By Abu Shaheer
In the last few days, two distinguished personalities died. Both were famous and renowned; and had their fans and followers worldwide. The death of the “Fast & Furious” fame Paul Walker shocked his fans, and fellows of the film industry. Then “the Symbol of Peace” Nelson Mandela left this world; making not only the South African Nation fall in grief, but also the rest of the world. People shared their feelings, memories, tribute and prayers for their beloved personalities on social media.
The strange part of the story was the “R.I.P” (Rest-In-Peace) comments by the Muslims. It seems Muslims do not know the teachings of the Holy Quran about praying for deceased disbelievers. Let’s have a look at the death incident of Abu-Talib, the Uncle of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
Death of Abu-Talib:
In the tenth year of the Prophethood, Abu Talib fell ill and passed away. When Abu Talib was on the death bed, the Prophet ﷺentered the room where he saw Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Omaiyah. He requested his uncle:
“My uncle, you just make a profession that there is no true god but Allâh, and I will bear testimony before Allâh (of your being a believer)”.
Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Omaiyah addressing him said: “Abu Talib, would you abandon the religion of ‘Abdul-Muttalib?” The Messenger of Allâh ﷺ constantly requested him (to accept his offer), and (on the other hand) was repeated the same statement (of Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Omaiyah) — till Abu Talib gave his final decision and he stuck to the religion of ‘Abdul-Muttalib and refused to profess that there is no true god but Allâh. Upon this the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ remarked:
“By Allâh, I will persistently beg pardon for you till I am forbidden to do so (by Allâh)”.
It was then that Allâh, the Magnificent and Glorious revealed this verse:
مَا كَانَ لِلنَّبِيِّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَن يَسْتَغْفِرُوا لِلْمُشْرِكِينَ وَلَوْ كَانُوا أُولِي قُرْبَىٰ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُمْ أَصْحَابُ الْجَحِيمِ
“It is not (proper) for the Prophet and those who believe to ask Allâh’s forgiveness for the Mushrikûn (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh) even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the Fire (because they died in a state of disbelief).” [9:113]
And it was said to the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ:
إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَـٰكِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ ۚوَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ
“Verily! You [O Muhammad (Peace be upon him) ] guide not whom you like.” [28:56]
It goes without saying that Abu Talib was very much attached to Muhammad ﷺ. For forty years, Abu Talib had been the faithful friend — the prop of his childhood, the guardian of his youth and in later life a very tower of defence. The sacrifices to which Abu Talib exposed himself and his family for the sake of his nephew, while yet incredulous of his mission, stamp his character as singularly noble and unselfish. The Prophet ﷺ did his best to persuade his octogenarian uncle to make profession of the true faith, but he remained obdurate and stuck to the paganism of his forefathers, and thus could not achieve complete success. Al-‘Abbas bin ‘AbdulMuttalib narrated that he said to the Prophetﷺ “You have not been of any avail to your uncle (Abu Talib) (though) by Allâh, he used to protect you and get angry on your behalf.”
The Prophet ﷺ said: “He is in a shallow fire, and had it not been for me, he would have been at the bottom of the (Hell) Fire.”
Abu Sa‘id Al-Khudri narrated that he heard the Prophet ﷺ say, when the mention of his uncle was made, “I hope that my intercession may avail him, and he be placed in a shallow fire that rises up only to his heels.” [Excerpt from Al-Raheeq-ul-Makhtum… a book about the Life of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ]
There is no doubt that the great South African leader, Nelson Mandela, struggled through his life for the peace and human rights, for which he had also earned the Noble prize for Peace, and he should be given more respect over a film actor. But… for me, Abu Talib was undoubtedly a far better personality than Nelson Mandela. He took care, supported, and guarded the Holy Prophetﷺ throughout his life. Although he didn’t embrace Islam; yet we Muslims have a great deal of respect for him in our hearts for whatever he had done in support of his Nephew ﷺ. However, he could not succeed in securing a peaceful place to rest in, in the hereafter, which is quite clear from the above mentioned Hadith. Secondly, when the Prophet ﷺwished to pray for his deceased uncle, Allah Almighty allowed neither him nor the other Muslims to pray for disbelievers (even though they be of kin), as mentioned in the verses stated above. So if Muslims are not allowed to say R.I.P for Abu Talib, how could they be allowed to say R.I.P for Nelson Mandela or Paul Walker?
For wrong faiths (kufr & shirk), Allah Almighty said clearly:
لَا تُشْرِكْ بِاللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ O
Do not ascribe partners to Allah. Indeed, ascribing partners toAllah (shirk) is grave transgression.” [31:13]
And for the disbelievers (mushrikin) Allah Almighty gave a clear word:
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّـهِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا O
Surely, Allah does not forgive that a partner is ascribed to Him, and forgives anything short of that for whomsoever He wills. Whoever ascribes a partner to Allah has indeed gone far astray. [04:116]
So Muslims should avoid saying R.I.P for the disbelievers in case it would be considered as a violation of the clear teachings of Islam. We Muslims must take care of our belief and pray constantly for that:
Our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate from the right path after You have given us guidance, and bestow upon us mercy from Your own. Surely, You, and You alone, are the One who bestows in abundance. O Allah! Whomsoever You keep alive, let him live as a follower of Islam and whomsoever You cause to die, let him die a Believer.
May Allah guide us all, the right path. Aameen.