What Is the Proper Etiquette in Giving Condolences to the Family of a Deceased Who Is Non-Muslim?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: As salam alaykum,

What is the proper etiquette in giving condolences to the family of a deceased who is non-muslim?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

In general, most customary forms of giving condolences, which are free from any particular religious connotation, would be fine.

What Should I Intend?

You can intend by your visit maintaining family or social ties, upholding noble character, and being a person who cares for others, actively, by expressing your sorrow to the family of the deceased in a way that is beneficial for both the one giving and receiving those condolences.

Allah Most High says, “and He does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just.” [60.8]

Giving Condolences

The scholars mention that in giving condolences to a non-Muslim who lost a non-Muslim relative, you can say either:

(1) “May God requite you for your loss, and may He not reduce your number (akhlafa ‘Llahu alayka wa la naqasa adaduk).” [al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, from al-Siraj al-Wahhaj; Nawawi, al-Adhkar] or,

(2) “May God requite you with something greater than your loss, and make you prosper (akhlafa ‘Llahu alayka khayran minhu wa aslahaka).” [Khadimi, al-Bariqa al-Mahmudiyya, quoting from al-Fatawa al-Tatarkhaniyya]

It is also reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “What Allah takes is His and what He gives is His. Everything has a fixed term with Him.” [Bukhari]

For further supplications, discussion and proper manners, I’d recommend reading the relevant section from The Book of Remembrances (Kitab al-Adhkar), edited by Dr. Muhammad Isa Waley.

Supplicating for a Deceased Non-Muslim

The basis is that we do not supplicate for the forgiveness of a deceased non-Muslim because of the words of Allah Most High, “It is not fitting for the Prophet and the believers to ask forgiveness for the idolaters– even if they are related to them– after having been shown that they are the inhabitants of the Blaze.” [9.113]

As for supplicating that they get what is best for them, or that which they deserve, whilst consigning their affair to Allah Most High, this would be permitted.

[al-Mawsu`a al-Fiqhiyya al-Kuwaitiyya]

Please also see the following resources: How to Deal With a Non-Muslim Relative’s Death and: Is a Memorial Service for a Non-Muslim Permissible in Islam? and: Can We Pray for Non-Muslims Who Passed Away?

And Allah alone knows best.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Is it Permissible to Pray for a Nonpracticing Muslim?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Is it possible to pray for a beloved sister, who is born a muslim like me but does not practice Islam, to be guided towards Allah and towards a right path? She is good person, and deserves the best, but I know she can be happier if only she believed more in Allah.
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
It is permitted to pray for the guidance of non-Muslims.
However, not practicing Islam doesn’t make a person a disbeliever. [see: Does Neglecting the Prayer Entail Disbelief?]
Show her how beautiful the religion is by following the way of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) inwardly and outwardly as best you can, seeking an increase in all good in this life and the next.
Please see: Can We Pray for Non-Muslims Who Passed Away?
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Will People Who Lived Between Prophets Go to Hell?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Salam,
I would like to know the people who lived in between the time of Prophet Jesus and Mohammad (Peace be upon them), will they go to paradise or hell? They never received a messenger to warn them…
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
Yes, those people who lived between Prophets and didn’t receive the message are saved. [Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid]
Allah Most High said, “No soul will bear another’s burden, nor do We punish until We have sent a messenger.” [17.15]
Sawi comments, “the generality of this verse indicates that the ahl al-fatra are saved by the Pure Generosity of Allah…” [Hashiyat Sawi `ala Tafsir al-Jalalayn]
Please see also: Are Non-Muslims Who Lived Good Lives Condemned to Hell? and: What is the Fate of Non-Muslims in the Afterlife?
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Will the Prophet Isa Intercede for Christians on Judgment Day?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: A friend of mine recently told me that she heard that Prophet Isa (as) would intercede for Christians on the Day of Judgement similarly to how Prophet Muhammad (saw) will intercede for Muslims. Is this true?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

The various prophets sent by Allah will be granted the right to intercede for others on the Day of Judgment.

