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In online Muslim support groups, I often see Muslims talking about personal struggles and others saying they will pray for them. However, (I presume) these two people only know each other online, and this strikes me as improper:

  • It seems risky to pray for someone you don't really know. What you wouldn't have prayed for them if you had known more about the person or their situation? You could unwittingly be praying for something bad to happen.

  • It feels cheap to pray for someone known only online, perhaps known to you as UsernameX. It's as if making this prayer lowers the standard of your prayer, as if they're unsanitized and you would be willing to pray for whatever.

Question: Is it improper to pray for someone you only know online?

Since this is common, it's probably okay to do, in which case, I'd be interested in learning what's wrong with my thought process.

And, since this question could be regarded as subjective, I ask that answers be backed up in some way (e.g., by quoting from Quran, Hadith, a fatwa), and not just "you should think X".

  • The prophet pray for the king of Al habasha he did not meet him in person – AmerYR Jul 9 '16 at 12:45
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Muslims are encouraged to pray for all Muslims

Although they have sins:

In Quran:

So know, [O Muhammad], that there is no deity except Allah and ask forgiveness for your sin and for the believing men and believing women. And Allah knows of your movement and your resting place. 47:19

And in Hadith:

It was narrated from Abu Ibrahim Al-Ansari, from his father, that: he heard the Prophet say, when offering the funeral prayer for one who had died: Allahummighfir lihayyina wa mayyitina wa shahidina wa gha'ibina wadhakarina wa unthana wa saghirina wa kabirina (O Allah, forgive our living and our dead, those who are present among us and those who are absent, our males and our females, our young and our old). Sunan an-Nasa'i 1986

When you do that you are doing something Angels do:

The heavens almost break from above them, and the angels exalt [ Allah ] with praise of their Lord and ask forgiveness for those on earth. Unquestionably, it is Allah who is the Forgiving, the Merciful. 42:5

Allah is the wise and the Omniscient

It’s not risky to pray for the good of someone you don’t know, because if you do not know, Allah knows, and your prayer will be directed to the best, when you know that Allah knows everything and knows the secrets and the hidden, your fear should not take place.

It’s not cheap to pray for who whatever:

  • it’s a sign that you care for all Muslims,
  • it is the action of prophets and Angels

Nouh (pbuh)said:

My Lord, forgive me and my parents and whoever enters my house a believer and the believing men and believing women. And do not increase the wrongdoers except in destruction." 71:28

  • It’s a way to gain a lot of hasanat :

Abud-Darda' (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, "Whenever a Muslim supplicates for his (Muslim) brother in his absence, the angels say: 'May the same be for you too'."

[Muslim].

Your saying “Since this is common, it's probably okay to do” ...I say: this is a smart notice, and the wrong part for the thought process you followed I would say the assumption that you have control and what you pray for will happen as is, but this is not the case, Allah decides the best and if:

  • the prayer will be answered as is

  • by avoiding other bad fate

  • by bringing some other good.

  • Added to the person as hasanat

And Allah knows best.

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    Tangential perhaps, but I'm also reminded of the hadith of the man who tried to give charity, and accidentally kept giving it to people who didn't deserve it: sunnah.com/bukhari/24/25 – goldPseudo Jul 10 '16 at 1:18
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    Yes thank you, very good point, whoever not good enough now, Allah might guide him later and change his destiny, your prayer could be the reason for someone to repent. – M.M Jul 10 '16 at 2:08

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