teacher and student


Deceased non-Muslim relatives

Is it permissible for a Muslim to pray for the forgiveness of his non-Muslim parents or relatives, and if so what are the restrictions? It would seem that at least in some circumstances, i.e., 'adam bulugh al-da'wa, it should be permissible. Moreover, in du'a we often say "allahumma aghfir li-walidina," which would obviously encompass all of our ancestors.


The Noble and Pure Law forbids a Muslim to pray for deceased non-Muslim relatives for, as the standard answer goes, "No text has been transmitted allowing it" - i.e. to elucidate the texts that explicitly forbid it.We should continue with those duʿas but refine our Niyya with a firm desire not to presume from our Lord. More below.

Concerning the reality (applicable only to non-Arabs) that "daʿwa did not reach them" - this embraces also those who were reached by a distorted image of the daʿwa: yes, we cannot presume that they died kafir but should consider them, strictly speaking, ahl al-fitra. But is there allowance to pray for Ahl al-Fitra?

This said, we are explicitly ordered countless times to keep good family relations through life, and the Prophet ﷺ was allowed to visit his relatives' graves, and to stand and weep at their graveside; in fact he ordered us not to enter the graveyards of non-Muslims except weeping; and this kind of tacit duʿa of the limbs - yes - is a Divine dispensation of tremendous proportions for those endowed with understanding. For who knows what extinguishing power Allah Most High shall place in those tears of his Beloved and his train?

May Allah bless and support Muslims with non-Muslim relatives and complete His mercy and generosity to them. Mostly broken-hearted, their fear and concern are a perpetual duʿa for themselves, for other Muslims, for their relatives, and finally for all non-Muslims. Sidi Mustafa Basir - Allah bless him - of Bani Mellal told me that one elderly Canadian Muslim who spent time at his Zawiya said to him: "No-one truly knows Islam except a former kafir." And who more than former kafirs, is given the experiential grounds to be fearful for others and thankful for Islam? Consider the words of the American hymn "Amazing Grace" written, I am told, by a former slave-owner. This is the least that every true servant of his Lord should feel - a wretch saved for no reason other than freely given Grace.

Need we add also that in the vast majority of the cases we do not know for sure the states in which a person breathes their last. Hence the focus of our Shuyukh - Allah bless and keep them - on the verse {Wa laqad karramna Bani Adam}. The Divine honor bestowed on human beings is necessarily according to the criterion of the Giver, i.e. unfathomable. The Family of the Prophet ﷺ look to the verse {Walasawfa yuʿtika rabbuka fatarda} for the same reason.

We should not look at others except as a potential inmate of Paradise, and for ourselves remain between hope and fear. May Allah keep us firm in life and at the time of death as well as in the grave and after! {And I turn over my entire matter to my Lord} {Whose Mercy comprehends all things} {and He suffices as Judge for His servants} {And We shall most surely give you all that shall make you pleased}.

GF Haddad ©





latest update: Thu, 12 Feb 2009
* living ISLAM – Islamic Tradition *