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Relations of Muslims with Non-Muslims

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View 1:


In these verses, Muslims have been instructed not to take dishe-
lievers as their friends. Those who act against this instruction have
been sternly warned: Those who take them as friends will find that
their bond of love and friendship with Allah has been cut off. Any emo-
tionally involved friendship that comes from the heart is absolutely
forbidden (Haram). However, a formal friendship at the level of mutual
dealings is, no doubt, permissible; but, that too is not favoured if un-

Verses dealing with this subject have appeared at many places in
the Holy Qur’an with varying shades of meaning. It was said in Surah

O those who believe, do not take My enemy and your enemy
as friends having love for them. (60:1)

Then, towards the end it was said:

And whoever from among you does this he has gone astray
from the right path. (60:1)

Elsewhere it was said:

O those who believe, do not take Jews or Christians as friends
(for) they are friends among themselves. And whoever has
friendship with them, he is one of them. (5:51)

And it appears in Surah al-Mujadalah:

You shall not find those who believe in Allah and in the Here-
after having friendship with those who have enmity with Al-
lah and His messenger, even though they may be their fathers
or sons or brothers or members of their tribe. (58:22)

Relations with disbelievers

In verses cited above and in many other verses of the Holy Qur’an,
Muslims have been strongly prevented from ‘Muwalat’ with non-
Muslims, that is, from indulging in relations based on love and friend-
ship. Looking at these clear instructions, non-Muslims who are not
aware of the true intention and application of this rule start thinking
that the religion of Muslims does not seem to have any place for tolera-
tion or bilateral relations or even common courtesy.

On the other hand, there are a large number of verses from the
Holy Qur’an, the words and acts of the noble Prophet & 2 , the practice
of the rightly-guided Khulafa# and other revered Companions, which
bring to light injunctions and actual modes of dealing with non-
Muslims by way of favour, compassion, generosity, sympathy and con-
cern, which has little or no parallel in world history. A superficial look
on these different attitudes may sense a sort of contradiction therein.
But, this feeling is a result of only a cursory study of the true teach-
ings of the Qur’an. If we collect all verses of the Qur’an, relating to this
subject which appear at several different places and study them all to-
gether, we shall find nothing which could bother non-Muslims nor
shall there remain any doubt of contradiction in the text of the Qur’an
and Hadith. With this need in view, given below is a full explanation of
this point which will, hopefully, bring forth the distinction between
various shades of friendship and the reality behind each of them. In
addition to this, we shall also get to know what levels of friendship are
permissible or impermissible and also the reasons why a certain level
has been disallowed.

The truth of the matter is that there are different degrees or steps
or levels in relations between two persons or groups. The first degree
of such relations comes from the heart, that of affection and love in-
volving intense emotional commitment. This is called Muwalat or close
friendship. This sort of friendship is restricted to true Muslims. A
Muslim is not permitted to have this kind of relationship with a non-
Muslim. ‘

The second degree is that of Muwasat, which means relationship
based on sympathy, kindness and concern. It includes charitable help

  • and support, condolence and consolation and any well-meaning atti-
    tude of wishing well. Barring disbelievers who are at war with Mus-
    lims, this kind of relationship is permissible with all other non-
    Muslims. A detailed explanation of this approach has appeared in Su-
    rah al-Mumtahinah (60:8) :

Allah does not forbid you from treating those who do not fight
you on your faith, nor have they driven you out of your homes,
with benevolence and equity.

The third degree is that of Mudarat which means relations based
on customary cordiality, adequacy in courtesy, pleasant and friendly
behaviour and mannerly politeness. This too is permissible. with all
non-Muslims, specially so, when the objective is to present them with
some beneficial aspect of the Faith, or when they are guests, or the
purpose is to stay safe from any possible harm coming through them.
The words, Faceee eet Yj (unless you guard yourselves against an ap-
prehension from them) appearing in this verse mean this degree of
Mudarat which, in other words, means that Muwalat or friendship with
disbelievers is not permissible except when you are in a situation
where you want to defend yourself against them. Since Mudarat or
sympathetic relations somewhat resemble Muwalat or friendship, it
was exempted from the category of Muwalat . (Bayan al-Qur’an)

The fourth degree is that of Mu‘amalat or dealings. It means deal-
ings and transactions in business or employment or wages or industry
or technology. These too are permissible with non-Muslims, except
when such dealings harm the general body of Muslims. The continued
Practice of the Holy Prophet pl.) ule alli Jo, the rightly-guided Khulafa
and other Companions prove it so. It is on this basis that Muslim jur-
ists have prohibited the sale of arms to disbelievers who are at war
with Muslims. However, trade and activities allied to it have been per-
mitted. Also allowed is having them as employees or being employed
in their plants and institutions.

