A fatwa issued by the National Fatwa Council late last year prohibiting Muslims from using the expression “rest in peace" to condole the death of non-Muslims has resurfaced recently.
The council, in its blog posting dated December 12, 2013, said while Muslims were allowed to express condolences to non-Muslims, the manner in doing so should not have any religious connotation.
"Condolences can be expressed to a non-Muslim family as long as there are no religious implications," it said.
"Wishes such as 'I sympathise with what has happened to you' or 'we express our sadness at the loss in your family' are allowed."
The council, however, said the expression "rest in peace" had its origin in a form of Christian prayer during the 18th century and which regularly engraved on tombstones.
"It is similar to the Latin prayer of 'May his soul and the souls of all the departed faithful by God's mercy rest in peace’," it said, adding that as such, Muslims were strongly discouraged from using the phrase.
It said the phrase assumed that a non-Muslim person who has died would receive God's blessings.
"From an Islamic point of view, a person who has died as disbeliever will not receive God's forgiveness and blessings," it said.
The advice has resurfaced on the internet amid an outpouring of grief following the death of veteran DAP leader Karpal Singh, who was killed in an accident on April 17. – April 17, 2014.
* Editor's note: A previous version of this report implied that the fatwa was issued following the death of Karpal Singh. This has now been corrected.