Social Relations With Non-Muslims In A Non-Muslim Country

Islam is a universal religion. It is the only religion which assures success, betterment and peace of all human beings. Its message of peace is for all mankind and all its sections. The very existence of Muslims is for the benefit of others and to provide relief to them as Allah Ta’ala says:

Ye are the best of peoples, raised for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them; among them are some who have faith, but most of them are transgressors. Surah Al Imran (3:110)

When the reason behind the creation of Muslims is to benefit and provide relief to others, then no matter where Muslims live, Islam permits it. Islam absolutely allows Muslims to settle in a Non-Muslim country provided the rules of Islam can be followed. Hijrat (migration) is not necessary for Muslims but it is allowed when the need arises as Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) told the Sahabah in Makkah: “It is good if you go to Abyssinia because the King of that land is such that in his land, nobody is oppressed. It is the best land till Allah Ta’ala opens another way for you.” The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) ordered the Sahabah to go to Abyssinia even though the King of that land was Non-Muslim and the government was a non-Islamic one.

In that non-Islamic country, what kind of relations were maintained with the Non-Muslims and what standard of morality did the Muslims display can best be understood by the brilliant speech of Hadhrat Ja’afar (May Allah be pleased with him), which he gave in the court of the King of Abyssinia:

“O King! All of us were ignorant and dim-witted. We worshipped idols, ate unsacrificed carrion and indulged in various types of immodesty. We broke relations with our relatives. We mistreated our neighbors. The strong among us oppressed the weak. We were in this state when Allah Ta’ala had mercy on us. He sent down a Prophet from among us, whose lineage, truth and honesty, modesty was well known to us. He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) invited us towards Allah Ta’ala and taught us to know and believe that Allah Ta’ala is One and to worship Him only; and to relinquish those idols which we and our forefathers worshipped. He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) commanded us to worship only Allah Ta’ala and not to hold anybody as an associate with Allah. He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) commanded us to perform Salaat i.e. Prayers, Zakat i.e. charity and Sawm i.e. fasting.” Hadhrat Ja’afar mentioned the rules of Islam and said: “The True Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) ordered us to be truthful. He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) ordered us not to break trust, to honor our relations, to treat our neighbors well, to refrain from bloodshed and stopped us from all kinds of immodesty, from unlawful actions, from lying, from embezzling the money of orphans and from slandering virtuous women. Thus, we acknowledged Him (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) as the Prophet and believed in Him and followed whatever He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) brought for us from Allah Ta’ala. Accordingly, we worship only Allah Ta’ala and do not consider anybody as an His associate. Whatever Allah Ta’ala made lawful for us, we consider it lawful and whatever is made unlawful for us we consider it unlawful.

Only because of this, our people turned into our enemies. They troubled us to no end. They tortured us in many ways, so that we may return to worship of idols and consider those filthy, unlawful things as lawful. When they crossed all limits in their torment and torture, when they constrained us, when they came between us and our religion, then we left our land and preferred you over others and assumed your neighborhood in the hope that you will not oppress us.”

Najashi said: “Do you remember any of the Word of Allah Ta’ala which your Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) brought?” Hadhrat Ja’afar answered in the affirmative.

Najashi said: Recite something from it, so that I may listen.” Hadhrat Ja’afar (May Allah be pleased with him) recited the beginning verses of Surah Maryam. The King and all the courtiers started weeping. The King’s beard became wet with tears. When the recitation ended, the King said: This Word and the words which Hadhrat Isa (Prophet Jesus) brought are light of one and the same truth.” He told the Quraish delegation frankly: “I will not hand over these people to you and there is no chance of it.” (Subul ul Huda war Rasshad)


The Hadith/Traditions frequently mention that when people from different tribes reverted to Islam, then even with their earnest wish of settling down in Madinah Tayyaba, the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) ordered them to go back to their respective places and obey the commandments of Islam there although those places had a majority of Non-Muslims. In the same way, when Yemen was conquered, some Sahabah were already found to be residing there. The travels of the Sahabah to Non-Muslim lands, and their settling down in those lands is well established. When Islam permits Muslims to live in Non-Muslim lands, the question raised is how should our relations with them be?

