Question # 524: Can we visit a sick non believer? Can we attend their Janazah? Wa Assalam
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: A disbeliever becomes most worthy of receiving Da‘wah (invitation to Islam) when he is sick or on the deathbed; therefore, visiting a sick non-believer is permissible in Islam as this may serve an interest, namely opening his heart to Islam. When Abu Taalib, the uncle of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was on his deathbed, he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) asked him to pronounce the two testimonies of faith so that they would be the means through which he would be saved from Hell on the Day of Resurrection. On the other hand, Muslims should not join the funeral procession or take part in the burial of non-believers because they disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger in their life, and died in a state of disbelief. Nevertheless, if there is nobody among the disbelievers who can bury their dead, then the Muslims should bury them, as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did with those who were killed at Badr.
Long Answer: A disbeliever becomes most worthy of receiving Da‘wah (invitation to Islam) when he is ill and at death’s door, the person is worthier of being given Da’wah than others, for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) cared most for the guidance of his uncle Abu Taalib when the latter was on his deathbed and called him to Islam. It was narrated by Narrated Al-Musaiyab (رضي الله عنه): When Abu Talib’s death approached, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) went to him while Abu Jahl and `Abdullah bin Abi Umaiya were present with him. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “O uncle, say: None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, so that I may argue for your case with it before Allah.” On that, Abu Jahl and `Abdullah bin Abu Umaiya said, “O Abu Talib! Do you want to renounce `Abdul Muttalib’s religion?” Then the Prophet said, “I will keep on asking (Allah for) forgiveness for you unless I am forbidden to do so.” Then there was revealed:– ‘It is not fitting for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and those who believe that they should invoke (Allah) for forgiveness for pagans even though they be of kin after it has become clear to them that they are companions of the Fire.’ (9.113). (Sahih al-Bukhari)
In another hadith, it was narrated by Anas (رضي الله عنه): A Jewish boy used to serve the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and became ill. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) went to pay him a visit and said to him, “Embrace Islam,” and he did embrace Islam. Al-Musaiyab said: When Abu Talib was on his deathbed, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) visited him. (Sahih al-Bukhari)
[On the other hand,] Muslims should not… try to please the disbelievers by joining their funeral procession [or take part in burial,] even if this is a political practice. Such things are not known from the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) or the Khulafaa’ al-Raashidoon. In fact, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forbade His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) to stand by the grave of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ubayy ibn Salool, and explained that the reason for this prohibition was that the man was a disbeliever. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And never (O Muhammad) pray (funeral prayer) for any of them (hypocrites) who dies, nor stand at his grave. Certainly, they disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger, and died while they were Faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah and His Messenger).” (Soorah al-Tawbah, 9:84)
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah was asked about Muslim people who have Christian neighbors – is it permissible for a Muslim to visit a Christian if he gets sick, or to attend his funeral if he dies? Is there any sin on a Muslim who does these things, or not? He replied: “He should not attend his funeral, but visiting him when he is sick is fine, because this may serve an interest, namely opening his heart to Islam. But then if he dies as a disbeliever, he will deserve Hell, hence the prayers should not be offered for him.”
However, some Muslim jurists allowed following the funeral procession of non-Muslim relatives depending on the narration of Abu Waa’il (رضي الله عنه) who said: “When my Christian mother died I went to ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) and informed him that. He said to me, ‘Ride on your animal and walk in front of the funeral.”
[Nevertheless,] if there is nobody among them who can bury their dead, then the Muslims should bury them, as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did with those who were killed at Badr, and as he did with his uncle Abu Taalib, when he died, and he [the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم)] said to ‘Ali: “Go and bury him.”
(The above reply is based on various answers on similar topics provided by:
- Islamweb.net, a website belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar; and
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.