It is noted that when people feed as a token of Isaal-e-Thawaab then some Miajee (molvi) has to read something (over the food / at the feast). Some people call it Faatihah Shareef and others call it Khatam Shareef. Upon cursory inspection of this act it appears to be commendable, and some people are smitten by it purely due to this external façade. However, some points regarding it need to be studied:
Firstly: This practice was non-existent during the eras of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) and the Salf-e- Saaliheen, therefore without any doubt this act is contrary to the Sunnat. As you have already read previously, the words of Hadhrat Shah Abdul Haqq Muhaddith Dehlwi (rahmatullahi alaih), that any act which is contrary to the Sunnah is an evil act and it is necessary to abstain therefrom. If this act had any Shar`i benefit and virtue, then the Salf-e-Saaliheen would not have deprived themselves of it.
Secondly: The general masses believe that if Khatam is not made in this way, then the reward does not reach the deceased. You may have heard people saying “Marr Gya Mardud Na Faatihah Na Durood” (He died deprived, without any Faatihah or Durood). This notion and belief is not merely incorrect and erroneous, in fact, it is a direct slur upon the Deen of Allaah Ta`ala and Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam). It is as though a new Shariah is being created. The reason being that neither did Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) advocate or teach such methods for Isaal-e-Thawaab nor the Salf-e-Saaliheen.
Thirdly: It is said that if some Surahs are recited over the food, then what harm can there be? On the other hand, what can be worse than this, since it is contrary to the Sunnat and the Shariah of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam). Besides this, our Ulama of the Ahle Sunnat have stated that it is a mark of disrespect to recite the Qur`aan Majeed over food. It is stated in the Fatwa of Hadhrat Shah Abdul Azeez Muhaddith Dehlwi (rahmatullahi alaih):
“QUESTION: What is the ruling of the person who recites the Qur`aan Majeed over food? One [person avers that to recite Qur`aan Majeed over food is like reading it in a toilet]. Nauthubillaah.”
ANSWER: It is not appropriate to say this, in fact, it is disrespectful. Yes, if it is said like this: „Similarly to recite the Qur`aan over food is disrespectful., then there would be no harm. This disrespect will also be when it is not read as a means of advice and discourse. But to recite it as a means of advice and discourse or to prevent from Bid`ah, then it will be correct on any occasion. In fact, in order to discourage from Bid`ah it would sometimes be Waajib.”
From this extract of Hadhrat Shah Saheb (rahmatullahi alaih) it is clear that to recite the Qur`aan Majeed over food is a type of disrespect.
Fourthly: One of the worst things that is practiced at theses functions is that the Miajee who is called to recite this Khatam over the food, takes some of the food with him in lieu for his „services.. The house-folk give this Miajee some food in payment for his recital of Khatam. If Miajee does not read Khatam, then he is deprived of the food and if the house-folk do not give Miajee any food, then he does not present himself for this Khatam. It is as though Miajee.s Khatam and the house-folk.s food are commodities of exchange, where the one is traded for the other. You are well aware of this fact that if a person recites the Qur`aan Majeed in exchange for something, then there is no reward in it for him, and similarly if someone feeds another in exchange for something else, then also they are deprived of any reward.
Fifthly: I have noted in some places that no one is allowed to partake of the food until the Khatam is read over it. At times, when the Miajee is delayed, then even the children are deprived of the food until he arrives, even though they cry incessantly. Whereas, as I have mentioned earlier, the reward for the food will be attained if it is fed to some poor and needy persons for the Pleasure of Allaah Ta`ala. Why then must there be so much rigidity in this custom that until the Khatam is not read, even the children are deprived of the food?
Sixthly: Actually the customs of Teeja, Saatwah, Daswah, Gyaarwi and Khatam have all been „inherited. and passed on from the Hindus. The reason being that besides India (and now IndoPak and also amongst South African Indians), this custom is not practiced anywhere else. The Hindu method of „Isaal-e-Thawaab. and their specifying special dates and time for these customs have been expounded upon in the book „Kitaabul Hind.
The new Muslim, Moulana Ubaidullaah, who before being endowed with the wealth of Imaan was a Hindu Pandit, has enumerated on some of the Hindu customs in his Kitaab „Tuhfatul Hind‟. He states: “It is kept after the death of a Brahmin on the 11th day, after the death of a Kahtri on the 13th day, after the death of a Desh, i.e. Banya, etc. on the 15th or 16th day, after the death of a Shoodar, i.e. Baaldi, etc. on the 30th or 31st day… also six months after death. On a certain day a cow is even fed. Every year during the first half of the month of Aswaj reward is conveyed to the deceased buzrugs. However, they regard it as being incumbent to convey reward to the dead on the day (date) of their death. The conveying of reward through preparation of food is called „Saraadh‟. Prior to the food of „Saraadh‟ being served, the Pandit is first called to reci te some incantations over it. Like this there are other days also.”
Due to all these evil and vile practices, I regard the act of reciting the Qur`aan Majeed in front of food as a useless and futile custom. I further deem the understanding of this custom as a means of Islaamic Isaal-e- Thawaab and the rigidity with which it is carried out as a Bid`ah. Although we will not say that the food prepared and fed in this way is Haraam or that this practice is akin to Shirk, nevertheless we will brand it as a Bid`ah.
I have previously outlined the Sunnat method of Isaal-e-Thawaab, but will briefly summarise it hereunder:
(1). Dua and Astaghfaar may be regularly made for one‟s deceased buzrugs and friends.
(2). As much as is possible, one may recite Durood Shareef, make Tilaawat of Qur`aan Shareef, recite Kalimah and Tasbeeh, etc. and convey the Isaal-e-Thawaab to someone else. If every Muslim daily recites Durood Shareef thrice, Surah Faatihah and Surah Ikhlaas and conveys the reward onto the deceased, then the right which is due upon us for the deceased will, to a certain extent be fulfilled.
(3). Nafl Salaat, roza, Hajj and Qurbaani may also be conveyed as Isaal-e-Thawaab.
(4). Sadaqah and charity may also be conveyed as Isaal-e-Thawaab, but there is no specific time and place for the execution of this. Neither should the preparation of food be specified for this, nor the attendance of Miajee. Whenever it is convenient for one, then occasionally some money, clothes, grain or whatever item is suitable may be given to the poor with the intention of gaining Allaah Ta`ala‟s Pleasure.
This then, is the method of Isaal-e-Thawaab which was taught to us by Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) and which was practiced by our seniors and Salf-e-Saaliheen of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat.