Many Muslims remain confused on if we can/should pray upon those non-Muslims who have passed away. Should we ask for Allah’s mercy upon them? Should we ask Allah (swt) to Punish them? We take a look at Sunni and Shia hadiths on this issue.

Hypocrites

To begin with, let’s look at the hypocrites (those who claim to be Muslims but in their hearts hate Islam). Allah (swt) says in surah al-Bara’ah two critical ayahs which speak of an event between the Prophet (sawa), Abdullah ibn Ubayy (Chief of the hypocrites, may Allah curse him) and Umar bin Khattaab. Allah (swt) says:

Ask Forgiveness for them or do not ask Forgiveness for them; even if you ask Forgiveness for them seventy times, Allah will not Forgive them; this is because they disbelieve in Allah and His Rasool, and Allah does not Guide the transgressing people.. (9:80)

And never offer the Prayer for any one of them who dies and do not stand by his grave; surely they disbelieve in Allah and His Rasool and they shall die in transgression (9:84)

The events that took place seem to have different two different narratives – One from the mukhalafeen, which make the Prophet (sawa) look ignorant, defiant, and Umar bin Khattaab to be almost Prophet-like; While the Shia narrative paints a very different picture.

Sunni narrative

Narrated Ibn `Abbas:
When `Abdullah bin ‘Ubai died, his son `Abdullah bin `Abdullah came to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and asked him to give him his shirt in order to shroud his father in it. He gave it to him and then `Abdullah asked the Prophet (ﷺ) to offer the funeral prayer for him (his father). Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) got up to offer the funeral prayer for him, but `Umar got up too and got hold of the garment of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) Will you offer the funeral prayer for him though your Lord has forbidden you to offer the prayer for him” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “But Allah has given me the choice by saying: ‘(Whether you) ask forgiveness for them, or do not ask forgiveness for them; even if you ask forgiveness for them seventy times..’ (9.80) so I will ask more than seventy times.” `Umar said, “But he (`Abdullah bin ‘Ubai) is a hypocrite!” However, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) did offer the funeral prayer for him whereupon Allah revealed: ‘And never (O Muhammad) pray for anyone of them that dies, nor stand at his grave.’ (9.84)

Source: Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 6, Book 60, Hadith 192

Grading by Sunni Scholars: Sahih

Link: http://sunnah.com/urn/43470

On the other hand, we find the Shia narrative to be quite different:

Shia Narrative

From Zarara who said,
‘I heard Abu Ja’far (as) saying: ‘The Prophet (sawa) said to Ibn Abdullah Bin Ubayy: ‘When you are free (from attending to the body of) your father, so let me know’. And he (father) had died, and he (son) came up to him and let him know. So Rasool-Allah (sawa) grabbed his slippers for the rising, but Umar said to him, ‘Has Allah not Said “And never offer the Prayer for any one of them who dies and do not stand by his grave?’” (9:84) So he said to him: ‘Woe be unto you! But rather, I would be saying: ‘Our Allah! Fill his grave with the Fire, and Fill his middle with the Fire, and his roots (feet) on the Day of Judgement be in the Fire’

Source: Tafseer al-Ayyaashi, Volume 2, Page 107, Hadith #94 (See Image below)

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Al-Ayyashi, from Al- Abbas Bin Hilal,
Abu Al-Hassan Al-Redha (as) said: ‘Allah Said to Muhammad (sawa) “even if you ask forgiveness for them seventy times, Allah will not Forgive them” (9:80) So (when requested) he would sought forgiveness for them (i.e.,) a hundred times. So Allah (swt) Revealed “It is Alike to them whether you seek Forgiveness for them or do not seek Forgiveness for them; Allah will never Forgive them; surely Allah does not Guide the transgressing people (63:6), and Said “And never offer the Prayer for any one of them who dies and do not stand by his grave.” (9:84) So he (sawa) never sought Forgiveness for them after that, and never stood at the grave of any one of them’.

Source: Tafseer al-Ayyaashi, Volume 2, Page 106, Hadith #92 (See Image below)

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“Abu ‘Abd Allah, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, has said, ‘When ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Ubay ibn Salul died, the Holy prophet attended his funeral. ‘Umar said to the Messenger of Allah, “O Messenger of Allah, has Allah not forbidden you from standing on his grave?” He (the Messenger of Allah) remained silent. He (‘Umar) said, “O Messenger of Allah, has Allah not forbidden you from standing on his grave?” He (the Messenger of Allah) said, ‘Fie upon you, how you could tell what I say? I said, “O Lord, fill his belly with fire, fill his grave with fire and make him feel the heat of fire.”’ Abu ‘Abd Allah, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, then said, ‘He made the Messenger of Allah to expose what he disliked.’”

