Relation Between Muslims and Non Muslims


Relationship between Muslims & Non Muslims; whether they are living in a Muslim or non Muslim country but particularly in the West. Sometimes we wonder how far we can go in befriending a non Muslim! The factor that governs how a Muslim should treat a non Muslim is defined by the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at

It is not up to our desires and whims and you cannot have one size that fits all; in the sense that it is different how we treat the enemies of Islam than how we treat those who are kind to the Muslims and Islam as well and it is totally different how we treat those who are idle {those non Muslims who neither abuse Muslims nor are hostile towards us} Therefore the best way to look in to such a topic is to go back to the fundamentals {Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Salla Allahu alahi wa sallam} If we go back to the Seerah {biography of the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam} you will find that the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam preached Islam for 13 years in Mecca where he did not have any power, he did not have any army, he and the Muslims were the oppressed ones in Mecca and he dealt with the people in a certain manner.

But when he Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam migrated to Madinah, {it was the nucleus of the Islamic state} he treated the people in a different fashion because the powers were different now; the power was with the Muslims now. Nevertheless the Prophet Salla Allahu alahi wa sallam was always consistent with how he dealt with those non Muslims who were peaceful, those who were not hostile. And we are instructed in the Qur’an in so many verses as how to deal with the non Muslims and how our relationship should be with them.

Islam classifies the non Muslims into 3 categories: 1 those who fight you, 2 those who make peace with you and 3 when you are in authority over them. Now is there a difference in ways of dealing with them? Allah the Almighty has mentioned in the Qur’an that He does not forbid us from treating kindly those who do not fight our religion and who do not oppress and kick us out of houses and countries. He does not forbid us from treating them with kindness and fairness for Allah Azza wa Jall loves those who are fair. Yet, those non Muslim who fight us for the sake of religion and kick us out of our country or our houses and if they strive to do this then Allah forbids us from taking them as allies because those who take these non Muslims as allies are among the enemies.

This means that we must not befriend those who fight Muslims bluntly for the sake of religion {they do not fight them for the sake of wealth or for something that is worldly but because of their religion} As one of them said,” This is the crusade,” when he invaded one of the Muslim countries. This is for the religion definitely. So we do not become allies with them and we don’t take them as friends.

Now if they are not fighting us; if we are living in a non Muslim country and they are not abusing us, they are not oppressing us, they are not fighting us, we are free to practice our religion and we are able to co-exist, then tolerance prevails. Islam tells us to be tolerant, to be patient and we have to deal with them in an Islamic fashion and manner. And this is exactly what the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa Sallam used to do when he was in the Macci period which was the first 13 years of his Prophetic life. When he moved to Madinah, though it was an Islamic state, though he had the power to destroy, if he wished, all the non Muslims in Madinah, still he did not do that. On the contrary he co-existed with them, he tried his best to call to Islam and he forbade anyone to treat them in a negative way or to oppress them.

The non Muslims in a Muslim country, under the rulings of Islam, are obliged to pay taxes and this taxation is known as Jizya. And this Jizya is not money taken unlawfully from them because they are under Muslim rule; on the contrary, they are protected by the army, by the government and by every single Muslim because of this money that they are paying. Someone might say it is like the Mafia; you come to me and say,” Pay me money and I will protect you; you don’t pay me money I will kill you!” No it’s not this way at all, this is for their safe being; this is for their well being. The Muslims on the other hand pay something else, it’s not called taxation, this is not called Jizya; this money that the Muslim pays is called Zakah. And this is given individually to the poor or if a person has live cattle or if he is a merchant and has merchandise to sell and buy or if he has gold and silver then he gives this money, this Zakah to the Muslim ruler who takes care of the country and who takes care of the welfare of his subjects.

This Zakah can be far more than the taxation of the non Muslims in many cases of course, it can go up to 10% or it can go as less as 2.5% and it’s definitely not similar to the Jizya. And mind you that they {Jizya paying non Muslims} will be living under the protection of the Muslims. That is why there is one incident in history: it was reported that an army of the enemy came to a Christian town and the Muslim army tried their best to defend this town and at one point in time they were overwhelmed and were not able to defend the town any longer, the Muslim ruler came to the Christian town and gave them back their Jizya telling them that,” We tried our level best to defend you but we were unable to.” And the army that had attacked that Christian town was another Christian army and the people were astonished to see that when the Muslims were unable to defend them against their brothers {who were Christians who attacked the area} and these Muslims returned their money back? This incident made a lot of those Christians accept Islam.

