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FAQ

al afkar 72

Question:

Assalamualaikum SS Dato’ Seri Mufti. What is the status of children from non-Muslim families if they pass away before reaching puberty?

 

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

We divide this topic into two aspects which are their worldly position in terms of management and funeral of their bodies. Secondly, their position in the hereafter according to the evidences stated on this matter.

First: Worldly Position

The scholars have reached a consensus that their position in the world is the same as their family’s position which means their dead body will not be bathed, shrouded or prayed for and they are not buried in Muslim cemeteries.

Ibn Abd al-Bar said: “The scholars have decided that the ruling of children (from non-Muslim parents) in the world follows the ruling of their parents as long as they do not reach puberty yet.” (Refer al-Tamhid, 8/193)

Second: Their Position in the Hereafter

Pertaining to their position in the hereafter, there are several opinions from scholars regarding this. Among them are:

  • They will enter Jannah (Paradise)

This is in accordance with a hadith narrated by Samurah bin Jundub RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:

وَأَمَّا الرَّجُلُ الطَّوِيلُ الَّذِي فِي الرَّوْضَةِ فَإِنَّهُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَأَمَّا الْوِلْدَانُ الَّذِينَ حَوْلَهُ فَكُلُّ مَوْلُودٍ مَاتَ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ ‏"‏‏.‏ قَالَ فَقَالَ بَعْضُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَأَوْلاَدُ الْمُشْرِكِينَ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏"‏ وَأَوْلاَدُ الْمُشْرِكِينَ‏

And the tall man whom you saw in the garden, is Abraham and the children around him are those children who die with Al-Fitra (the Islamic Faith). The narrator added: Some Muslims asked the Prophet, "O Allah's Messenger ()! What about the children of pagans?" The Prophet () replied, "And also the children of pagans."

Sahih al-Bukhari (7047)

Among the scholars who hold this opinion is Imam al-Nawawi rahimahullah. He said that this is the sahih madhhab chosen by muhaqqiq scholars. This is in accordance with the saying of Allah SWT:

وَمَا كُنَّا مُعَذِّبِينَ حَتَّىٰ نَبْعَثَ رَسُولًا

“And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.”

Surah al-Israa’ (15)

Based on the stated verse, Imam al-Nawawi said as narrated by al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari: If those who has matured and are rational are not punished when da’wah does not reach them, then those who has yet matured is far more prioritized in this matter. (Refer Fath al-Bari, 4/462)

  • They will be tested in the hereafter. Those who obey will enter Paradise while those who do not will enter the Hellfire.

This is like the test inflicted upon the ahl al-fatrah, where da’wah does not reach them. Allah SWT state in the Quran:

وَمَا كُنَّا مُعَذِّبِينَ حَتَّىٰ نَبْعَثَ رَسُولًا

“And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.”

Surah al-Israa’ (15)

Ibn Kathir said: “This is a depiction of Allah SWT’s justice in which He will not punish anyone except after He make them understand the arguments through the prophets.” (Refer Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 8/445)

The same is stated in the hadith narrated by Aswad bin Sari’ where the Prophet PBUH said:

أَرْبَعَةٌ يَحْتَجُّونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ: رَجُلٌ أَصَمُّ، وَرَجُلٌ أَحْمَقُ، وَرَجُلٌ هَرِمٌ، وَرَجُلٌ مَاتَ فِي الْفَتْرَةِ، فَأَمَّا الْأَصَمُّ، فَيَقُولُ: يَا رَبِّ، لَقَدْ جَاءَ الْإِسْلَامُ، وَمَا أَسْمَعُ شَيْئًا، وَأَمَّا الْأَحْمَقُ، فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ، قَدْ جَاءَ الْإِسْلَامُ وَالصِّبْيَانُ يَحْذِفُونَنِي بِالْبَعَرِ، وَأَمَّا الْهَرِمُ، فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ، لَقَدْ جَاءَ الْإِسْلَامُ وَمَا أَعْقِلُ، وَأَمَّا الَّذِي مَاتَ فِي الْفَتْرَةِ، فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ، مَا أَتَانِي لَكَ رَسُولٌ، فَيَأْخُذُ مَوَاثِيقَهُمْ لَيُطِيعُنَّهُ، فَيُرْسِلُ إِلَيْهِمْ رَسُولًا أَنِ ادْخُلُوا النَّارَ، قَالَ: فَوَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَوْ دَخَلُوهَا كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ بَرْدًا وَسَلَامًا

