In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
One of my readers, Tom, asked a question. I will quote him directly:
“Hi Doc. Do you ever answer questions that appear in the comments section? Let’s say a muslim invites a christian to dinner, tells him about the wonders of Allah (pbuh) and Islam, and humbly asks the christian to become a muslim, now that he knows the truth. And the christian declines. I am correct in thinking that the christian is now a kaffir who also is in a state of kufr? Should the muslim now hate the christian? Why does Islam teach its adherents to hate anyone?”
This is an excellent question, and this is the main impetus of this blog post. Thanks, Tom, for asking the question. Like I said before, the world will always be full of those who chose not to become Muslim. It is, in fact, part of God’s plan. How do I know? God Himself told me so:
Have, then, they who have attained to faith not yet come to know that, had God so willed, He would indeed have guided all mankind aright? (13:31)
Unto every one of you have We appointed a [different] law and way of life. And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but [He willed it otherwise] in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto you… (5:48)
Thus, what are we as Muslims supposed to do with a non-Muslim? What is the relationship of Muslims to non-Muslims? It is one of peace and mutual respect. Islam does not call its followers to hate other people. This is a horrific misreading and misunderstanding of the Sacred Text of Islam, and it is high time for Muslims to abandon such destructive thinking.
Now, there are verses in the Qur’an that seem to contradict my contention. These verses say:
LET NOT the believers take those who deny the truth for their allies in preference to the believers… (3:28)
As for those who take the deniers of the truth for their allies in preference to the believers – do they hope to be honoured by them when, behold, all honour belongs to God [alone]? (4:139)
O you who have attained to faith! Do not take the deniers of the truth for your allies in preference to the believers! Do you want to place before God a manifest proof of your guilt? (4:144)
O YOU who have attained to faith! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for your allies: they are but allies of one another and whoever of you allies himself with them becomes, verily, one of them; behold, God does not guide such evildoers. (5:51)
The term used in these verses is awliya’, which has several meanings in the Arabic, including “friend,” “helper,” “protector,” “ally.” The meaning differs depending on the context of the verse. Now, it is very interesting that those who are bent on claiming that Muslims should hate non-Muslims almost always translate awliya’ as “friends.” The truth of the matter, however, is quite different.
Muhammad Asad (may God’s mercy be upon him) has explained the meaning of these verses the best. He wrote:
More than anything else, it obviously alludes to a “moral alliance” with the
deniers of the truth: that is to say, to an adoption of their way of life in
preference to the way of life of the believers, in the hope of being “honoured”,
or accepted as equals, by the former. Since an imitation of the way of life of confirmed unbelievers must obviously conflict with the moral principles
demanded by true faith, it unavoidably leads to a gradual abandonment of those
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 non-Muslims does not constitute an injunction against normal, friendly relations with such of them as are well-disposed towards Muslims.
The last part is the most important part of his explanation. There is nothing to preclude normal, friendly relations with non-Muslims who are good to Muslims. In verse 5:57 (referenced above) it says: “O you who have attained to faith! Do not take for your friends such as mock at your faith and make a jest of it – be they from among those who have been vouchsafed revelation before your time, or [from among] those who deny the truth [of revelation as such] – but remain conscious of God, if you are [truly] believers.” This makes sense. To extrapolate this and the other verses I cited above, however, to mean that: (1) Muslims are not to have friendly relations with anyone who is not Muslim, but not only that, (2) Muslims are supposed to hate them is terribly incorrect. There is no basis for this reading at all.
In addition, an example of how I understand Asad’s above explanation is alcohol. If I start drinking (which is clearly prohibited by Islam) so that my non-Muslim friends and colleagues can like and accept me, I have taken them as “moral allies” in my hope of “being honored by them,” as verse 4:139 says. But, I should remember that “all honor belongs to God [alone],” and thus, I should not compromise my faith by drinking in order to be popular. Yet, once again, this does not mean that I have to hate all those who are not Muslim.
The adherents of what I will call “The Doctrine of Hatred” retort by citing this verse:
Indeed, you have had a good example in Abraham and those who followed him, when they said unto their [idolatrous] people: “Verily, we are quit of you and of all that you worship instead of God: we deny the truth of whatever you believe; and between us and you there has arisen enmity and hatred, to last until such a time* as you come to believe in the One God!”… (60:4)
I cannot help but sigh at this point, because it deeply saddens me to see how Muslims can terribly misuse their own sacred text to evil ends. This verse is quoted completely out of context. It can only be correctly understood when the entire passage of the Qur’an in which it resides is examined, and this is the topic of my next post, God willing.
To be continued…