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Is it permissible to pray for a non-Muslim, oppressor, munafiq and unbeliever? What is the decree about praying for a person who was an enemy of Islam, after his death, reading the chapter of Yasin for him and mentioning his name with mercy?


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A Brief Description of the Question: 
Is it permissible to pray for a non-Muslim, oppressor, munafiq and unbeliever? What is the decree about praying for a person who was an enemy of Islam, after his death, reading the chapter of Yasin for him and mentioning his name with mercy?
The Answer: 

There is no drawback to praying for people who die as believers; both the person who is prayed for and the person who prays will receive its reward.

If a person is known to a believer when he was alive, it is permissible to pray for him even if he is a sinner, oppressor or fasiq. Besides, only Allah knows the inner world of a person. Therefore, it is not religiously permissible to call a person munafiq if he says he is a believer; it is not permissible to tell others that such a person is a munafiq. From this point of view, it is permissible to pray for anybody who is known to be a believer. A person is understood to be a munafiq only when Allah informs it.

It is permissible to pray for living non-Muslims so that they will be Muslims. The Prophet (pbuh) prayed for the unbelievers so that they would attain guidance. When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was asked to "pray so that unbelievers will perish", he said,

"I was not sent as a curser, but as a caller to the right path and as mercy. O Allah! Show my nation the right path because they do not know." (Qadi Iyad, ash-Shifa, 1/78-79)

Once, he prayed as follows: "O Lord! Strengthen this religion with Umar bin Khattab or Amr bin Hisham (Abu Jahl)." (see Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 18) Hz. Umar became a Muslim thanks to this prayer.  

As for a person who died as an unbeliever:

When a relative of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) died as an unbeliever, he said,

"I will ask forgiveness for him if Allah does not prohibit doing so." (see Qurtubi, interpretation of verse 113 of the chapter of at-Tawba)

Then, the following verse was sent down:

"It is not fitting, for the prophet and those who believe, that they should pray for forgiveness for pagans, even though they be of kin, after it is clear to them that they are companions of the Fire." (at-Tawba, 9/113)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) himself led the janazah prayer of Abdullah b. Ubayy b. Salul, one of the munafiqs. (Qurtubi, VNI/218) (He knew the munafiqs but he did not treat them differently from believers in terms of his politics.) The following was sent down regarding the issue:

"Nor do thou ever pray for any of them that dies, nor stand at his grave: for they rejected Allah and His Messenger...." (at-Tawba, 9/84)

It is stated that the following verse was sent down regarding the same issue, too:

"Whether thou ask for their forgiveness or not, (their sin is unforgivable): if thou ask seventy times for their forgiveness, Allah will not forgive them: because they have rejected Allah and His Messenger; and Allah guideth not those who are perversely rebellious." (at-Tawba, 9/80)

In the presence of these verses and hadiths, Imam Qarafi, a Maliki scholar, dealt with the issue in detail and summarized it as follows:

"It is unbelief to ask for an unbeliever to be forgiven. (A person who prays like that becomes an unbeliever.) For, to ask for something like that though the Quran definitely states in many verses that Allah will not forgive polytheists and that unbelievers will stay in Hell forever means to contradict Allah and to virtually say, 'O Lord! You say so but it will be better if you forgive.' This is unbelief. It is also haram to ask Allah to forgive all believers because it is stated in sound hadiths that sinning believers will stay in Hell for a while." (For detailed information regarding the issue, see Qarafi, al-Furuq, 4/259 ff)

This view is regarded a bit strict by Hanafis they say, "it is unbelief to pray so that unbelievers will be forgiven, but it is not haram to pray so that all sins of all believers will be forgiven." Ibn Abidin states the following while clarifying the issue:

"The issue originates from this: We know that Allah will not break His promise due to His own words. Will He give up His threat that He will torture? Qarafi and those who follow him hold the view that Allah will not give up (break) His promise and His threat; they say if Allah says he will put unbelievers in Hell and make them stay there forever, to ask the opposite of it means to accuse Allah of inappropriateness and to contradict Him, which is unbelief. Hanafi scholar Ibn Amir al Hajj [Death 879 (1474) see Mu'jamul-Muallifin, XI/274)] holds the same view as them regarding praying for unbelievers but acts more tolerantly regarding praying for all believers. This is the correct view." [see Ibn Abidin (Amira), I/351, (Egypt), 1/523]

Accordingly, it is unbelief to pray for someone who died as an unbeliever. However, it is not our right to label those who did not die with clear unbelief as unbelievers acting upon their sins. For instance, we cannot label a person who believes in the oneness of Allah, the prophethood of Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) and the whole Quran as an unbeliever even if he is a cruel person like Hajjaj. However, if a person does not believe them or makes fun of them, we cannot call him a believer.   

The decree is valid for the unbelievers who died. It is regarded permissible by most scholars to pray for the unbelievers who are alive so that they will find the right path. For, when the tooth of the Prophet (pbuh) was broken and his face was wounded at the Battle of Uhud, he prayed for polytheists as follows: "O Allah! Forgive my nation because they do not know." Ibn Abbas states the following:

"The believers used to pray for their relatives that died as unbelievers. When the verse that prohibited it (at-Tawba, 9/113) was sent down, they stopped praying for them. However, this verse did not prohibit them from unbelievers who were alive." (Qurtubi, interpretation of verse 113 of at-Tawba)

Nevertheless, according to the narration of Bukhari, some scholars say the statement of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) at Uhud was not his own prayer. He said, "A prophet who had been wounded before prayed so." (see Bukhari, Maghazi; Muslim, Jihad 103) Thus, they hold the view that it is not permissible to pray for the unbelievers who are alive. (Qurtubi, VNI/278) However, even if it is so, the word of a previous prophet is valid for us unless it is abolished in our shari’ah (Allah knows the best); therefore, there should not be any drawback to prayingfor an unbeliever who is alive so that he will find the right path. For it is not impossible for them to find the right path; Allah did not say that the unbelievers could not be believers in the world; so, when we want this, it does not mean that we demand something that Allah said would not happen. As it is stated in the verse that follows, it is necessary to understand Hz. Ibrahim’s asking for forgiveness for his father like that. (Ibn Abbas explains the verse in a different way. See Qurtubi, interpretation of verse 113 of at-Tawba.)



04-08-2017 01:21:54

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