Following are excerpts from an interview with Saudi cleric Sa'd Bin Al-Shathari, which aired October 8, 2011 on Al-Resala TV.
Sheikh Al-Shathari, a prominent religious figure, is a former member of the Saudi council of higher scholars who was removed from his position by Saudi King Abdallah. He holds a Ph.D. in sources of jurisprudence, is reputed to know the Koran by heart, and is the author of dozens of essays, books, and studies. He is a member of the Preparatory Committee of Islamic Affairs, the Committee of Student Affairs at Institutes of Higher Learning, the Shura and Economic Committee at Al-Imam University, and the Scientific Committee in the Office of Religious Indoctrination, and was on the Executive Committee of the Al-Haramayn charity organization, which is designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. He works with the Saudi Islamic Affairs Ministry on issues of da'wa and serves as a preacher in the Saudi capital Riyadh. He is opposed to evolutionary theory and to the mixing of the genders on university campuses in the country, and has also spoken out against King Abdallah.
Interviewer: "There is a great deal of interest in the death of Steve Jobs, the founder and owner of Apple and its former CEO. I'd like you to comment on two matters. First, is it permissible to be sad over the death of an infidel? Second, is it permissible to ask for Allah's mercy for an infidel? There was a lot of debate on Twitter and Facebook about this."
Sa'd Bin Al-Shathari: "With regard to being sad, it is not something within one's volition. One does not decide to become sad, and therefore, there is no ruling about it in Islamic law. […]
"As for asking for Allah's mercy [upon an infidel], if a person prays for Allah to alleviate the torments of someone close to him, or for Him to ignore some of his sins – that's permissible too. But to pray for Allah to have mercy upon him or place him in Paradise – that is forbidden."