To sum up, as for the four degrees of relations with non-Muslims,
we now know that friendship which binds a Muslim in very close ties
with non-Muslims is not permissible under any condition. Relations
based on benevolence, humane interest and concern are permitted
with all but the belligerent ones. Similarly, politeness and friendly
treatment is also permissible when the purpose is to entertain a guest,
convey Islamic teachings to non-Muslims or to stay safe against being
hurt or harmed by them.

Now, let us look at what our noble Prophet (S) who
graced this world as the universal mercy, did for non-Muslims. He
demonstrated such compassion, generosity and politeness while deal-
ing with them that it would be difficult to find its example in the world
history. When Makkah was in the grip of famine, he personally went
out to help his enemies who had made him leave his home town. Then,
came the conquest of Makkah. All these enemies fell under his power
and control. He set all of them free saying: means –
‘Not only that you are being given amnesty this day, we are not cen-
suring you at all for your past tyranny against us either.’ When non-
Muslim prisoners of war were presented before him, he treated them
with such tenderness which many cannot claim to have done even in
respect of their children. The disbelievers inflicted on him all sorts of
injuries and pain but he never raised his hand in revenge. He did not
even wish ill of them. A delegation from the tribe of Banu Thaqif who
had not embraced Islam upto that time came to visit him. They were
given the honour of staying in the Mosque of the Prophet, a place re-
garded by Muslims as most honourable.

Sayyidna ‘Umar we i ,», gave stipends and allowances to-needy
non-Muslim dhimmis, an elegant conduct the examples of which are
spread all over in the accounts of dealings credited to the
rightly-guided Khulaja’ and the noble Companions. Let us bear in
mind that all these were in one or the other form of Mu‘wasat (concern)
or Mudarat (cordiality) or Mu‘amalat (dealings). It had nothing to do
with Muwalat or close and intimate friendship which had been

The aforesaid explanations clarify two things: firstly, Islam teaches
its adherents all possible tolerance, decency and benevolence while
dealing with non-Muslims; secondly, the superficial contradiction
sensed with regard to the verse forbidding friendship with
non-Muslims stands removed.

However, there is a possible question which still remains unan-
swered. The question is: ‘Why has the Qur’an chosen to so strongly
block close friendship with disbelievers, so much so that it has not al-
lowed it in favour of any disbeliever under any condition? What is the
wisdom behind it? One of the reasons, a particular one, is that [slam
does not see man existing in this world like common animals or jungle
trees and blades of grass which sprout, grow, flourish and die and that

  • is the end of it. Instead of that, man’s life in this world is a purposeful
    life. All stages and phases of his life, that is, his eating, drinking,
    standing, sitting, sleeping, waking, even his living and dying, all re-
    yolve around a central purpose. As long as what he does conforms to
    this purpose, all he does is correct and sound. If these are against that
    purpose, then, they are all wrong. The poet-sage Rumi said it so well:

The purpose of life is to remember the Creator and serve Him well
Life without that devotion is nothing but shame

In his view and in the view of all right-minded people, when man
abandons this purpose, he does not remain the human being he was
created to be:

What you see is a crowd of anti-men
They are not men, they are just the shell of men

The Holy Qur’an has made human beings declare this purpose as
their solernn creed in the following words:

(My prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are all for Al-
lah, the Lard of the Worlds.” (6:162)

Now, when it stands established that the purpose of man’s life is to
obey and worship Allah, the Lord of the worlds, everything else includ-
ing all affairs of life in this world — business, government, politics, per-
sonal and social relations — must invariably follow this purpose. It fol-
lows, therefore, that those who are against this purpose are the worst

  • enemies of man. Since Satan is the foremost in this enmity, the Holy
    Qur’an says: AE Slghd Be “55 gue tn§) (Surely, Satan is your enemy, so
    take him as enemy. 35:6).

