Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed
What is the view of the Shafi`is about donating the reward of actions to the dead? We have heard that Imam Shafi`i stated that it does not reach the dead. Is this the sound and relied upon position?
The relied upon position in the Shafi`i school, as affirmed by our later Imams is that the reward of all good acts whether prayer, fasting, charity, Qur’anic recitation, or other acts reaches the dead, if the individual makes supplication to donate the reward to the dead person.
The words of Imam Shafi`i (Allah have mercy on him) are understood by our school’s Imams to apply when one intends that the action’s reward is for the deceased but does not actually supplicate that Allah make the reward reach the deceased.
As for when makes supplication to donate the reward, then the reward reaches the dead according to all four Sunni schools of law.
Many Shafi`i Imams, such as Qadi Husain, chose the position that the reward reaches the dead with intention alone even if the intention is made after performing the action, and even without supplication. This is the position of the other three Sunni schools of law. For further details on this issue, see Tuhfat al-Tullab bi Ahkam al-Qiraa `ala al-Mawta wa Wusul al-Thawab of Allama Sayyid Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Bari al-Ahdal al-Shafi`i.