Mohamed Ibn Guadi reports (thanks to PRK):
The liberal Arabic-language website Aafaq reports that a Muslim student set off a debate when she sent an email to the mailing list of the Muslim Students’ Association at Virginia Tech asking the students to pray that Allah have mercy on those killed and wounded in the shooting attack at the university.
According to Aafaq, the dean of student affairs at American International University, Abu Hamza Hijji, responded, writing that Allah the Most Merciful forbids praying for mercy for the non-Muslim dead, or even for the non-Muslim living, and that it is only permitted to pray that they be rightly guided. He added that what happened was a sad occurrence, but that does not give Muslims the right to transgress the laws of Allah the Most Merciful.
Aafaq reported that a student named Chris, a recent convert, did not agree, and wrote that he usually does not intervene in this kind of discussion, but that this time he had to say “no.” He added that his German teacher, who was wounded in the shooting, is a good man, and that he was praying that he would not die. He said that he would pray for him and for his family, whether they are Muslims or not, and would pray for all those who suffered from this calamity. He expressed the view that religion must bring people together, and not drive them apart, and that the brotherhood of humanity takes precedence over brotherhood of religion or of state.
According to Aafaq, Hijji answered Chris, saying that there is no problem with praying that non-Muslims be kept safe and not be killed, if there is hope that they might be guided [to the right path]; but one cannot pray for the non-Muslim dead, since there is no chance of their being guided. He said that the Prophet Muhammad had told the Muslim soldiers at the battle of Badr to not kill some of the nonbelievers, even though they were on the battlefield, as they had treated Muhammad well when he was in Mecca.
Hijji wrote that the students should ask Allah to save Chris’ teacher (i.e. the German teacher) from death and turn his heart to the truth. But he said at the same time that the Prophet did not pray for forgiveness for the non-Muslims, and in particular did not ask Allah to have mercy on them, even those whom the Prophet had wanted to be guided when they were alive. Once they died, the Prophet was not permitted to ask for mercy for them. Hijji added that the Prophet behaved this way on Allah’s instructions.
Hijji wrote that the relative importance of brotherhood in humanity or religion needs to be evaluated according to Allah’s laws, and not according to human reason. He added that he might seem to be a hard-hearted person, but that this is what people throughout the generations said about the prophets and messengers who came with God’s message to guide others to the truth.
According to Aafaq, some students expressed their uneasiness with the discussion and asked to be taken off the mailing list, while others tried to justify the seemingly difficult matter.
Aafaq noted that at least one Muslim student, Waleed Shaalan, had been killed in the attacks.
Source: Aafaq.org, April 17, 2007