This has been established by countless traditions, such as:

a. The statement of Allah Most High, “The angels have interceded, the prophets have interceded, and the believers have interceded. None remains to intercede except the most Merciful.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

b. The narration of `Uthman (Allah be well pleased with him), “Three categories of people will intercede on the Day of Judgment: the prophets, the scholars, and then the martyrs.” [Ibn Majah]

c. The narration of Abu Bakra (Allah be well pleased with him), “Allah will save out of His mercy whosoever He wills, and then He will grant permission to the angels, the prophets, and the martyrs to intercede…” [Ahmad, Musnad; Tabarani, Mu`jam al-Saghir, with a sound chain as per Suyuti in his Budur al-Safira]

Will `Isa (Allah bless him) Intercede for Christians?

I did not find anything specific regarding whether `Isa (Allah bless him) will intercede for Christians. The closest I found was the Qur’anic verse that quotes `Isa (Allah bless him) saying regarding those of his community who strayed, “If you punish them, they are your servants, and if you forgive them, indeed you are the powerful and wise.” (5:118)

Imam Razi in his Qur’anic commentary identifies this as a form of intercession, and this is perhaps supported by the fact that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is said to have asked Allah to grant him intercession for his own community when this verse was revealed to him.

Despite this, it is an established point in our tradition that intercession is reserved for those who are monotheists. Polytheism is unforgivable, even though the polytheist may attain salvation if he falls under the category of those who were not reached with a proper, divine message.

As such, the intercession of `Isa (Allah bless him) would be for those members of his community who were monotheists, or perhaps even for those later members of his community who were not reached with the proper message.


Related Answer:

What is the Fate of Non-Muslims in the Afterlife?

How to Deal With a Non-Muslim Relative’s Death

Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: I have a question regarding the situation of my grandma. I am a recent convert and my grandma is ill. I have recited the Fatiha to her and listened to recitation of the Koran (Surat Al-Bakarah) with her and it seems to bring her comfort, but I want to know how I can best pray for her and what I should ask Allah for.

So my questions are as follows: What is the best dua to make for an elderly person who is ill and who might be nearing their end? Can I make the same dua for a non-Muslim relative? Also, what is the best verse from the Koran to recite for someone in this situation? I learned that when praying for non-Muslims we should always ask for the Prophet’s intercession. Is this correct?

Answer: Wa alaikum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Thank you for your question.  Firstly, I want to congratulate you on your being guided to Islam.  Truly, Allah Most High lovingly chose you out of millions to accept His guidance.  We pray that Allah makes you a light and a means for others to enter into Islam also.

I am sorry to hear about the health of your grandmother.

Allah Most High has given your grandmother a tremendous opportunity in that He has given her a granddaughter who is a Muslim, who can advise her towards Islam in her last days.

The most important thing for any human being is that they end their life in a state of submission to their Creator, commensurate to the amount of knowledge of the Truth that reached them in their lifetime.

The best prayer you can make for your grandmother is to ask Allah Most High to create faith (iman) in her heart before she dies.  The greatest gift is to believe with conviction that that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His final messenger, so naturally, you should want that for her.

This can be done in your own words and sincere entreaties.  You can always, in any prayer, approach and ask Allah for something for the sake of the love and station of His beloved Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him), because Allah is the only One who can guide others and answer prayers.

Since a Muslim relative would already have faith, the nature of the prayer you make for them would be different than what you would ask for a non-Muslim relative.

Also, difficulty or pain at the time of death is something that can occur to all people, and it in itself is not bad or evil, or a punishment.  Rather, it is a natural part of the exit from this world that even the best of mankind, the prophets of God (peace be upon them all), went through.

Temporary comfort from the pangs of death in this world pales in comparison to everlasting comfort in the Hereafter, so the real concern should be for the person’s Hereafter.

The Duty to Call Others to the Truth

The best and most dutiful thing that you can do is to speak to your grandmother about Allah.  Use gentle reasoning why she should believe in only One God, how He is above having any son or partner, and how He alone should be worshiped because our eventual return is to Him.  If she agrees, you can speak to her about the prophethood.

