Maintaining amicable relations at a time when there are many differences of opinion can be difficult but is not impossible. Religion, inherently known to promote peace and bring mankind together has become one of the biggest causes of disputes since ancient times. It is an undeniable fact that Islam and Muslims receive the most backlash and hostility when it comes to religion-based conflicts. With so many misconceptions about Islam coupled with the rise of Islamophobia, one is bound to feel depressed and wonder how to live peacefully in a society that has people of various religions. The answer to this problem lies in the Qur’an and the life of our Prophet Mohammad ﷺ.
When Prophet Mohammad ﷺ began his journey of preaching Islam, he was faced with ridicule and hostility from the non-Muslims. Given that Islam is a religion of compassion and mercy for all people, he was neither discouraged from his purpose nor turned bitter towards non-Muslims when he acquired the upper hand. The Qur’an speaks about Allah’s ﷻ mercy, but nowhere does it mention that Allah’s ﷻ mercy is reserved only for the believers; or that as Muslims, we must be kind and merciful only towards Muslims.
Allah’s ﷻ mercy and compassion encompass the whole of mankind including the non-Muslims, we must be good towards the non-Muslims and treat them with respect. Any Muslim who ill-treats a non-believer has gone against the command of Allah ﷻ:
“And we have sent you (O Mohammad) only as a mercy for the whole mankind”
“Worship Allah alone and associate none with Him. And be kind to parents, relatives, orphans, the poor, near and distant neighbors, close friends, needy travelers, and those bondspeople in your possession. Surely Allah does not like whoever is arrogant, boastful”
In our day-to-day lives, we come across various people. We have several relationships – friends, family, acquaintances – and it is not necessary, that they all be believers. For situations like these, Islam has shown us how to co-exist peacefully with people of other faiths.
Some reverts have non-Muslim parents and relatives, who are not supportive of them. They may ridicule them for their new Islamic identity or persuade them to leave Islam. Even in such a negative situation, it is imperative upon Muslims to treat them with kindness, compassion, respect, and be dutiful towards them, in the same way they would have behaved had they been Muslims too.
For Allah ﷻ has commanded in the Qur’an to be dutiful and good to one’s parents, and if they force them to worship anyone besides Allah ﷻ, then do not obey them but behave with them kindly.
“And We have commanded people to honour their parents. Their mothers bore them through hardship upon hardship, and their weaning takes two years. So be grateful to Me and your parents. To Me is the final return. But if they pressure you to associate with Me what you have no knowledge of, do not obey them. Still, keep their company in this world courteously and follow the way of those who turn to Me in devotion…”
Asma bint Abi Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her) said:
During the period of the peace treaty of Quraish with Allah’s Messenger ﷺ, my mother -accompanied by her father- came to visit me, and she was a pagan. I consulted Allah’s Messenger ﷺ,
“O Allah’s Messenger ﷺ! My mother has come to me and she desires to receive a reward from me, shall I keep good relationship with her?” He said, “Yes, keep good relation with her.”
[Sahih al-Bukhari 3183]
Being kind to neighbors, irrespective of their religious beliefs, is enjoined upon Muslims, as evident from the following verse:
“…And be kind to … near and distant neighbours…”
It is highly recommended to help and support them in their times of need, speak to them respectfully, and refrain from doing anything that might hurt their sentiments.
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Prophet ﷺ said,
“By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer.” It was asked, “Who is that, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “One whose neighbor does not feel safe from his evil”.
[Riyadh as Salihin 305]
Allah ﷻ commands us to show kindness to the poor. [Qur’an 4:36]
Islam encourages believers to help the financially weak members of society, as it is a highly rewarding deed. Financially stable believers are commanded to help the poor Muslims by giving them zakat. Allah ﷻ is Al-Adl – the embodiment of justice – so he also encouraged us believers to help the poor non-Muslims by way of voluntary charity called the sadaqah. Subhan Allah! How just and fair is our Lord! This act of kindness not only shows the real essence of Islam to the non-believers but also helps us earn rewards from Allah ﷻ.
Imam al-Shafi`i said:
“There is nothing wrong with giving charity to a mushrik as a nafilah (supererogatory) action, but he has no right to charity from the obligatory (zakat). Allah praised people who, as He says (interpretation of the meaning),
[Kitab al-Umm, Part 2]
‘… they give food, in spite of their love for it (or for the love of Him), to the Miskin (the poor), the orphan, and the captive’
It was narrated that a Jewish woman came begging to `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) and she gave her something….[Sunan an-Nasa’i 2066 | Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)]
Islam promotes harmony and peaceful co-existence. As slaves of Allah ﷻ, it is our duty to live by the commands of our religion, rather than cutting off from society and restricting our interactions with just our Muslim brethren. We are not prohibited from carrying out business dealings with non-Muslims. Instead, we are prohibited from disrespecting/abusing those that they consider as gods. [Qur’an 6:108]
The Prophet Mohammad ﷺ was known to have visited a sick Jewish boy. [Sahih al-Bukhari 1356] This shows that it is permissible to visit a non-believer in times of his sickness. All of these are only a few examples that illustrate the social aspect of Islam that often goes unnoticed.
Maintaining cordial relations with the non-believers, not disrespecting them, and treating them with kindness was part of Prophet Mohammad’s ﷺ character. A good Muslim is the one whose character reflects the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. By treating non-Muslims with respect and kindness, we not only help maintain the peace of the society we live in, but also show them the real picture of Islam which has been maligned by the media and enemies of Islam.
Written by: Iram Atiqulla
Edited by: The Editorial Team
© The Islamic Reflections Blog
- Kitab al-Umm, Part 2