Dealing with Non-Muslims

If your neighbors happen to be non-Muslim you must not forget Islamic manners in dealing with neighbors. The recommendation of Islam for good relationship with neighbors is for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

You as a Muslim should demonstrate to all people the goodness of Islam with your gentle manners and kind behavior, Bukhari and Muslim reported the Hadith of Anas “No one is a believer if he does not like for his brother what he likes for himself.” The report of Muslim said “till he loves for his brother, or neighbour, as he likes for himself.” The scholars said that the word ‘brother’ here is said in the most common context and thus means brothers in humanity includinc Muslims and non-Muslims. A Muslim would love for his non-Muslim brother, as he loves for himself, to become a Muslim to enjoy the benefits of Islam and rewards of Allah.

A Muslim would do very well when he prays for the guidance of his non-Muslim brothers as he likes for his Muslim brothers to remain Muslim and to continue their devotion and adherence to Islam. In Surah Al-Mumtahinah, Allah said:“Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who did not fight you for your faith not drive you out of your homes, to deal kindly and justly with them: For Allah loves those who are just. Allah only forbids with regards to those who fought you for your faith and drove you out of your homes and support others in driving you out, for turning to them for friendship and alliance. Those of you who do that are doing wrong.”

There is nothing to prevent us from being kind, generous and helpful to non-Muslims as long as they do not demonstrate verbal or tangible animosity towards Islam. Hopefully, this will remove barriers to introduce them to join Islam and Muslims.

This positive attitude does not mean going along with non-Muslims and abandoning distinct personality. It means we must be fair, kind and moderate with ourselves and our neighbors in all matters. In interpreting this, Imam Qurtubi said: ‘This constitutes a consent by Allah to maintain amicable relationship with those who did not antagonize Muslim or attack them.

Imam Qurtubi cited the opinion of Abdul Rahman bin Zayed who said that this rule was in the beginning of Islam when fighting was not requires, but later it was annulled. Imam Qurtubi also cite Qatada who said this verse had been annulled by another verse in Surah Al Tawba (9:5) “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them..”

After citing these two opinions and other similar ones, Imam Qurtubi concluded by saying: The majority of interpreters have said that it is a valid verse that has not been annulled. They cited the story reported by Bukhari and Muslim of Asma’ bint Abi Bakr when she asked the Prophet S.A.W.S. if she could entertain and be kind to her non-Muslim mother who visited her in Madina and the Prophet S.A.W.S. said ‘Yes’.

It was said that this verse was revealed in this incident. Al-Mauardi and Abo Dawood reported that Amer bin Abdullah bin Al-Zubair narrated that his father told him that before Islam, Abu Bakr divorced his wife Qutaila who was the mother of Asma. When the truce was held between the Prophet S.A.W.S. and the pagans of Quraish, the mother visited her daughter in Madina and brought her an ear-ring and other gifts. Asma was reluctant to accept the gifts before asking the Prophet S.A.W.S. In answer to her question Allah revealed this verse. When Allah says ‘to deal kindly and justly with them’ Al-Faraa said that Allah meant those who did not fight you alluding to Khoza tribe who made an agreement with Muslims not to fight them or assist those fighting them. Allah ordered Muslims to be kind and faithful to them as per the terms of agreement.

Al-Kadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi said that the expression of qist is not derived from justice but from share, meaning you may give them a portion of your money to maintain cordial relationship. For justice Is a duty toward all whether they were friends or foes. Imam Bukhari and Imam Ahmad reported that Anas bin Malik said that a Jewish boy used to serve the Prophet S.A.W.S., preparing his ablution and to hand him his shoes. The boy became ill. The Prophet S.A.W.S. went to visit the boy and he was gravely ill with his father sitting at his head. The Prophet S.A.W.S. invited him to Islam by telling him to say: There is no God but Allah. The boy looked at his father who kept silent. The prophet S.A.W.S. repeated his request and the boy looked at his father gain who told him ‘Obey Abu Al-Qasim’. The boy, just before dying, said “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that you are His Messenger.’ The prophet S.A.W.S. said “Thank Allah for enabling me to save him.”

Hafiz Ibn Hajar said that this Hadith indicates many rules; that Muslims are allowed to employ non-Muslims, to visit them while sick. It also directs us to maintain cordiality. It allows the employment of youth, to offer them Islam if they were mature to make a choice, and to accept their conversion if they embraced Islam.

Hafiz Al-Badr Al-Aini said this Hadith indicated the consent to visit ill non-Muslims especially if they were neighbors since it demonstrated the kindness of Islam and may encourage them to embrace it. The Hadith also allows the employment of non-Muslims and the cordiality to them. It also consents employing the youth.

You may console non-Muslims on mourning using appropriate expressions. Imam Al-Kadi Abu Yusuf said, in the end of his book Al-Kharaj that he asked Abu Hanifa about how to console a Jew or a Christian who lost a child or relative. Abu Hanifa said to say: “Allah decreed death for all His creations. We ask Allah to make death the best fate to wait for. We all belong to Allah and to Him we all shall return. Be patient and endure this calamity.”

Abu Yusuf said we learned that a Christian who used to attend the lectures of Al-Hasan Al-Basri died. Al-Hasan went to console his brother. He said: “May Allah reward you for this calamity as He reward your fellows. May Allah bless our death and make it the best fate to wait for. Be patient against the misfortunes.” You may say these kinds of words and remind them of death as the inescapable fate with which we can do nothing about but acceptance and patience.

Imam Ibn A’bdin in his book Rad al-Muhtar mentioned that Shaf’ee said: “You may console Muslims when at the death of a non-Muslim relative. On such occasion you may say: “May Allah increase your rewards and patience”. You may console non-Muslims on the loss of a Muslim relative. On such occasions you may say: may Allah for you deceased” and give best condolence.