“There will be four types of people who will present their arguments in the Hereafter: (1) The deaf, (2) retarded, (3) old people with dementia, and (4) people passed away during fatrah. The deaf will say, “O God, indeed, Islamic teachings have reached us while we did not hear even a single word.” The retarded will say, “O God, indeed, Islamic teachings have reached us while the children threw us with camel faeces.” Old people with dementia will say, “O God, indeed, Islamic teachings have reached us while we do not understand anything.” While those who passed away during fatrah will say: “O God, there is no single message that reached us.” Then, their oath to obey Him is taken. A prophet is sent to them to ask them to enter the hellfire. The Prophet PBUH then said: “O Lord in which my soul is under His care, even if they enter it they surely will experience coolness and safety.”

Musnad Ahmad (16301), al-Tabarani (2/79) and Ibnu Hibban (7357)

Ibnu Qayyim upon explaining the opinions in this issue states: “The eighth opinion is they are of the opinion that children of the disbelievers will be tested in the hereafter in open land. A messenger is sent to each person. Those who obey will enter Paradise, while those who do not will enter the hellfire. In other words, some of them will enter Paradise some will enter the Hellfire. This opinion encompasses the stated dalil and supported by various hadiths.” (Refer Tariq al-Hijratain, pg. 369)

Imam Ibn Kathir after explaining the above-stated opinions, he then chose the opinion which says that they (the children) will be tested in the hereafter. He said, “This opinion is the one combining all existing dalil. And the hadiths I have stated before emphasizes and strengthen each other.” (Refer Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 3/30)

  • The scholars choose to tawaqquf by stating that Allah SWT knows best of their condition

This is in accordance with a hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:

سُئِلَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ أَوْلاَدِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ فَقَالَ ‏ "‏ اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا كَانُوا عَامِلِينَ ‏"

The Prophet () ; was asked about the offspring of the pagans. He said, "Allah knows what they would have done (were they to live),”

Sahih al-Bukhari (6597)

In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RS, he said:

سُئِلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ ذَرَارِيِّ الْمُشْرِكِينَ فَقَالَ ‏{‏اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا كَانُوا عَامِلِينَ ‏}‏

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was asked about the offspring of the pagans. He said, "Allah knows what they would have done (were they to live)."

Sahih al-Bukhari (6598)

Syeikh Syams al-Haq ‘Azim Abadi explains: “ذَرَارِيِّ الْمُشْرِكِينَ” means disbelievers’ children who passed away before reaching puberty. The phrase “ذَرَارِيِّ” is a plural form of “ذرية”, and it means the ancestors of humans and jinn.

While the phrase “اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا كَانُوا عَامِلِينَ”, it means their future condition whether they enter paradise, or hellfire, or between those two as stated by al-Qari. (Refer Aun al-Ma’bud, 12/316)

  • They will be the helpers of the people of Paradise

This is in accordance with a hadith which states:

أطفالُ المُشرِكينَ خَدَمُ أهلِ الجنَّةِ

“Children of the disbelievers are the helpers of the people of Paradise,”

This hadith is narrated by al-Tabarani (5514) and al-Bazzar (7466). However, it is viewed as weak by the imam of hadith like al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Fathh al-Bari (3/246)

Closing

The scholars have differing opinions in stating their disposition of the strongest opinion. The opinions may be summarised as follow:

  • The children will directly enter Paradise. This is the chosen opinion of scholars such as Imam al-Nawai, al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani and others.
  • The children will be tested. This is the chosen opinion of Imam Ibn Kathir, Imam al-Qurtubi, Ibn Qayyim and others.
  • The children will be the helpers of the people of Paradise.
  • Allah is the One who knows of their position.

We are inclined to the opinion which states that children of the non-Muslims who passed away before reaching puberty will enter Paradise according to supported evidences.

May Allah SWT bless us with knowledge and understanding as well as make us firm in this faith to the end of our lives. Ameen.