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]
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.
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani