When faced with the tragedy of the death of any near or dear one, we are encouraged to engage in isal thawab; i.e, to dedicate the reward for nafl (optional) deeds to the deceased. Hereunder is a list of some suggested deeds for Isal thawab, that have been mentioned in the Hadith.
This is not an exclusive list, but indeed a recommended one.
Reciting the Quran
Sayyiduna Ma’qil ibn Yasar (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: ‘Recite Surah Yasin upon your deceased.’
(Sunan Abi Dawud, Sahih ibn Hibban, Hadith: 3002 and Musnad Ahmad, Hadith: 16906)
This could mean that Surah Yasin be recited near one who is in the throes of death and even upon those who are already decease.
(Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadith 3660, Musnad Ahmad Hadith 10559)
It was the habit of the Ansar of Madinah to recite Surah Baqarah when they carried any Janazah.
One could even sponsor a student of the Quran and dedicate its reward for someone.
Istighfar and Du’a
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: ‘Indeed when an individual’s ranks are elevated in paradise, he enquires from Allah: ‘O, my Lord, how did I deserve this?’ He is then told, ‘This is due to your child seeking forgiveness on your behalf.’
(Sunan ibn Majah, Hadith: 3660, Musnad Ahmad, Hadith: 10559)
One should make a habit of remembering the deceased in du’a.
Hajj or ‘Umrah on behalf of the deceased
According to a narration in Sahih Muslim, Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) advised a woman to perform Hajj on behalf of her decease mother.
(Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 1148)
Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) is reported to have offered ‘Umrah repeatedly on behalf of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam).
(Shami vol.2 pg.244)
One could even sponsor the nafl Hajj or ‘Umrah of someone else with the intention of isal thawab.
Sponsoring wells and Boreholes
Sayyiduna Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah (radiyallahu ‘anhu) once asked Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), ‘Can I donate something on behalf of my deceased mother?’ Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied, ‘Yes’. ‘Which form of charity is most virtuous?’ enquired Sayyiduna Sa’d (radiyallahu ‘anhu). Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied, ‘Arrange water for people to drink.’
(Musnad Ahmad, Sunan Nasai, Hadith: 3664)
Sayyidatuna ‘Aaishah (radiyallahu ‘anha) reports that a man once said to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), ‘My mother died very suddenly. I’m sure that if she had the opportunity, she would have given charity. Can I do so on her behalf?’ Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied, ‘Yes, do give charity on her behalf.’
(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 2760)
In fact, the Fuqaha have advised that one should dedicate the reward for all good deeds to all the believers. This will not reduce one’s reward in the least.
(Shami vol.2 pg.243)
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said to the Sahabi (radiyallahu ‘anhu) who enquired about isal thawab for his deceased father: ‘Had he been a Muslim and you had emancipated slaves on his behalf, or given sadaqah on his behalf, or performed the pilgrimage, that would have reached him.’
(Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith: 2875)
One may also feed the poor, support a needy student or donate kitabs etc. as a form of isal thawab.
Lets take inspiration from the above and make a habit of doing isal thawab for our family and friends.