The Holy Quran and the Hadith have clear commandments about this. When Muslims go to any Non-Muslim land and settle down there, then through the passport and the visa they make a kind of promise to follow the country’s laws. To fulfill this promise is necessary. As Allah Ta’ala says:

….fulfill (every) promise, for (every) promise will be inquired about (on the Day of Judgment) Surah Bani Israil (17:34)


The following Hadith proves that fulfillment of even a forced promise is also necessary”

Hadhrat Hudhaifah bin Yaman (May Allah be pleased with him), was coming to Madina Tayyaba along with his father to meet the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). On the way, he met the army of Abu Jahl. The army of Abu Jahl told them that they would not allow them to go to the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) because you will fight against us. At last they promised that they would not join the army against them. Hadhrat Hudhaifah and his father made this promise under compulsion. They let them go and both of them came to the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa salam). Then the Battle of Badr came to be. Somebody said, “O Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), these 2 are new men. Permit them also to fight because they were forced to make that promise.” Hadhrat Hudhaifah (May Allah be pleased with him) also expressed his eager desire but the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: No. Fulfill the promise which you made to Abu Jahl. Breaking trust is not the mark of a Momin (believer); so, you cannot participate in this battle.” (Al-Isaba)

This incident shows that when a Muslim makes a promise to a Non-Muslim compatriot, then Islam declares the fulfillment of that promise to be necessary. Provided the promise does not go against the commandments of Islam.

The teachings of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) provide relief to the whole humankind.

The example of Muslims who have fulfilled their promises to Non-Muslims even in desperate circumstances is ideal and unparalleled in history.

The Islamic Shariah has permitted Muslims to settle in any part of the world because Muslims are mercy and peace personified. Muslims are not terrorists or a threat to peace but are upholders of peace and provide comfort to the entire humanity. From Arabia to Asia, Europe to Africa, Africa to Asia wherever Muslims went, they carried the message of peace and safety, of justice and equity and of kindness and benevolence. They changed the atmosphere of the society which was filled with fear and terror to one of peace and security. Their impeccable morality, the fairness of their dealings, their equity and integrity, their love and brotherhood, their clemency and warmness cleared the clouds of oppression and enmity and the flowers of justice and fairness blossomed forth.

Islam permits social relations, trade dealings like buying, selling, mortgage, bail bonds and other affairs with Non-Muslim compatriots and has stressed truthfulness and fairness in all dealings and prohibits from lying, deception, cheating etc. It decrees humility in place of pride and vanity. It prefers mildness and gentleness to harshness and severity. It gives instructions to exercise patience and forbearance instead of anger, fury. It encourages forgiveness and answering evil with good. Even when going for revenge, it instructs not to overstep the limits of aggression. It teaches refraining from mischief and devilry and abiding by justice and equity. In these matters, Islam does not distinguish between Muslims and Non-Muslims.

Social and moral relations with Non-Muslims

Irrespective of whom the relationship is with, a Muslim must always remember that he/she is a Muslim. Islam has stressed upon social and moral relations with non- Muslims to a greater extent than with Muslims.

Allah Ta’ala says:

…………for Allah loveth those who are just.Surah Al Mumtahinah (60-08)

This verse shows that in any case, we should treat Non-Muslims with fairness and justice. Some interpreters of the Holy Quran have written that every Non-Muslim should be treated with fairness and justice. Here the import of the verse is that you should console them by voluntarily giving them a part of your wealth. (Ahkam ul Quran) Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad (May Allah be pleased with them both) have ruled in the light of this verse that optional charity may be given to Non‑Muslims (Shaikh zada)

A Hadith says that in all conditions spend (i.e. charity) on people of all religions. (Nasab al Raya)

In another verse extra-ordinarily fair social dealings have been ordered.

Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate! Surah Fussilat (41:34)

The common interpretation for this verse is given as to deal with your enemies, so that they become your fast friends. But the eloquence of this verse also permits the interpretation that irrespective of whether they become your friends or not, you treat them as you would deal with your close friends.

To Treat Non-Muslims Like This Is Stressed Because Muslims Are Only To Benefit Others

Allah Ta’ala says:

Baqara-verse-83- “And speak kindly to mankind;”

There is no restriction of any color, race, religion, belief here. This command is for all. The Quraish did not prevent anyone from pilgrimage i.e. from Haj and Umrah even for their avowed enemies. But when the Muslims came with the intention of Umrah, they were stopped. Permission was not given. Muslims’ sentiments were hurt and they were most distressed. Almost naturally, the Muslims could have retaliated. But Allah Ta’ala commanded them to treat even such people with kindness.

Maida-02 “And let not your hatred of a folk who (once) stopped your going to the inviolable place of worship seduce you to transgress;”

There is no difference between Muslim and Non-Muslim or friend and foe in matters of justice. Justice and fairness is compulsory even when dealing with enemies, so that a pleasant society can be created on this basis.

