Is īṣāl e-thawāb (donating reward) valid for the living and dead, or only the dead?
Īṣāl e-thawāb (donating reward) is not prescribed only for the dead, it may be done even for living Muslims. The reason is īṣāl e-thawāb (donating reward) is done of that action for which the doer receives reward, and when one can receive reward while being alive, likewise others who are alive may receive reward by another donating.
However, there is no doubt that a living person has the ability to earn reward themselves, as opposed to the one dead, who has no ability to earn reward through actions. Accordingly, the deceased are more worthy of īṣāl e-thawāb (donating reward) than the living.
ʿAllāmah Ibn Nujaym and ʿAllāmah Ibn ʿAbidīn have stated: “The person who fasts, performs ṣalāh, or gives charity, and donates the reward to the living or the dead, then this is permissible. According to the Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamāʿah, the intended people will receive the reward. It is clear from this that there is no difference whether the one to whom reward is donated is alive or dead.”
(Adapted from Ṣadaqa-e-Jāriyah wa Īṣāl e-Thawāb ke Faḍāil wa Aḥkām by Muftī Muhammad Riḍwan.
Published by Kutub Khāna Idāra Gufrān, Rawalpindi.)