The Ruling on Seeking Forgiveness for the Disbeliever

A pair of tombstone rows adorned with vibrant flowers.

بسم الله والحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وبعد

After the death of the disbeliever, there is no significant disagreement among scholars regarding the impermissibility of seeking forgiveness for them.

However, during their lifetime, the basis for prohibiting seeking forgiveness is the verse: “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. And the request for forgiveness of Abraham for his father was only because of a promise he had made to him. But when it became apparent to Abraham that his father was an enemy to Allah, he dissociated himself from him. Indeed was Abraham compassionate and patient.” (Quran, 9:113-114)

The prohibition is linked to the clarification that the person is from the companions of Hellfire and an enemy of Allah, and this clarification occurs when the person dies in disbelief. This is what happened with Abraham, peace be upon him. The clarification that his father was from the companions of Hellfire occurred with his father’s death in disbelief, but before that, Abraham used to seek forgiveness for him.

Allah Almighty says: “There has already been for you an excellent pattern in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people, ‘Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from whatever you worship other than Allah. We have denied you, and there has appeared between us and you animosity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah alone.’ Except for the saying of Abraham to his father, ‘I will surely ask forgiveness for you.’” (Quran, 60:4)

So, his seeking forgiveness for his father was exempted from the disassociation mentioned in this verse. Therefore, leaving the seeking of forgiveness for him came after that.

It is narrated from some of the early scholars, including Abdul Aziz bin Yahya al-Kinanani: “When Allah Almighty prohibited seeking forgiveness for his father and made it known to him that he was an enemy of Allah and would die in his disbelief, thus entering the Hellfire, He commanded him to disassociate from him.” [Al-Hidayah wal-I’tibar, p. 94]

And it is narrated by An-Nasa’i in Al-Kubra (11409) with an authentic chain from Abu Huraira that “When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) conquered Makkah… until he finished, then he came and took hold of the door’s handles, and then he said: ‘O people of Quraysh, what do you say?’ They said: ‘We say, the son of our brother, the son of our paternal uncle, a generous and noble man.’ Then he repeated the words to them, and they said the same thing. He said: ‘Then indeed, I say as my brother Yusuf said: ‘No blame will there be upon you today. Allah will forgive you; and He is the most merciful of the merciful.’ Then they went out and pledged allegiance to him on Islam.”

Abdul Razzaq narrated (9937): Ibn Ayyinah informed us from Abu Sinan from Sa’id bin Jubayr who said: “A man’s father, who was a Jew, died and his son did not follow him. This was mentioned to Ibn Abbas, and he said: ‘What is wrong with him if he washed him, followed him, and sought forgiveness for him as long as he was alive?’ Meaning, he prayed for him while the father was alive. Then Ibn Abbas recited: ‘When it became clear to him that he was an enemy to Allah, he disassociated from him,’ meaning, when he died upon his disbelief.”

Its chain is authentic.

And it is narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah (11847) – Wakī’ reported to us from Isrā’īl from Dharār bin Murrah from Sa’id bin Jubayr, who said: “A Christian man died leaving behind a Muslim son who did not follow him. So Ibn Abbas said: ‘It was obligatory upon him to follow him, bury him, and seek forgiveness for him during his lifetime.’”

Its chain is good.

Among the later scholars, there are directions for seeking forgiveness for them. The best, in my opinion, is that the cause for forgiveness is Islam. Forgiveness is not granted to them except if they embrace Islam. Therefore, supplication entails the fulfillment of its conditions. This guidance is implied in the narration mentioned earlier from An-Nasa’i.

And Allah knows best.

Translated from: https://mshmsdin.com/archives/3529

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