Thus, those who follow the alluring dictates of the Satan and op-
pose the injunctions of Allah brought by the blessed prophets -2u! pple
can hardly be the kind of peeple to deserve deep love and friendship
based on close ties and any degree of intimacy. It is just not possible
for a person who has a definite purpose in life, and who has all his
friendships and enmities, agreements and disagreements subservient
to this central purpose, to do something like this. The same subject
has been stated in a hadith from al-Bukhari and Muslim in which the
Holy Prophet # has been reported to have said: (522i yu Bis. Esi gs
5, Whoever loves for the sake of Allah-and hates for the sake of Al-
lah alone, has perfected his faith) (Bukhari and Muslim). From here we
know that Iman or faith remains incomplete unless man subordinates
his love and friendship and his hatred and enmity to Allah Almighty.
Therefore, any deep emotional commitment by a true Muslim in the
known forms of love and friendship has to be exclusively for one who is
with him all the way in the pursuit of this noble purpose and certainly
obedient to what his Lord has commanded him to do. This is why the
Holy Qur’an has, in verses cited at the beginning of the commentary,
said that the one who maintains relations based on deep love and
friendship with disbelievers is one of them.

The last verse (20) says that ‘Allah warns you of Himself lest you
should indulge in friendship with disbelievers for the sake of fleeting
interests and objectives and thus invite the anger of Allah. And since
close friendship (Muwalat) relates to the heart and the affairs of the
heart are known to none but Allah, it. is possible that a person may ac-
tually be intensely in love for and friendship with disbelievers, but
may deny it verbally. Therefore, the earlier verse (29) has already cov-
ered it by saying: “whether you conceal what is in your hearts, or dis-
close it, Allah shall know it.” No denial or false claim is tenable before

View 2:

Friendship with Non-Muslims

A question which troubles some people and which is sometimes
discussed openly is the following: How can we show kindness, affection,
and good treatment to non-Muslims when Allah (Glorified be He) Himself
prohibits Muslims to take non-believers as friends, allies, or supporters in
such verses as the following:

O you who believe, do not take the Jews and Christians as friends;
they are the friends (only) of each other. And whoever among you turns
to them (for friendship) is certainly one of them; indeed, Allah does not
guide the people who do wrong. Yet thou seest those in whose hearts is a
disease racing toward them…

(Al-Ma’idah: 51-52)

The answer to this is that these verses are not unconditional, to be
apphed to every Jew, Christian, or non-Muslim. Interpreting them in this
manner contradicts the injunctions of the Qur’an which enjoin affection and
kindness to the good and peace-loving peoples of every religion and permit
marriage to the women of the People of the Book, with all that Allah says
concerning marriage @… and He has put love and mercy between you &
(Ar-Rum: 21). Besides, Allah says concerning the Christians,

.. And thou wilt find those who say, ‘Surely we are Christians’ to be
nearest to them (the Muslims) in affection… 3
(Al-Ma’idah: 82)’))
The verses cited above were revealed in connection with those people
who were hostile to Islam and made war upon the Muslims. Accordingly, it
is not permissible for the Muslim to support or assist them – that is, to be
their ally – nor to entrust them with secrets at the expense of his own
religion and community. This point is explained in other verses, in which
Allah (Glorified be He) says,

O ye who believe! Take not into your intimacy those outside your
ranks: they will not fail to corrupt you. They only desire your ruin: rank
hatred has already appeared from their mouths: what their hearts
conceal is far worse. We have made plain to you the signs, if ye have
wisdom. Ah! ye are those who love them, but they love you not… ®

(Al “Imran: 118-119)

These two verses throw light on the character of such people, who
conceal great enmity and hatred against the Muslims in their hearts and
whose tongues express some of the effects of such hostility.

Allah (Glorified be He) also says,

Thou wilt not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day

loving those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even though they
may be their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kin… &

(Al-Mujadalah: 22)

Opposition to Allah is not merely disbelief but includes hostility toward
Islam and Muslims.