This can be done in your own language, in loving and simple words- this is not time for complex reasoning nor proofs.  It may be awkward to open a conversation about this, but try to do it in private.  This could be your last chance with her, so throw off all inhibitions for her sake.

If she differs with any of this, at last resort, you can also tell her that this is what you believe, and that those who believe it will one day enter Heaven with God’s pleasure.  You can gently ask her to believe this also, so she can be with you in Heaven, if she loves you the way you love her.

Once you have tried your best given the situation, you have done your duty of giving the Message.  If she does not or cannot accept it, do not feel to blame.

It is not clear to me, when you said she can no longer speak, whether she can still hear and understand, and nod her head.  If she cannot, then I would personally advise still talking through the Message with her gently, because she may still be able to understand without showing signs of it.

Surah Yasin from the Qur’an is something you can listen to, or read, perhaps in translation as well, both for yourself and in her presence because it speaks about life and death.

The Fate of a Non-Muslim After Death

Finally, if she passes away in a state where it was not clear to you if she understood and accepted what you invited her to, although you cannot say she died with faith nor can you pray for her after death, it is permissible to hope that Allah created faith in her heart before she died, because this is not difficult for Allah to do.  This is what my teacher and spiritual guide taught me to do in this situation.

If a non-Muslim dies without having heard or understood the message at all, according to the Ash’ari school (one of the two main schools of Sunni belief), they are not held accountable for their faith or their actions.  This is a general amnesty due to ignorance of the message however, rather than a confirmation of their religion’s validity. [Nuh Keller, Knowing: The Validity of One’s Faith]

In the end, we can never conclusively say what a person’s fate in the Hereafter will be, rather we leave this up to Allah, but this does not excuse us from inviting others to the message of Islam and believing that the deliberate rejection of the truth leads one to eternal perdition.  For more information on the fate of non-Muslims in the afterlife, please see the links below.

Allah Guides Whom He Wills

While we are concerned for the dying person, we cannot forget our own hearts and our relationship with our Lord.

A most relevant verse at this time is not necessarily directed at the dying person, but rather, at ourselves.  It is the verse that Allah Most High revealed to His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) when his own beloved uncle, Abu Talib, died without accepting Islam at his hands.  Allah Most High said:

“Truly, you do not guide whom you love, but rather Allah guides whom He wills.  And He knows best about who is upon guidance.” [Qur’an 28:56]

Times like this are a trial, especially in the life of a convert.  It reminds us of the great bounty of faith that Allah gave to us, yet at the same time, it is a time of concern and pain to see a family member leave the world without this bounty for themselves.

It also challenges us to realize the reality of this life, and tests whether we will hold fast to Allah Most High and the truth, or allow our lower selves to dictate what should be and should’ve been.  So the best thing is to keep your relationship with Allah strong through prayer, dhikr, supplication and submission to His wisdom.

I ask that Allah Most High guides your grandmother, and keeps you strong and close to Him at this time and thereafter.


Abdullah Anik Misra

Related answers on the fate of non-Muslims in the afterlife:

What is the Fate of Non-Muslims in the Afterlife?

Can We Pray for Non-Muslims Who Passed Away?

Are non-Muslims Who Lived Good Lives Condemned to Hell?

Are Non-Muslims Who Lived Good Lives Condemned to Hell?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Are non-Muslims condemned to Hell even if they did good and seem to have been genuinely pious?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon His Messenger Muhammad, his folk, companions, and followers

Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray that this finds you well, and in the best of health and spirits. May Allah grant you all good and success in this life and the next. Please keep me in your duas.

Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an,

“Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam will never have it accepted from him, and shall be of those who have truly failed in the next life.” (Qur’an 3:85)

This is conditioned by His words,

“We do not punish until We send a Messenger.” (Qur’an 17:15)

Shaykh Adib Kallas, a leading Damascene scholar and theologian, put it very well:

“We know that those who reject faith (man aba) are in Hell. It is not decisively established what exactly entails rejection of faith — this is why the scholars of Sunni Islam differed. As for the details, we should concern ourselves with our own fate: Allah will ask us about ourselves, not about what He should do with others.”

