Why do we read the chapter of al-Fatiha for the spirits of our dead people?

Details of the Question

I have heard a hadith about reading the chapter of Yasin for the dead people but have not been able to find any resources about al-Fatiha. Is it useful for the dead people to read al-Fatiha for them?
Why is al-Fatiha for the spirit of… written on gravestones?
I will be glad if you enlighten me on the issue.

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- The chapter of al-Fatiha is a part of the Quran. The decree on reading the Quran and sending its reward to the spirit of the dead people is also valid for al-Fatiha.

The reason why al-Fatiha for the spirit of… is written on gravestones is to make the people who visit that grave read the chapter of al-Fatiha. 

Al-Fatiha is the most virtuous chapter of the Quran; one of the verses of al-Fatiha is the most virtues verse of the Quran.

On the other hand, the chapter of al-Fatiha is a summary of the Quran. The Quran aims oneness, penalty and reward in the hereafter, worshipping only Allah, the true path, that is, the way of guidance and happiness and the exemplary stories of the previous nations; this chapter, which is the first chapter of the Quran, contains the foundations of all of them.  

Besides, the chapter of al-Fatiha is read in every rak’ah of prayers. 

Due to those virtues and similar ones, the chapter of al-Fatiha is read on every occasion and its reward is sent to the spirits of the dead people. 

- According to Hanafi madhhab, it is nice for a person to recite the Quran at the grave of his relative or close friend. (Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul-Islami 8/49)

The following statement was also made by Hanafi scholars:

“According to Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah, a person can send the rewards of his good deeds like prayers, fasting, reciting the Quran, dhikr and hajj to others.  (see Fathul-Qadir, 6/132; al-Bahrur-Raiq,7/379- Shamila-; Raddul-Muhtar, 2/263)

- According to Maliki madhhab, it is permissible for a person to advise others to recite the Quran at his grave. (W. Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul-Islami, 8/51)

- According to Shafii and Hanbali madhhabs, it is permissible for a person to will that the Quran be recited at his grave because the reward of the Quran that is recited reaches the dead person in the following three cases:

To recite the Quran at the grave, to pray after reciting, and to read with the intention of sending the reward to the spirit of the dead person. (see W. Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul-Islami, 8/51)

The following is stated in al-Majmu of Imam Nawawi (15/521-522): According to the widespread view in Shafii madhhab, the reward of the Quran that is recited does not reach the dead person. However, according to the preferred view, this reward reaches the dead person especially after the one who recites the Quran prays for the dead person.

- According to some Shafii scholars, the person in the grave benefits from the Quran recited at his grave whether the one who recites the Quran prays for the dead person after it or not. (Yusuf al-Ardabili, al-Anwar, 1/399).

Ibn Hajar, a Shafii scholar, was asked the following question:  “Does the reward of the Quran recited at a graveyard and donated to the spirits of all of the dead people reach their spirits by being separated or as a whole?” He answered it as follows: “The reward of the Quran recited at a graveyard reaches each dead person as a whole; this is more appropriate for the vast mercy of Allah.” (see Bughyatul-Mustarshidin, p. 97)

The following words of Badiuzzman Said Nursi shed light on the issue:

“The Wise Creator made the air a means of transmission and expansion for the words to spread like lightning and increase. He also made the adhan that is recited in one minaret be heard by many people in many places through radio; similarly, Allah, who has power over everything, uses a lot of spiritual electricity, radios and wireless phones in the spiritual air through His limitless power and endless wisdom in order to send the reward of the chapter of al-Fatiha recited only once to all of dead bodies of the believers at the same time.

When one lamp is lit, it is seen in thousands of mirrors. Similarly, when the chapter of Yasin is recited once and is donated to millions of spirits, each of them will receive one Yasin." (Şualar (Rays), p. 576)

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