Befriending the kuffaar
Q: Is it permissible to befriend a disbeliever?
A: Muslims are strongly discouraged in the Quraan and Hadith from befriending the disbelievers and taking them as intimate friends. Allah Ta’ala states in the Quraan:
یٰۤاَیُّهَا الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا لَاتَتَّخِذُوا الْکٰفِرِیْنَ اَوْلِیَاۤءَ مِنْ دُوْنِ الْمُؤْمِنِیْنَ اَتُرِیْدُوْنَ اَنْ تَجْعَلُوْا لِلّٰهِ عَلَیْکُمْ سُلْطٰنًا مُّبِیْنًا
O you who believe! Do not take the disbelievers as friends instead of the believers! (Surah Nisaa v. 144)
Similarly, Allah Ta’ala states in another verse of the Quraan:
یٰۤاَیُّهَا الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا الْیَهُوْدَ وَالنَّصٰرٰۤی اَوْلِیَاۤءَ بَعْضُهُمْ اَوْلِیَاۤءُ بَعْضٍ وَمَنْ یَّتَوَلَّهُمْ مِّنْکُمْ فَاِنَّه مِنْهُمْ اِنَّ اللّٰهُ لَا یَهْدِی الْقَوْمَ الظّٰلِمِیْنَ
O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and Christians as friends! They are friends of one another. And whoever befriends them from you, then he is one of them. Indeed Allah Ta’ala does not guide unjust people to the right path. (Surah Maa’idah v. 51)
From these two verses, we understand that taking the kuffaar as friends has been strongly discouraged. Similarly, in the Hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) has strictly commanded that believers should only associate with the believers. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said to the Sahaabah:
لا تصاحب إلا مؤمنا
Do not take anyone as a companion and friend besides a mu’min. (Sunan Abu Dawood #4832)
In one Hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) has advised that before taking someone as a friend or close associate, one should carefully examine the deen and ways of the person one wishes to take as a friend. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:
الرجل على دين خليله فلينظر أحدكم من يخالل
A man follows the ways of his friend, therefore one should be careful as to who one befriends. (Sunan Abu Dawood #4833)
This Hadith teaches us that one should carefully examine the person’s level of deen, dealings, mannerisms, character, etc, before taking him as a friend.
Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) explained the qualities of the person who is worthy of being taken as a friend in the following words, “When you see him, you are reminded of Allah Ta’ala, when he speaks, your knowledge of deen increases, and when you look at his actions, you remember the Hearafter.”(Musnad Abi Ya’la #2437)
Though we are discouraged from befriending the kuffaar, we have been commanded to be kind and considerate towards them. Similarly, we are allowed to deal with them in business, etc, on condition that we do not become close to them and our dealings with them remain within the parameters of Shariah.
We will not infringe upon their rights, but at the same time, we will not be influenced by their ways and culture. Through befriending the kuffaar, a believer will invariably begin to emulate them in their ways, dressing, outlook, culture and values. This will ultimately result in him neglecting or compromising his obligations which he owes to Allah Ta’ala and the believers. Once he is inclined towards them and their culture, he will begin to live like them and idealise their values, and ultimately, he will abandon his own Islamic culture and values. Allah Ta’ala says:
وَ لَنْ تَرْضٰی عَنْكَ الْیَهُوْدُ وَلَا النَّصٰرٰی حَتّٰی تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُمْ
The Jews and Christians will never be satisfied with you until you follow their creed (and become like them). (Surah Baqarah v. 120)
And Allah Ta’ala knows best.
وَلَا تَرْکَنُوْۤا اِلَی الَّذِیْنَ ظَلَمُوْا فَتَمَسَّکُمُ النَّارُ ۙ وَمَا لَکُمْ مِّنْ دُوْنِ اللّٰهِ مِنْ اَوْلِیَاۤءَ ثُمَّ لَاتُنْصَرُوْنَ (سورة هود: 113)
لَکُمْ دِیْنُکُمْ وَلِیَ دِیْنِ (سورة الكافرون: 6)
عن ابن عباس قال قيل يا رسول الله أي جلسائنا خير قالمن ذكركم الله رؤيته وزاد في علمكم منطقه وذكركم بالآخرة عمله (مسند أبي يعلى، الرقم: 2437)
Mufti Zakaria Makada
Checked & Approved:
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)