Ultimately, if (a) the message of Islam reached someone; and (b) they rejected it, then the verses and hadiths about being eternally in Hell would apply. At the level of individuals, it is a major question as to what reaching and rejecting entail. This is why we cannot judge whether individual non-Muslims are in Hell — or, for that matter, in Heaven.

Rather, we consign their affair to Allah the Merciful and Just, while affirming the above.


Universal Validity of Religions and the Issue of Takfir

And Allah alone gives success.


Faraz Rabbani

Can We Pray for Non-Muslims Who Passed Away?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: What is the position of Sunni Islam on making prayers for non-Muslims who died supporting Muslims, such as Rachel Corrie?  Can we make  du`a for them, or mention them in a khutba as martyrs for Muslim causes?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

Walaikum assalam,

There are two issues here:

a) the ruling

b) understanding two key concepts:

i) the nature of good and bad;

ii) the nature of our slavehood to Allah.

A. The Ruling of Making Dua for Dead Non-Muslims

There is a useful summary of this in two entries of al-Mawsu`a al-Fiqhiyya (Kuwait):

Seeking forgiveness for a non-Muslim

The jurists agree that seeking forgiveness for a non-Muslim is prohibited. However, if one seeks forgiveness for a non-Muslim hoping that they become Muslim and thus be forgiven then it is permitted according to the Hanafi scholars [f: because they understood the prohibition to refer to seeking forgiveness for them while they remained in their state of disbelief, which Allah has explicitly stated that He will not forgive, if they were aware of the truth]

Praying for mercy for a non-Muslim

Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) stated in his al-Adhkar that it is permitted to pray for guidance for non-Muslims, good health well-being, and the like, because of the hadith of Anas (Allah be pleased with him) that, “The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) asked for water and a Jew gave him some, so the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said to him, ‘May Allah make you beautiful,’ so the man did not see grey hair till he died.”

As for after their death, it is impermissible (haram) to make dua for forgiveness and the like for a non-Muslim, for Allah Most High said, “It is not for the Prophet and those who believe to pray for the forgiveness of unbelievers even though they may be near of kin after it has become clear that they are people of hell-fire.” [Qur’an, 9: 113]

There are many hadiths that mention this, and there is scholarly consensus (ijma`) on this matter. [al-Mawsu`a al-Fiqhiyya, Kuwait]

As for making dua that Allah give them that which is best for them, or that which they deserve, even after death, while consigning their affairs to Allah, there is nothing wrong with this. [As for the fate of non-Muslims in the next life, this is discussed in the answer after this one, below.]

B. Understanding Two Key Concepts

In order to understand the rulings of the Shariah, we must understand two key concepts:

a) The nature of good and bad;

b) The nature of our slavehood to Allah.

The first concept: The nature of good and bad

The position of Sunni Islam is that good and bad are not determined by reason but only by revelation, and therefore only known through the Shariah.

The mind’s role is not to determine what is good and bad or right and wrong, but, rather, to understand and implement the rulings of Allah Most High, as contained in the Shariah of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).

This was explained by the great 20th Century Egyptian master of the science of legal methodology (usul al-fiqh), Shaykh Abd al-Wahhab Khallaf, as translated by Shaykh Nuh Keller in his Reliance of the Traveller:


a1.1 (Abd al-Wahhab Khallaf:) There is no disagreement among the scholars of the Muslims that the source of legal rulings for all the acts of those who are morally responsible is Allah Most Glorious.

a1.2 The question arises. Is it possible for the mind alone, unaided by Allah’s messengers and revealed scriptures, to know rulings, such that someone not reached by a prophet’s invitation would be able through his own reason to know Allah’s rule concerning his actions? Or is this impossible?

a1.3 The position of the Ash’aris, the followers of Abul Hasan Ash’ari, is that the mind is unable to know the rule of Allah about the acts of those morally responsible except by means of His messengers and inspired books.

