eventJanuary 25, 2020bookmarkLatest Allegations

Does Islam forbid friendship with Jews and Christians?

The Holy Quran teaches that Muslims must deal justly with everyone, even those who may hate them:

“O ye who believe! be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do.” [1]

Holy Quran 5:9

The Golden Rule teaches to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In the aforementioned verse, the Quran commands Muslims to always treat others with justice, even if they act with animosity and injustice towards you. In other words, the Quran commands Muslims to treat others as they would like to be treated, even if they must suffer at their hands. In this regard, the Prophet of Islam taught that: “A Muslim who kills a covenanting disbeliever, would not even be able to perceive the breeze of paradise.” [2]

Is Friendship with Jews and Christians Forbidden?

The Holy Quran states:

“O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. And whoso among you takes them for friends is indeed one of them. Verily, Allah guides not the unjust people.” [3]

Holy Quran 5:52

There are some – both Muslim and non Muslim – who believe that this commandment refers to Jews and Christians for all times to come, and is not just a specific commandment to Muslims at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

Are they right?

Historical Context

If we look at the context of the verse, we see that it refers to the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when non-Muslims were at war with Muslims. Thus, the Quran clarifies the reasons for discouraging friendships with non-Muslims of that time. The reasons were two-fold. The first was that non-Muslims had waged war against Muslims, and driven them out of their homes for their faith. Thus we read:

“Allah forbids you not, respecting those who have not fought against you on account of your religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes, that you be kind to them and act equitably towards them; surely Allah loves those who are equitable. Allah only forbids you, respecting those who have fought against you on account of your religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and have helped others in driving you out, that you make friends of them, and whosoever makes friends of them — it is these that are the transgressors.” [4]

Holy Quran 60:9-10

As we can see, extra emphasis has been laid on kind and equitable treatment of non-Muslims. The fact that these verses were revealed at a time when relations between Muslims and disbelievers were highly strained helps us to understand the real purpose and object of the prohibitory commandment.

Thus, the Quran absolutely permits friendship with non-Muslims, but forbids friendship with anyone who persecutes you out of hatred for your faith. To be friends with such would be to jeopardise one’s own faith. 

Further, the Quran also discouraged friendships more generally with those who mock and deride Muslims for their faith. This is a less severe form of persecution, being psychological in its nature, but is nonetheless a means of belittling and humiliating people. As such, the Quran commands Muslims to be friends with such who will respect them and their beliefs:

“O ye who believe! take not those for friends who make a jest and sport of your religion from among those who were given the Book before you, and the disbelievers. And fear Allah if you are believers.” [5]

Holy Quran 5:58

“And who, when you call people to Prayer, take it as jest and sport. That is because they are a people who do not understand.” [6]

Holy Quran 5:59


The Holy Quran encourages all efforts towards peace and love:

“It may be that Allah will bring about love between you and those of them with whom you are now at enmity; and Allah is All-Powerful; and Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful.” [7]

Holy Quran 60:8

Remember that rather than creating differences, Islam teaches respect and acceptance of all prophets including Jesus and Moses (peace be upon them), thus uniting us under one God. It is clear that the verse in question does not apply to non-Muslims of today.

In fact, the Quran goes further than any other faith, by commanding Muslims to fight for the freedom of worship of all, whether they be Jews, Christians or others. It commands Muslims to protect their places of worship over and above mosques:

“Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is God’—And if God did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of God is oft commemorated. And God will surely help one who helps Him. God is indeed Powerful, Mighty.” [8]

Holy Quran 22:41

This verse — the like of which does not exist in any other religious scripture, and did not exist in any secular constitution for centuries after — commands Muslims to champion universal religious freedom for all faiths. Unlike any other ancient scripture, the Quran specifically protects those who attend “cloisters, churches, and synagogues.” Moreover, Muslims must prefer protection of other faiths even to their own, as demonstrated by the Quran mentioning Mosques last. Muslims are thus permitted to fight in self-defence when they are attacked, and to protect universal religious freedom for people of all faiths.

Thus, contrary to this allegation, not only does the Quran teach compassion beyond the Golden Rule, it also encourages interfaith friendship, and is the only Divine scripture to mandate its adherents — Muslims — to fight on behalf of any person of any faith to ensure universal religious freedom.

“My countrymen!” writes the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him), “A religion which does not inculcate universal compassion is no religion at all. Similarly a human being without the faculty of compassion is no human at all.” [9]

He also said:

“I proclaim to all Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Aryas, that I have no enemy in the world. I love mankind with the love that a compassionate mother has for her children; even more so. I am only the enemy of the false doctrines which kill truth. Human sympathy is my duty. My principle is to discard falsehood. I reject paganism, wrongdoing, misconduct, injustice and immorality.” [10]

References

  1. Holy Quran 5:9.
  2. Bukhārī, Kitāb al-Jizyah Wa’l-Muwāda‘ah, Bāb Ithm Man Qatala Mu‘āhadan Bi-Ghairi
    Jurm, Ḥadīth.
  3. Holy Quran 5:52
  4. Holy Quran 60: 9-10. 
  5. Holy Quran 5:58
  6. Holy Quran 5:59
  7. Holy Quran 60:8
  8. Holy Quran 22:41
  9. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Message of Peace, page 6.
  10. Arbaeen,Pt. 1: Roohani Khaza’in, Vol. 17, p. 344.

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