Seeking Sacred Sunni Knowledge

On Taking Jews and Christians as Friends – treating them with kindness

*after having re-read the original article today – June 17 2012 – I have decided to edit. Someone had linked this article – which I had forgotten even existed on the website – and I decided to re-read it. I realized that that my views on this issue have changed significantly. I believe that Allah ta’ala clarifies what he means by not taking Jews and Christians as “awliya” or bitanah:


“It may be that Allah will grant love (and friendship) between you and those whom ye (now) hold as enemies. For Allah has power (over all things); And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong.” [60:7-9, Yusuf Ali Translation]

Fakhrud-Din Ar-Razi, the famous Quranic exegete and theologian, stated that this verse was revealed regarding Asmaa’ bint Abi Bakr whose mother had come to Medina to visit her. Her mother was a pagan woman, although did not support war against the Muslims. Asmaa’ had treated her harshly refusing her entry and treating her coldly, though the Prophet Muhammad commanded her to treat her kindly ( وتكرمها وتحسن إليها), to honor her, and to treat her with goodness. This incident was also mentioned by Imam Al-Qurtubi in his tafsir – ascribing the narration to Sahih Al Bukhari and Muslim, adding that Imam Al-Mawardi and others, as well as Abu Dawud At-Tayalisi reported it in his Musnad – though clearly stating that this verse was revealed in connection to this event [to note this revelation apparently occurred when the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) had signed the peace treaty with the Meccans]. Razi goes on to say that the people of Qur’anic Interpretation (Ahlut-Ta’wil) state that this verse proves that it is permissible to create [an environment of] birr (translated usually as kindness etc) between the Muslims and the polytheists (Mushrikin). Lane adds in his lexicon to the meaning, “affection, gentleness, and regard for others’ circumstances.” It is interesting to note that the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was asked as to what are the best deeds and He said:

“Making Salah at the prescribed time and birrul-Walidayn (Birr towards one’s parents)…” [Sahih Al Bukhari 496]

This “birr” – righteousness, kindness, compassion, mercy, is being promoted by Allah the exalted towards the non-Muslims who do not abuse the Muslims.

Imam Al-Qushayri in his tafsir reminds us when commenting upon these verses we have just mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,

فِإِنَّ الله يحب الرِّفق في جميع الأمور

“..For Verily Allah loves kindness in all matters!”



[Edited June 17, 2012]

19 Responses to “On Taking Jews and Christians as Friends – treating them with kindness”

  1. mujahid7ia says:

    A truly excellent and comprehensive explanation of the subject is in volume 2 of Ma’ariful Qur’an by Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani, in the commentary of 3:28. The entire English translation of this excellent tafsir is available at, and the specific pdf that you should read is … go to page 54 of the book (i.e. the last five pages of the pdf file).

  2. Abul Layth says:

    Jazaakum Allahu Khairan for the beneficial articles Sidi Abu Usaama and Mujahidi7ia.

  3. kamran says:

    I find this interpretation disgusting. So it is true that there are Muslims like you that promote hate and enmity.

    Disgusted Muslim.

    Go ahead call me Kafir too

  4. Abu Usaama says:

    Kamran, in all honesty i have heard non-muslims telling each other not to take certain individuals as friends because of certain habits such as taking drugs or excessive drinking.

    What about a habit that is worse in the sight of Allah that we Muslims have to stay clear of?: Shirk-billah. Don’t we have more right to show enmity and distance from these people because of their devotion of worship towards other than Allah?

  5. Umm Layth says:

    It isn’t hate being promoted; it’s a sense of reality. Your friends usually reflect what kind of person you are. To protect ourselves is very important. It does not, however, mean that we don’t treat them with respect, and deal with them. We must be respectful, kind, curteous. Alhamdulillah,Islam teaches us a balance.

  6. Abdullah says:

    salamu alaykum,

    But friendship with ahl al kitab can’t be haram in a absolute and totale sense, can it? Otherwise it would be hard to explain the permission for muslim males to marry christian or jewish females. Or is that simply an exception?

  7. Abul Layth says:

    Firstly, we should make it perfectly clear that our disavowal of the pagan is regarding their beliefs.

    Secondly, Allah has stated in the Qur’an,

    “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just.”

    So we are to deal kindly and justly with mankind, as long as they are at peace with us. That does not mean that we do not hate their evil. I think the non-Muslim understanding of “hate” is different from that of the Muslim understanding. Hate does not drive a Muslim to kill, harm, or treat unjustly those we disagree with – unless they do so to us.

    Rather, it is the dogmatic paganism that we hate, and disavow.

    And we ask Allah the exalted to guide us all aright. Amin!

  8. Abdullah says:

    Yes brother, i absolutely understand you and i agree with you.
    But one can not deny that husband and wife [husband being muslim, wife being christian/jewish] are also in a very close relationship. So in marriage there is a exception, or did i miss something? Or is this even the reason why some [or all?] ulama declaired it makruh to marry ahl al kitab? If you could share your knowledge regarding this i would appreciate it.

