Offering Condolences to Non-Muslims
Scholars express different views on offering condolences to non- Muslim. Those who support it say that it is appropriate for a Muslim to condole a non-Muslim, as if they do not it may be interpreted as hostility.
Offering Condolences to Non-Muslims
· Supplication for the family of a non-Muslim deceased person.
A Muslim minority lives among non-Muslim and they normally socialize with them. They need to offer condolences when, say, a neighbour loses a family member. Is this permissible?
Scholars of olden days expressed different views on offering condolences to non-Muslims in the Muslim state. Some of them approved it, advising that when offering such condolences a Muslim may say to the non-Muslim: ‘May God compensate you and may your numbers suffer no decrease.’ If the non-Muslim suffers the death of his Muslim relative, a Muslim’s condolences to him may be something like: ‘May God compensate you well and may He grant forgiveness to your deceased relative.’
Imam Ahmad did not express a clear view on offering condolences to non-Muslims. Two views are expressed on the matter, based on whether to visit them when they are sick. The first is that offering condolences is appropriate because they may be visited during sickness.
It is authentically reported
that the Prophet visited a young Jewish man in his illness. He sat close to his head and told him to accept Islam. The young man looked at his father, but the father told him to do as the Prophet bid him. The lad did so and accepted Islam. The Prophet was well pleased and said when he left: ‘All praise is due to God who saved him from the fire through me
Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 1,356
The other view is that a Muslim should not visit a non-Muslim in sickness, nor express condolences when a non-Muslim family suffers the death of a member. This is based on the hadith that quotes
the Prophet as saying
Do not be the first to greet the Jews and Christians
Related by Muslim, hadith No. 2,167
It appears that offering condolences is a supplication for the person suffering a loss through death. However, if a Muslim prays for a non-Muslim to have guidance, wealth, children, and to be spared tragedy, this is perfectly appropriate.
Permissibility: In modern times, Muslims constitute minority communities in many non-Muslim countries. If they do not offer condolences to their neighbours when they suffer death in the family this may be interpreted as hostility, or at least unfriendliness, which may put Muslims in a position of serious disadvantage. Furthermore, it is an international tradition that leaders of a country express sympathy and condolences when another country suffers a natural disaster, or the death of the head of state, etc. Contemporary scholars say that it is appropriate for a Muslim to condole a non-Muslim, within certain limitations, as follows:
1. In its fatwas, the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa says that ‘if the condolences are intended to encourage people to be more inclined to Islam, it is appropriate. This is encouraged by Islam.’ The Committee also says: ‘It is proper to offer condolences, but without praying for the forgiveness of the deceased.
2. The Jordanian Department of Fatwa says: ‘It is permissible to offer condolences to a non-Muslim when suffering the loss of a relative, but these condolences should be expressed in words that are not contrary to Islamic beliefs.
3. The European Council for Fatwa and Research sees no objection to offering condolences and attending funerals when the deceased is a relative. To do so will strengthen relations and maintain ties, while deliberate absence on such occasions leads to estrangement.
· Fatawa by The Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa.
· Fatawa by the Jordanian Department of Fatwa.
· Decisions of the European Council for Fatwa and Research.
· Khalid Abd al-Qadir, Min Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat, Kitab al-Ummah, No. 61.
· Ibn Qudamah, Al-Sharh al-Kabir.
- Ibn Qudamah, Al-Sharh al-Kabir, vol. 2, p. 428.
- Fatwa No. 19,584, vol. 7, p. 411; Fatwa No. 16,426, vol. 26, p. 92.
- Fatwa No. 181, dated 16 March 2009 and fatwa No. 763m dated 8 June 2010.
- European Council for Fatwa and Research (www.e-cfr.org), fatwa dated 27 August 2009.