Ruling on prompting the disbeliever to say the Shahaadah when death approaches him
Fatwa No: 161577

  • Fatwa Date:20-1-2014 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 19, 1435
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Question

What is the ruling on urging a sick Christian woman to say the Shahaadah, "La ilaaha illa Allaah, Muhammadun Rasoolullaah (There is no god but Allaah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah?) What if she indeed repeats it, but when we give her the remembrance beads she glorifies "in the name of the God, Jesus."

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

Prompting the sick disbeliever to pronounce the Shahaadah is a good thing. It is from the ways of calling him to Islam, seeking to save him from the Fire. When death approached Abu Taalib, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, came to him and found Abu Jahl ibn Hishaam and ‘Abdullaah ibn Abi Umayyah ibn Al-Mugheerah with him. The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to Abu Taalib: “O uncle! Say: La ilaaha illa Allaah (There is no god but Allaah), and I will testify for you with Allaah,” so Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullaah ibn Abi Umayyah said: “O Abu Taalib! Do you desire something other than the religion of ‘Abd Al-Muttalib?” The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did not cease in presenting his offer and they did not cease saying what they said. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Shaykh Ibn Baaz was asked: “Is it legislated to be present with a dying disbeliever and to prompt him (with the Shahaadah)?” He answered:

That is legislated if one is able. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, had a Jewish servant who became sick, so the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, went to visit him and prompted him, saying: “Say: Ashhadu an La ilaaha illa Allaah, wa anna Muhammadar-Rasool Allaah (I testify that there is no god but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah),” so the Jew looked at his parents who said to him: “Obey Abul-Qaasim,” so he said the words. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, then said: “Praise be to Allaah, The One Who Saved him, through me, from the Fire!

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said:

In this matter, one must look to the condition of the sick person. If the sick person is strong and able to bear the advice, or if he was a disbeliever, then he is commanded: “Say: La ilaaha illa Allaah, end your life with these words,” or something comparable to that. If, though, he is a weak Muslim, then he is not commanded, rather, Allaah is to be mentioned in front of him so that he hears it and is reminded.”

Al-Mubaarakfoori said:

At-Talqeen [prompting] is to mention the Shahaadah in his presence, articulating it until he hears and realizes what is being said, until he himself says it. It is not that he commands him, saying: “Say: La ilaaha illa Allaah”, unless he is a disbeliever, in which case he does command him with “Say!” This is what the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to his uncle Abu Taalib and to the Jewish servant boy.

It is also necessary, when prompting the disbeliever, to join between the two Shahaadahs, as it is not sufficient for him to only say “La ilaaha illa Allaah”, rather, he must add to it: “Muhammadun Rasool Allaah (Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah)”. Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami said:

As for the disbeliever, he is prompted to say both, i.e. both Shahaadahs together, and certainly with the word “Ashhadu (I testify)”, due to its obligation and a person does not become a Muslim except with it.

Something similar to this was said by At-Tahtaawi the Hanafi.

It is found in Al-Mawsoo‘ah Al-Fiqhiyyah that:

Al-Isnawi said: “If the one whom death approaches is a disbeliever, he is prompted and commanded to say the Shahaadahs. Prompting the dying disbeliever with the Shahaadah is an obligation if he is expected to accept Islam. If he is not expected to accept Islam, then it is still recommended.Al-Jamal said: “The apparent ruling here is that he is prompted if his Islam is expected even if he has started to gargle (from his death rattle), since it is possible that his intellect is still present, even if the contrary appears to us and even though we would not count him as a Muslim at that time.

As for what was mentioned in the question that this woman glorified “the name of the God, Jesus”, this is evidence that she did not comprehend the meaning of the Shahaadah. It is essential that she understands the meaning of the Shahaadah along with it being said, so that she may say it with conviction, confidence, and being truthful to it. This way, it is something that benefits her and she then becomes a Muslim. The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “There is no one who testifies that there is no god but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, truthfully from his heart, except that Allaah has forbidden that he enter the Fire.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Allaah Knows best.

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