Giving Sadaqah for the grave diggers

Q: We, the residents of Badiyat Al-Birak village, have a custom that if one of the villagers died, the neighbors and others would give Sadaqah (voluntary charity) for the grave diggers. This Sadaqah might be a sheep, dates, ...Etc, and it is not spent out of the property of the deceased or from his heirs. If it is a goat, people would cook it nearby the grave in order for the diggers to eat of it. The intention behind spending out this charity is the seeking of Allah's Countenance through giving it to such people. Thus, what is the ruling on this practice, both on giving in charity and on cooking food within the grounds of the graveyard? Also what is the ruling on (Part No. 7; Page No. 377) performing Salah (Prayer), whether it is the obligatory Salah or Janazah (Funeral) Prayer, nearby the graveyard?

A: Giving Sadaqah nearby the grave and in the manner mentioned in the question is certainly an act of Bid`ah (heresy in Islam) that should be condemned, since it lacks sound proof from the Qur'an or Sunnah (acts, sayings or approvals of the Prophet Muhammad). It is one of the superstitious practices of ignorant people that contradicts Shari`ah (Islamic law). The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Anyone who does an action which is not in accordance with this matter of ours (Islam) will have it rejected.” Rather, it is permissible to give Sadaqah on behalf of the deceased at any place other than the graveyard and at any time other than that of the burial. Nearby the grave, one is also allowed to supplicate Allah upon the burial asking Allah to forgive the sins of the deceased and keep him steadfast on the truth as commanded by the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). As for offering Salah on the grounds of the graveyard, the only permissible Salah is that of Janazah Prayer. In other words, neither supererogatory nor obligatory Salah is permissible there, since the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forbade us to take the graves as places of worship and forbade us from facing in their direction when performing Salah. It was authentically reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) offered Janazah Prayer for a dead nearby his grave when he missed to offer it in the Masjid.May Allah grant us success. May Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his Companions!