah narrated when his visits to his deceased father’s grave lessened, he dreamt of his father asking, “O my son! Why is there this delay?” He replied, “Do you know of my coming?” His father affirmed, “Why not? I know of your every visit. I used to become happy on seeing you, and the deceased individuals neighboring me were also pleased by your supplication.”

Knowing that the deceased listens to us, is aware of our visits and benefits from our virtuous acts and supplications, it should be our utmost priority to plea for the mercy of Allah continuously; especially to save them from the punishment in the grave, to make their stay in their settlement an honorable one, and to increase their rank in the Hereafter.

Supplications of Sunnah

The Prophet (ﷺ) would often offer support to the deceased either after a burial or when he visited the gravesite. At the moment of burial, he (ﷺ) taught us to recite this powerful verse of the Qur’an, which also serves as a reminder:

مِنۡهَا خَلَقۡنَٰكُمۡ وَفِيهَا نُعِيدُكُمۡ وَمِنۡهَا نُخۡرِجُكُمۡ تَارَةً أُخۡرَىٰ

From the earth We created you, and into it We will return you, and from it We will extract you another time. (20:55)

He (ﷺ) used to say that the punishment in the grave is the most crucial stage, as the deceased will be faced with the interrogation that will be the decider of their fate. Therefore, he (ﷺ)encouraged the Companions to stay behind and provide them strength by reciting:

يُثَبِّتُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ بِٱلۡقَوۡلِ ٱلثَّابِتِ فِي ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَفِي ٱلۡأٓخِرَةِۖ

Allah keeps firm those who believe, with the firm word, in worldly life and in the Hereafter. (14:27)

In the Prophet’s prayer for the deceased, Awf ibn Malik said that he heard him invoking Allah with these words:

اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لَهُ وَارْحَمْهُ وَعَافِهِ وَاعْفُ عَنْهُ وَأَكْرِمْ نُزُلَهُ وَوَسِّعْ مُدْخَلَهُ وَاغْسِلْهُ بِالْمَاءِ وَالثَّلْجِ وَالْبَرَدِ وَنَقِّهِ مِنَ الْخَطَايَا كَمَا نَقَّيْتَ الثَّوْبَ الأَبْيَضَ مِنَ الدَّنَسِ وَأَبْدِلْهُ دَارًا خَيْرًا مِنْ دَارِهِ وَأَهْلاً خَيْرًا مِنْ أَهْلِهِ وَزَوْجًا خَيْرًا مِنْ زَوْجِهِ وَأَدْخِلْهُ الْجَنَّةَ وَأَعِذْهُ مِنْ عَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ أَوْ مِنْ عَذَابِ النَّارِ

O Allah! forgive him, have mercy upon him, give him peace and absolve him. Receive him with honor and make his grave spacious; wash him with water, snow and hail. Cleanse him from faults as You wouldst cleanse a white garment from impurity. Requite him with an abode more excellent than his abode, with a family better than his family, and with a mate better than his mate. Admit him to the Garden, and protect him from the torment of the grave and the torment of the Fire. (Sahih Muslim)

It was also the Prophet’s habit to visit the dwellers of the grave. A'isha RA narrated that he (ﷺ) would go to al-Baqi' towards the end of the night and say:

أَنَّهَا قَالَتْ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم - كُلَّمَا كَانَ لَيْلَتُهَا مِنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم - يَخْرُجُ مِنْ آخِرِ اللَّيْلِ إِلَى الْبَقِيعِ فَيَقُولُ ‏"‏ السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ دَارَ قَوْمٍ مُؤْمِنِينَ وَأَتَاكُمْ مَا تُوعَدُونَ غَدًا مُؤَجَّلُونَ وَإِنَّا إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ بِكُمْ لاَحِقُونَ اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لأَهْلِ بَقِيعِ الْغَرْقَدِ ‏

Peace be upon you, abode of a people who are believers. What you were promised would come to you tomorrow, you received it after some delay; and God willing we shall join you. O Allah, grant forgiveness to the inhabitants of Baqi' al-Gharqad. (Sahih Muslim)

While it’s worth noting that our deceased loved ones will derive comfort from our visits, and through all our du’as and virtuous acts; all of these gifts will also cushion any shortcomings they might have had in their lifetime. But ultimately, a believer must personally prepare themselves for their return to Allah by raising their best deeds.

The pious predecessors used to say, the son of Adam has two homes; a home on the earth, and a home under the earth. The present home will be inhabited for a short time, while the next home is forever. The question is, how much work have you put into your stay in your forever home?

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