Allah also says,

O you who believe, do not take My enemy and your enemy as friends,
offering them affection, even though they have disbelieved in what has
come to you of the truth, driving out the Messenger and yourselves
because you believe in Allah, your Lord… ®
(Al-Mumtahanah: 1)

  1. The terms “Masihi” (Christian) and “Masihiyvah” (Christianity) do not appear in the Christian
    scriptures nor can they be attributed to Prophet “Isa (peace be upon him). The followers of
    Prophet “Isa were known as Nasara (helpers) and this is the word used in the Arabic text of the
    Qur’an. The name “Masihi” (Christian) was originally used by those who held the followers in

This verse was revealed in connection with the pagans of Makkah, who
declared war on Allah and His Messenger (pbuh), driving the Muslims out of
their homes simply because they said, “Our Lord is Allah”. With this type of
people, friendship and alliance cannot be permitted. Yet in spite of this, the
Qur’an did not dismiss the hope that one day there might be a reconciliation,
it did not declare utter disappointment in them but encouraged the Muslims
to entertain the hope of better circumstances and improved relationship, for

in the same surah Allah says,

It may be that Allah will bring about affection between you and those
who are your enemies from among them. And Allah is All-Powerful, and
Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Merciful.

(Al-Mumtahanah: 7)

This Qur’anic statement gives the assurance that this bitter hostility and
deep hatred will pass away, as it is also stated in the hadith,

“Hate your enemy mildly; he may become your friend some day.”

The Prohibition against befriending the enemies of Islam is even more
emphatic when they are stronger than the Muslims, crushing hopes and
generating fear in the minds of people. In such a situation, only hypocrites
and those in whose hearts there is a disease hasten to befriend them, giving
them help today in order to benefit from them tomorrow. Allah (Glorified
be He) describes this situation as follows:

Yet thou seest those in whose hearts is a disease racing toward them
(the enemies of Islam), saying, ‘We are afraid that a change of fortune
may befall us.’ But it may be that Allah will give (thee) the victory or
some decision from Himself, and then they will become regretful for
what they thought secretly within themselves. &

(Al-Ma’idah: 52)
And again,
Give to the hypocrites the tidings that they will have a grievous
punishment. Do those who take the unbelievers as friends instead of
believers seek honor among them? For indeed all honor belongs to
Allah alone.
(An-Nisa’: 138-139)

Seeking Help from Non-Muslims

There is no harm done if Muslims, at either the private or governmental
level, seek help from non-Muslims in technical matters which have no
connection with the religion – for example, in medicine, industry, or
agriculture. At the same time it is of course extremely desirable that
Muslims become self-sufficient in all such fields.

We see from the life of the Prophet (pbuh) that he employed “Abdullah
ibn Urayqit, a polytheist, to be his guide on his emigration from Makkah to
Madinah. Scholars have concluded from this that a person’s unbelief does
not mean that he is basically untrustworthy, for what could be more risky
than depending on a guide to show the route, particularly in emigrating from
Makkah to Madinah?

Going considerably beyond this, scholars say that it is permissible for
the leader of the Muslims to seek help from non-Muslims, especially the
People of the Book, in military matters, and to give them an equal share of
spoils with the Muslims. Az-Zuhri reported that the Messenger of Allah
(pbuh) sought help from some of the Jews in a war and gave them a share of
the spoils, and that Safwan ibn Umayyah fought on the side of the Prophet
(pbuh) while still an idolater.”’ The condition for seeking help from a
non-Muslim is that he be trusted by the Muslims; otherwise, help may not
be sought from him. Since it is prohibited to seek help from unreliable
Muslims, such as those who spread rumors and anxieties, this is the more
true in the case of non-believers.’)

The Muslim is permitted to give gifts to non-Muslims and to accept gifts
from them. It is sufficient here to mention that the Prophet (pbuh) accepted
gifts from non-Muslim kings.“ Scholars of Hadith state that there are many
hadiths which report that the Prophet (pbuh) accepted gifts from non-Muslims, and Umm Salamah, a wife of the Prophet, reported that the
Prophet (pbuh) said to her, “7 have sent An-Najashi ) @ robe and some silk.”

Indeed, Islam respects a human being in general because he is human;
how much the more then, if he is from the People of the Book or if he is a
dhimmi? Once a funeral procession passed by the Prophet (pbuh) and he
stood up. Thereupon someone remarked, “O Messenger of Allah, it is the
funeral of a Jew.” The Prophet (pbuh) replied, “Was he not a soul?”