Sanad: Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from ibn abu ‘Umayr from Hammad ibn ‘Isa from al-Halabiy who has said the above hadith

Source: Furu’ al-Kafi, Volume 3, Chapter 129, Hadith #1 (See First Image below in next section)

Grading: Allaamah al-Majlisi has said this hadith is Good/Hasan (حسن) [Mira’at al-Uqool, Volume 14, Page 74 (See Second Image below in next section)]

Clear enemies

The above narratives are exclusive to the hypocrites whom claimed to be Muslim, but in their hearts had deep enmity towards Allah (swt), the Prophet (sawa) and the Ahlulbayt (as). What about those who are not necessarily Hypocrites, but are outwardly clear enemies of the Ahlulbayt (as)?

“Abu ‘Abd Allah, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, has said, ‘When you pray against the enemy of Allah say, “O Lord, we do not know of so and so except that he is Your enemy and the enemy of Your messenger. O Lord, fill up his grave with fire as well as his belly and hasten him to the fire, because he loved Your enemies, he was an enemy of Your friends and hated the family of Your Holy prophet. O Lord, constrict down his grave.’ When his body is picked up, then say, ‘O Lord, do not raise him and do not purify him.’”

Sanad: Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from ibn abu ‘Umayr from Hammad from al-Halabiy who has said the above hadith

Source: Furu’ al-Kafi, Volume 3, Chapter 129, Hadith #4 (See First Image below)

Grading: Allaamah al-Majlisi has said this hadith is Good/Hasan (حسن) [Mira’at al-Uqool, Volume 14, Page 77 (See Third Image below)]

“One of the two Imam, (abu Ja‘far or abu ‘Abd Allah), ‘Alayhim al-Salam, has said, ‘If the dead person is one who refuses the truth say, ‘O Lord, fill up his belly with fire as well as his grave. Make snakes and scorpions dominate him.’ This is what abu Ja‘far, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, said about an evil woman of banu ‘Umayyah against whom my father prayed and said this expression, “Make Satan her companion.” Muhammad ibn Muslim has said that he then asked him (the Imam), ‘For what reason snakes and scorpions are placed in her grave?’ He (the Imam) said, ‘It is because snakes bite her and scorpions sting her and Satans give her company.’ I then asked, ‘Will she feel the pain?’ He (the Imam) said, ‘Yes, very severely.’”

Sanad: Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from Hammad ibn ‘Isa from Hariz from Muhammad ibn Muslim who has said the above hadith

Source: Furu’ al-Kafi, Volume 3, Chapter 129, Hadith #5

Grading: Allaamah al-Majlisi has said this hadith is Good/Hasan (حسن) [Mira’at al-Uqool, Volume 14, Page 77 (See Third Image below)]

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Those weak in Faith

There are some amongst the Muslims who showed weak faith. Perhaps did not completely accept Shia Islam, but you feel as though they were sincere and on the right path – but just lacked faith. They were not clear enemies, nor clear believers. What is the ruling upon them?

“One of the two Imam, ‘Alayhim al-Salam, has stated this Hadith: ‘There are people of weak understanding who do not understand prayer for the Holy prophet, and for the believing people – male and female. In Salat (prayer) for such people you should say, “Our Lord, forgive those who repent and follow your path and save them from the fire of hell. . .” Read to the end of verse 8 of Chapter 40 of the Holy Quran.’”

Sanad: Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from Hammad ibn ‘Isa from Hariz from Muhammad ibn Muslim who has said the above hadith

Source: Furu’ al-Kafi, Volume 3, Chapter 128, Hadith #1 (See First Image below)

Grading: Bahboody says it is Sahih (صحيح); Allaamah al-Majlisi has said this hadith is Good/Hasan (حسن) [Mira’at al-Uqool, Volume 14, Page 67 (See Second Image below)]

“Abu Ja‘far, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, has said, ‘When you perform Salat (prayer) for a believing person, pray for him and strive in your appeal in favor of the deceased person. If he is of those who keep matters on hold (of waqifiy belief) or of weak understanding say, ‘Takbir (Allah is great beyond description) and, O Lord, forgive those who have repented, followed your path and protect them against the suffering of the hell fire.’”

Sanad: Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from ibn abu ‘Umayr from ‘Umar ibn `Udhaynah from Fudayl ibn Yasar who has said the above hadith

Source: Furu’ al-Kafi, Volume 3, Chapter 128, Hadith #2 (See First Image below)

Grading: Allaamah al-Majlisi has said this hadith is Good/Hasan (حسن) [Mira’at al-Uqool, Volume 14, Page 69 (See Second Image below)]

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People of the Book

Now the question arises, how about Non-Muslims, or more specifically, the People of the Book?

