Answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Is there any basis for reciting the beginning and last few verses of Surat al-Baqarah and making Dua for the deceased after burial?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
Once burial is over, to recite the opening few verses of Surat al-Baqarah towards the head of the deceased and the concluding few verses of the same Surah by the feet is established through the Hadith, and as such, recommended.
Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that he heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) say: “When one of you passes away, do not keep his body for long and take him quickly to his grave, and have the opening verses of Surat al-Baqarah recited at his head and the concluding verses of Surat al-Baqarah recited at his feet.” (Recorded by al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman and he said: The reality is that this is a statement of Abdullah ibn Umar (mawquf). See: Mishkat al-Masabih no: 1717)
As a result, the renowned classical Hanafi jurist, Imam Ibn Abidin (may Allah have mercy on him) states:
“… And Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) liked to recite by the grave the opening and concluding verses of Surat al-Baqarah upon the completion of the burial.” (Radd al-Muhtar ala ‘l-Durr al-Mukhtar 2/237)
As such, it is recommended, once the burial procedure is over, to first stand near the head of the deceased and recite the opening few verses of Surat al-Baqarah (verses 1-5), and thereafter, move towards the feet of the deceased and recite the concluding verses of the same Surah (verses 285-286). These verses can be recited both audibly and silently, although some scholars prefer to recite them silently.
It is important to remember, however, that reciting these verses of Surat al-Baqarah is not necessary, but rather recommended. Thus, there is nothing wrong whatsoever in choosing not to recite them, and as such, those who choose not to recite these verses should not be looked down upon or considered in the wrong.
Moreover, in addition to these verses of Surat al-Baqarah, it is recommended for those present at the grave-site to remain for a while reciting other Surahs and verses of the Qur’an such as Surat al-Fatiha, Surat al-Ikhlas, Surah Yasin, Ayat al-Kursi, seeking forgiveness and supplicating (dua) for the deceased.
Under the heading “Recitation beside the deceased” Imam Abu Dawud records a Hadith in his Sunan related by Ma’qal ibn Yasar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Recite Surah Yasin upon your deceased.” (Sunan Abi Dawud, no: 3112)
Sayyiduna Uthman (Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), after burying the deceased, would stand by the grave and say: “Seek forgiveness for your brother and pray for his steadfastness, for he is now being questioned.” (Sunan Abi Dawud, no: 3213)
Imam Muslim relates from Shumasa al-Mahri, as part of a long Hadith, that the Companion Sayyiduna Amr ibn al-As (may Allah be pleased with him), when close to his death, said to his son and those around him: “…When I die, let neither a female mourner nor fire accompany me. When you bury me, place soil on me well, then stand around my grave for a duration in which a camel can be slaughtered and its meat distributed, so that I may enjoy your company and ascertain what answer I can give to the messengers (angels) of my Lord.” (Sahih Muslim, no: 121)
It is stated in the Hanafi Fiqh work, Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:
“It is recommended (mustahab) after the burial procedure is over to wait by the grave for a duration in which a camel can be slaughtered and its meat distributed, reciting [verses and Surahs from] the Qur’an and making Dua for the deceased… The recitation of the Qur’an [by the grave] is not disliked according to Imam Muhammad (Allah have mercy on him) and our [Hanafi] jurists have taken his position [on the matter]. And does the deceased benefit [from this recitation]? The preferred opinion is that he does benefit.” (Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/166)
In light of the above, it becomes clear that it is recommended to wait around for a while, reciting portions of the Qur’an, seeking forgiveness and making Dua for the deceased after the burial procedure is over. Individual as well as collective Dua is permissible, with or without raising the hands. However, as previously mentioned, none of these acts should be considered necessary nor should they be given such importance that those who choose not to take part are rebuked and looked down upon.
May Allah Most High illuminate our graves and make matters easy for us in our graves and the next life, Ameen Ya Rabb.