View 3:

Misquoted Verse #15
5:51 O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your
friends: They are but friends to each other. And he amongst you that turns
to them is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.
The first point to be noted is that, in the verse above, the word Awliya is
often incorrectly translated as friends (Awliya is the plural and its
singular is wali and the concept is walaah). As a result, many people are
under the misconception that this verse commands Muslims to distance
themselves from Non-Muslims and to avoid friendship with them. This is far
from the truth, as we shall see after examining the meaning of the
word Awliya. The Qur’an says:
3:122 …Allah was their WALI (protector), and in Allah should the faithful
(Ever) put their trust.
This verse indicates that a wali is one in whom trust is placed for protection,
as the Qur’an always declares God the protector, wali, of the righteous. As
Dr. Saeed Ismail Sieny concludes his discussion on Walaah by writing:
As we have discovered above, the root of the word “al-walaah” does not
include love, support, etc., and that the core meaning rests on
guardianship. (Sieny, The Relationship Between Muslims and Non-Muslims;
Toronto, Al-Attique Publishers Inc., 2000, p. 102, emphasis added)
And Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi writes:
In the verse you quoted, the word “Awliya” is used. It is a plural and its
singular is “wali”. The correct translation of the word “”wali”” is not
“friend” but it is someone who is very close and intimate. It is also
used to mean “guardian, protector, patron, lord and master”. In the
Qur’an this word is used for God, such as
“Allah is the Protector (or Lord and Master) of those who believe. He takes
them out from the depths of darkness to light…” (Al- Baqarah: 257)
There are many other references in the Qur’an that give this meaning. The
same word is also sometimes used in the Qur’an for human beings, such as
“And whosoever is killed unjustly, We have granted his next kin “wali” the
authority (to seek judgment or punishment in this case)…”(Al-‘Isra’ :33)
(SOURCE emphasis added)
It becomes clear that the word Awliya cannot be taken as simply referring to
friendship, as it contains a much more complex meaning, including
dependence and guardianship. Therefore, a more accurate translation of the
verse would be:
5:51 O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for
your protectors: They are but protectors to each other. And he amongst you
that turns to them is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.
Therefore, the referred verse does not prohibit friendship with Non-Muslims
at all. Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi writes:
The Qur’an does not say that non-Muslims cannot be Muslims’ friends, nor
does it forbid Muslims to be friendly to non-Muslims. There are many nonMuslims who are good friends of Muslim individuals and the Muslim
community. There are also many good Muslims who truly and sincerely
observe their faith and are very friendly to many non-Muslims at the same
time. Islam teaches us that we should be friendly to all people. Islam
teaches us that we should deal even with our enemies with justice and
fairness. Allah says in the Qur’an in the beginning of the same Surah AlMa’dah:
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as witnesses to fair dealings
and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and
depart from justice. Be just, that is next to piety. Fear Allah, indeed Allah is
well-acquainted with all that you do.” (Al-Ma’dah :8)
In another place in the Qur’an, Allah Almighty says:
“Allah forbids you not with regard to those who fight you not for your faith,
nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them.
For Allah loves those who are just. Allah only forbids you with regard to
those who fight you for your faith, and drive you out of your homes and
support others in driving you out, from turning to them for protection (or
taking them as wali). Those who seek their protection they are indeed
wrong- doers.” (Al-Mumtahinah: 8-9)
Moreover, Allah Almighty has described Prophet Muhammad, peace and
blessings be upon him, as “a mercy” to the worlds. He was a sign of Allah’s
Mercy to all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims. In his kindness and fair
treatment he did not make any difference between the believers and nonbelievers. He was kind to the pagans of Makkah and fought them only when
they fought him. He made treaties with the Jews of Madinah and honored
the treaties until they broke them. He, peace and blessings be upon him, is
reported to have received the Christians of Najran with kindness in his
Masjid in Madinah. They argued with him about Islam, but he returned them
with honor and respect. There are many examples from his life that show
that he was the friendliest person to all people. (SOURCE)
And as Muhammad Asad writes:
As regards the meaning of the “alliance” referred to here, see 3:28, and
more particularly 4: 139 and the corresponding note, which explains the
reference to a believer’s loss of his moral identity if he imitates the way of
life of, or-in Qur’anic terminology-“allies himself” with, non-Muslims.
However, as has been made abundantly clear in 60: 7-9 (and implied in
verse 57 of this Surah), this prohibition of a “moral alliance” with nonMuslims does not constitute an injunction against normal, friendly relations
