Du`a'' during Funeral Prayer

Q: Please, teach me how to supplicate for a dead person and what should I do for the dead so that he/she gains a reward from Allah (glory be to Him). Is it permissible to bring food and gather people to recite supplications for the dead?

A : The Islamically prescribed manner of offering Funeral Prayer is that a Muslim should pronounce Takbir (saying: "Allahu Akbar [Allah is the Greatest]") four times. They should recite Surah Al-Fatihah after the first Takbir and invoke Allah’s Blessings upon the Prophet (peace be upon him) after the second Takbir. After the third Takbir they should supplicate to Allah for the deceased using the best formula they know of supplication after the third Takbir, such as the one reported by Abu Dawud, Al-Tirmidhy and Al-Nasa'y in the Sunan (Hadith compilations classified by jurisprudential themes) on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said, The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) offered Funeral Prayer, and then he said, “Allaahumma ighfir lihayina wa mayitina wa saghirina wa kabirina wa dhakarina wa unthana wa shahidina wa gha’ibina. Allaahumma man ahyaytahu minna fa-ahyihi ‘alal-imaan wa man tawaffaytahu minna fa tawiffahu ‘alal-Islam. Allaahumma la tahrimna ajrahu wa la tadillanaa ba‘dahu [O Allah, forgive those of us who are living and those of us who are dead; our young and our old; our male and our female and those of us who are present and those of us who are absent. O Allah, to whomsoever of us You give life, grant him life as a believer; and whomsoever of us You take in death, take him in death as believer. O Allah, do not deprive us of his reward and do not let us go astray after his death.]” Muslim also reported in his Sahih (Authentic Hadith Book) on the authority of `Awf ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) offered the Funeral Prayer, and of his Du‘a’ I memorized: “Allaahumma ighfir lahu warhamhu wa a‘fu ‘anhu wa ‘aafihi, wa akrim nuzulahu wa wassi’ madkhalahu waghsilhu bi’l-maa’ wa’l-thalj wa’l-barad, wa naqqihi min al-khataaya kama yunaqqa’ al-thawb al-abyad min al-danas. Abdilhu daran khayran min darihi wa ahlan khayran min ahlihi wa zawjan khayran min zawjihi wa qihi fitnatal qabr wa ‘azhaban nar [O Allah! Forgive him (her), have mercy on him, pardon him, and keep him safe and sound; settle him in an honorable dwelling and make his entrance (grave) spacious; wash him with water and snow and hail, and cleanse him of sins as a white garment is cleansed of dirt. Give him a house better than his house and a family better than his family, and a wife better than his wife, and protect him from the trial of the grave and the torment of Hellfire.]” (Part No. 8; Page No. 387) After the fourth time of Takbir, one is to offer Taslim (salutation of peace ending the Prayer) to the right side. It is recorded in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, If a group of Muslims numbering a hundred pray over a dead person, all of them interceding for him, their intercession for him will be accepted. In Sahih Muslim it is also reported on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, There is no Muslim who dies and forty men who associate nothing with Allah stand for his Funeral Prayer, but Allah will accept their intercession for him. As for people gathering to supplicate for the dead outside the Funeral Prayer, this is not permissible. Moreover, it is contrary to the Sunnah for the family of the deceased to make food to people except guests, but it is required of their relatives and neighbors to make food for them. This is based on the fact that the Prophet ordered one of his wives to prepare food for the family of Ja‘far ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) when he was informed of his death. He (peace be upon him) said: There has come to them that which will preoccupy them. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.