Does the Quran tell us not to have non-Muslim friends? Does the Quran spread hatred?
There are several verses which talk about this topic. They are: 3:28, 3:118, 4:144, 5:51 and 58:22. The verses have to be analyzed in the light of the Quran and Sunnah, which are the cornerstones of Islamic belief and the foundations for Islamic laws.
Analysis of the Verses – 3:28, 4:144 and 5:51
The English translation of the verses are given below.
Let not believers take disbelievers as Awliya rather than believers. And whoever [of you] does that has nothing [i.e. no association] with Allah, except when taking precaution against them in prudence. And Allah warns you of Himself, and to Allah is the [final] destination.
Chapter 3, Verse 28
O you who have believed, do not take the disbelievers as Awliya instead of the believers. Do you wish to give Allah against yourselves a clear case?
Chapter 4: Verse 144
O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as Awliya. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.
Chapter 5: Verse 51
Linguistic analysis of the above verses
The Arabic word used in the above verses is “Awliya” which some translators have translated as “Friends”. The word “Awliya” is the plural form of the Arabic word "Wali" which has several meanings like: friend, protector, ally, helper, guardian etc.
When a word has more than one meaning, we should take the meaning that suits the context. This holds good for any language.
Let us consider the English word “beat”. It has several meanings, one of the most common meanings is: “to hit repeatedly so as to inflict pain”. However, the meaning of the word “beat” depends on the context.
For example; if you read “Roger Federer beat Nadal in the Wimbledon final”, what would you understand? Will you understand that Federer hit Nadal to inflict pain or will you understand that Federer defeated Nadal in the final game? Obviously, you will go with the latter.
If someone insists on using the meaning for “beat” as "to hit repeatedly so as to inflict pain" and claim that newspapers reported that Federer hit Nadal repeatedly to inflict pain, you will dismiss him saying he is incorrect and you might even call him crazy for making such an absurd claim.
Please keep this mind while we analyze the verses given earlier.
Before we define what the word “Awliya” means in that verse, let us look at a hadith (saying of the Prophet).
Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) said: La Nikaaha illa bi wali (لا نكاحَ إلا بوليٍّ) which means “There is no nikaah (marriage) without a wali.” This hadith is recorded in Sunan Thirmidhi, Sahih Jamih etc.
In this context the word “Wali” means “Guardian”. No Muslim has understood the hadith as “There is no marriage without a friend.”
If we now go back to the verses in the Quran mentioned above, “Awliya” (the plural of wali) here means “protectors” or “allies” and not “friends”. The reason for this conclusion is the context in which the verses were revealed. The verses talk about people who claimed to be Muslims but sought the protection of disbelievers who were at war with Muslims and wanted to kill them.
Note: The word "Friend" is very generic and can take several meanings depending on the situation. In this context, we understand "friendship" as righteous, kind and just treatment extended to Non-Muslims.
Analysis of the Verse 3:118
O you who have believed, do not take as intimates those other than yourselves, for they will not spare you [any] ruin. They wish you would have hardship. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater. We have certainly made clear to you the signs, if you will use reason.”
Chapter 3: Verse 118
A mere reading of the translation of the verse will clarify that the verse speaks about the disbelievers who wanted to harm the Muslims.
Analysis of the verse 58:22
You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred. Those – He has decreed within their hearts faith and supported them with spirit from Him. And We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him – those are the party of Allah. Unquestionably, the party of Allah – they are the successful.”
Chapter 58: Verse 22
The verse was revealed during the time of war (Battle of Badr) when the enemies of Islam wished to destroy the Muslims and came with an army which was thrice the number of Muslims. Allah appreciates the Muslims (Companions like: Abu Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah, Abu Bakr, Mus’ab ibn Umair, Umar ibn Khattab, Hamza, Ali ibn Abu Talib and Ubaydah ibn al-Harith) because the affection for their kith and kin did not stop them in standing for truth and justice.
Moreover any book, including the Quran, has to be analyzed as a whole and not just in bits and pieces.
Quran on being Just
O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.
Chapter 5: Verse 8
“Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.”
Chapter 16: Verse 90
The verses make it clear that Muslims are never allowed to be unjust or unfair even if they dislike a community or a group of people.
Quran on treatment of Non-Muslims
"Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly."
Chapter 60: Verse 8
Linguistic analysis of the verse
The Arabic word used is “Tabarruhum” which is translated as "righteous towards them". The root word for “Tabarru” is “Birr”. The word “Birr” is used for highest form of righteousness like righteous treatment of parents. Example: “Birrul Walidain”, meaning “Righteousness to parents”.
The word “Birrul Walidain” is used in a hadith. Ibn Masood (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "I asked the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, 'What is the best action?' He said, 'The prayer in its time'. I said, 'then what?' He said, 'Righteousness towards parents.' (بر الوالدين) – Agreed Upon (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim).
So it is explicitly clear that Allah does not prevent Muslims from being just and extending highest form of righteous treatment to Non-Muslims.
Treatment of Non-Muslim parents
But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.”
Chapter 31: Verse 15
And We have enjoined upon man goodness to parents. But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. To Me is your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.”
Chapter 29: Verse 8
The verses make it clear that Allah commands believers to be kind and gentle to their parents even if they are disbelievers.
Treatment of Neighbors
Aisha narrated: The Prophet said "Gabriel continued to recommend me about treating the neighbours, kindly and politely so much so that I thought he would order me to make them as my heirs.” – Sahih Bukhari
Mujahid reported that a sheep was slaughtered for 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr. He asked his servant, 'Have you given any to our Jewish neighbour? Have you given any to our Jewish neighbour? I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, 'Jibril kept on recommending that I treat my neighbours well until I thought that he would order me to treat them as my heirs.” – Sahih Adabul Mufrad by Imam Albani.
Mujahid said, "I was with 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr while his servant was skinning a sheep. He said, 'Boy! When you finish, start with the Jewish neighbour.' The boy exclaimed, ‘How do you say this?’ He replied, 'I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, recommended that we treat our neighbours well until we feared (or we thought) that he would order us to make them our heirs.'" – Authenicated as Sahih (correct) in Mushkilathul Faqr by Imam Albani.
The neighbours should be treated kindly and politely even if they are Non-Muslims. The actions of the companion of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with him) confirms that.
No compromise in practicing Islam
It should be clarified that, kind treatment to Non-Muslims does not mean we compromise the tenets of Islam. In the name of friendship, a Muslim cannot:
- Agree to or accept the concepts of disbelief.
- Participate in the practices of disbelief.
- Encourage matters related to disbelief.
- Get involved with them in matters that are prohibited in Islam.
- Help a disbeliever to oppress a believer.
- Allah instructs the Muslims to be just and treat all people regardless of their religious beliefs, with righteousness and kindness.
- Allah forbids Muslims to take enemy Non-Muslims as their allies or protectors.
- In the name of friendship, we cannot compromise the principles of Islam.
Written by Invite to God team