RIP has Christian roots but now a common phrase used by all, says clergyman
Published on: Thursday, September 22, 2022
By: FMT, Sean Augustin
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The phrase ‘Rest in peace’ does not have as much religious significance as it used to at one time, says senior clergyman Herman Shastri.
PETALING JAYA: While the phrase “Rest in peace” has its roots in the Christian faith, it has since evolved into a common and respectful term used by people of all religions to express condolence for the dead, a senior clergyman said.

Herman Shastri said the phrase, popularly known by its abbreviation “RIP”, has its origins in the Latin “requiescat in pace” used in earlier centuries.

For the Christian community, it was used as a statement of faith, as a farewell awaiting resurrection at the end of time, he said.

“In today’s modern society, it is used by people as a respectful way of expressing condolence for the dead.

“The point here is people of various religious persuasions have come to see the term as an honourable and respectful reference to the dead,” he told FMT, adding that it did not have as much religious significance as it used to at one time.

Shastri said that in a multireligious and modern society, religious leaders should encourage others to show respect for the dead in a way they felt comfortable.

“The actual expression of respecting the dead may borrow religious language, but the point to be upheld is that it is received gratefully by others as respectful and honourable.”

He said it would be a “sad day for our society” when exclusionary lines were drawn in the way people showed respect for each other.

There has been debate over the phrase after the office of federal territories mufti Luqman Abdullah prohibited Muslims from saying it as Muslims were not allowed to pray for forgiveness for non-Muslims as prescribed in several hadiths.

According to the mufti’s office, “RIP” is a form of prayer and Muslims are forbidden from uttering it.

Turkish scholar Mustafa Akyol has since argued against this statement, citing verses in the Quran to back his view.

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