Can you please enlighten me on the question of Chehlum ceremony meant for Isal-i-thawab (transfer of reward to a deceased). The ceremony is commonly held on the fortieth day of one's death. How far such a thing is allowed in Shari'ah? I am told that this is an innovation in Islam.
The concept of Chehlum and recitation of the Holy Qur'an to transfer its reward to a dear departed is an activity not supported by the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (sws). People had been dying during the Holy Prophet's (sws) time and never did he organize such a gathering to get others to read the Holy Qur'an for the purpose. The reason of the absence of this activity is that the Holy Qur'an makes it clear that every body will be held accountable only for the deeds he himself does during his life. It says:
The verse fully negates the transfer of burden of bad deeds and that of good deeds on another person. The Holy Prophet (sws) has been reported to have said:
… that no one shall bear the burden of another, that man shall have only that which he strived for, and that his striving shall soon be examined [and] then he shall be rewarded with a complete reward. (53:38-41)
In the light of the above verse of the Qur'an and the saying of the Holy Prophet (sws) it is not possible to transfer reward of good deeds to another person. The only way one can get benefit from after his death is through the invocation (dua') of the survivors and his own acts which continue benefiting the world.
When a person dies, the reward of his deeds ceases except in the case of three things: in the case of something the benefit of which is reaped [even after his death] for a long time; in the case of some knowledge that he leaves behind, which benefits the world [even after his death] for a long time; and in the case of a righteous child who prays for his forgiveness. (Muslim, No: Kitabu'l-Wasiyyah)