Can Muslims befriend Non-Muslims?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

Should a Muslim hate a non-muslim even if they are good with us?

Is it prohibited to love a non-muslim?

Are all these permissible and still valid?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him.

Kindness to the Kind

Allah, Most High, says: “and He does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just.” [Quran, 60:8]

Dealing kindly (birr) is expansiveness in doing the good; thus, it isn’t simply dealing with them with excellence; it is expansiveness in the good you show them. The Muslim should be an exemplar in his character and dealings, calling to Allah by His words and states of being. A Muslim should uphold the way of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) who said, “I was only sent to perfect noble character.” [Malik, Al-Muwatta]

This verse was revealed concerning Asma’ Bint Abi Bakr (May Allah be pleased with them) when her mother visited. It is related that Asma’ Bint Abi Bakr said, “My mother came to me during the time of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) while she was still an idolater. I asked the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), ‘My mother has come to me, and she is still averse [to Islam], shall I give it [charity] to her as kin?’ He answered, ‘Yes. Give to your mother.’” [Ibn Kathir]

Guidance from the Quran

The verse directs that justice and good behavior should be maintained with those unbelievers who did not fight the Muslims. As for justice, it is obligatory to maintain with every non-Muslim, whether he is a citizen of an Islamic State, the Muslims have a peace agreement with him, or a citizen of an un-Islamic State, even though he is at war with Muslims. Rather, Islam enjoins upon Muslims to do justice even to animals. We are not allowed to lay a burden on them more than they can bear. We need to take care of their fodder and comfort. Therefore, the focus of the verse is that non-Muslims should be treated not only with justice but also righteously and courteously, especially in Muslim minority situations. [Ibn Kathir, Mazhari, Ma‘arif Al-Qur’an]

Ruling

This verse proves that optional charities may be spent on non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic State and non-Muslims with whom the Muslims have a peace pact. It is, however, forbidden to spend on non-believers who are at war with Muslims.

Please see these links for more details on this topic:
Is it Haram to Befriend Non-Muslims?
How We Should Treat Our Non-Muslim Friends in Regards to Sin?
Friendship With Non-Muslims: Explaining Verse 5:51

I pray that this answer benefits and Allah knows best.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.