Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Friendship with Non-Muslims

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The Quran and other Islamic sources prohibit certain degrees of relationship with non-Muslims in certain circumstances, including with some from among the "People of the Book". Its stance appears to have evolved over time at various stages of Muhammad's prophetic career, occurring in a context when the believers had been driven out from Mecca and there was a degree of enmity between them, as recorded in such verses as Quran 60:1. Certain hadiths too portray Muhammad as being skeptical of inter-faith friendships. Some contemporary views emphasize contextual issues, the unreliability of hadiths which often reflect a later period, and use particular verses and examples from Muhammad's life to argue that friendship with non-Muslims is permitted in most circumstances.


Do not take disbelievers as intimate friends or guardians / allies

A word common in many of these verses is awliyaa (plural of وَلِيٌّ waliyyun, from which we also have 'wali' - the male guardian of a female). It is often translated as friends and protectors, or allies.

Let not believers take disbelievers as allies [awliyaa] rather than believers. And whoever [of you] does that has nothing with Allah, except when taking precaution against them in prudence. And Allah warns you of Himself, and to Allah is the [final] destination.
O ye who believe! Take not for intimates [bitanatan] others than your own folk, who would spare no pains to ruin you; they love to hamper you. Hatred is revealed by (the utterance of) their mouths, but that which their breasts hide is greater. We have made plain for you the revelations if ye will understand.

The prohibiton in the above verse does not apply to all people of the book, some of whom are contrasted with "those who disbelieve" in the preceding verses Quran 3:113-114. This may be considered alongside verses 5:51, 5:57 and 5:82 quoted below.

Those who chose disbelievers for their friends [awliyaa] instead of believers! Do they look for power at their hands? Lo! all power appertaineth to Allah.
O you who have believed, do not take the disbelievers as allies [awliyaa] instead of the believers. Do you wish to give Allah against yourselves a clear case?
O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors [awliyaa]: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.

A later verse in the same surah is more concilliatory regarding Christians, though not towards Jews and idolaters.

Thou wilt find the most vehement of mankind in hostility to those who believe (to be) the Jews and the idolaters. And thou wilt find the nearest of them in affection [mawaddatan]>to those who believe (to be) those who say: Lo! We are Christians. That is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not proud
O Ye who believe! Choose not for guardians [awliyaa] such of those who received the Scripture before you, and of the disbelievers, as make a jest and sport of your religion. But keep your duty to Allah if ye are true believers.
Leave alone [dhari] those who take their religion to be mere play and amusement, and are deceived by the life of this world. But proclaim (to them) this (truth): that every soul delivers itself to ruin by its own acts: it will find for itself no protector or intercessor except Allah: if it offered every ransom, (or reparation), none will be accepted: such is (the end of) those who deliver themselves to ruin by their own acts: they will have for drink (only) boiling water, and for punishment, one most grievous: for they persisted in rejecting Allah.
Thou hadst no hope that the Scripture would be inspired in thee; but it is a mercy from thy Lord, so never be a helper [thaheeran] to the disbelievers.
There is for you an excellent example (to follow) in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people: "We are clear of you and of whatever ye worship besides Allah: we have rejected you, and there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred for ever,- unless ye believe in Allah and Him alone": But not when Abraham said to his father: "I will pray for forgiveness for thee, though I have no power (to get) aught on thy behalf from Allah." (They prayed): "Our Lord! in Thee do we trust, and to Thee do we turn in repentance: to Thee is (our) Final Goal. "Our Lord! Make us not a (test and) trial for the Unbelievers, but forgive us, our Lord! for Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise."

Muhammad softens his stance before the conquest of Mecca: Do not take guardians / allies from those who made war on you for religion and drove you out

Abraham's people, whom he declared enemies in the above verse, did nothing besides idolatry according to the tafsirs. But it should be noted that unlike the other verses listed in the section above, a softening of this stance occurs a few verses later in this surah. It says that Allah may put love / affection between the Muslims and those who had been their enemies, that they are permitted to show kindness and deal justly with them so long as they had not made war on the Muslims and had not helped drive them out. It is only those who did do such things that the believers should not take as guardians / allies (awliyaa).

