Using masculine pronouns while supplicating for deceased female
Fatwa No: 347536

Question

Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaathu, Shaykh. Can a person supplicate by mentioning a word that is used for the male gender while supplicating for a female if the person does not know much Arabic, especially if I pray the funeral prayer of a Muslim woman but I am unaware of the wordings for the female? The book mentions the wording for a male (like: Allaahummaghfirlahu warhamhu...). Or should I not pray the funeral prayer then? And can I read the supplication that is for the funeral of an adult while the death is that of a child, or it is wrong to do so? And if it is a funeral that includes both an adult and a child, like it happens in Masjid Al Haraam, then what supplication should be made in the funeral prayer, that of and adult or that of a child? Before, I used to pray the funeral prayer without supplicating in it as I had not memorized the supplication; did I do wrong? Is it better for someone who does not know the supplication to not pray rather than to pray but not completely (as I did)? May Allaah reward you, Shaykh.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

If the dead is a female and the person who is praying the funeral prayer does not know that the deceased is a female, or if he is unable to supplicate for her using the feminine gender, then he may supplicate with the masculine gender, as if he is referring to the deceased as "this person".

Ibn ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him was asked, “If the praying person does not know whether the dead person who is presented for the funeral prayer is a male or female, does he use the feminine or the masculine gender?”

He  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him replied, “It is permissible for him to use either the masculine gender or the feminine gender depending on the intention; so if you say, ‘Allahumma ighfir lahu’, intending to say 'for this person' or 'for the dead' (both are masculine in Arabic); and if you say ' Allahumma ighfir laha’, intending to say 'for this funeral' [i.e. for the Janaazah (funeral), which is feminine in Arabic and may be used whether the dead is a male or a female].

As regards a child, then we do not supplicate for him with this supplication, but we supplicate that Allah makes him a preceding reward and a stored treasure for his parents and an intercessor for them, and the like, and one supplicates for his parents to be patient and that their scale of good deeds be heavy due to the child’s death, and so forth.

In case there is a funeral prayer of an adult and a child together, then one supplicates for the adult with appropriate supplication and for the child with appropriate supplication. For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 339799.

In case one does not know the authentic supplication according to the Sunnah, then he may supplicate with any supplication for the dead, and by doing so, he would fulfill the obligation; such as by saying, ‘O Allah forgive him’, ‘O Allah have mercy upon him’, and the like.

If a person does not supplicate for the dead in the funeral prayer, then his prayer is not valid as he has left out one of its pillars.

Allah knows best.

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