Quran Facts | 3:119 – Take Only Muslims As Friends
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3:119 – Take Only Muslims As Friends

Introduction

It is alleged that several verses of the Holy Quran state the inferior status of non-Muslims or non-believers. Several verses (as given below) are cherry-picked and presented plainly without any reconciliation with the teachings of the Holy Quran and the practice of Holy Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace). However, if we study the teachings of the Quran and the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace), we can see clearly that the Quran does not permit demeaning anyone on the basis of their faith. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace) has a great historical legacy as a secular leader in Medina who established the equality of all citizens before the state, regardless of their religion.

O ye who believe! take not others than your own people as intimate friends; they will not fail to corrupt you. They love to see you in trouble. Hatred has already shown itself through the utterances of their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater still. We have made clear to you Our commandments, if you will understand. (3:119)

 

Allegation

The allegation against this verse is that it instructs Muslims not befriend non-Muslims, thus it encourages a sense of Islamic supremacy leading to animosity towards non-Muslims. However, the verse makes no such assertion.

 

Context

This verse does not mean to not make friends with peaceful, well-wishing non-Muslims who are part of one’s community desiring good, neighbourly relations. The verse is pointing to those who, by virtue of their own speech, have expressed animosity towards Muslims and may harbor further ill will in their hearts. It is important to note that these verses were revealed at a time when the Muslim movement faced persecution and opposition. After escaping persecution in Mecca, the Muslims were able to establish a platform in Medina. However, it continued to face opposition in Medina where those vested in its failure devised secret plots and conspiracies to undermine the movement.

 

This verse does not instruct Muslims to have no relations whatsoever with non-Muslims. Elsewhere, the Quran says:“Allah forbids you not respecting those who have not fought against you on account of your religion and who have not driven you forth from your homes, that you be kind to them and deal equitably towards them. Surely Allah loves those who are equitable (60:9).”

 

The Promised Messiah (as) and founder of The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has said regarding this verse:

 

That is to say, do not love the Jews and Christians, nor those who are not righteous. Reading these verses, the uninformed Christians are misled. They think that Muslims are enjoined not to love Christians and other non-believers, but they do not realize that every word is used with reference to the context. What constitutes love can be entertained for evildoers and the disbelievers only when one partakes of their disbelief and impiety. Ignorant indeed would be the person who enjoined love for the enemies of his faith. We have pointed out several times that love means to look with pleasure on the words, actions, habits, morals, and faith of the beloved, to be pleased with them, and to accept his influence. But this is not possible on the part of a believer with regard to a disbeliever. A believer will, however, have compassion for the disbeliever and will have full sympathy for him and will seek to help him in his physical and spiritual ailments. Allah the Almighty has repeatedly admonished that we should have sympathy for people regardless of their religion, should feed the hungry, procure freedom for slaves, pay off the debts of those burdened with them, and have true sympathy for the whole of mankind.
He says: Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed (16:91). This means that: ‘God commands you to be just or, even more than just, to be benevolent like a mother to her child, or like a person who is kind to another because of the feelings of kinship.’
Allah forbids you not, respecting those who have not fought against you on account of your religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes, that you be kind to them and act equitably towards them; surely Allah loves those who are equitable (60:9).  That is: ‘The fact that Allah forbids you from loving the Christians and others should not be taken to mean that He forbids you from doing good or showing compassion and sympathy. No. Be compassionate, sympathetic and just to those who have not fought to kill you, nor have they driven you out of your homes, whether they are Jews or Christians, for Allah loves the people who do so.’
60:10 Allah only forbids you, respecting those who have fought against you on account of your religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and have helped others in driving you out, that you make friends of them, and whosoever makes friends of them — it is these that are the transgressors.

[Essence of Islam, Vol. III, pp. 40-42.]
The subjects of this verse are those who have openly expressed their opposition to Muslims. Naturally, they cannot be taken as intimate friend in an atmosphere where forces were known to be working on destroying the Islamic movement and its advocacy for fundamental freedoms and human rights.


Fundamental Teachings of Islam

The following verse of the Quran makes it clear that Islam endorses a universal belief in God, His Judgement and do good deeds whether such people be Jews, Sabians, Christians or others.

Surely those who have believed in Muhammad as a Messenger of God, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians—whoso believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds, on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. (5:70)

The first chapter of the Quran known as Surah Fatiha begins with the words, All Praises be to the Lord of All the Worlds. Muslims recite these words several times during the five daily prayers. It does not say the Lord of the Muslims or the Believers but of all that exists including all peoples, races and nations on earth. This also endorses the principle of universality in Islam.

 

The religion of Islam by virtue of its Articles of Faith requires Muslims to believe in all the Books and Prophets of Allah. The Quran states that warners (or prophets) have visited all peoples (13:8). Therefore Muslims are required to believe in the truth of the prophets and Books of God that originated other religions.

 

Excerpt from page 406 “Introduction to the study of the Holy Quran”, by Mirza Bashiruddin Mehmud (1889-1965)— the second Caliph or successor of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (the Messiah and Mahdi foretold by Holy Prophet Muhammad – on whom be peace).

The followers of some religions believe that God stands in a peculiar relationship towards them from which all other human beings are excluded. They believe that though God is the Creator of the whole universe He is in a special sense the God of a particular people, for instance, the Israelites or the Hindus or the Zoroastrians. The Quran rejects this doctrine and teaches that not only is God unique in His being but that He is the source of the whole universe. The word Ahad occurring in the first verse of Sura Ikhlas means unique and also unity, that is to say, the source which is itself outside numbers but from which all numbers proceed. This verse indicates that God is equally the guide of the whole of mankind and entertains no special attachment to any particular people. Those who strive to attain nearness to Him He guides along the paths that lead to Him. Arabs, Jews, Persians, Indians, Chinese, Greeks and Africans are all equal in His sight, for He is the source of the creation of all of them.
(p. 406, Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur’an)

 

Further, below are excerpts from the farewell address of Holy Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace) that expound on a universal brotherhood and equality among all peoples, Muslim and non-Muslim.

O men, what I say to you, you must hear and remember. All Muslims are as brethren to one another. All of you are equal. All men, whatever nation or tribe they may belong to, and whatever station in life they may hold, are equal.

While he was saying this the Prophet raised his hands and joined the fingers of the one hand with the fingers of the other and then said:

Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another. No one has any right, any superiority to claim over another. You are as brothers.

Proceeding, the Prophet said:

Do you know what month this is? What territory we are in? What day of the year it is today?

The Muslims said in reply, they knew it was the sacred month, the sacred land and the day of the Hajj.

 

Then the Prophet said:

Even as this month is sacred, this land inviolate, and this day holy, so has God made the Iives, property and honor of every man sacred. To take any man's life or his property, or attack his honor, is as unjust and wrong as to violate the sacredness of this day, this month, and this territory. What I command you today is not meant only for today. It is meant for all time. You are expected to remember it and to act upon it until you leave this world and go to the next to meet your Maker.