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It's much easier to act as if critics of Islam have a problem with Muslims as people than it is to accept the uncomfortable truth that Islam is different


The Quran


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What can we learn about
Islam from this woman?

What Does Islam Teach About...

Befriending Non-Believers

Are Muslims allowed to be friends with Christians, Jews or other non-Muslims?

Unbelievers are described by Muhammad (in the Quran) as "the vilest of animals" and "losers." Christians and Jews are hated by Allah to the extent that they are destined for eternal doom as a result of their beliefs. It would make no sense for Muhammad to then recommend that they be taken as friends by Muslims. In fact, the Quran plainly dictates that they not be.


Quran (5:51) - "O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people."

Quran (5:80) - "You will see many of them befriending those who disbelieve; certainly evil is that which their souls have sent before for them, that Allah became displeased with them and in chastisement shall they abide." Befriending unbelievers is one sign that a Muslim is bound for Hell.

Quran (3:28) - "Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them..." This last part means that a faithful Muslim is allowed to feign friendship if it is of benefit. Renowned scholar Ibn Kathir states that "believers are allowed to show friendship outwardly, but never inwardly."

Quran (3:118) - "O you who believe! do not take for intimate friends from among others than your own people, they do not fall short of inflicting loss upon you; they love what distresses you; vehement hatred has already appeared from out of their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater still; indeed, We have made the communications clear to you, if you will understand." This verse not only warns Muslims not to take non-Muslims as friends, but suggests that that the rest of the world is out to get them and can't be trusted.  4:101 says that unbelievers are "open enemies" of Muslims.

Quran (9:23) - "O ye who believe! Choose not your fathers nor your brethren for friends if they take pleasure in disbelief rather than faith. Whoso of you taketh them for friends, such are wrong-doers" Even family members are not to be taken as friends if they do not accept Islam. (There are harsher interpretations of this verse. The same (ninth) sura advocates "slaying the unbeliever wherever ye find them").

Quran (53:29) - "Therefore shun those who turn away from Our Message and desire nothing but the life of this world."

Quran (3:85) - "And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers."

Quran (3:10) - "(As for) those who disbelieve, surely neither their wealth nor their children shall avail them in the least against Allah, and these it is who are the fuel of the fire." Those who do not believe in Muhammad are but fuel for the fire of Hell (also 66:6, 2:24. 21:98).

Quran (7:44) - "The Companions of the Garden will call out to the Companions of the Fire: "We have indeed found the promises of our Lord to us true: Have you also found Your Lord's promises true?" They shall say, "Yes"; but a crier shall proclaim between them: "The curse of Allah is on the wrong-doers" Muslims in heaven will amuse themselves by looking down on non-Muslims in Hell and mocking them while they are being tortured (see 22:19-22).

Quran (1:5-7) - "Show us the straight path, The path of those whom Thou hast favored; Not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray"  This is a prayer that Muslims are to repeat each day. "Those who earn Thine anger" refers to Jews; "those who go astray" refers to Christians (see Sahih Bukhari (12:749) and Sahih Muslim 34:6448)).  

Hadith and Sira

Sahih Muslim (1:417) - Taken to mean that one's own relatives should not be taken as friends if they are not Muslim.

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 252 - The story of a young man who converts to Islam after hearing Muhammad. He 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." (To maintain a relationship with his son, the father "converts" as well). This is an important passage because it establishes that shunning the non-Muslim is based merely on their status as unbelievers, not on their behavior toward Muslims. In this case, the father desperately loved his son and meant him no harm.

Ibn Kathir v.2 p.213 - No believer shall kill any believer for any non-believer. Nor shall he help any non-believer against a believer. - (And people wonder why Muslims are not at the forefront of the fight against Islamic terror).

Ibn Ishaq 388 - Some Muslims remained friends with the Jews because of the tie 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: '0 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... Behold you love them but they love not you... you have more right to hate them than they to hate you.  Say, 'Die in your rage' - Much like a psychopathic cult leader, Muhammad broke friendly ties and fomented hate and suspicion toward those outside the circle of faith.


