I am a German Muslim and my father, who was not a Muslim, died recently. My father was a kind and charitable man. He loved to do good so much that I can easily say that he displayed Islamic behavior throughout his life though he never actually embraced Islam. I really want to pray to God to forgive him and have mercy on his soul but some people told me that it is impermissible to pray for non- Muslims.
God Almighty is more merciful towards those He created than they are towards themselves. He described his beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a mercy to all the worlds and that he has the finest manners.
Prophet Muhammad admired good manners and praised high morals and ethics regardless of religious affiliation. For instance, when the daughter of Abu Hatem al Tai fell captive to the Muslims, the Prophet ordered her release on account of her father’s renowned generosity and impeccable ethics. Upon this, one of the Companions stood up and asked, “O Messenger of God! Does God love superior ethics?” The Prophet replied, “I swear by He Who owns my soul, no one will enter paradise except one who has good manners.”
More importantly, the rulings of this world differ from the rulings of the next. In this world, a person’s outer state may indicate that he is not a Muslim though he may not have shown signs of disbelief in Islam. This however, does not necessitate that he go to hellfire or even stay in it for eternity. God may excuse and pardon a person for not being exposed to the message of Islam effectively. Such a person could be among those who will be tested on the Day of Judgment.
God says in the Quran, “It is not for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire” (Quran 9:113).
According to this verse, God prohibits asking for forgiveness only for those whose fate in hellfire is certain. Otherwise, there is no reason not to ask for forgiveness for those whose fate is not determined. The torture of some of the inhabitants of hellfire will be reduced due to prayers and it was reported that some of those in hellfire will receive a lesser punishment because of the blessings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Therefore, there is no limit to God’s mercy and generosity and there is no impediment to hold you back from praying for your deceased father by seeking God’s forgiveness for him and hoping that He accepts your intercession for your father.
God the Almighty knows best.