with such of them as are well-disposed towards Muslims. It should be
borne in mind that the term wall has several shades of meaning:
“ally”, “friend”, “helper”, “protector”, etc. The choice of the
particular term – and sometimes a -combination of two terms-is
always dependent on the context. (Asad, The Message of the Qur’an,
emphasis added)
The second point to note is that although this verse makes a general
statement, the ruling is specific and is to be applied in a context similar to
the historical context. Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi wrote about this topic
extensively in response to a similar question:
[The answer to this is that these verses are not unconditional, to be
applied to every Jew, Christian, or non-Muslim. Interpreting them in this
manner contradicts the injunctions of the Qur’an which enjoin affection
and kindness to the good and peace-loving peoples of every religion,
as well as the verses which permit marriage to the women of the People of
the Book, with all that Allah says concerning marriage
and He has put love and mercy between you” (30:21)
and the verse concerning the Christians:
And thou wilt find those who say, ‘Surely we are Christians,’ to be nearest to
them (the Muslims in affection…(5:82)
The verses cited above [verse 5:51] were revealed in connection with those
people who were hostile to Islam and made war upon the
Muslims. Accordingly, it is not permissible for the Muslims to support
or assist them – that is, to be their ally- nor to entrust them with
secrets at the expense of his own religion and community. This point
is explained in other verses, in which Allah, The Most High, says:
They will spare nothing to ruin you; they yearn for what makes you suffer.
Hatred has been expressed by their mouths, but what their hearts conceal is
still greater. Thus have We made clear to you the revelations (or signs), if
you possess understanding. Ah! You love them, but they do not love
This ayah throws light on the character of such people, who conceal great
enmity and hatred against the Muslims in their hearts and whose tongues
express some of the effects of such hostility. (Al-Qaradawi, Al-Halal Wal
Haram Fil Islam; US American Trust Publications, 1994, p. 340, emphasis
As Shaykh Qaradawi mentioned, verse 5:11 cannot possibly be taken as a
prohibition of friendship since the Qur’an allows Muslim men to marry
women from the People of the Book:
5:5 … virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who
received the Scripture before you are lawful for you…
And the Qur’an describes the relationship of marriage to be a relationship
with the deepest bond of love:
30:21 And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from
among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has
put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those
who reflect.
Also note that the Qur’an says:
60:8-9 Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war
against you on account of [your] religion, and have not driven you forth
from your homes, that you show “Birr” with them and deal with them justly;
surely Allah loves the doers of justice. Allah only forbids you respecting
those who made war upon you on account of [your] religion, and drove you
forth from your homes and backed up [others] in your expulsion, that you
make friends with them, and whoever makes friends with them, these are
the unjust.
The word “birr” is the same word used to describe a Muslim’s relationship
with their parents which is considered the most sacred blood relationship in
Islam. Therefore, Muslims are clearly commanded to deal with peaceful nonMuslims is a friendly and peaceful manner. The third point is that the
specific groups being referred to in this verse were those hostile to Islam,
and not all Jews and Christians in general. Concerning the historical context,
the verse was revealed during a time when the Muslims were being attacked
from many directions, including the Christian Roman empire and the Jews of
Madinah. The Muslims had originally made a pact with the Jews of Madinah,
but they were betrayed twice. So in this context, the Qur’an was telling the
believers to be cautious in dealings with such enemies who oppose Islam,
and not to trust them as protectors. As Jasser Auda writes:
It was revealed in certain historic circumstances, in which there was a war
between the infant Islamic state on different occasions on four different
fronts: the Romans, the Persians, the pagans of Arabia, and the Jews of
Madinah. So, the historic context of the revelation of this verse is a situation
of war between Muslims and the People of the Book (Jews, internally in
Madinah, and Christians, through a Roman crusade). So, yes, Muslims were
not allowed to make friends with the enemies who were fighting them and
wishing to eliminate them from the face of the earth. Some Muslims say that
since the verse has this historic context, then it is part of history and no
longer applies. This is not correct! It is true that the verse has a history
behind it, but this does not mean that it is no longer relevant. It is totally
relevant but only in a context similar to the historic context. So today
Muslims are not to make friends with Jews or Christians (or followers of any
other religion for that matter) if they try to kill Muslims, kick them out of
their homes, etc. (SOURCE)