For minds are in obvious disagreement about acts. Some minds find certain acts good, others find them bad. Moreover, one person can be of two minds about one and the same action. Caprice often wins out over the intellect, and considering something good or bad comes to be based on mere whim. So it cannot be said that an act which the mind deems good is therefore good in the eyes of Allah, its performance called for and its doer rewarded by Allah; or that whatever the mind feels to be bad is thus bad in the eyes of Allah, its nonperformance called for and its doer punished by Allah.

a1.4 The basic premise of this school of thought is that the good of the acts of those morally responsible is what the Lawgiver (syn. Allah or His messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace)) has indicated is good by permitting it or asking it be done. And the bad is what the Lawgiver has indicated is bad by asking it not be done. The good is not what reason considers good, nor the bad what reason considers bad. The measure of good and bad, according to this school of thought, is the sacred Law not reason (dis:W3).

a1.5 According to this school, a person is not morally obligated by Allah to do or refrain from anything unless the invitation of a prophet and what Allah has legislated have reached him (n:w4 discusses Islam’s relation to previous prophets’ laws). No one is rewarded for doing something or punished for refraining from or doing something until he knows by means of Allah’s messengers. What he is obliged to do or obliged to refrain from.

So whoever lives in such complete isolation that the summons of a prophet and his Sacred Law do not reach him is not morally responsible to Allah for anything and deserves neither reward nor punishment.

And those who lived in one of the intervals after the death of a prophet and before a new one had been sent were not responsible for anything and deserve neither reward nor punishment.

This view is confirmed by the word of Allah Most High.

“We do not punish until we send a messenger” (Koran 17:15).

(.Ilm usul al-fiqh (y71) 96-98)

The second concept: The nature of our slavehood to Allah

Allah Most High explained that the only purpose and meaning for the existence of humanity is to worship Allah:

“I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.” (Qur’an, 51.56)

The very basis of worship is submission. Raghib al-Isfahani explained that,

“Slavehood (`ubudiyya) is manifesting abasement. Worship (`ibada) is more emphatic, for it is the limits of abasement, and no one is deserving of it except the one who has absolute granting, which is Allah Most High. This is why he said, “That you not worship other than Him.” [Qur’an, 17.23]

Worship is two types:

1. Worship by compulsion

[f: This is the state of everything in relation to its Creator; its very indigence and need to Allah in terms of creating and sustaining it is worship.]

2. Worship by choice.

[As for slavehood, this is various types, including:]

a) One who is legally a slave. [f: That is, not free.]

b) One who is a slave in terms of existence. This slavehood is only to Allah. [f: And it is the essential reality of all creation.]

c) One who is a slave by worship and service. In this, there are those who are slaves to Allah with sincerity, and whose whose slavehood is to this life and its concerns. [Isfahani, Mufradat Alfadh al-Qur’an, 542, abbreviated]

Slavehood to Allah is not only to pray five times a day and to perform other acts of worship. Rather, it is to submit to Allah in all matters, outwardly and inwardly, as He as commanded us to, by following the guidance of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), in whose obedience lies the obedience of Allah.

The Prophet’s Guidance Has Been Preserved

This guidance has been preserved, as Allah promised, in the Shariah of Islam, as encapsulated in the methodology and understanding of the Sunni path, and its scholars, who are the inheritors of the Prophet and those regarding whom the Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said,

“There shall always remain a group in my Community who are manifest on the truth, unaffected by those who oppose them, until the command of Allah comes than they are resolute on this.” [Mentioned with numerous similar wordings by Bukhari, Muslim, and the other major hadith collections.]

Imam Bukhari explained this group in his chapter heading as being, “The people of knowledge.” This is deduced, as the scholars explain, from numerous Qur�anic verses and Prophetic hadiths, such as the hadith related by Sayyiduna Mu`awiya (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, “Whoever Allah wishes well for, He gives deep understanding (fiqh) of religion.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Sincerely Keeping One’s Duty To Allah

And Allah reminded us that,

“He who obeys Allah and His messenger, fears Allah, and keeps duty (unto Him): such indeed are the victorious.” [Qur’an, 24.52]

Imam Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) said in his Majmu` Sharh al-Muhadhdhab:

“Abul Qasim al-Junayd (Allah have mercy on him) said, “A sincere person changes forty times a day, while the hypocritical show-off stays as he is forty years.”

