Relations With non-Muslims
Question: I am residing in Dubai in an apartment complex where all my neighbours are either Hindus or christians.  Islam emphasises a lot on the rights of neighbours but due to our deep rooted hatered against Hindus specially, we do not understand how to keep any type of a contact with them.

If we totally cut them off then how can they ever know about Islam. Can we go to their place and eat with them etc.

Answer: There is nothing in the directives of Islam that stops us from making friends with people of other religions. We must show respect and kindness towards all mankind. I do agree with you that a friendly contact with people of other religions, whether they be Christians, Jews, Hindus or of any other faith can play a significant role in their understanding of Islam and vice versa. And there is absolutely no doubting the fact that it is primarily the understanding of the other person’s beliefs that makes one interested in considering its strong (as well as weak) points.

The Qur’an has very specifically directed us to act very kindly and nobly with our parents and relatives, with the orphans in the society, with the needy, with our neighbours, with our companions in a journey and with the way-farers (travelers), irrespective of their faith and belief. The Qur’an says:

And worship Allah and do not associate any thing [as partner] with Him. And act righteously with parents, and also with your relatives and the orphans and the needy and the neighbours who are related to you and [also] the neighbours who are not related to you, and the companions by your side and the travelers… (Al-Nisa’ 4: 36)
It must be noted that the Qur’an has directed us to act righteously with all those that have been mentioned in the verse without any qualification of their religion or beliefs.

A number of Muslim scholars hold that the Qur’an has prohibited Muslims from developing friendly relations with the peoples of other religions and therefore we must not have a friendly relationship with Jews, Christians, Hindus or the people of any other religion. The relevant verses of the Qur’an from which this point of view has been derived are:

  • A’l `imra’n 3: 118;
  • Al-Nisa’ 4: 144;
  • Al-Ma’idah 5: 51;
  • Al-Ma’idah 5: 57; and
  • Al-Mumtahinah 60: 1
  • In these verses, the Muslims have been stopped from developing a relationship of trust and reliance with the Jews, Christians and all others who rejected the call of Islam – the Kuffar – or the infidels.

    As I see it, the opinion of the Muslim scholars who, on the basis of these verses, prohibit the Muslims from developing friendly relations with peoples of other religions is highly questionable. If you look at all the above verses in their proper context, you shall see that all these verses pertain to those people, whether Jews, Christians or the Polytheists of Arabia, who had come into direct or hidden confrontation with Islam and the Muslims. The Qur’an, in effect, has directed the Muslims that in these circumstances (of confrontation and war), they must not give away their secrets (Bitanah) to these people and must not make them friends, preferring them over the Muslims (min duni’l-mumini’n). Obviously, the directive given in these circumstances cannot be generalized.

    In my opinion, therefore, under normal circumstances, there is nothing wrong with making friends and having a comfortable relationship with people of other religions. It is only when this relationship can be harmful for the Muslims, in general, that it has been prohibited.

    There is nothing wrong with eating at your friends’ places, provided that whatever is being eaten does not  fall under the category of har’am (prohibited) food.

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