Once you agree on living or going in to a non Muslim country you should abide by their laws as long as their laws do not go against your beliefs and religion. If part of their law, for example in case of Holland; they have a law, they have changed it I am not sure, anyone who applies for their citizenship must undergo, must watch one hour of pornography, a blue movie, just to make sure that whoever is applying for the citizenship will blend in; so if this is the case then it is definitely not acceptable for us Muslims. The so called Tax system is not acceptable in Islam and there is a long list for why that is so. But if you are living in a non Muslim country then you have to pay the taxes which their government enforces. The roads you are driving over, the electricity you are getting and all the infrastructure and benefits you are enjoying through paying taxes is acceptable. And the Muslim does not lie, even if the taxes are being taken from you are not from Islam you must not lie and still pay them. Because by lying and not paying their taxes, you would not be undermining your own personal reputation, your reputation is nothing, except to you, but you will be undermining the reputation of Islam.

As Muslims we have a target, our objective is to call people to Islam. And this target, you would have to evaluate it and it differs from one person to another. For example if you meet someone and he is a non Muslim and you would want to call him to Islam, you have to be wise and knowledgeable in how you would call him to Islam. If I meet him and from the first incident I just say,” This is Islam, why don’t you embrace Islam and your religion if false!” He will not accept my invitation; we need to be wise in how we approach people. If I can see in his eyes that he’s kind of intimidated when he looks at me and my dress because it’s different from them and he’s getting ideas about who I am and where I come from {the dirty Arab, terrorist} If I approach him now, it won’t be the right time. This is my target, I have to plan it well and I have to know when it is the right time to call him to Islam.

For instance: There was a Jew serving the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam. The Jew was not working in the house but probably used to get groceries, do things for him as someone who is for hire. This Jew was a child around 13 or 14 years old and the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam heard one day that the child was on his death bed. The Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam went to the Jew’s house. The boy was lying on his bed and his father was standing next to him; The Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam saw the opportunity; though the boy used to work for the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam but it was not narrated to us that he gave the boy Dawah. We know that he definitely gave dawah by his character, by the way he used to treat people, yet that was the final moment for the boy.

The Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam thought that this was the only remaining chance. So he visited the boy, who was on his death bed and said to the boy,” Embrace Islam! Accept Islam!” The child looked at his father and his father nodded his head and said,” Obey Abu Qasim, obey the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam.” Though he was a Jew, he knew that he was on the right track and that he was the Messenger of Allah. And the boy embraced Islam. The Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam went out of this boy’s house with his face shining, he was happy and he said,” May praise be only to Allah who guided the boy to Islam and saved him from hellfire because of me, I was the means to do this!”

So this is the Muslim’s objective: to call people to Islam, but you have to be very careful. You have to choose the right moment; you can’t go to someone who is completely intoxicated, with red eyes and stuff and say,” This is Haram, you are not allowed to drink!” He will kill you. Is this the right thing to do; definitely not. You have to prioritize your Dawah. You don’t go to someone who doesn’t pray, who slanders his father and mother and abuses them, who steals and deals in Riba and does everything that’s wrong, you don’t go to him and say,” Brother you have to clip your finger nails because this is Islamic.” This is not the right thing to do. You have to know how and when to address them.

That’s why if a person is living in the West, this is how he deals with others; now having said that, if I know and I have tried to call my friend, my colleague, my fellow student at the university to Islam like 7,8,10 times and the guy is refusing and he does not want to hear and he gave me a warning,” Listen, if you want to talk about Islam again then don’t talk to me. If want to have a good relationship with me and you us to go to the pub, nightclubs and just hang around and have fun then I am ok with that. Don’t you dare mention anything about religion: Christianity, Islam or any other religion ever; period,” If this is the case then I have to stop meeting this guy and utilize my time in calling others, so I change but if there is a chance and I feel that he is good, there is a probability that In Sha Allah may be next week, may be next month, may be next year he will embrace Islam, he is not refusing the concept of Islam and I feel that he is trying his best to accept Islam and the Muslims then I may be in good conduct with him.

Is it very important that Muslims living in the non Muslim countries should keep a relationship with non Muslims and to an extent, very close relationship, because the ultimate goal is to tell them about Islam? This is true we have to have this relationship but and this is a very big BUT; what kind of relationship do I have with a non Muslim? Is it the same relationship that I have with my Muslim brother?