The meaning of this is that the sincere person moves with what is right, wherever it may lead, such that when prayer is deemed better by the Sacred Law, then he prays, and when it is best to be sitting with the learned, or the righteous, or guests, or his children, or taking care of something a Muslim needs, or mending a broken heart, or whatever else it may be, then he does it, leaving aside what he usually does.

And likewise for fasting, reciting the Koran, invoking Allah, eating or drinking, being serious or joking, enjoying the good life or engaging in self-sacrifice, and so on. Whenever he sees what is preferred by the Sacred Law under the circumstances, he does it, and is not bound by a particular habit or kind of devotion as the show-off is. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did various things of prayer, fasting, sitting for Koran recital and invocation, eating and drinking, dressing, riding, lovemaking with his wives, seriousness and jest, happiness and wrath, scathing condemnation for blameworthy things, leniency in punishing those who deserved it and excusing them, and so ion, according to what was possible and preferable for the time and circumstances (al-Majmu’ (y108),1.17- 18, from Shaykh Nuh Keller’s translation of Reliance of the Traveller, c2.6).


Faraz Rabbani

What is the Fate of Non-Muslims in the Afterlife?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: What is the proper understanding of the fate of Non – Muslims in the afterlife?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum,

Sheikh Nuh Keller dealt with this in the attached article [from:, a brilliant site], a refutation of the idea of the ‘universal validity of all religions,’ saying:

5. The Fate of Non-Muslims in the Afterlife

The reason that contemporary writers affected by the writings of Gunon and Schuon, such as Chittick and Gai Eaton (or such as Martin Lings, Titus Burckhardt etc.), seem to want the universal validity of all religions at any price, even to the extent of attributing it to masters like Muhyiddin ibn al-`Arabi (“in principle”) or Emir `Abd al-Qadir (“he protected the Christians against massacre by taking them into his own home because he understood” [as if other scholars considered massacring them halal]) would seem to be the emotive impalatability of followers of other religions going to hell. Where is the mercy? Would Allah put someone in the hellfire merely for worshipping in another religion besides Islam? This question is answered by traditional Islam according to two possibilities:

(1) There are some peoples who have not been reached by the message of the Prophet of Islam (Allah bless him and give him peace) that we must worship the One God alone, associating nothing else with Him. Such people are innocent, and will not be punished no matter what they do. Allah says in surat al-Isra’,

“We do not punish until We send a Messenger” (Koran 17:15).

These include, for example, Christians and others who lived in the period after the spread of the myth of Jesus godhood, until the time of the prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), who renewed the call to pure monotheism.

The great Muslim scholar, Imam Ghazali, includes in this category those who have only been reached with a distorted picture of the Messenger of Islam (Allah bless him and give him peace), presumably including many people in the West today who know nothing about Allah’s religion but newspaper stories about Ayatollahs and mad Muslim bombers. Is it within such people’s capacity to believe? In Ghazali’s view, such people are excused until after they have had an opportunity to learn the undistorted truth about Islam (Ghazali: “Faysal al – tafriqa,” Majmu’a rasa’il al-Imam al-Ghazali, 3.96). This of course does not alter our own obligation as Muslims to reach them with the da’wa.

(2) A second group of people consists of those who turn away from God’s divine message of Islam, rejecting the command to make their worship God’s alone; whether because of blindly imitating the religion of their ancestors, or for some other reason. These are people to whom God has sent a prophetic messenger and reached with His message, and to whom He has given hearing and an intellect with which to grasp it but after all this, persist in associating others with Allah, either by actually worshipping another, or by rejecting the laws brought by His messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), which associates their own customs with His prerogative to be worshipped as He directs. Such people have violated God’s rights, and have accepted to go to hell, which is precisely what His messengers have warned them of, so they have no excuse:

“Truly, Allah does not forgive that any be associated with Him; but He forgives what is less than that to whomever He wills” (Koran 4:48).

In either case, Allah’s mercy exists, though for non-Muslims unreached by the message, it is a question of divine amnesty for their ignorance, not a confirmation of their religions validity. It is worth knowing the difference between these two things, for one’s eternal fate depends on it.


Faraz Rabbani