It is interesting to see the various hadiths from the mukhalafeen about the funerals of the Jews. Many (pluralists) try to appeal to the masses by sharing one particular version of the events found in Bukhari amongst other sunni books, such as the following.

Sunni Narrative

Narrated `Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila:
Sahl bin Hunaif and Qais bin Sa`d were sitting in the city of Al-Qadisiya. A funeral procession passed in front of them and they stood up. They were told that funeral procession was of one of the inhabitants of the land i.e. of a non-believer, under the protection of Muslims. They said, “A funeral procession passed in front of the Prophet (ﷺ) and he stood up. When he was told that it was the coffin of a Jew, he said, “Is it not a living being (soul)?”

Source: Sahih al-Bukhari 1312, 1313

Grading of Sunni Scholars: Sahih

Link: http://sunnah.com/bukhari/23/71

It was narrated that ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Laila said:
“Sahl bin Hunaif and Qais bin Sa’d bin ‘Ubadah were in Al-Qadisiyyah when a funeral passed by them, so they stood up and it was said to them: ‘It is one of the local people.’ They said: ‘A funeral passed the Messenger of Allah and he stood up, and it was said to him: It Is a Jew. He said: ‘Is it not a soul?”‘

Source: Sunan an-Nasa’i 1921

Grading by Sunni Scholars: Sahih (Darussalam)

Link: http://sunnah.com/nasai/21/104

In another version, we see the reason for the Prophet (sawa) allegedly standing was different:

It was narrated that Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said:
“A funeral passed by us and the Messenger of Allah stood up and we stood with him. I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a Jewish funeral.’ He said: ‘Death is something terrifying, so if you see a funeral, stand up,”‘ This is the wording of Khalid.

Source: Sunan an-Nasa’i 1922

Grading by Sunni Scholars: Sahih (Darussalam)

Link: http://sunnah.com/nasai/21/105

Narrated Jabir:
We were with the Prophet (ﷺ) when a funeral passed hi and he stood up for it. When we went to carry it, we found that it was a funeral of a Jew. We, therefore said: Messenger of Allah, this is the funeral of a Jew. He said: Death is fearful event, so when you see a funeral, stand up.

Source: Sunan Abi Dawud 3174

Grading by Sunni Scholars: Sahih (Al-Albani)

Link: http://sunnah.com/abudawud/21/86

And another reason:

It was narrated from Anas that:
a funeral passed by the Messenger of Allah and he stood up. It was said: “It is the funeral of a Jew.” He said: “We stood up for the angels.”

Source: Sunan an-Nasa’i 1929

Grading by Sunni Scholars: Hasan (Darussalam)

Link: http://sunnah.com/nasai/21/113

So we see many contradicting reports as to the reason why the Prophet (sawa) stood. There is even differences on if this was to be performed every time, or if it was a once off?..:

It was narrated that Abu Ma’mar said:
“We were with ‘Ali and a funeral passed by him, and they stood up for it. ‘Ali said: “What is this?’ They said: ‘The command of Abu Musa.’ He said: ‘Rather the Messenger of Allah stood up for a Jewish funeral but he did not do it again.”‘

Source: Sunan an-Nasa’i 1923

Grading by Sunni Scholars: Sahih (Darussalam)

Link: http://sunnah.com/nasai/21/106

It was narrated from Muhammad that:
a funeral passed by Al-Hasan bin ‘Ali and Ibn ‘Abbas. Al-Hasan stood up but Ibn ‘Abbas did not/ Al-Hasan said: ‘Didn’t the Messenger of Allah stand up for the funeral of a Jew?’ Ibn ‘Abbas said: ‘Yes, then he sat down.”‘

Source: Sunan an-Nasa’i 1924

Grading by Sunni Scholars: Sahih (Darussalam)

Link: http://sunnah.com/nasai/21/107

The following hadith shows that the Prophet (sawa) changed his mind and ordered that none should stand so that they would act differently to the Jews:

Narrated Ubadah ibn as-Samit:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to stand up for a funeral until the corpse was placed in the grave. A learned Jew (once) passed him and said: This is how we do. The Prophet (ﷺ) sat down and said: Sit down and act differently from them.

Source: Sunan Abi Dawud 3176

Grading by Sunni Scholars: Hasan (Al-Albani)

Link: http://sunnah.com/abudawud/21/88

Finally, we see one hadith that is consistent with the Shia. Aside from the other reasons presented, this is the FOURTH reason that is in the books of the Mukhalafeen.

