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Assalamualaikum,

I would be grateful if anybody in this forum could please provide evidence based on quran and sunnah as to whether it is permissible to attend a nonmuslim funeral service for a deceased person who was a muslim? (If the sources could be cited/quoted that would also be good so that we can disseminate the basis of your judgement to other family members.)

The context is that my granduncle reverted to islam when he married my grandaunt, a practising muslim, about 50 years ago. Recently he also reaffirmed his shahadah. He resides in a nonmuslim country.

We, the family, therefore believe he is muslim.

However his will does not state anything about funeral arrangements. Some members of his nonmuslim (christian) family have been named as executors, and have allowed us to come to their Christian funeral service for him at the church.

This is the basis of the question above.

If we were to attend and sit but not participate (sing read etc) in any religious rites (therefore coming only as representatives of my grandaunt to her husband's funeral, and with a view that this would encourage a favourable view of Islam inshaallah among the nonmuslim attendees), would this be permissible in islam?

I am very grateful and thank you for your consideration of this question. The family would greatly appreciate a response as soon as possible as the funeral ceremony might be happening in the next few days.

Jazakumullah.

Wassalam.

  • A Muslim has to be buried as a Muslim. It is your duty to prevent a Christian burial when you are sure that the deceased is a Muslim. The duty is on you to make sure your uncle has a Muslim burial. Even if he had determined in his will to be buried in a Christian way, this would be void as it is against Islamic teachings. – Noor Jan 18 '17 at 15:27
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As mentioned by our beloved prophet, the rights of the neighbor are:

  • You must help him if he asks for your help
  • Give him relief if he seeks your relief
  • Lend him if he needs a loan Do not block his air by raising your building high without his permission
  • Do not harass him
  • Give him a share when you buy fruits; if you do not, bring what you buy quietly and let not your children take them out to excite the jealousy of his children.
  • You must visit (and take care of) him when he is ill
  • You must attend his funeral when he dies (and take part in burial arrangements)
  • If he commits a sin, prevent it from being known
  • Congratulate him if he is met with good fortune Grieve in sympathy if a calamity befalls him

https://www.zakat.org/en/top-11-rights-neighbors-understanding-muslims-duty-neighbors/

Islam is a social religion. You are instructed to do the following for your neighbor, regardless of faith ( I think there are some rare exceptions like if the person was a persistent drunk person or a singer for لهو و لعب but don't quote me on that). Is a kin higher in relation than a neighbor? Then surely you must attend.

Your intention of participating shouldn't be that I'm there as to approve this way of funeral, rather I'm here to show that I'm a very social emotional being and a practicing Muslim

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    Good answer while i was answering in hast i was thinking, what have i missed, it was the neighborhood relation! – Medi1Saif Jan 18 '17 at 17:07
  • Thank you for your measured answer. I assume the underlying premise is that there is no distinction made between a muslim or nonmuslim neighbour. Can I confirm this is the case? If I could point out one thing: unfortunately the link does not work. Please could you provide a link that does? Thank you. – Abdul-Kareem Abdul-Rahman Apr 7 '17 at 13:40
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    @Abdul-KareemAbdul-Rahman In Islam, the closer a person is the more rights they have. Sometimes the person is close to you by blood ie your kin/parents/siblings or is close to by physical proximity ie your neighbors. These two have certain rights regardless of faith. (I don't mean other non-Muslims have no rights, only that in Islam there's an emphasis on neighbors and kin, otherwise people living in your city, orphans, elders, younger ones, etc. also have rights). Additionally your believing brothers/sisters have certain rights regardless of proximity)... Btw I updated the link. – Honey Apr 7 '17 at 13:57
  • The reason I raised the matter of a hypothetical nonmuslim neighbour having the rights of attendance of his/her (nonmuslim) funeral from a muslim is because if this is the case, the case for attending a muslim's funeral (in such a nonmuslim service) would be further strengthened. – Abdul-Kareem Abdul-Rahman Apr 7 '17 at 14:11
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Scholars say it is not allowed to attend a non-Muslims funeral no matter how close he is (See for example islamqa #145532), this opinion is in first place the one of the Maliki and Hanbali madhhab, while the Shafi'i madhhab considers it as allowed for really close non-Muslims (one of their evidences is this hadith). They also consider attending the funeral ceremony at a church as a bigger sin.

Discussion of some of the given evidences are:

From the Quran:

And do not pray [the funeral prayer, O Muhammad], over any of them who has died - ever - or stand at his grave. Indeed, they disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger and died while they were defiantly disobedient. (9:84)

Note that:

  1. the context of this verse is talking about apostates or hypocrites whom left the Muslims alone when the Muslims were in need of them!
  2. It seems at least to directly address our Prophet () so maybe this doesn't apply for Muslims in general, but could apply for a Muslim authority like a caliph etc.

It is not for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire. (9:113)

might be considered as a more general ruling, but this seems to apply for living people in first place!

From sunnah:

This hadith quotes the revelation circumstances of the 2nd Quran quote.

However he allowed or even ordered 'Ali ibn abi Talib to bury his father in this hadith.