“And let not the hatred of a nation lead you to injustice. Be just. Justice is much nearer to piety.”

Islam is not to follow the general course of events. It enforces such rules that can change the general course of events. Even after such explicit and pure teachings, is there any room to say that Islam cannot (and does not) bear its opponents? That it encourages fights and battles with them? That it teaches terrorism? And imposes its beliefs on them by force?

Monetary Help To Non-Muslims

It has been a special characteristic of Muslims to spend on Non-Muslims and to sympathize with them in periods of crises and difficulties. The best example which the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) set for Muslims can be found in this Hadith:

Translation of Hadith: A year when the people of Makkah al Mukarramah were in the clutches of a famine, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam sent 500 Dirhams each to Abu Sufyan and Safwan bin Umayya to distribute them among the poor and destitute of Makkah.” (Radd ul Muhtaar Vol. 2, Pg No.92)

Helping Weak Non-Muslims

The admirable attributes of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) which were described by Hadhrat Syeda Khatijatul Kubra (May Allah be well pleased with Her) include:

He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) used to maintain good relations with His relatives.

Obviously, those relatives were Non-Muslims only. He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) used to lift the load of the weak i.e. He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) used to hoist the load of Non-Muslims, the handicapped, the old and the weak on to His own blessed back. He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) used to host people and used to help the troubled people for the sake of Allah Ta’ala.

When Heraclius (Harqil) questioned Abu Sufyan about the teachings of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), he answered: He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) teaches us to offer Salaat (prayer), to speak the truth, to abstain from adultery and to maintain good relations with our relatives.

This is how the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) used to treat Non-Muslims, with warm-heartedness and sympathy with the Non-Muslims. Muslims consider this as a religious duty and believe that following this Hadith i.e. a Sunnah of the Benevolent Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) leads to divine reward.

Maintaining Good Relations With Non-Muslim Relatives

Maintaining good relations with Non-Muslims relatives, treating them nicely and helping and sympathizing with them has been stressed extraordinarily. Even when Non-Muslim parents force one towards apostasy and denial of Allah Ta’ala, they have to be treated with kindness. It is not permitted to mistreat them because of their disbelief. The verse is a proof of this commandment that needy Non-Muslim parents should be treated with kindness through money. They should be addressed mildly and they should be invited towards Islam softly and gently. The relations with other Non-Muslims also should be cordial and the Muslims have been commanded to support them in their periods of crises and difficulties. Muslims are also allowed to call upon Non-Muslims when they fall ill. Sahih Bukhari has a Hadith on the authority of Hadhrat Anas (May Allah be well pleased with him)

A young boy who served the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) fell sick. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) went to visit him. He sat near the head of his bed and asked him to embrace Islam. The boy looked at his father questioningly, who was sitting there; the latter told him to obey Hadhrat Abul Qasim (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and the boy embraced Islam. The Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) came out saying: “Praise be to Allah who saved the boy from the fire of Hell.” Sahih Bukhari-Chapter of funerals

The Prophet of Mercy (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and His concern for humankind

The Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) stressed social relations with Non-Muslims to the extent that He stood up when a Non-Muslim’s funeral procession passed by!

There is a Hadith in Sahih Bukhari:

Translation of Hadith: Hadhrat Sahl bin Haneef and Hadhrat Qais bin Sa’ad (May Allah be well pleased with them both) were in Qadsiyya. A funeral procession passed them by. Both of them stood up. They were told that the deceased was a Dhimmi- (lit. the protected ones used for a Non-Muslim living in an Islamic country). They answered: Verily a funeral procession went by the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) stood up. He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was told that the deceased was a Jew. He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) asked: Is he not a human being?

In the same way, if a Non-Muslim dies, the Muslim guardian is allowed to perform the necessary activities and bury the Non-Muslim.

Honesty Of Muslims Runs The World- A Confession By The Jews

Islam has permitted trade and other such affairs with Non-Muslims. After the conquest of Khaibar, the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) entered into an agricultural partnership with the avowed enemies of Islam-Jews. They would work on the lands and give half of their produce to the Muslims. Every year at harvest time, the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) would send Hadhrat Abdullah bin Rawaha (May Allah be well pleased with him) to estimate the produce. As goven on Sunan- Abu Dawood:

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Rawaha (May Allah be well pleased with him) used to divide the produce into two portions and would tell the Jews to select one of their choice. Seeing this justice, the Jews used to exclaim: “The world runs because of the honesty of Muslims.”