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Revert FAQs: Are My Non-Muslim Parents Going To Hell?
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Revert FAQs: Are My Non-Muslim Parents Going To Hell?

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We’ll be accepting challenging questions from revert Muslims about their struggles and we will be choosing the best one. The question at hand will be answered by a fellow revert for over 15 years, iERA Chief Executive, Hamza Tzortzis.


QUESTION:

Assalamu alaikum brother Hamza. 

I have a question, I lost my beloved father 5 years ago to cancer, it hurts me every single day that he died without Islam. He was a proud Greek Orthodox. I converted to Islam shortly after his passing, even though I always carried Islam in my heart, I was afraid of his reaction if I told him. I know that if he didn’t die, I probably never would have had the courage and chance to be the practising Muslim I am today, alhamdullilah.

Every time I go through hardship I always try to find the Islamic purpose in it, you know?

But I still miss him deeply, he was the biggest love of my life since I was a little girl. So my question is; Is there any kind of dua I can make for him in his grave or will I just have to let it go 🙁

I hope inshaaAllah you can answer my question.


ANSWER:

Your question is indeed painful. My γιαγιά (grandmother) passed away a few years ago. We were close. What gave me solace was a comprehensive understanding of the nature of God in Islam. What do I mean by this? Well, consider God’s names and attributes. We believe that they are maximally perfect. This means they are to the highest degree possible; they are perfect with no deficiency of flaw. So when we reflect on His names such as Ar-Rahman, Al-Wudud, Al-Hakeem, Al-Barr and Al-Adl (The Intensely Merciful, The Loving, The Wise, The Source of Goodness and The Just), we know that NO one will be treated unjustly and that His mercy will manifest itself. Therefore, the ends of our loved ones is based on a Divine wisdom that is predicated on perfect justice and goodness.

A good summary is the statement of the famous scholar Sufyan Ath-Thawri, he said: “If I had to choose between my mother and Allah to judge me on the day of judgment, I would choose Allah.” He knew God’s justice and mercy transcends anything we can imagine.

Another thing we need to realise is that we do not truly know the ends of those who disbelieve — generally speaking. It must be noted that according to Islamic theology if someone was not given the right message of Islam they will have an excuse and will be tested on the Day of Judgment. The following Hadith supports this view (and there are verses in the Qur’an that provide similar principles):

“There are four (who will protest) to God on the Day of Resurrection: the deaf man who never heard anything, the insane man, the very old man, and the man who died during the fatrah (the interval between messengers). The deaf man will say, ‘O Lord, Islam came but I never heard anything.’ The insane man will say, ‘O Lord, Islam came but the children ran after me and threw stones at me.’ The very old man will say, ‘O Lord, Islam came but I did not understand anything.’ The man who died during the fatrah will say, ‘O Lord, no Messenger from You came to me.’ He will accept their promises of obedience, then word will be sent to them to enter the Fire. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, if they enter it, it will be cool and safe for them.” (Authentic Hadith narrated by Ahmad and Ibn Hibban).

There are other hadiths and verses of the Qur’an that indicate that God will not allow anyone to enter hell until people have been given the correct message of Islam.

God is ‘The Just’ and no one will be treated unjustly. This is why, when a Non-Muslim has passed away, it is considered un-Islamic to pass judgement on their final abode (some scholars stipulate: unless they were enemies of Islam and had received the message). No one knows what is in someone else’s heart and whether someone was given the right message in the right way. However, from a creedal and societal point of view, Non-Muslims who died will be buried as Non-Muslims. This does not mean that this is their final judgement. In reality, God is maximally and perfectly just and merciful, so no one will be treated unmercifully and no one will be treated unjustly.

People who have heard the message of Islam in a sound and correct way will have to account for their denial. However, whoever dies without having heard the message of Islam, or heard it in a distorted form, (and never sought the truth) will be given an opportunity to accept the truth. Echoing the principles from the various verses of the Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions, the eleventh-century theologian, Al-Ghazali, summarises this nuanced approach. He argues that people who never heard the message of Islam will have an excuse:

“In fact, I would say that, God willing, most of the Byzantine Christians and the Turks of this age will be included in God’s mercy. I’m referring here to those who live in the farthest regions of Byzantium and Anatolia who have not come into contact with the message… They are excused.”

Al-Ghazali also argues that the people who heard negative things of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and his message will also be excused: “These people knew the name ‘Muhammad’, but nothing of his character or his qualities. Instead, all they heard since childhood is that a liar and imposter called ‘Muhammad’ claimed to be a prophet… This party, in my opinion, is like the first party. For even though they’ve heard his name, they heard the opposite of what his true qualities were. And this does not provide enough incentive for them to investigate [his true status].”

With regards to any supplication for your father, there is nothing in the Islamic sources texts that permits this. It is impermissible (haram) to make dua for forgiveness and the like for a Non-Muslim, for God says, “It is not for the Prophet and those who believe to pray for the forgiveness of unbelievers even though they may be near of kin after it has become clear that they are people of hellfire.” [Qur’an, 9: 113]

There are many hadiths that mention this, and there is the scholarly consensus (ijma`) on this matter. However, their fate is unknown, as per the discussion above. Notwithstanding, making dua for their guidance while they are alive is permissible.

I pray this helps sister. It’s not easy, life is a test. My advice is that you strive to get closer to God, reflect and internalise His names and attributes, and all will be ok.

This world (the Dunya) was meant to break one’s heart. It’s designed that way so we realise our dependence on God and our need for His mercy, guidance and care. The Dunya is supposed to push you towards God if it doesn’t then it may be a sign of our heedlessness—may God protect us all.

In summary, don’t worry. God is more just and merciful than you or anyone. Follow His guidance and you will not grieve or fear:

“In fact, anywho direct themselves wholly to God and do good will have their reward with their Lord: no fear for them, nor will they grieve.” [Qur’an 2:112]

I pray this helps.

And God knows best.

Hamza.


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