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Asalaamu Alaykum, I wanted to ask, a lot of people in my culture do something called a “Khatam” after the janaza, where all the men will gather in the mosque for 3 days and the women in a house, and they’ll sit for these 3 days reading Qur’an and they’ll serve food to everyone in the gathering. They’ll even have the seeds of eaten dates where they’ll be reciting something on each of them and placing them in to a bowl.

Also they’ll ask people in the gathering to read a certain Surah or chapter from the Qur’an, a certain amount of times and to inform them once they’ve done so.

So I wanted to ask if there’s anything in the Sunnah about this, because to me this seems like an innovation and something made up.

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  • The topic of khatm al-Quran or a khatmah is covered in What is the ruling on completing the quran recitation by sharing the reading. Even if reciting the qur'an for the deceased and whether the reward may reach them is discussed among the scholars (I guess there's a post on the site discussing this). Most of the people practice it, the how can vary from location to location, whether any of these practices has a clear backup in the sunnah is questionable.
    – Medi1Saif
    Mar 25 at 8:43
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Bid'ah (sometimes translated heresy, but usually innovation) is a strong word and it literally means any new innovation that has not been there before. As for the technical term as used by fiqh scholars it was defined differently by scholars -here just a choice out of many definitions-:
In the following -if not otherwise stated- I'm translating from Arabic language, as these translations are of my own, take them carefully!

  • Ibn Rajab (Habali scholar) made the following definition in his Jam'i al-'Uloom wal-Hikam كتاب جامع العلوم والحكم -see here-:

ما أحدث مما لا أصل له في الشريعة يدل عليه، فأما ما كان له أصل من الشرع يدل عليه، فليس ببدعة شرعا، وإن كان بدعة لغة
What was innovated that has no basis in the Shari'a that evidences it, as for what has an origin from the Shari'a that indicates it, then it is not a bid'ah in Shari’a, even if it is literally a bid'ah.

  • Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani made the following definition in his Fath al-Bary فتح الباري:

والبدعة أصلها ما أحدث على غير مثال سابق وتطلق في الشرع في مقابل السنة فتكون مذمومة
Bid'ah has its origin in that which occurred on the without the basis of a previous example, and is given in the Shari'a in opposite to the Sunnah, so it is reprehensible.

  • A-Shatibi defined it in his al-I'tissam by الاعتصام -see here-:

البدعة طريقة في الدين مخترعة تضاهي الشرعيّة يُقصد بالسلوك عليها ما يُقصد بالطريقة الشرعيّة
Bid'ah is an invented method of religion that competes the Shari'a and by behaving upon it aims the same path as the Shari'a.

and he added elsewhere:

يُقصد بالسلوك عليها : المبالغة في التعبّد لله تعالى (Source)
What is meant by behaving upon it: Exaggeration in devotion to God Almighty

  • Ibn Hazm made the following definition in his al-Ihkam fi osool al-Ahkaam الإحكام في أصول الأحكام -see here-:

والبدعة كل ما قيل أو فعل مما ليس له أصل فيما نسب إليه صلى الله عليه وسلم وهو في الدين كل ما لم يأت في القرآن ولا عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم.
Bid'ah is all that is said or done that has no basis in what is attributed to him, may Allah’s prayers and blessings be upon him, and it means in the religion, everything that was not mentioned in the Qur’an or on the authority of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and blessings be upon him.
إلا أن منها ما يؤجر عليه صاحبه ويعذر بما قصد إليه من الخير ومنها ما يؤجر عليه صاحبه ويكون حسنا وهو ما كان أصله الإباحة كما روي عن عمر رضي الله عنه نعمت البدعة هذه وهو ما كان فعل خير جاء النص بعموم استحبابه وإن لم يقرر عمله في النص ومنها ما يكون مذموما ولا يعذر صاحبه وهو ما قامت به الحجة على فساده فتمادى عليه القائل به
But among it is what is rewarded for its owner and excused for what he intended of goodness and some of which is rewarded for his owner and is good, which was the basis of permissibility as it was narrated on the authority of 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, this innovation was blessed and it was not an act of good. Some of them are blameworthy and the owner is not excused, and this is what the argument did for its corruption, so the one who said it went too far.