The tafsirs say that verse 60:7 was uttered ahead of the conquest of Mecca because the previous verses were hard for the Muslims, telling them to disown their own relatives in Mecca, even their children in verse 60:3. Regarding verse 60:8, ibn Kathir cites hadiths that it came after Asma' bint Abu Bakr rejected her idolatress mother when she tried to visit her in Medina, and 'A'isha asked Muhammad's opinion on this.

It may be that Allah will ordain love [mawaddatan] between you and those of them with whom ye are at enmity. Allah is Mighty, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers. Allah forbiddeth you only those who warred against you on account of religion and have driven you out from your homes and helped to drive you out, that ye make friends of them [tawallawhum]. Whosoever maketh friends of them - (All) such are wrong-doers.

Do not take your disbelieving family members as guardians / allies, and disassociate from them and do not love them if they are enemies of Allah

Surah 9 (at-Tawbah) came later chronologically than surah 60 quoted in the section above, after the conquest of Mecca. Here, even family could not be a Muslim's awliya if they love disbelief more than faith, though in context and according to some commentaries this may concern those who had refused to emigrate. Believers were not allowed even to have love for their relatives if they opposed Allah and Muhammad. Presumably, these restrictions did not apply otherwise.

O ye who believe! take not for protectors [yatawallahum] your fathers and your brothers if they love infidelity [kufra] above Faith: if any of you do so, they do wrong. Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that ye have gained; the commerce in which ye fear a decline: or the dwellings in which ye delight - are dearer [ahabba] to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious.
It is not for the Prophet, and those who believe, to pray for the forgiveness of idolaters even though they may be near of kin (to them) after it hath become clear that they are people of hell-fire.
And Abraham prayed for his father's forgiveness only because of a promise he had made to him. But when it became clear to him that he was an enemy to Allah, he dissociated himself from him: for Abraham was most tender-hearted, forbearing.

(see also 60:4 above, where it says Abraham is a good example to follow).

Thou wilt not find folk who believe in Allah and the Last Day loving [yuwaddoona] those who oppose Allah and His messenger, even though they be their fathers or their sons or their brethren or their clan. As for such, He hath written faith upon their hearts and hath strengthened them with a Spirit from Him, and He will bring them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide. Allah is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. They are Allah's party. Lo! is it not Allah's party who are the successful?

An earlier (Meccan) surah tells believers to accompany their disbelieving parents with kindness / fairness in this world, even if they seek to make the believer commit shirk (which should be disobeyed):

And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination. But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.


Only pious Muslims where Muhammad's friends

'Amr b. 'As reported: I heard it from the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) quite audibly and not secretly: Behold! the posterity of my fathers, that is, so and so, are not my friends. Verily Allah and the pious believers are my friends.[awliya]

Using the Qur'an, Umar kicked a Christian out of Medina

(And if any among you befriends them, then surely he is one of them.) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Umar ordered Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari to send him on one sheet of balance the count of what he took in and what he spent. Abu Musa then had a Christian scribe, and he was able to comply with `Umar's demand. `Umar liked what he saw and exclaimed, "This scribe is proficient. Would you read in the Masjid a letter that came to us from Ash-Sham" Abu Musa said, `He cannot."

`Umar said, "Is he not pure Abu Musa said, "No, but he is Christian." Abu Musa said, "So `Umar admonished me and poked my thigh (with his finger), saying, `Drive him out (from Al-Madinah).' He then recited,"

(O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as friends...) Then he reported that `Abdullah bin `Utbah said, "Let one of you beware that he might be a Jew or a Christian, while unaware." The narrator of this statement said, "We thought that he was referring to the Ayah,

A man follows the religion of his friend

Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: A man follows the religion of his friend [Khalil]; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend.[Khalil]

Only stay with Muslims

Narrated AbuSa'id al-Khudri:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Associate only with a believer, and let only a God-fearing man eat your meals.

