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Friend or Foe?​

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 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا بِطَانَةً مِّن دُونِكُمْ لَا يَأْلُونَكُمْ خَبَالًا وَدُّوا مَا عَنِتُّمْ قَدْ بَدَتِ الْبَغْضَاءُ مِنْ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَمَا تُخْفِي صُدُورُهُمْ أَكْبَرُ قَدْ بَيَّنَّا لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ ﴿١١٨﴾ هَا أَنتُمْ أُولَاءِ تُحِبُّونَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِبُّونَكُمْ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْكِتَابِ كُلِّهِ وَإِذَا لَقُوكُمْ قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْا عَضُّوا عَلَيْكُمُ الْأَنَامِلَ مِنَ الْغَيْظِ ۚ قُلْ مُوتُوا بِغَيْظِكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ

O you who believe! Do not take as an intimate friend and confidant anyone besides those who are from among you (i.e. the Muslims), as they will spare no effort to do you mischief. They only desire your ruin. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, and what their hearts conceal is even worse. We have made the signs clear to you, if only you understand. Here you are loving them, and they do not love you, whereas you believe in all the scriptures... (Surah Aal ‘Imraan v118-119)

Before accepting Islam, the two tribes of the Ansaar, the Aws and the Khazraj, were allies and friends with the Jews who were their neighbours. However, after the Ansaar accepted Islam, the Jews began to harbour hatred for them, on account of them following Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and accepting his Deen.

Nevertheless, the Jews made an effort to conceal the hatred in their hearts and appear friendly to the Ansaar. They tried to convey the impression that they were still their loving friends and well-wishers, although in reality, they wanted to ruin and destroy the Ansaar and all the Muslims. In fact, they used their position as the ‘friends’ of the Ansaar to try and create internal discord and dissension between the Muslims, as well as to try and find out the secrets of the Muslims so that they could pass this vital information to the disbelievers of Makkah Mukarramah.

It is in reference to these Jews and hypocrites that the above verses were revealed, teaching all Muslims, until Qiyaamah, the manner in which they should deal and interact with non-Muslims.

In this regard, Islam teaches us that we should treat disbelievers with justice, kindness and politeness. However, we are prohibited from taking them as our ‘bitaanah’. In Arabic, the word ‘bitaanah’ refers to the inside of something. In other words, they should not become insiders, but should always be regarded as outsiders. They should never become our intimate friends in whom we confide, and to whom we turn for advice, as this position is reserved exclusively for believers.

Allah Ta‘ala then explains the blunt truth – that the divide between truth and falsehood, Islam and disbelief, can never be bridged as they are direct opposites. In other words, a person who rejects Allah Ta‘ala (a disbeliever) can never truly wish well for the followers of Allah Ta‘ala (the Muslims) as he stands at the opposite end of the divide. Even if he exhibits behaviour that portrays him as a well-wisher and lover of Muslims, we will know that in his heart-of-hearts, he has no love for Muslims.  

Tragically, the Muslims, who are hated and despised by all these disbelievers that would sooner see them dead, express love for them and emulate them in their culture, styles and everything else! The very people who attempted to eradicate Islam and the Muslims – the Muslims now idolize their soccer teams, follow their fashions and even keenly read the latest gossip about their ‘royal’ family, celebrities and sports icons.

Likewise, many Muslims send their children to Christian schools, and allow their children to have non-Muslim friends, go to their houses to play or for a sleep over, and attend their birthday parties. The parents are similarly guilty of attending the functions of their non-Muslim friends, calling them home or closely interacting with them in their homes. However, this fondness, affinity and relationship with a disbeliever is completely unacceptable.

In essence, a Muslim must treat a disbeliever with justice and kindness, but should never become close to him or take him as a friend. When he has chosen to be the enemy of Allah Ta‘ala, then to befriend him is to betray Allah Ta‘ala.