Death is inevitable and an ever present part of our mortal existence. The death of a loved one or even an acquaintance brings forth a multitude of emotions in us, in particular one of utter helplessness, of being unable to do anything to prevent the events unfolding before us.
In addition to this human reaction, the Muslim is further aware of the trials that the departed will pass through and the potential pitfalls that lie ahead. The righteous want to help their loved ones through this potentially traumatic ordeal.
Islām is the natural religion; it provides wholesome and logical channels for every natural urge and emotion, and provides many varied means for the living to help and support the deceased. Islam also reminds us that Allah, the Most High, is the most Merciful and oft- Forgiving, whose mercy is ever seeking excuses to forgive and elevate His servants.
This risāla discusses the concept of helping the deceased (Eesāl us Sawāb), before describing the various methods of benefitting the deceased that are in the Quran, the Sunnah of the Prophet and the examples of the Companions. The reader is also reassured that all of these methods are in line with the Sunnah of the Prophet and the teachings of Islam.
Shaykh Zafar ud Deen al Bihāri al Hanafee (1303-1382 hijri) was one of the great scholars in the Indian Sub-continent at the turn of the century. He had been given the title 'Malik ul ulama' by his contemporaries meaning they deemed him the king amongst the ulama of his time. He was not just a great muhaddith and jurist but was also a master of Science and worldly knowledge. In particular he was renowned for establishing accurate salah times for different areas using his expertise in both fiqh and science. He was also a prolific writer and debater, and this risāla before you, which is in fact a response to a number of questions, gives a taste of the wealth and depth of his research and understanding.