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Friendliness with People of Other Faiths

Friendliness with People of Other Faiths
  1. Friendliness with People of Other Faiths
    Some Muslims think that they are not expected to be friendly or jovial with
    people of other faiths. As such, they stay distant from non-Muslim colleagues,
    neighbours and others.
    Is a Muslim permitted to be friendly with people of other religions? How close or
    friendly can a Muslim get with non-Muslims? Won’t a Muslim be negatively
    influenced by non-Muslim friends?
    The Qur’an 60:8-9 summarizes Islam’s position on relations with people of other
    faiths: “As for such (of the unbelievers) as do not fight against you on account of
    (your) faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid
    you to show them kindness (birr) and to behave towards them with full equity (qist):
    for verily, God loves those who act equitably. God only forbids you to turn in
    friendship towards such as fight against you because of (your) faith, and drive you
    forth from your homelands, or aid (others) in driving you forth: and as for those
    (from among you) who turn toward them in friendship, it is they, they who are truly
    There are other verses of the Qur’an that forbid Muslims from befriending the type
    of hostile non-Muslims that are discussed in the second part of the verse above
    (Qur’an 60:9). This, of course, does not exclude the possibility of forgiveness
    (Qur’an 16:126) and returning harm done with goodness (Qur’an 41:34, 23:96,
    28:54) which as a rule is better for a Muslim to do.
    The Prophet Muhammad (p) is the best role model for Muslims (Qur’an 33:21)! The
    Qur’an (28:56) refers to his having “loved” his kind uncle Abu Talib even though he
    was a polytheist (mushrik). The Prophet (p) trusted the Christian King (the Negus)
    of Abyssinia with the lives of the first group of migrating Muslims (Muhajirun).1 He
    also trusted Abdullah bin Uraiqit (who was a polytheist) to guide him and Abubakr
    through the desert to Medina when the other Meccans wanted to kill him.2
    Marriage is a very intimate and loving relationship (Qur’an 30:21). The fact that the
    Qur’an (5:5) permits a Muslim to marry a Jewish or Christian lady, suggests the level
    of friendship and companionship that Islam permits a Muslim to have with a nonMuslim in spite of the difference in their faiths. The Prophet (p) gave and received
    gifts from non-Muslims; he visited them and vice-versa. From these and other
    pieces of evidence in the Qur’an and Sunnah makes it clear that only such
    relationships that compromise Islamic values are prohibited for Muslims.
    The kindness (birr)
    3 and fairness (qist) mentioned in Qur’an 60:8-9 (cited earlier)
    applies to all peace-loving non-Muslims, whether they are of monotheistic,
    polytheistic, or of non-religious persuasions.4

1 Safy al-Rahman Mubarakfuri, al-Rahiq al-Makhtum, Maktabah Dar al-Salam, Riyadh, 1996, p.74.
2 Muhammad al-Ameen bin Muhammad al-Mukhtar al-Shinqity, Adwa al- Bayan fi Idahi al-Qur’an
bi al-Qur’an, Dar al-Fikr, 1995, vol.3, p.506
3 The Qur’anic term birr, translated here as “kindness”, encompasses all forms of sincere
goodness, equity, charity, integrity, compassion, love, devotion, and righteousness. See Q:2:177,
and Hammudah Abdalati, Islam in Focus, World Assembly of Muslim Youths, Riyadh, 1994, p.25
4 Yusuf al-Qaradawi, The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam, IIFSO, Kuwait, 1992, p.35-336; See
also Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj, pp.130-131; cited in Sa’id Ramadan, Islamic Law: Its Scope and
Equity, Macmillan, London, 1961, p.108; Sheikh Khalid Abdul-Qadir, Fiqh al-Aqalliyat alMuslimah, Darul-Iman, Lebanon, 1998, p.26-27; Abd al-Karim Zaidan, Al Mufassal fi Ahkam al
Mar’ah, Mu’assasat al-Risalah, Beirut, 1993, Vol. 6, p.307; Muhammad Rashid Rida, Tafsir al
Manar, Vol. 6, p.190; Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Ahkam Ahl al-Dhimmah in CD Rom “Maktabah
Though marriage to polytheists and eating of their slaughtered meat is not
permissible to Muslims5
; kindness and justice are to be extended to them. Insulting
or reviling others’ beliefs and deities is forbidden in Islam, as Allah says in the
Qur’an, “Do not revile those whom others invoke instead of God, lest they in
retaliation revile Allah out of ignorance” (Qur’an 6:108). The Prophet (p)
exemplified this in his response when it was said to him, “Pray to Allah against the
polytheists and curse them!” The Messenger (p) replied, “I have not been sent as
an invoker of curses; I have only been sent as a mercy.”
In another hadith, he is
also reported to have said, “I have been sent to join ties of relationship”
; and when
Aisha wanted to retort to some Jews who had insulted the Prophet (p), he said to
her, “O Aisha, be gentle and beware of being harsh and of saying evil things.”
Interaction implies the possibility of influence. This influence could be positive or
negative, as influence is rarely neutral. It is important for Muslims to recognize the
influence that others around them have. Abu Musa al-Ash’ari narrated that the
Prophet (p) said:
“The example of a good (pious) companion and an evil one is that of a person
carrying musk and another blowing a pair of bellows. The one who is carrying
musk will either give you some perfume as a present, or you will buy some
from him, or you will get a good smell from him; but the one who is blowing

Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Jawzy, www.el-ariss.com 2002; Al-Qurtubi, Al-Jami’ Ahkam
al-Qur’an, Dar al-Kutub, Beirut, 2001, Vol. 6, p.11.
5 See Qur’an 60:10 and 2:221
6 Muslim, Sahih Muslim, hadith no. 1192 in Alim 6.0
7 Muslim, Sahih Muslim, hadith no. 410 in Alim 6.0
8 Al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, vol.8, hadith no. 410 in Alim 6.0
a pair of bellows will either burn your clothes or you will get a bad smell from
There are different types of Muslims and non-Muslims. Some are trustworthy and
upright, while others are corrupt and hypocritical. The Qur’an acknowledges that
non-Muslims are not all alike (Qur’an 3:113, 3:75), some are reliable while others
are not. The same is true about all religious and irreligious communities.
If a Muslim realizes that his or her interaction with a particular person, whether
Muslim or non-Muslim, is having a negative influence on them, then the following
advice of the Prophet (p) becomes applicable:
“It is better to be alone than in bad company, and it is better still to be in
good company than to be alone. It is better to speak to a seeker of knowledge
than to remain silent, but silence is better than idle words.”10
A Muslim should always remember that every non-Muslim is a potential Muslim,
just as every weak Muslim is potentially a good one (mu’min), by Allah’s Grace. A
Muslim should, therefore, ensure, as much as he can, that his life and relationships
serve as a testament to his faith. Moreover, he should take the initiative to have a
positive influence on those around him. The following passages from the Qur’an
and Hadith illustrate the manner and disposition enjoined on Muslims to have such
positive influence:
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful exhortation… And
if you have to respond to an attack, respond only to the extent of the attack

Sahih al-Bukhari, hadith no. 2101; Sahih Muslim, hadith no. 6860
10 Sahih Muslim, hadith no. 97
levelled against you; but to bear yourselves with patience is indeed far better
for (you, since God is with) those who are patient in adversity.” (Qur’an
“Do not speak to the people with your face turned away, nor walk proudly on
earth; for Allah does not love any arrogant boaster.” (Qur’an 31:18)
“Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer? It is
keeping peace and good relations between people, as quarrels and bad
feelings destroy mankind.”11
“Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you
well you will treat them well and that if they do wrong you will do wrong; but
accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong if
they do evil.”12
“A believer should not taunt, curse, abuse or talk indecently.”13
“If someone abuses you, and reproaches you for what he knows about you,
then do not reproach him for what you know about him, so that you may
have the reward thereof and the sin thereof is against him.”14
“Allah will not give mercy to anyone, except those who give mercy to

11 Tirmidhi, Sunan al-Tirmidhi, hadith no. 2509
12 Sunan al-Tirmidhi, hadith no. 1325 in Alim 6.0
13 Sunan al-Tirmidhi, hadith no. 544 in Alim 6.0
14 Abu Dawood, hadith no. 1889 in Alim 6.0
15 Narrated by Abdullah bin. Amr; Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi
These passages and many others assume that Muslims would sometimes have to
interact with those who are unpleasant towards them or who oppose their beliefs.
Therefore, the passages above provide guidance from Allah’s wisdom for such
interaction. Though Muslims should be cautious of negative influences within the
society, fear of this should not prevent them from relating with others in a
productive manner in order to exert a positive and beneficial influence, inspired by
their faith, in whatever way possible.

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