Saying ‘Rest in Peace’ for Non Muslims like Steve Jobs
Can we Muslims say ‘Rest in Peace’ on hearing the death of people like Steve Jobs?
My humble opinion is that we should say much more. Steve was an extraordinary person. He served humanity in his own spectacular way. For a man who was full of life so long as he lived, who gave to life and humanity what many mortals like us can’t even dream of, why can’t we have good words for him at the time of his death?
What some Muslims might say is that since he wasn’t a Muslim, he didn’t deserve to be prayed for by Muslims after he died. The misunderstanding stems from the fact that God has forbidden Muslims to pray for Kafirs and since many Muslims wrongly consider all non-Muslims as Kafirs, they think that it would be a sin if they would pray for them, especially after they are dead.
The fact is that a Kafir is a person who arrogantly denies the truth after knowing clearly that it was from God. Such people can be both from within Muslims (as is indicated by verse 5:44 of Quran) as well as non-Muslims. The prophet, alaihissalaam, is known to have prayed for the faith of either Abu Jahal or Umar while they were both non-Muslims. Had they been both Kafirs, no prayer could have been offered for them. God Almighty clarifies that Ibrahim, alaihissalaam, continued to pray for his non-Muslim father until such time that God clarified to him that his father was God’s enemy. (See Quran; 9:114)
Since we know, as much as we have information about him, that Steve Jobs was a truth-seeking man, we can pray to God to allow him to have a good hereafter in view of the fact that he did as best as he could to know the truth. We should also say sorry to God for not making His message clear enough through our verbal and written presentations and deeds to make it appear as His message to good people like Steve Jobs. Such an attitude would make us humble, sympathetic towards good non-Muslims, and earnest seekers of ways to present the message of Islam properly to make it attractive for all good humans.