I am a Scandinavian Muslim; can I attend my relative’s funeral at the church?
I am a young Scandinavian woman and I embraced Islam five years ago and none of my family members is a Muslim. One of my relatives died and I was wondering if it is permissible for me to attend the burial rituals which will be conducted in the church?
There is no legal impediment to hold you back from attending your non Muslim friends and relatives’ funerals. Imam al Nawawi said in his book (al Majmu’) “it is not a disfavored act for a Muslim to attend the funeral of a non Muslim relative” and this was also stated by Imam al Shafi’i.
Also attending the funeral of a relative even if he is a non Muslim strengthens the ties of kinship which is commanded by Islamic Shari’ah. It is also important to attend the relatives’ funerals as a token of refined manners, good relationship with others, loyalty and love. Similarly attending the funeral of your relative would increase respect and admiration for Islam in your family and would give a positive impression that Islam promotes coexistence and harmony.
Also there is no impediment to offer your condolences because it is part of good manners and high ethics as God says in the Quran, “Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” 60: 8 and also said, “and [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], "Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] … 2:83” so condolences are part of speaking goodness to people.
We also advise the questioner to be kind and lenient with her family and relatives to become a role model of a good Muslim who engages in his/ her community as Islam does not like his followers to be isolated in their little cocoons. Islam was rather spread through refined manners and sharing people’s moments of joy and sadness along with offering them a supporting hand coated with empathy and mercy for them.