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"Discover the Truth's" Game

3:28 & 5:51:
"Take Not the Jews and
 Christians as Friends"


From Discover the Truth:

It is often the case among some critics online to misrepresent Ibn Kathir’s commentary on 5:51, claiming that Muslims in general, are completely prohibited from befriending Christians and Jews... Quran 3:28 is used by critics to claim that the verse encourages Muslims not to befriend anyone who is not Muslim... and that when Muslims are outnumbered they can pretend to befriend non-Muslims and be friendly.
(January 24, 2015, December 1, 2014)

What the Quran Says

3:28 Let not the believers take the disbelievers as friends instead of the believers, and whoever does that will never be helped by Allah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them.

5:51: O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as friends, they are but friends to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as friends, then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun.

What the Apologists Want You to Believe

DTT claims that the straightforward interpretation of the Quran's injunctions against taking Christians, Jews and "disbelievers" as friends is actually a misrepresentation.  Muslims are allowed to be friends with non-Muslims in the true sense of the word.


How They Do It: 'Adding' to the Quran

According to DTT, the verses telling Muslims not to take non-Muslims as friends should really read more as follows:
O' believers, do not get into a military alliance with those non-Muslims who are at war with Muslims.  But know that you can be friends with the rest.
(Of course, Allah didn't say this).

How They Do It: Sleight of Hand

The word used for 'friends' can also mean protectors, guardians or allies.  Awliyāa, is also used in verse 60:1, referring to enemies of Allah: "Take not my enemies and your enemies as allies."  Although this is from an entirely different sura, DTT claims that the context of the other verses must also be a political alliance in a time of war.

From Sura 60, DTT also concludes that Muslims are allowed to befriend non-Muslims who are not hostile: Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes.  Thus, they contend that the word awliyāa only refers to a subset of unbelievers - those who wish to harm Muslims.

In truth, the historical context of sura 60 is that two women fled Mecca to the Muslims in Medina.  This was not in war, but at a time in which there was a treaty between the towns (one of the clauses to the treaty stated that the women should be sent back, which Muhammad did not want to do).

Although the two women are the subject of the "just and kind dealing" spoken of in verse 60:8, they are not disbelievers.  Verse 10 makes it clear that they are Muslims.  Therefore, DTT is being disingenuous in pretending that the treatment of "believing women" applies to the disbelievers spoken of in other verses.

How They Do It: Ignoring Reliable Sources

Sahih Muslim (2167) - "Allah's Messenger said: Do not greet the Jews and the Christians before they greet you and when you meet any one of them on the roads force him to go to the narrowest part of it."

Abu Dawud (41:4815) - "The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend."

Abu Dawud (41:4832) - The Messenger of Allah [said] "Do not keep company with anyone but a believer and do not let anyone eat your food but one who is pious."

Sahih Bukhari (59:572) - "O you who believe! Take not my enemies And your enemies as friends offering them (Your) love even though they have disbelieved in that Truth (i.e. Allah, Prophet Muhammad and this Quran) which has come to you."

Ishaq 262 - "Some Muslims remained friends with the Jews, so Allah sent down a Quran forbidding them to take Jews as friends".

Ishaq 252 - A young man converts to Islam after hearing Muhammad, and then tells his own father that he can no longer have anything to do with him because, "I have become a Muslim and follow the religion of Muhammad."  This is important because it establishes that shunning is based merely on the status of non-Muslims as unbelievers, not on their behavior toward Muslims. In this case, the father desperately loved his son and meant him no harm.  In fact, he even 'converted' in order to maintain the relationship.

Why They are Wrong

The injunction against taking non-Muslims as friends appears in at least four different places in a Quran that never once tells Muslims to accept them as true friends of any sort, even using a different word, such as sadiq.  In other words, Allah had ample space to clarify himself had he ascribed to DTT's convoluted interpretation.

The verses are also spread out over the Medinan period.  In verse 3:28, the subjects are "disbelievers."  In 5:51, they become "Jews and Christians."  In one case, according to Ibn Ishaq, the reference was to the Banu Qaynuqa, when a Muslim pleaded with Muhammad to spare the surrendered tribe because they were his friends.

The textual and historical context does not support the theory of military alliances or any real threat to harm Muslims.  At least one reference came at a time when Muhammad had full power in Arabia.  He had evicted non-believers from their homes in Mecca, which included Jews and Christians.  According to the Hadith, he intended to evict every non-Muslim from the peninsula simply by virtue of their faith (which doesn't sound very friendly). 

In short, there was no alternative power for Muslims to "ally" themselves with at the time.  Non-Muslims could not even protect themselves, which underscores the absurdity that Muslims were being told not to seek them as "guardians" or "protectors." 

Sura 5 defines the enemy not in terms of the threat they pose to Muslims, but by their religious beliefs, for which they are "cursed."  Their only redemption is to abandon their faith and accept Islam.  These are not combatants.

Finally, there is the reliable Hadith quoted above.  As inconvenient as the verses are to contemporary apologists, the sayings of Muhammad solidly confirm the Quran's not-so-subtle bigotry toward disbelievers, Jews and Christians. 

All of this is in keeping with the straight-forward interpretation of the verse.

Further Reading

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