The Qur’anic verse is relevant in a similar context to the historical context.
A Muslim cannot take Jews or Christians or anyone as protectors if they
oppose their religion and its teachings. The Muslims are encouraged to rely
on each other for support. Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi writes:
It is obvious that Jews patronize the Jews and Christians patronize the
Christians, so why not Muslims patronize Muslims and support their own
people. This verse is not telling us to be against Jews or Christians, but it is
telling us that we should take care of our own people and we must support
each other. In his Tafsir, (Qur’an exegesis) Imam Ibn Kathir has mentioned
that some scholars say that this verse (i.e. the one you referred to) was
revealed after the Battle of Uhud when Muslims had a set back. At that time,
a Muslim from Madinah said, “I am going to live with Jews so I shall be safe
in case another attack comes on Madinah.” And another person said, “I am
going to live with Christians so I shall be safe in case another attack comes
on Madinah.” So Allah revealed this verse reminding the believers that they
should not seek the protection from others, but should protect each other.
(See Ibn Kathir, Al-Tafsir, vol. 2, p. 68) (SOURCE)[/
The groups prohibited for Muslims to take as protectors are described in the
The Holy Qur’an, 60:1 O ye who believe! Take not my enemies and yours as
protectors,- offering them (your) love, even though they have rejected the
Truth that has come to you, and have (on the contrary) driven out the
Prophet and yourselves (from your homes), (simply) because ye believe in
Allah your Lord! If ye have come out to strive in My Way and to seek My
Good Pleasure, (take them not as friends), holding secret converse of love
(and friendship) with them: for I know full well all that ye conceal and all
that ye reveal. And any of you that does this has strayed from the Straight
Path. 60:2 If they were to get the better of you, they would behave to you
as enemies, and stretch forth their hands and their tongues against you for
evil: and they desire that ye should reject the Truth.
So the Qur’an forbids taking those as protectors who expel the Muslims from
their homes and who would betray and attack as soon as the opportunity
arises. Those who have no respect for a Muslim’s beliefs and desire that the
Muslim leaves their faith – they cannot be taken as protectors. This is the
correct interpretation based on the context of the verse. To conclude, we
once again quote Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi:
Muslims are allowed to have non-Muslims as friends as long as they keep
their own faith and commitment to Islam pure and strong. You are correct in
pointing out that a Muslim man is also allowed to marry a Jewish or Christian
woman. It is obvious that one marries someone for love and friendship. If
friendship between Muslims and Jews or Christians was forbidden, then why
would Islam allow a Muslim man to marry a Jew or Christian woman? It is
the duty of Muslims to patronize Muslims. They should not patronize any one
who is against their faith or who fights their faith, even if they were their
fathers and brothers. Allah says:
“O you who believe! Take not for protectors (Awliya’) your fathers and your
brothers if they love unbelief above faith. If any of you do so, they are
indeed wrong-doers.” (Al-Tawbah : 23)
In a similar way, the Qur’an also tells Muslims that they should never
patronize the non-Muslims against other Muslims. However, if some Muslims
do wrong to some non-Muslims, it is Muslim’s duty to help the non-Muslims
and save them from oppression . The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon
him, said that he himself will defend a Dhimmi living among Muslims to
whom injustice is done by Muslims. But Islam also teaches that Muslims
should not seek the patronage of non-Muslims against other Muslims. They
should try to solve their problems among themselves. (SOURCE)
Islam is a religion of peace and compassion, therefore it requires its
adherents to act in the best possible manner to other human beings. Verse
5:51 does not refer to friends, but protectors, and the historical context
reveals that this verse prohibits Muslims from seeking the protection and
allegiance of those who are hostile to the Islamic faith. It is not a reference
to all Non-Muslims, as the scholars of Islam have clarified.
The next issue with this verse concerns abrogation. It has been claimed by
some that this verse 9:5 has abrogated all the peaceful verses in the Qur’an.
However, this claim results from a misunderstanding of some Qur’anic
concepts. In the Qur’an there is naskh and there is also takhsees. Naskh is
the abrogation of a ruling by a ruling that was revealed after it. Naskh
occurs in matters of Islamic law. Takhsees on the other hand refers to
specification, where one verse restricts the application of another verse, or
specifies the limits not mentioned in the other verse. As Shaykh Abu
Ammaar Yasir Qadhi writes:
Specification involves one verse limiting or restricting a general ruling found
in another verse, whereas naskh involves abrogating the first verse in
toto (i.e., it is not applied in any circumstances or conditions). (Qadhi, An
Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan;UK Al-Hidaayah Publishing and
Distribution, 1999, p. 233)

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