Cultural superiority is a doctrine of Islam that actually has a name; it's called Jahiliyya - and literally means that any culture without Islam is "ignorant and stupid." Stunning bigotry by Islamic scholars is so casual that it often goes unnoticed.  In 2016, a Christian boy was brutally beaten for drinking water at a mosque.  In 2007, a fatwa addressed the question of whether Muslims can swim in a pool in which a non-Muslim has swam:
If the size of the public pool is more than 225 sq ft (20.9 m2) then it is considered a large body of water and will not become impure by non-Muslims swimming in it. If the pool is less then 225 sq ft (20.9 m2), then if the non-Muslim had taken a bath before swimming, the water will be pure since there is no impurity on him. If he did not take a bath before swimming and it is certain that there was impurity on him before he swam, then the pool is impure and all the water must be removed and refilled with clean water.
Malaysia is considered a moderate Muslim country, yet in 2017, a public school kept separate utensils for non-Muslim students.   A few years earlier, non-Muslims students at another school were forced to a separate eating area next to the toilets.  (In fairness, both incidents garnered voices of protest from other Malay Muslims).

Also in 2017, an Islamic preacher in Britain openly noted that Muslims are "cleaner" and "smell better" than those outside the faith.

In 2019, Mufti Muhammad Ibn Muneer of New York said, "The general principle is to love and to hate for the sake of Allah.  Which is simply summed up as, loving the Muslims and hating the non-Muslims"

Mehdi Hasan, a British journalist often billed as a 'moderate' apologist for Islam said that Muslims are morally superior to those outside the faith, describing non-Muslims as those who "live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfill any desire," are "people of no intelligence" and have "diseased minds according to the Quran."

Most believers are not as candid about their bigotry toward those outside the faith, even when they are aware of it.  Yet, it is belied by an obvious lack of concern for persecuted minorities in Islamic countries, and certainly by a lack of action to alleviate their suffering.  Prominent Muslim groups and leaders in the United States, for example, rarely even bother to condemn the mistreatment of non-Muslims in Islamic countries, much less put effort into stopping it.

Even though they are explicitly kufr (unbelievers, Quran 5:17, 4:44-59) Jews and Christians are given special status in the Quran. So, if Muhammad warned believers against taking them as friends, then it surely is not permissible for Muslims to befriend atheists or those of other religions.

Some Muslims interpret this to mean that they should not even act friendly toward nonbelievers; fortunately, many do not. A great many Muslims enjoy genuine friendship with those outside the faith.  Their personal choice does not change the teachings of the religion, however.  The more seriously a follower applies pure Islam, the less congenial their character tends to be.

Islamic TV preacher Sheikh Muhammad Hassan says that a Muslim is not permitted even to smile at a non-Muslim. A fatwa from Islam Q&A permits infidels to be dealt with "in a kind manner in the hope that they might become Muslim," but it warns Muslims against taking unbelievers as "sincere friends" (The same site also encourages Muslims to "stop keeping company with Christians and replace them with Muslim friends").

The book,al-Wala' wa'l-Bara',by Shaykh Muhammad Saeed al-Qahtani, lists 20 "types of alliances" with unbelievers that are forbidden to Muslims. These include "taking the disbelievers as friends," "trusting the disbelievers," "drawing near" to them and even living among them.

Some Muslims are embarrassed by verse 5:51 and go to elaborate lengths to modify its intent by interpreting the word "friend" as "guardian" or "protector" - which are two lesser translations of the Arabic word. According to these apologists, the verse is referring to a Muslim's allegiance to a non-Muslim government (which is not all that comforting either).

However, the word awliyaa is used in verse 5:51 instead of other words that would be more direct if the meaning were "protector" - such as hamin. In fact, even the politically correct translations that use the word "protector" in 5:51 use the word "friend" in other places for the same Arabic word - such as in verses 10:62, 41:34, 4:36 ("companion"), 8:72 ("allies to one another").

