the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî
We should certainly pray to Allah to forgive others. Supplication on behalf of others is a great virtuous deed.
This is one of the necessities of the brotherhood that we as Muslims are required to uphold. It is also one of the reasons for our supplications being answered. Allah says: “Seek forgiveness for your sins and for the believing men and women.” [Sûrah Muhammad: 19]
Noah (peace be upon him) said: “My Lord! Forgive me, my parents, all who enter my house in faith, and the believing men and women.” [Sûrah Nûh: 28]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever asks forgiveness for the believing men and women, he will have a good deed written to his credit for each and every believing man and woman.” [Majma` al-Zawâ’id (10/210) and graded as good by al-Albânî]
It is good to make special mention of our parents, the scholars, the righteous, the devout and those like the rulers whose virtue brings about virtue for all Muslims. It is also preferred to mention the weak and oppressed in our supplications and to beseech Allah against those who oppress and exploit them.
A supplicant should begin by the person supplication on his or her own behalf.
Ubayy b. Ka`b mentions that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) “when he supplicated on behalf of others, he used to begin with himself.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (3385) and Sunan Abî Dâwûd (3984) and authenticated by al-Albânî]
We see examples of this approach often in the Qur’ân. For instance: “Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who preceded us in faith.” [Sûrah al-Hashr: 10]
However, this is not necessary when a person simply wishes to supplicate for the benefit of someone else. There are many supplications found in the sacred text where the supplicant beseeches Allah on behalf of someone else and does not mention himself at all.
It might be said, then, that when a person intends to beseech Allah in supplication for himself and for others, he should begin with himself and then mention the others. If, on the other hand, he wishes to beseech Allah for someone else, then he does not have to supplicate for himself as well. We have already seen an example of this in the Prophet’s supplication for `Ubayd b. `Amir where he said: “O Allah! Forgive `Ubayd b. `Amir.”
If the person we are supplicating for is an unbeliever, we should pray for that person’s guidance.
Allah says: “ It is not fitting, for the Prophet and those who believe, that they should pray for forgiveness for pagans, even though they be of kin, after it is clear to them that they are companions of the Fire” [Sûrah al-Tawbah: 113]
We may also pray for the worldly welfare of an unbeliever. We can pray, for instance, that has good health and other similar things in this world.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O Lord, support Islam by the most beloved `Umar to you.” This is a supplication for guidance for one of the two persons named `Umar to accept Islam. This took place just before `Umar b. al-Khattâb embraced Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in another hadîth: “O Lord guide my people, they do not know (the true path).”
And Allah knows best.
Source: Islam Today