I'd like to say if you fear for your belief by attending the funeral or if you are afraid to be counted a sinner you shouldn't go. If there's any chance that your presence could have a positive impact for Islam and the acceptance of Muslims I'd even recommend you and ask you to reject any act of shirk or disbelief you may witness. You must have in mind the intention is the key.
Also as @Honey said in her answer Islam is more than orders and prohibitions it's a social religion, where we are asked to interact with people, like neighbors, friends and relatives.
My answer so far is assuming the man was a non-Muslim!


Now there's an other Issue which is if your uncle is/was a Muslim he shouldn't be buried in a non-Muslim cemetery! And his funeral shouldn't be according a non-Muslim ceremony!

Burying a Muslim in a non-Muslim cemetery is considered as haram by consensus of the scholars according to this fatawa (islamqa #180576 only available in Arabic) one evidence for that is the hadith from sunan abi Dawod:

Narrated Bashir, the Client of the Messenger of Allah:
Bashir's name in pre-Islamic days was Zahm ibn Ma'bad. When he migrated to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). He asked: What is your name? He replied: Zahm. He said: No, you are Bashir.
He (Bashir) said: When I was walking with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) he passed by the graves of the polytheists. He said: They lived before (a period of) abundant good. He said this three times. He then passed by the graves of Muslims. He said: They received abundant good. ...

So be aware if this man really was a Muslim and he was buried in a non-Muslim cemetery and no body has prayed for him the salat al-Janazah the whole Muslims (at least those who knew about it) would be blamed and commit a big sin (read for example these fatwas islamqa #153492, #14040 and #20472)!

In case of doubt you must check what you think is the closest to truth and handle according what you concluded. Again unfortunately there's only an Arabic version a fatwa available on islamqa #130202, which deals about whether it is allowed to pray the janazah prayer for somebody who didn't pray (which is considered as equal to disbelief). If you have been certain about his disbelief you must follow the orders given by (9:84) which means not to pray janazah.

If you think he was a Muslim and didn't attend the funeral you have at least the option of the prayer in absence (salat al-ghaib) (for details read this fatwa islamqa #35853)

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    I don't understand how the hadith with Bashir is relevant here, could you explain? – G. Bach Jan 18 '17 at 18:31
  • @G.Bach I posted it as it was the main evidence used by the author of the fatwa from islamqa to show that Muslims should be buried separately from non-Muslims. I'll check for that, my assumption is that it seems to say that this was the case. You are free to ask this as a new question ... I was thinking about this too. – Medi1Saif Jan 19 '17 at 6:21
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    Jazakallah for your response. in reponse to the point "... if this man really was a Muslim and he was buried in a non-Muslim cemetery and no body has prayed for him the salat al-Janazah...", the reason he is to be buried in a non-muslim cemetry is primarily because of the muslim's family's lack of legal power and/or our current lack of means to engage the legal process. (the executor is only the christian family and they have put aside the requests of the muslim family for a burial at a muslim cemetery or to have a muslim service, and the deceased's will is silent on funeral arrangements) – Abdul-Kareem Abdul-Rahman Jan 19 '17 at 16:00
  • @Medi1Saif I believe you have not specifically answered the question of the permissibility of attending the nonmuslim service for a muslim. The hadith narrated by Bashir does not seem convincing. It does not state anything about the permissibility of a muslim being buried in a nonmuslim cemetry. It does suggest that polytheist will not receive 'abundant good'.But it does not address the question at hand I think. Please explain further if you think it does. – Abdul-Kareem Abdul-Rahman Apr 7 '17 at 14:23
  • @Medi1Saif As it is, muslims in the west are daily being buried in mixed cemetries: either muslim sections within it, or as a marked muslim grave plot among nonmuslim graves. Also, the 'people of the book' are not recognised as polytheists (مشركون). So I don't think the point about a muslim not being permitted to have a nonmuslim service or to be buried in a nonmuslim cemetry is 'settled'. – Abdul-Kareem Abdul-Rahman Apr 7 '17 at 14:29
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There is no legal impediment to hold you back from attending your non Muslim friends and relatives’ funerals. Imam al Nawawi said in his book (al Majmu’) “it is not a disfavoured act for a Muslim to attend the funeral of a non Muslim relative” and this was also stated by Imam al Shafi’i.

Also attending the funeral of a relative even if he is a non Muslim strengthens the ties of kinship which is commanded by Islamic Shari’ah. It is also important to attend the relatives’ funerals as a token of refined manners, good relationship with others, loyalty and love. Similarly attending the funeral of your relative would increase respect and admiration for Islam in your family and would give a positive impression that Islam promotes coexistence and harmony.

Also there is no impediment to offer your condolences because it is part of good manners and high ethics as God says in the Quran,

“Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” 60: 8

and also said,

“and [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], “Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] … 2:83”

so condolences are part of speaking goodness to people.

To be kind and lenient with family and relatives to become a role model of a good Muslim who engages in his/ her community as Islam does not like his followers to be isolated in their little cocoons. Islam was rather spread through refined manners and sharing people’s moments of joy and sadness along with offering them a supporting hand coated with empathy and mercy for them.

And Allah knows best.

  • Thank you for the reply. Unfortunately it does not directly address question as the deceased is a muslim as clarified in the body text. I have now also clarified this in the title per se. – Abdul-Kareem Abdul-Rahman Aug 5 '18 at 20:34
  • Salam and welcome to IslamSE the Q&A site about Islam. Consider taking the tour and checking the help center for further information about our model. – Medi1Saif Aug 6 '18 at 9:51

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