Do I be friends with him and if he needs me do I do my very best to stand next to him, because he is my brother? Allah mentioned in Surat Al Hujurat,’ Verily, that the believers are brothers.” If there is a Muslim then he is my brother for sure; now if I have a non Muslim colleague at the office, so does Islam tell me to spit on his face or to take money off his wallet if he is not watching and flatten his car tyres in the parking lot because I don’t like him? No; of course not. Islam asks us to co-exist. Be kind to this guy, be nice to him but don’t take him as your alley. I can have him as an associate, we can go for lunch break together with the intention that I want to call him to Islam but I don’t go with him and hang around with him, I don’t go every week 3 times to the tennis court and enjoy playing and I feel close to him more than I feel close to my other Muslim brother; because Islam draws a line: be good to people, non Muslims, be kind to them as long as they are kind to Islam and they are not hostile towards Islam and Muslims but do not take them as allies, do not love them more than you love your Muslim brothers.

As a Muslim community how important is it for us to really exhibit ourselves as a group better than the other communities? Well, you don’t have to go around and brag about it because then you will make people more hostile towards you. It is not what others think of you, it is what you think of yourself. And this is why so many verses of the Qur’an were revealed. And our problem is that we always neglect Qur’an, we just think and think and think without going back to the ultimate constitution, the divine words of Allah Azza wa Jall {The Qur’an}. Allah the Almighty tells us that honor and pride is for those who believe and humility is for the hypocrites. So this pride, this honor that Allah Azza wa Jall has bestowed upon the Muslims, the Muslims should be proud of themselves. We rarely see people being proud of themselves as Muslims and not go to oppress people. so if you are a Muslim, be proud being a Muslim, be proud when you deal with others, don’t feel ashamed when they ask you,” Why are you doing this?” Well, because I am a Muslim, I am sorry!” Why are you apologetic? Why don’t we find people praying in malls, in universities, in schools, in corridors, for example: if it’s time for prayer.

They will say,” No, there is no prayer hall.” So what? They will be like,” I can’t pray in front of all these people, they are watching me!” So what? You see so many strange things happening in front of you yet no body is commenting, so why are you ashamed of praying? Why is a Muslim woman ashamed of wearing the veil, of wearing the hijab and covering her body as Allah instructed her? Why is a man ashamed of having his beard? He might be say,” Well, I want to be clean shaven like everybody else.” Why? You have your dignity, you have your pride, you have your source of honor which is the Qur’an and the followings of the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam. So this is how we should be.

And we should not feel inferior to anyone but at the same time this does not mean that we should step over everybody else, because this is what they are doing. You got people stepping over everyone else: the white see themselves as superior a race and anyone who is Jew, Muslim, black, gay, women etc, as you hear them say, they are considered to be inferior. The black consider themselves to have black power and the Hispanic think something else and the Asians think something else; why is it like this? This is how Allah created you, this is not something to be proud of, if you are tall or short, this is not of your own doing but your faith and your belief is what you should be proud of.

The ultimate goal for the relationship between a Muslim and a non Muslim should be to give the message of Islam. But what about those people who clearly reject the message after being reminded several times? How do we act in society, for example our neighbors, the people who live in the community, what should be our relationship with them? Well our relationship with them is built on mutual needs. So if I were to have a maintenance man who bluntly rejects Islam, he does not want to become a Muslim, he is not interested in Islam; what would I do if I need his services again? I give him a call and he would come and fix what needs to be fixed and I will pay him. So this is the relationship.

Having said that, it’s not just the relationship between the Muslims and the non Muslims that I should evaluate, it is also the relationship between two Muslims; meaning that if I have a friend and he is bad company, he fornicates, he drinks, he fools around, he doesn’t pray {Salah} on time; just because he is a Muslim doesn’t mean that this gives me the right to be with him or to be around him. On the contrary, Islam tells me to reject this guy, look for someone who is much better to be with. Does this mean that I associate with a non Muslim guy who has a better conscience than this Muslim guy who is bad? The answer is: no, not to that level, he is still a non Muslim.

But having said that this bad Muslim, I should not make him my alley, I should not be friends with him because I tried my best to change him and he would not change so I have to avoid him and look for the good company that would help me to draw closer to Allah Azza wa Jall. So if you imagine this, you believe now that it is not hatred that we have against the non Muslims, it is against those who do not abide by the Qur’an and Sunnah.

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at

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