    And please excuse my poor english bro… :)

  9. Abul Layth says:


    Firstly, Your question inspired me to do some research regarding marrying the kitaabiyah. Read it here:

    Secondly, it is not permitted to marry a muhaaribah kitaabiyyah, as stated by Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiya Allahu Anhu).

    Thirdly, the verse 5:5 is a rukhsah (dispensation) to the generality of walaa’ and marriage etc.

    Fourthly, the correct opinion is that it is makruh to marry the kitaabi, as stated by ‘Umar and others.

    That is my stance.

    -Abul Layth

  10. Ahmad Attiya says:

    Jazakallah Khayr brother Abu Layth

    Can you please write an article on “loving the kuffar”

    I am getting confused on this issue. How can a Muslim man marry a non Muslim woman and love her, yet he is not allowed to ‘love kuffar’?

  11. Abul Layth says:

    Ahmad, we have explained that there are exceptions to this. Also there are two types of love: 1) natural love 2) love for Allah’s sake.

    I love my mother, she is christian. It is natural. If I have a wife who is christian, which is a bad idea, I could love her naturally as well. These are exceptions to the general rule.

  12. Ahmad Attiya says:

    So if you can have natural love for your wife, would that then mean that you should have some ‘divine’ hatred for her?

  13. Abul Layth says:

    We have divine hatred for everyone’s evil deeds and divine love for everyone based upon their good deeds.

    Just how it works bro.

  14. Ahmad Attiya says:

    Yah, but the Qur’an does not say that we hate their deeds only, but them as well.

    Have the scholars talked about this natural love and divine love?

  15. OM says:

    I read a fatwa from Sh bin Bayyah saying it was OK to have non-Muslim friends. Can you provide us with opinions of the scholars that contradict this? Is it wrong to invite a non-Muslim to one’s house to eat with them, to discuss things with them etc?

  16. OM says:

    btw there is nothing ever wrong with the shari`a, I would always follow it insha Allah- I only need to hear some scholars give an opinion akhi, then I will obey.

  17. Usooli says:

    Assalamualikum to everyone,

    dear bro OM, about dealing with kuffar or in fact with any person or group of people, there are three levels of interaction. The beginning one is mercy(rahma), next is seeking confidence/trust/protection from them (called bitanah), and final one is support/aggreement/assistance(mudhaharah/muwalat) of their way/cause/position/religion.

    So not every acts/position of mercy/rahma is a bitanah, and not every bitanah is muwalaat, however note that, if the proper checks and limitations in relationships are not enforced, the early level of rahma progresses into bitanah overtime, and latter on continuous bitanah leads to muwalat and mudaharah.

    Examples of rahma would be like accepting gifts, visiting a sick one, attending funerals, giving charity, lending neutral help, sending letters, keeping communication, general visitation, sitting with them, eating/drinking together, greeting, smiling, and neutral talk.

    These are allowed with the kuffar who dont fight islam or muslims, or expell muslims from their homes etc. If these acts of rahma are done with muharib kuffars(those who fight muslims) without any motivation for da3wah, then it would not expell someone from the circle of islam, but it is a sign of the absence of eman (which is of a higher degree than islam)

    Next, Example of bitanah would be when a kaffir would be trusted to the point where he is taken as a close aid, assigned to some important task related to the welfare of muslims, taken as a confident to whom secrets are revealed, as a leader/advisor/consultant/manager, as a person who is trusted with the muslim’s wealth, or when he is or they are taken as a protection for the muslims, when the latter is weak and the kuffar are stronger in comparision.

    The bitanah is not allowed with neither a harbi nor a non harbi, but practicing it doesnot constitute kufr. However it is a dangerous step that would eventually lead to the muwalat of the kuffar, as through bitanah a person developes overtime good opinion of kuffar and for what they stand for..

    The muwalat/mudahara is the situation when the kaffir’s religion is approved or supported, or their cause is aided. Like helping them in building churches, faciliating them in doing missionary works, aiding their armies and politicians.
    It is this mudahara that is kufr, and exits the person out of the fold of islam, about which Allah severely warns.

    This is what i learnt from studying the verses of the Quran regarding this subject, the actions/sayings of the Prophet[saws]and his companions, and the statements of the muffasireen, and im not a scholar nor someone who is correct always.

    I request all my dear brothers and sisters who are far better than me, and especially the knowledgeable ones of them, to please Correct me if i had uttered anything wrong or said something in conflict with the proper sunni understanding of the deen regarding this subject.

    Jazakumullahu khayra

  18. OM says:

    I do frequently ask advice from non-Muslims; I revise for exams with non-Muslims, I ask my non-Muslim teachers and professors how I can improve on a piece of work etc. In fact, my counsellor is a non-Muslim, and I tell them quite personal things. I talk to non-Muslims more than I talk to Muslims (just because there are more of them around me). Does all that constitute bitanah?

  19. somalieren says:

    Thank you for the update, I linked to your previous article in relation to an ongoing debate on antisemittism among muslims in Norway. I am curious on where the beautiful hadith at the end is from?

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