What is the ruling of attending the funeral of one’s neighbour who is a non-Muslim?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many 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.
The Ruling of Attending the Funeral of Non-Muslims
The scholars have differing opinions regarding the ruling of following the funeral procession of non-Muslims to their graveyard.
Narrated by Saidina ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, he said:
قُلْتُ لِلنَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: إِنَّ عَمَّكَ الشَّيْخَ الضَّالَّ قَدْ مَاتَ. قَالَ: اذْهَبْ فَوَارِ أَبَاكَ، ثُمَّ لَا تُحْدِثَنَّ شَيْئًا حَتَّى تَأْتِيَنِي. فَذَهَبْتُ، فَوَارَيْتُهُ، وَجِئْتُهُ، فَأَمَرَنِي فَاغْتَسَلْتُ، وَدَعَا لِي
“I said to the Prophet (ﷺ): Your old and astray uncle has died. He said: Go and bury your father and then do not do anything until you come to me. So, I went, buried him and came to him. He ordered me (to take a bath), so I took a bath, and he prayed for me.”
Sunan Abu Daud (3214)
Imam al-Nawawi wrote, Imam al-Syafie states in Muktasar al-Muzani and scholars of madhhab Syafie ruled it permissible for Muslims to follow the funeral procession of non-Muslims family members and it is also permissible to visit them according to the chosen opinion of the majority of scholars. (See al-Majmu’, 5/144)
According to Imam al-Nawawi: “It is permissible for a Muslim to follow the funeral procession of a non-Muslim relative.” (See Minhaj al-Talibin, pg. 62)
Al-Khatib al-Syarbini cited the words of al-Isnawi stating that there is no evidence on the absolute permissibility only for a relative for during the life of Ali, he takes care of his father, then it is the same for when it is his death, Ali would fulfil his responsibilities. It is understood from the words that it is prohibited for a Muslim to follow the funeral procession of non-related non-Muslim as explained by asl-Syasyi. A wife and captive are also included in the meaning of relative according to the opinion of al-Azra’ie. There are some discussions on whether or not neighbours are included as relative. The chosen opinion state that neighbours are also included as relative. (See Mughni al-Muhtaj, 2/48)
According to Imam Syamsuddin al-Ramli, it is permissible to follow the funeral procession of a non-relative non-Muslim using the above hadith as evidence. Relative here means people who are close to us according to al-Azra’ie, such as wife, captive, as well as slaves and neighbours. (See Nihayat al-Muhtaj, 3/187)
It is permissible for a Muslim to visit a deceased non-Muslim and follow his funeral procession if the deceased is close to him, such as mother, father, sibling or a relative of his.
According to the narration regarding the death of Abu Talib, the Prophet PBUH’s uncle, the Prophet PBUH said to Ali RA:
اذْهَبْ فَوَارِ أَبَاكَ ثُمَّ لاَ تُحْدِثَنَّ شَيْئًا حَتَّى تَأْتِيَنِي
“Go and bury your father, then do not do anything until you come to me.”
Sunan Abu Daud (3214) and Sunan al-Nasa’ie (2006)
The Prophet PBUH asked Ali RA to bury his father (Abu Talib) while the Prophet PBUH did not follow the funeral procession nor did he attend the funeral.
This is also the opinion of al-Imam Malik Rahimahullah, he said: “A Muslim is not to bath his deceased father if his father died as a disbeliever, nor should he follow the funeral procession, nor should he go to his funeral…” (See al-Mudawwanah, 1/261)
Hanabilah scholars also hold this opinion saying: “It is impermissible for a Muslim to bath a deceased non-Muslim, due to the prohibition of showing loyalty to them for it is included as honouring and purifying them. It is the same as praying for them.”
It is further stated: “They are not to be shrouded nor should one follow their funeral procession.” (See Syarh al-Muntaha al-Iradat, 1/347)
According to the above discussions, we are inclined towards the opinion of madhhab Syafie which ruled it permissible for a Muslim to follow the funeral procession of non-Muslims. Neighbours are categorized as relative as stated by al-Azra’ie. Thus, it is permissible for a Muslim to attend the funeral of a non-Muslim neighbour. However, there are several manners and guidelines that one should comply to.
Among them are:
- It is permissible to offer your condolences to the family of the deceased through advice and words of support.
- It is permissible to offer monetary donation to the family of the deceased for their daily needs, sustenance, medical costs and others. If the money is used for other purposes without our knowledge such as for religious ceremonies, then the Muslim is not considered sinful. The reason is, jurists considered it as infikak al-jihah (separation of division). It is analogically deduced with the permissibility of trading and donating to them where the usage of the money is unknown.
- Are not involved with any ceremonies which contradict the syarak.
- Do not show respect for the deceased such as bowing one’s head in front of the deceased.
- Do not supplicate for the safety of the deceased in the hereafter for the deceased’s faith and ours are different. Hence, there is no need for us to supplicate for something they do not believe in.