Whoever joins a polytheist is like him

Narrated Samurah ibn Jundub:

To proceed, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Anyone who associates with a polytheist and lives with him is like him.


Muhammad was sent to stop friendship with Jews

Some Muslims remained friends with the Jews because of the ties of mutual protection and alliance which had subsisted between them, so God sent down concerning them and forbidding them to take them as intimate friends: 'O you who believe, do not choose those outside your community as intimate friends. They will spare no pains to corrupt you longing for your ruin. From their mouths hatred has already shown itself and what their breasts conceal is greater. We have made the signs plain to you if you will understand. Behold you love them but they love not you and you believe in the book--all of it, i.e. you believe in their book and in the books that were before that while they deny your book, so that you have more right to hate them than they to hate you. 'And when they meet you they say, we believe and when they go apart they bite their fingers against you in rage. Say, Die in your rage'
Ibn Ishaq (d. 768); Ibn Hisham (d. 833), A. Guillaume, ed, The Life of Muhammad [Sirat Rasul Allah], Oxford UP, p. 262-263, ISBN 0-19-636033-1, 1955, https://archive.org/details/GuillaumeATheLifeOfMuhammad/page/n1/mode/2up 
ابن إسحاق; ابن هشام, سيرة ابن هشام ت السقا, vol.1, al-Maktabah al-Shamilah, p. 558, https://app.turath.io/book/23833 


Ibn Kathir

Allah forbids His believing servants from having Jews and Christians as friends, because they are the enemies of Islam and its people, may Allah curse them. Allah then states that they are friends of each other and He gives a warning threat to those who do this"
Tafsir Ibn Kathir
Allah prohibited His believing servants from becoming supporters of the disbelievers, or to take them as comrades with whom they develop friendships, rather than the believers.
. . .
Allah said next, (unless you indeed fear a danger from them) meaning, except those believers who in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers. In this case, such believers are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly. For instance, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Ad-Darda' said, "We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them. Al-Bukhari said that Al-Hasan said, "The Tuqyah is allowed until the Day of Resurrection.
Tafsir Ibn Kathir

Ibn Taymiyah

“Imitation generates friendship and love, and regarding them as allies in the inside, just as loving them on the inside generates imitating them on the outside.” Allaah tells us that there is no (true) believer who takes a kaafir as a friend, for whoever takes a kaafir as friend is not a believer. Imitation on the outside implies that a person loves (the one whom he imitates), and so it is forbidden.”
“The Qur’aan, Sunnah and ijmaa’ (scholarly consensus) all indicate that we must differ from the kuffaar in all aspects and not imitate them, because imitating them on the outside will make us imitate them in their bad deeds and habits, and even in beliefs, which will result in befriending them in our hearts, just as loving them in our hearts will lead to imitating them on the outside[1]
Ibn Taymiyyah

Saed Abdul-Rahman

These text indicate that muslims should not settle amongst the Kuffar in their country and that he is obliged to move from those lands to muslim lands. An exception is made....
Offering condolences to a kaafir if one of his loved ones – a friend or relative – dies. There is a difference of opinion among the scholars concerning this issue. Some of the scholars say that it is haraam to offer condolences to them, and some say that it is permissible. Some of them added further details and said that if that serves an interest, such as the hope that they may become Muslim and it may ward off their evil which could not be done except by offering condolences, then it is permissible, otherwise it is haraam. The more correct view is if that offering condolences to them is regarded as a kind of honouring them, then it is haraam, otherwise we should look at what is in the best interests.

Ahmad Sirhindi

Shariat can be fostered through the sword.

Kufr and Islam are opposed to each other. The progress of one is possible only at the expense of the other and co-existences between these two contradictory faiths in unthinkable.

The honor of Islam lies in insulting kufr and kafirs. One who respects kafirs, dishonors the Muslims. To respect them does not merely mean honouring them and assigning them a seat of honor in any assembly, but it also implies keeping company with them or showing considerations to them. They should be kept at an arm's length like dogs. ... If some worldly business cannot be performed without them, in that case only a minimum of contact should be established with them but without taking them into confidence. The highest Islamic sentiment asserts that it is better to forego that worldly business and that no relationship should be established with the kafirs.

