Answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam
Question : Using Radhi Allah Anhu (may Allah be pleased with him) for a Non-Companion
Answer :The phrase Radhi Allah Anhu has two meanings: One in the mode of giving news (khabariyya) and the other in the form of supplication (dua’iyya). The translation of using this phrase in the first form would be: “Allah is pleased with him/her” and in the second: “may Allah be pleased with him/her”.
When this phrase or term is used for the blessed Companions (Allah be well pleased with them all), it can be used in both forms. As such, one may say regarding a Companion: “Allah is pleased with him/her” or “may Allah be pleased with him/her”.
Allah Most High Himself attested that He has become pleased with all the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him give him peace), and they (companions) are pleased with Allah.
Allah Most High says:
“Assuredly well-pleased was Allah with the believers when they swore fealty to you under the tree: He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquillity to them; and He rewarded them with a speedy victory.” (Surah al-Fath, V. 18)
Similarly, Allah Most High says:
“The vanguard (of Islam)- the first of those who emigrated (muhajirun) and of those who gave them aid (ansar), and (also) those who followed them in good deeds,- well-pleased is Allah with them, as are they with Him: for them has He prepared gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein for ever: that is the supreme felicity.” (Surah al-Tawbah, V. 100)
So, Allah Almighty has declared His pleasure for the Companions (sahaba), hence one may say: “Allah is well-pleased with the Companions”. Also, it would be a grave sin to disrespect or slander a Companion whilst Allah Most High Himself has declared His pleasure for them.
As far as the students of the Companions (tabi’un), their followers (atba al-tabi’in), saints and the pious, Mujtahid Imams and all Muslims in general are concerned, it is perfectly acceptable to use this term for them in the form of supplication (dua).
Allah Most High Himself uses this phrase in the Qur’an for all pious Muslims. He Most High says:
“Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures. Their reward is with their Lord. Gardens of eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein for ever; Allah will be well-pleased with them, and they with Him. That is for such who fears his Lord.” (Surah al-Bayyinah, V. 7-8)
In the above and other such verses, Allah Most High promises His pleasure (rida) for the faithful and righteous Muslims, as He has promised many other things, such as entering paradise, immunity from punishment in Hell, salvation, etc. So, as it is permitted to make Dua for a believer that he/she enters heaven, has salvation in the hereafter, etc, it will be permitted to make Dua for him/her to obtain the pleasure of Allah Most High.
Thus, there is nothing wrong in saying “Radhi Allah Anhu” (may Allah be pleased with him/her) for a non-Sahabi. One may use this term for the Tabi’un, Mujtahid Imams, saints and all Muslims in general. One may even use this term for a living person and say to him “Radhi Allah Anka” (may Allah be pleased with you”. Many times, I heard the Arabs say to one another: “may Allah be pleased with you” in a sense that one is supplicating to Allah and seeking His pleasure for a fellow Muslim brother or sister. It would be similar to any other Dua one makes for a fellow Muslim.
Therefore, the great scholar of Hadith and Shafi’i jurist (faqih), Imam al-Nawawi (may Allah be pleased with him) states:
“It is recommended (mustahab) to seek Allah’s pleasure (taraddi) and mercy (tarahhum) for the Companions (sahaba), their followers (tabi’un) and those after them such as the scholars, worshippers and all good people. Hence, one should say: “may Allah be pleased with him” or “may Allah have mercy on him”, and other similar phrases.
As far as what some scholars have said that the phrase “Radhi Allah Anhu” is exclusive to the Companions (sahaba), and for other than them one should only say “Rahimahu Allah” (Allah have mercy on him), it is not as they have stated and it cannot be agreed with. Rather, the correct view is what the majority of the scholars hold (jamhur) in that it is recommended to say “Radhi Allah Anhu” for all good Muslims, and its proofs are more than can be counted.” (Kitab al-Adhkar, P. 100)
The great Maliki scholar, Qadhi Iyadh (may Allah be pleased with him) says in his renowned al-Shifa’:
“Those other than the Prophets should be mentioned with Allah’s forgiveness (gufran) and pleasure (ridha)…” (al-Shifa’, P. 581)
Thus in conclusion, there is nothing wrong in using the term “Radhi Allah Anhu” for other than a Companion (sahabi), for it is a form of supplication seeking Allah’s pleasure and happiness. One may use this term for the Tabi’un, their followers, Mujtahid Imams, Muhaddithun, Fuqaha, scholars, pious servants of Allah and any good Muslim, deceased or alive.
Yes, if this term was used in an area exclusively for the Companions (sahaba), and the assumption was that by using it for other than the Companions, people would confuse a non-Companion with a Companion; then it would be better to avoid using it, unless one explains to the people that it can also be used for non-Companions.
In parts of the Indian subcontinent, it is a common understanding that the term “Radhi Allah Anhu” can only be used for the Companions; hence if one was to use it for other than a Companion, one would be rebuked. This is incorrect, hence people should be made aware that there is nothing wrong (rather recommended) to use this term for all Muslims.
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK