The following is stated in the Quran: "Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors; fear Allah ". How should we understand this verse? Supposing I have a close friend who is a Christian, am I regarded to have committed a sin?

Details of the Question
The following is stated in the Quran: "Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors; fear Allah ". How should we understand this verse? Supposing I have a close friend who is a Christian, am I regarded to have committed a sin?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

As it is stated in the Quran, "Not all of them (the People of the book) are alike" (Aal-i Imran, 113). It is contrary to the Quran and the reality to regard them all in the same category. The verse, " …Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust " (al-Maida, 51) does not prevent dialogue and human relations with them. As a matter of fact, it is a definite judgment of the Quran that it is permissible to marry women from the People of the Book (al-Maida, 5). Hamdi Yazır says the following about the verse above:”Muslims are not prohibited from doing Jews and Christians a favor, making friends with them and being directors for them. Muslims are prohibited from being very close friends to them, and aiding and abetting them. It is because Jews and Christians will not be real friends to Muslims.

It is necessary not to overlook the fiqh rule, "If a judgment is based on a derivative, the root of that word shows the reason (basis) of that judgment" in order to interpret the verse above correctly. For instance, when it is stated, "give such and such punishment to thieves", it is obvious that the reason of the punishment is theft. Similarly, the prohibition in the verse above is related to Jews and Christians in terms of Judaism and Christianity.   

A person is not loved because of his individuality; he may be loved because of his attributes and art. It is necessary for every attribute of a Muslim to be a Muslim attribute but we cannot say that it is realized at all times. Similarly, not all attributes of an unbeliever are unbeliever attributes. Therefore, why should it not be permissible to have relations with them in terms of their Muslim attributes and useful arts? “If you have a wife from the People of the Book, you will love her, of course!".

It is possible to summarize the issue as follows: To have social relations with them is something; to admire their religion and traditions is something else. The former is not included in the prohibition of the Quran but the latter is definitely prohibited.

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi answers the question, “The Quran prohibits loving the Jews and Christians…How would you say ‘become friends with them’?” concisely but convincingly

“This prohibition is because of their mirroring Judaism and Christianity.”

Accordingly, the love prohibited by the Quran is to incline towards Judaism and Christianity and love those religions after embracing Islam, the true religion. As long as this prohibition is observed, it is permissible to have a good neighboring relation, to trade, to cooperate with a Christian against common enemies. The actions mentioned above do not mean to love Christianity.

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi clarifies the issue as follows:

A man is not loved because of his self. He is loved because of his attributes and work. …Therefore, why should it not be permissible to love an Islamic attribute or work? If you have a wife from the People of the Book, you will love her, of course!” (Münâzarât, 40)

The last sentence is wonderful and settles the debate. A Muslim man who is married to a woman from the People of the Book will love her of course, but it does not mean that he loves her religion.

To stay away from this fine line sometimes costs us dearly.

The justification of being friends with the People of the Book is presented clearly as follows:

“The reason why to become friends with them is to take their civilization and technology, and to maintain the law and order, which is an essential for the worldly bliss. This kind of friendship is by no means prohibited by the Quran.” (Münâzarât, 41)

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