TOPIC: RELATIONS WITH NON-MUSLIMS (PART 1)
A’udhu billaahi minash shaytaanir Rajeem Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem. Alhamdu lillaah Rabbil ‘aalameen wa afdalus salaati wa atammut tasleem ‘ala khayri khalqil laah seyyideena wa mawlaana Muhammad (SAW).
The Christmas and Gregorian new year season that we are in now brings up an annual debate on the correct Islamic position on the relationship between Muslims and Christians and by extension other non Muslims too.
One question arising from this debate is: “Even though some Muslims appear to be friendly with Non-Muslims, does the Qur’an not teach against such friendliness (as in Qur’an 5:51, 57; 3:28)?”
Our sermon for this Friday and the next couple of Fridays will in shaa Allah focus on answering this question and address related issues.
A very good starting point is to establish that the Qur’an and Sunnah make the position of Islam on relations between Muslims and Non-Muslims abundantly clear. This position is summarized in Qur’an 60:8-9. “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 and to behave towards them with full equity: 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 wrongdoers!” ““The expression ‘God does not forbid you’in that portion implies in this context a positive exhortation.”In other words, Muslims are enjoined to relate with Non-Muslims amicably, with kindness and with justice, unless they are hostile, persecute or drive Muslims out of their homes. The Qur’an further reaffirms that Muslims should not even engage them in argument “except in a most kindly manner” (Q.29:46).
In his Tafsir (exegesis) on Q.60:8, Imam AlQurtubi said:The majority of commentators have agreed that this verse has not been abrogated. They cited the story reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim of Asmā’ bint Abubakr when she asked the Prophet (SAW) if she could receive and be kind to her Non-Muslim mother who visited her in Madina and the Prophet (SAW) said ‘Yes’. It was said that this verse was revealed in this specific incident.
Al-Mawardi and Abu Dawood reported that Amir ibn Abdullah ibn Al-Zubair narrated that his father told him that, before accepting Islam, Abubakr divorced his wife Qatila, the mother of Asmā’. When the truce was held between the Prophet (SAW) and the pagans of the Quraish, the mother visited her daughter in Madina and brought her a pair of earrings and other gifts. Asmā’ was reluctant to accept the gifts before asking the Prophet. In answer to her question, Allah revealed this verse [i.e. Q.60:8].
Tabari further explains that, “The most credible view is that the verse refers to people of all kinds of creeds and religions who should be shown kindness and treated equitably. Allah referred to all those who do not fight the Muslims or drive them out from their homes, without exception or qualification.”
A very important thing to note is that when it comes to social relationships, which fall under the category of mu‘āmalāt (social transactions), the principle of jurisprudence which in Arabic is called “Al-‘asl fil ashyā‘i al-ibaahah” (“the legal premise of everything is permissibility”)stands that everything is permissible except where there is an explicit and decisive verse from the Qur’an or Sunnah stipulating otherwise.
A cursory examination of Islamic sources with respect to the general treatment of Non-Muslims results in the following observations, which some readers may consider as only obvious, while others novel or even debatable.
1) Friendliness to people of other faiths is permitted in Islam, while in some cases more intimate relationships may be extended to Christians and Jews, who are described in the Qur’an as “Ahl al-Kitab” (People of the Book”).
2) The existence of certain interfaith marriages permitted to Muslim men is proof of Islam’s favor towards harmonious relationship-building between faith groups.
3) The Qur’an uses a number of terms denoting friendly relations with reference to Muslims as well as Non-Muslims.
4) Certain verses of the Qur’an have been misinterpreted to suggest that Muslims may not befriend any Non-Muslim under any circumstance.
5) Many esteemed classical commentators of the Qur’an state that verses prescribing kindness to non-aggressive Non-Muslims are not abrogated by subsequently revealed verses.
6) The Prophet (r) trusted certain Non-Muslims with his life and the lives of other Muslims. The types of individuals that are trustworthy may thus be derived from the Qur’an and Sunnah.
7) The Prophet’s openness to friendly relations with Non-Muslims was such that he freely allowed them into his mosque to resolve upon mutual pacts and alliances as late as 10A.H. If all Non-Muslims are enemies by default and not to be befriended, he would not have done so.
8) Islamic sources make it clear that there are good and bad members of all faith groups.
9) Muslims are to take care in selecting and initiating positive friendships and influences.
10) Muslims are allowed to visit Non-Muslim associates and neighbors, accept invitations from Non-Muslims, and host Non-Muslims in their homes. 11)Cementing positive relationships through exchanging gifts with Non-Muslims is also permitted in Islam.
12)Kindness and friendly gestures such as giving charity (sadaqah) to all people, including Non-Muslims, is encouraged in Islam.
13)Charity to Non-Muslims may take the form of Zakat al-Fitr, given by Muslims as a spiritual complement to their fast of Ramadan.
14)Some scholars also permit giving Zakat to Non-Muslims under at least one category of beneficiaries listed in Q.9:60.
15)Islamic law specifies that Non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic territory must be protected in every capacity.
16)Muslim minorities in Non-Muslim territories are obliged to honor their terms of residence and cultivate a local Muslim identity in keeping with the way of a society and positive Islamic contribution.
17) Muslims are also expected to be dutiful to their Non-Muslim parents and kin.
18) Islam views every human life as sacred and containing a spirit from God (Allah). Therefore, respect and good treatment to others, irrespective of faith, is encouraged as the norm.
In shaa Allah, these eighteen points will be examined closely as from next week.
May Allah make it easy.
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