The real purpose in levying jizya on them is to humiliate them to such an extent that, on account of fear of jizya, they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They should constantly remain terrified and trembling. It is intended to hold them under contempt and to uphold the honor and might of Islam.
. . .

Whenever a Jew is killed, it is for the benefit of Islam.[2]

Muhammad al-Munajid

With regard to non-Muslims, the Muslim should disavow himself of them, and he should not feel any love in his heart towards them: [Quotes Quran 60:1 & Quran 60:4]

But this does not mean that a Muslim cannot interact with them in a nice manner that will encourage them to enter Islam, so long as that is within the guidelines of sharee’ah, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): [Quotes Quran 60:8]

The Muslim should strive hard to call non-Muslims to Islam through all possible permissible means, in the hope that they may benefit from that and respond, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): [Quotes Quran 16:125 & Quran 41:33]

[The fatwa goes on to quote the following Islamic scriptures:...Muslim narrated in his Saheeh (2674); Quran 4:97-98; Abu Dawood narrated in his Sunan (2645); al-Tirmidhi narrated in his Jaami’ (1640); Ibn al-Qayyim said in Tahdheeb al-Sunan (‘Awn, 7/304); Abu Dawood (2787); al-Haakim (2/141); Imam Ahmad (4/365); and al-Nasaa’i (4177)]

These texts indicate that the basic principle is that the Muslim should not settle among the kuffaar in their countries, and that he is obliged to move from those lands to the Muslim lands. An exception is made from that if his staying there is necessary, but necessity should not be blown out of proportion. If the Muslim has to be with them (the non-Muslims) physically, he should not be with them in his heart, and he must avoid mixing with them unnecessarily...

...Something else that will help you to stop mixing with non-Muslims is to remember that these kaafirs – even though they may have good manners and some good qualities – also do a number of seriously wrong things, any one of which is sufficient to nullify any good deeds that they may do. Among these evil things is the belief of the Christians – for example – that God is one of three (trinity), as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): [Quotes Quran 5:73]
The other kaafir nations all attribute partners to Allaah, or else they do not believe in God at all.

The kuffaar in general do not believe in the Qur’aan or in the message of our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), rather they reject the Qur’aan and they reject our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him); so how can a Muslim be inclined towards them with their kufr and misguidance?

Even if they give you some of your rights by treating you nicely, they do not give Allaah His rights and they do not give the Qur’aan its rights and they do not give our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) his rights. The rights of Allaah and His Book and His Prophet are more important than our personal rights. Remember this, for this is one of the things that will help you to hate them and regard them as enemies until they believe in Allaah alone, as mentioned in the aayah quoted above (interpretation of the meaning): [Quotes Quran 60:4]
Being friends with non-Muslims
Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 11793
It is permissible to accept a gift from a non-Muslim because he is a relative or neighbour, or for the purpose of softening his heart and calling him to Islam, but it is haraam if it is done as an act of friendship or love, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Awliyaa’ (friends, protectors, helpers), they are but Awliyaa’ of each other. And if any amongst you takes them (as Awliyaa’), then surely, he is one of them. Verily, Allaah guides not those people who are the Zaalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers and unjust)” [al-Maa’idah 5:51]


In this verse [5:51] Allaah tells us that whoever takes the Jews and Christians as friends is one of them because of his taking them as friends. Elsewhere Allaah states that taking them as friends incurs the wrath of Allaah and His eternal punishment, and that if the one who takes them as friends was a true believer he would not have taken them as friends. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning)
Taking non-Muslims as friends
Fatwa by Shaykh al-Shanqeeti

See Also


  1. Ruling on shaving the beard - Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 1189
  2. Excerpted from Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Movements in Northern India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Agra, Lucknow: Agra University, Balkrishna Book Co., 1965), pp.247-50; and Yohanan Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: An Outline of His Thought and a Study of His Image in the Eyes of Posterity (Montreal, Quebec: McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies, 1971), pp. 73-74.