It was narrated from Ja’far bin Muhammad from his father that:
Al-Hasan bin ‘Ali was sitting when a funeral passed by. The People stood until the funeral had passed, and Al-Hasan said: “The funeral of Jew passed by when the Messenger of Allah was sitting in its path, and he did not want the funeral of a Jew to pass over his head, so he stood up.”

Source: Sunan an-Nasa’i 1927

Grading by Sunni Scholars: Sahih (Darussalam)

Link: http://sunnah.com/nasai/21/110

Shia Narrative

Here we see the very last hadith from the mukhalafeen matches the Shia narrative:

“Abu ‘Abd Allah, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, has said that Ali ibn Al-Husayn, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, was sitting when (people with) the dead body passed by. People stood up when the dead body appeared. Ali ibn Al-Husayn, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, said, ‘Once, (people with) the dead body of a Jewish person passed by; the Messenger of Allah was sitting on (the side of) way. He did not like the dead body of Jewish person higher over his head and to avoid this he stood up.”

Sanad: A number of our people have narrated from Sahl ibn Ziyad from ibn abu Najran from Muthanna al-Hannat who has said the above hadith

Source: Furu’ al-Kafi, Volume 3, Chapter 132, Hadith #2 (See First Image below)

We further see clear condemnation from our Imams (as) to stand for non-Muslim funerals:

“Once I was with of abu Ja‘far, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, when a man from Ansar was also there. A funeral procession passed by and the Ansariy man stood up; but abu Ja‘far, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, did not do so, and I remained sitting with him. The Ansariy remained standing until the procession passed by and then he sat down. The Imam asked, ‘What made you stand up?’ He replied, ‘I saw al-Husayn ibn Ali do as I did.’ Abu Ja‘far, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, said, ‘By Allah, al-Husayn did not do so and no one from us (Ahl al-Bayt) has ever done so.’ The Ansariy then said, ‘What you just said has placed me in doubt. I thought I had seen him (al-Husayn) doing so.’”

Sanad: Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from al-Husayn ibn Sa‘id from al-Nadr ibn al-Suwayd from Yahya ibn ‘Imran al-Halabiy from ‘Abd Allah ibn Muskan from Zurarah who has said the above hadith

Source: Furu’ al-Kafi, Volume 3, Chapter 132, Hadith #1 (See First Image below)

Grading: Bahboody says it is Sahih (صحيح); Allaamah al-Majlisi has said this hadith is Authentic/Sahih (صحيح) [Mira’at al-Uqool, Volume 14, Page 82 (See Second Image below)]

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Attending Funerals

When it comes to the quetsion of attending funerals, Sayed Sistani (hf) says the following:

Question: Is it permissible to participate in the funeral ceremony of a non-Muslim, if he was, for example, a neighbour?

Answer: If the deceased and those organizing the funeral are not known to have hatred towards Islam and Muslims, there is no problem in participating in the funeral. However, it is better to walk behind the coffin and not in front of it.

This correlates to the following hadiths:

“Abu ‘Abd Allah, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, has said, ‘Walk in front of the coffin of a knowledgeable Muslim but do not walk in front of the coffin of a rejecter (of belief). In front of the coffin of a Muslim, angels who hasten to paradise walk, but in front of the coffin of an unbeliever, angels walk who hasten with him (the unbeliever) to hell.’”
Sanad: A number of our people have narrated from Sahl ibn Ziyad from Muhammad ibn ‘Uramah from Muhammad ibn ‘Amr from Husayn ibn Ahmad al-Minqariy from Yunus ibn Zabyan who has said the above hadith

Source: Furu’ al-Kafi, Volume 3, Chapter 111, Hadith #2 (See First Image below)

“Someone asked abu ‘Abd Allah, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, ‘How should I walk in a funeral procession?’ The Imam replied, ‘Walk in front, or behind or on the right or left side of the coffin.’ He (the Imam) then said, ‘Do not walk in front if he is someone opposed to our belief; the angels of torment will come his way with all kinds of torment.’”

Sanad: Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from al-Nawfaliy from al-Sakuniy who has said the above hadith

Source: Furu’ al-Kafi, Volume 3, Chapter 111, Hadith #7 (See Second Image below)

Grading: al-Sheikh Haadi al-Najafi says the hadiths chain is reliable (الرواية معتبرة الإسناد) [Mawsu’atu Ahadeeth Ahlulbayt (as), Volume 7, Page 124]

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Salawat