In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
There is nothing wrong with offering condolences to non-Muslims, especially when they are struck by calamities. This should be done to show kindness, mercy and compassion between the inhabitants of the earth.
Responding to your question, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Mukhtar Ash-Shinqiti, Professor of Political Ethics and Religions History at Qatar University, states:
Offering condolences to non-Muslims
In Islam, it is permissible to offer condolences to non-Muslims. This is a sign of the good character and manners of a Muslim.
Many Muslim scholars have spoken about this point in their books such as Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim in his well-known book ‘Ahkam Ahl-Adhimah’.
Having said this, we should keep in mind that the permissibility to offer condolences to non-Muslims should not an excuse to neglect our fellow Muslims.
The problem here is not in offering condolences to non-Muslims, but in the behavior of some Muslims who are apathetic toward the pain and suffering of their Muslim brothers and sisters.
Moreover, it is permissible to offer condolences to non-Muslims at times of bereavement, to visit them when they are sick, and to console them when a calamity strikes them.
Evidence from the Sunnah
Anas said, “There was a Jewish boy who used to serve the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
The boy became sick, and the Prophet (PBUH) came to visit him. He sat at his head and asked him to, ‘Become a Muslim.’ (The boy) looked at his father, who was with him, and he (the father) said to him, ‘Obey Abu Al-Qasim.’ So the boy became a Muslim, then the Prophet left saying, ‘Praise be to Allah who has saved him from the Fire.’” (Al-Bukhari)
Dr. Muhammad M. Abu Laylah, the late Professor of Islamic Studies & Comparative Religions at Al-Azhar University, concludes:
As Muslims, it is permissible for us to exchange gifts with non-Muslims, to congratulate them on happy occasions. We can also express our condolences or sympathy with them if some calamity strikes them.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.