In fact, verse 10:62 proves that the word awliyaa is not meant as "guardian" because it refers to associates of Allah (translated "friends of Allah"). If the word meant "guardian" then it would mean that Allah has guardians, which is blasphemy.

Because awliyaa can sometimes mean "ally", opportunists are known to declare that the reference is to a "political alliance."  But Muhammad made political alliances with non-Muslims, as did his companions.  Moreover, 3:28 uses the word awliyaa, but a later verse in the same sura (3:118) uses the word biṭānatan or "intimate" to relay the same theme.  Moreover, verse 9:23 also uses awliyaa, but it is clearly in reference to personal relationships since it speaks of one's family members.

Apologists sometimes point to verse 60:8-9 which says that Allah doesn't necessarily forbid showing kindness to unbelievers, but to shun the ones "who warred against you on account of religion and have driven you out from your homes and helped to drive you out." This is an obvious reference to the Meccans, whose leaders expelled Muhammad and his handful of followers from their city (following his declaration of war against them).

The verse from Sura 60 was narrated shortly after the Muslims arrived in Medina, when it was necessary for the numerically disadvantaged Muslims to build alliances with non-Muslims in order to survive. However, the other verses are from Suras 9 and 5 - narrated at a later time and under much different circumstances, when Muslims had power. These verses expand the scope of unfriendliness to include anyone who is not Muslim.

The background for verse 3:118 is found in the Sira.  Muhammad had been in Medina for about a year, and was finding out that the stories he had been told were in the Torah differed somewhat from how they actually read.  Learned Jews rejected him on that basis.  Moreover, this was hurting his credibility with his own followers, since he had claimed to be a Jewish prophet.

He dealt with this using the classic techniques of a cult leader: fomenting distrust and even hatred within his group for outsiders, and cutting off their communication:
God sent down concerning them and forbidding [Muslims] to take [Jews] as intimate friends: '0 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...Behold you love them but they love not you... Say, Die in your rage! (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 388)
Since this is not limited by historical context in the Quran, the attitude prevails.

Modern apologists such as Jamal Badawi try to cloud the straightforward interpretation of these verses by pointing out that Muslims are allowed to take non-Muslims as marriage partners, thus implying friendship. (In truth, verse 2:221 explicitly forbids Muslims from marrying unbelievers, even though verse 5:5 allows it).  Allah's change of mind corresponded somewhat curiously with Muhammad's own desire to marry a non-Muslim woman. Yusuf Ali reconciles the contradiction by saying that non-Muslims wives are "expected" to become Muslim).

In any event, only Muslim men are allowed to marry outside the faith. The women they marry relinquish control over their own lives, even to the extent that they cannot teach their faith to their own children, who must be raised Muslim. The non-Muslim woman also agrees to a lifetime of sexual servitude, and may be beaten if she does not submit.

This certainly doesn't sound like friendship to the rest of us.  Moreover, if 'interfaith' marriage is about friendship between peers and not domination, then why are Muslim women banned from marrying non-Muslim men?

Another strategy concerns verse 5:51.  Apologists sometimes claim that it is "clarified" a few verses later when Muslims are told not to befriend "those who take your religion for a mockery and fun from among those who received the Scripture" (5:57) - the implication being that not all Jews and Christians should be shunned, but only those who mock Islam. 

This would make more sense if the earlier verse was a blanket statement on those who mock Islam, in which case the reason for mentioning the subset would be to emphasize that this rule applies even to Jews and Christians.  Instead, it is the opposite.  The earlier verse references Jews and Christians as an unqualified whole - as does verse 3:118, which is not followed by "clarifying" text.

All in all, Islam is very clear in teaching that there is no equality between believers and unbelievers, and hence no basis for friendship, which is a relationship between peers. Those who do not profess Muhammad are intended to exist in subjugation to those who do, then spend eternity in Hell.  This does not preclude Muslims from acting friendly toward others, of course, but it does not constitute friendship as it is generally understood in the modern world.

See also: FrontPage Magazine: Don’t Take Jews and Christians as Friends?

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