As the world becomes more connected, people of different religions are finding themselves living, working, and socializing together. This communism leads to the question: can Muslims be friends with non Muslims?
According to Islamic Sharia, Muslims can indeed form friendships with people of other faiths if Islam is not jeopardized. But, Muslims can’t be close friends with Mushriks (Jews nor Christians) because Islam says kaafirs don’t worship Allah, so disown them.
Also, Muslims can’t be friends with people of the opposite gender (non-mahrams), whether they’re Muslim or not. Keeping modesty in mind and avoiding potential harm is the purpose of this guideline.
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Islamic teachings encourage Muslims to be kind and compassionate towards all people, regardless of their religion. Meanwhile, the Quran and Hadiths set guidelines for forming close alliances with non-believers.
We will discuss in detail when Muslims should avoid becoming friends with non-Muslims and under what circumstances they can form friendships with them.
Can Muslims Be Friends with Non-Muslims: Circumstances Allowing Interfaith Friendships
There are various circumstances under which Muslims can form friendships with non-Muslims while adhering to Islamic principles and values.
● Kindness and fair treatment
● Cooperation for goodness
● Business and social interaction
● Helping the needy regardless of Faith
● Promoting a positive image of Islam
Now, explore each circumstance in which Muslims and non-Muslims may form friendships.
1. Kindness and Fair Treatment
Muslims can build friendships with non-Muslims under certain circumstances of kindness and fair treatment. The Quran emphasizes the importance of treating all people, regardless of their faith, with kindness and justice.
In Surah Al-Mumtahanah (60:8), Allah says:
“Allah does not forbid you from dealing kindly and fairly with those who have neither fought nor driven you out of your homes. Surely Allah loves those who are fair.”
Muslims should be kind and just to those who haven’t fought against them or driven them out of their homes. This verse encourages Muslims to extend their friendship to those who’ve shown no hostility towards them.
The main point is that Islam promotes peaceful coexistence and encourages Muslims to build positive relationships with people of different faiths. By demonstrating kindness and fair treatment, Muslims can foster understanding, tolerance, and respectful friendships with non-Muslims.
2. Cooperation for Goodness
Islam encourages Muslims to collaborate with individuals of different beliefs and backgrounds to promote noble causes and engage in charitable activities. Our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) set examples of peaceful interaction with non-Muslims, demonstrating the possibility of positive relationships.
By visiting the sick and being entrusted with their belongings, he (SAW) showed that cooperation and friendship can be built on trust and mutual respect.
3. Business and Social Interaction
You can form friendships with non-Muslims through business and social interaction in specific circumstances. Islam allows engaging in such interactions as long as they don’t threaten the faith.
The Prophet Muhammad himself demonstrated this by purchasing food grains from a Jewish person on credit and mortgaging his iron armor to him. Here’s a hadith for this: “Narrated By ‘Aisha (radhiAllahu ‘anha):
“The Prophet purchased food grains from a Jew on credit and mortgaged his iron armor to him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 34, Hadith 282).
In today’s globalized world, where Muslims often live as minorities, it becomes crucial to promote peaceful coexistence and social cohesion. Engaging in business and social interactions with non-Muslims can help foster understanding, build bridges, and promote diversity.
However, it’s essential to maintain a balanced approach and ensure that these interactions align with the principles and teachings of Islam. Business and social relationships with non-Muslims should be built upon mutual respect, trust, and shared values.
4. Helping the Needy Regardless of Faith
When considering forming friendships with non-Muslims, it’s imperative to prioritize helping the needy regardless of their faith. In Islam, charity is highly encouraged, and it’s believed that helping others, regardless of their religious background, is a way to please Allah.
According to Abu Huraira, Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said:
“Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives Allah adds to his respect, and the one who shows humility Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people)”.
This means that Muslims shouldn’t discriminate against those in need based on their faith but rather extend a helping hand to anyone who requires assistance.
5. Promoting a Positive Image of Islam
Muslims can establish friendships with non-Muslims in various circumstances to promote a positive image of Islam.
By engaging in meaningful relationships with individuals of different faiths, Muslims can dispel misconceptions and challenge negative stereotypes. This can be achieved through open dialogue, mutual respect, and a willingness to listen to one another.
Building connections with non-Muslims allows Muslims to showcase the values of Islam, such as compassion, tolerance, and understanding. It also provides an avenue for non-Muslims to gain a firsthand experience of the religion and its teachings.
When Should a Muslim Avoid Being Friends With Non-Muslims?
There are certain situations in which a Muslim should avoid forming friendships with non-Muslims.
1. Hostile Intentions
As a Muslim, you have to be mindful of your friendships and associations, especially when it comes to those who actively oppose your faith.
In Surah Al-Mumtahanah (60:9), Allah states:
“Allah only forbids you from befriending those who have fought you for ˹your˺ faith, driven you out of your homes, or supported ˹others˺ in doing so. And whoever takes them as friends, then it is they who are the ˹true˺ wrongdoers.”
As well, in Surah Al-Ma’idah (5:51), Allah says:
“O believers! Take neither Jews nor Christians as guardians - they are guardians of each other. Whoever does so will be counted as one of them. Surely Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.”
Therefore, you must avoid befriending those with hostile intentions towards you and your faith. This does not mean that you should isolate yourself from non-Muslims altogether, but rather, exercise caution in choosing your friends.
Be aware of people with hidden agendas or ulterior motives, especially those who use your friendship to spread hate or misinformation about Islam.
2. Avoiding Negative Influences
You should be mindful of friendships that may lead you away from your religious values and practices as a Muslim. While it is essential to interact with people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and practices, it is also crucial to recognize that some friendships may impact your religious principles negatively.
Therefore, if your friends engage in activities that contradict your religious values and practices repeatedly, you should reassess the friendship.
3. Intimate Relations
As a Muslim, you should keep clear boundaries when establishing friendships, especially with people of the opposite gender. Make sure you avoid intimate or inappropriate relations that contradict Islamic principles and practices.
Cultivate Interfaith Friendships while Upholding Islamic Principles
It is now clear that the inquiry, “Can Muslims be friends with non Muslims?” is multifaceted and guided by the principles of Islamic teachings.
Muslims are encouraged to build friendships with individuals of different faiths, emphasizing kindness, cooperation, and mutual respect. These friendships can foster understanding, promote goodness, and contribute to a positive image of Islam worldwide.
At the same time, it’s essential to exercise caution, especially when there are Jews and Christians, negative influences, or potential harm to one’s faith. Muslims can navigate the diverse and interconnected world by forming meaningful friendships and staying true to their faith.