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Question: My question is in regards to attending funerals of someone from a different religion. Are we allowed to attend the funeral of a non-muslim? If yes are we allowed to participate in their prayers and rituals knowing that we don't believe in what they're doing but we are there to pay our condolences? If no are we allowed to make duaa for them in our own way to bless them with jannah or anything of that sort?
Shehtaj (26/12/2010)
Answer:

Islam is all about compassion and good neighborliness. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, " Jibreel continued to exhort me about kindness to my neighbor to such an extend so that I even thought he would be eligible to inherit my property." It goes without saying that, if that is the case, then visiting your neighbor when he is sick or attending his funeral would certainly be a priority. This is why we know that the Prophet's companions used to attend the funerals of their non-Muslim relatives and friends.

While attending a non-Muslim funeral, we are not to participate in their specific religious rituals. It is best that we use the occasion to observe silence, and contemplate the mystery of death and pray for all of those who have died in good faith.  In other words, you should not make a specific prayer for the person; rather you are only allowed to offer a general prayer for all good souls and leave the judgment to Allah to sort out the good souls from the bad ones. The reason for this is that human beings are free exercise their freedom of conscience and therefore each person is accountable for the choices he or she has made. For further details, here is a previous answer I gave on a similar question:

Question

Dear scholars, As-Salamu 'alaykum. I am a convert. I always come across the following questions from the new converts: Is it permissible for us to make du'a' (supplication) for our parents, family members and relatives who are non-Muslims? What can we pray for them? What can we not? Jazakum Allah khayran.


Answer

"We are certainly allowed to make du'a' for our non-Muslim relatives and friends who are living; we can pray for them for their health, wellbeing and guidance. But the most important prayer that we can do for them is to pray for their guidance to the path of Islam; we must do so on a continuous basis. Our prayer for guidance for them should be complemented by our earnest efforts to persuade them to embrace Islam through wisdom and beautiful preaching. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "If a single person were to be guided to the right way through your efforts that would be better for you than owning the whole world as a treasure!"

As for our non-Muslim relatives or friends who have died, we are not allowed to pray for them if we know for a certain fact that they have died in disbelief:

Allah says, "It is not fitting for the Prophet and the believers to pray for the forgiveness of the polytheists, even though they may be near kin (to them) after it has become clear them that they are the people of Hell." (At-Tawbah: 113)

Since, according to Islam, every person is responsible for the choice he has made in life, and he has chosen the path of disbelief, we are not to pray for his forgiveness. If, however, we are not sure what kind of faith they died in, then we are allowed to offer the following general prayer which includes all believers. If they had died in faith they would certainly be included in it; let Allah be the judge:

Allahumma ighfir li al-mu'minia wa al-mu'minat, al-ahya' minhum wa al-amwat: (O Allah, forgive all believers, males and females, those who are living and those who have died).

We may also pray in the manner of Prophet 'Isa (Jesus-peace be upon him), who prayed to Allah concerning the Christians who associated him in the worship of Allah:

"If you punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, You are the August, the Wise." (Al-Ma'idah: 118)

 

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