Even if all parties seem to define it differently they come to the same conclusion: Any thing (worship, deed) that has an origin in the Shari'a can't be bid'ah.

Therefore reciting the qur'an is part of the Shari'a, visiting people after a funeral -and if necessary stay with them- in order to express condolences is part of the Shari'a. It is also part of the Shari'a that the visitors support the mourner with food etc..
Most other things you've mentioned are related to cultural staff. Some of them may fall under the term bid'ah, some could be considered a good bid'ah. If you feel it is bid'ah leave it.

Only in the last few centuries many of things which have an origin in the Shari'a, but were not practiced exactly in the same form/state/situation by the prophet () and his companions () were declared as bid'ah by Salafi's. This is not the view earlier scholars held, however they made a distinction based on the goals achieved.

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Relevant Hadit Sahih on the subject of bid'ah are

IbnMajah 1,204

The Messenger of Allah said: 'Whoever initiates a good practice that is followed, he will receive a perfect reward for that, and a reward equivalent to that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest. And whoever introduces a bad practice that is followed, he will receive the complete burden of sin for that, and a burden of sin equivalent to that of those who follow it without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.

Muslim 1718a

He who innovates things in our affairs for which there is no valid (reason) and these are to be rejected.

We can draw thereof the conclusion that the Prophet ﷺ did not reject innovation in general but depending on whether it is a good innovation or a bad one. There is also a region where an innovation is not entirely bad but still not esteemed a good Sunnah, for example as explained in this fatwa, rejecting a common prayer after the regular salat. However, it does not reject du'a after salat but a prayer spoken loudly and in common as a supplement to the common prayer.

There is the aspect of innovation to Islam, as it is added as an obligatory part to the common prayer in the mosque.

And it is qualified not a good reason because Du'a is established as an individual prayer. So this is not real du'a.

Approaching your question:

In the time of the Prophet ﷺ there was hardly any copy of the Qur'an available and most people were not able to read (for this reason, the Qur'an had to be learned and recited as we do it until present). A tradition to gather and read the Qur'an could not have been established. In this sense, reading the Quran in common is an innovation. However, the Qur'an was meant to become a book and a book is meant to be read. Hence, this is certainly a good innovation conform to the intention of the message of the Qur'an.

In this sense, gathering to read the Qur'an is innovation (bid'ah), but in the sense of good Sunnah. I see no reason why a good Sunnah should become a bad one if it becomes a tradition.

P.S. People may wonder whether I did not cite Sunan an-Nasai 1578. It is because this text, although it sounds absolute, has a certain scope. From the context, it refers to the Book of Allah and the guidance of Muhammad ﷺ. It is possible that it actually refers to inventing Qur'an verses and false Hadit which is the minimum scope to apply and it is evident that such action is major sin. Its scope of this text is often understood in a wider sense. Scolars have differing opinions on this topic. On the topic asked, I would rather give priority to IbnMajah 1,204, as said before.

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  • The hadith you've quoted from Sunan ibn Majah doesn't say what you've falsely concluded from the faulty translation. The hadith is rather referring to re-establishing a forgotten Sunnah of the prophet. Also the term bid'ah is differently interpreted. Any practice that is approved in Islam shouldn't fall under this term as long as the deviation from the approved was not established alike a "sunnah".
    – Medi1Saif
    Mar 25 at 6:31
  • @Medi1Saif Trying to have a closer look onto the Arabic text of the IbnMajah text, I found a lot of possible meanings for the wording and I must admit that my Arabic is not good enough to find out myself. I didn't find a hint that it refers to a forgotten Sunnah. How would you read it?
    – Jeschu
    Mar 25 at 7:30
  • That is the known interpretation of استنّ a similar narration also appears in Sahih Muslim. A bid'ah rated innovation would make this hadith in clear conflict with the qur'an and the sahih sunnah. Note that this hadith uses استنّ while the hadith talking about bid'ah uses the wording أحدث. While استنّ has a positive meaning, because it is related to following a path, أحدث means doing something totally new in order to create a new (deviation of the) path.
    – Medi1Saif
    Mar 25 at 8:38

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