Is it permissible to pray for non-Muslims?

Is it permissible to pray for non-Muslims?

Answered by the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh ‘Ali Juma

I am a German Muslim and my father died recently but he was not a Muslim. He was a kind man who loved charity and always intended to do nothing but goodness to an extent that I can easily say that he spent all his life living as a Muslim in his behavior but never actually embraced Islam. Therefore I really want to pray for him seeking God’s forgiveness and mercy on him but some people told me that it is impermissible to pray for non-Muslims, is this true?

God al Mighty is more merciful on those He created than they are on themselves and God described his beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a mercy to all the worlds and that he has the finest manners.

Also the Prophet always admired those who have good manners and praised those who have high moral standards and enjoy excellent ethics regardless of their religious affiliation. For example, a woman fell captive and she was the daughter of Abu Hatem al Tai who was known for his generosity and high ethics so the Prophet said “release her, her father used to love high ethics and God loves high ethics” so one of the Prophet’s companions stood up and said “O Messenger of God, does God love high ethics” so the Prophet said in reply, “I swear by whom who owns my soul, no one enters paradise without having good manners”.

More importantly, the rulings of this world differ from the rulings of the next one because in this world one can be judged to be a non-Muslim according to his outer state of not embracing Islam yet maybe he never showed any disbelief in Islam. Therefore this outer ruling of not being a Muslim in this world does not necessitate for him to go to hell fire or stay in it for eternity. He could be excused and pardoned in the sight of God for not receiving the message of Islam in a way which could attract his attention. Therefore he could be among those who will be subjected to tests in the Day of Judgment.

God says in the Quran “It is not for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire.” 9:113

As for this verse, God placed the prohibition of forgiveness only on those who turns out to belong to hellfire. This means that if the state of the one who we ask forgiveness for is not determined, then there is no reason for refraining from asking for forgiveness for him. Also those whose state is in hellfire could be elevated and the torment is lessened due to prayers. It was reported that some of those in hell fire will have lesser punishment because of the blessings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Therefore there is no limit to God’s mercy and generosity and there is no impediment which holds you back from praying for your deceased father seeking God’s forgiveness and hoping for God’s acceptance of your intercession for your father.

And Allah knows best.

7 thoughts on “Is it permissible to pray for non-Muslims?

  1. The prophet (saw) was allowed to visit his mothers’ grave but not pray for her. Abu Talib the uncle of the prophet (saw) was given a ghusal and Kaffan, but no slatul janaza was performed on him. If a person dies as a kaafir, but believed in allah and the last day and had good manners and performed good deeds, then we say let Allah be the final judge.

  2. You are so awesome! I don’t believe I’ve read something like this
    before. So great to find somebody with a few genuine thoughts on this subject.
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  3. My father inlaw just passed away and he was born into a Muslim family but I never saw him pray and he never denied being a Muslim. He was seriously I’ll before he died and they told us from the hospital that he was going to die. I did all I could to make him pray,I told his children that were with him to always pray in his room and asked him to join them with intention. But he didn’t pray before he died. He was a good person to the core. He had good manners and ethics, all his life he worked to serve people. He took care of his family both immediate and extended family. Always giving charity and offer help at every point in time. He doesn’t get angry and when he’s not pleased with u he will let u know immediately. Since I know him nobody has said anything bad about him. But since he died I have been disturbed because he was not praying. My questions are
    1. What does Islam say about people like this
    2. Is it appropriate to pray for him
    3. What kind of prayer or charity can be offered for him to ask for forgiveness from Allah for him.

    Your answer will be highly appreciated . I ve been really disturbed since he died . Jazakumllahu khaeran

    1. Wa alaykum salam. Yes, it is definitely permissible and encouraged. A Muslim never brands another with unbelief unless under strict circumstances like one professing disbelief or by rejecting that which is known to be part of the religion by necessity. Thus one who never rejects that Allah is One and that Muhammad is HIs messenger is Muslim and is to be buried with them and prayed form, even if he does not carry out all the obligatory acts of devotion. This is because faith is referred to as “tasdiq” which is firm resolve in the heart. The tongue aids with this firm resolve from the heart. The actions, like worship completes ones faith but does not remove one from the fold of Islam. This is agreed upon by the vast majority except for the extremist khawarij sect who held the view that if one leaves out a something obligatory or commits a major sin, then this person is kafir. They are rejected by all Sunni scholars. In addition the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent as a mercy to the entire creation. He even prayed for the unborn children of the mushrikin at Ta’if. We must add that The Mercy of Allah is more vast than we can fathom. Allah starts every surah in the Quran with “In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, MOst Merciful.” indicating that the essence of Din the capacity to be merciful. Praying for another is a sign is also a sign of love for the creation. We live between the hope and fear of Allah and always pray for His Divine Mercy to pour upon the deceased. May Allah bless your father in law and pour upon his soul forgiveness, Amin.

  4. Salam Alaikum, please I want to know if I can pray for a friend that died after delivery, though she is a Christian and I have been reading many articles that says we can’t pray for a person dat is not a Muslim, please I need to know if I can and the kind of prayers I can do for her that’ll not incur the wrath of Allah(S.W.T). Jazakumullah khaeran.

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