Ties with Non-Muslims
With a war on terror raging worldwide, an invisible divide has occurred between
the Islamic world and others. Unresolved long-standing issues, unjust political
patronage and media hype, fan irrelevant hatred adding to everybody’s confusion.
Peace is every human being’s right and must be the order of the day. But we see
otherwise around us today. In this challenging and dangerous situation, it is
difficult to understand our own, as well as other’s rights. However, we can
learn the code of conduct drawn out in light of Quran and Sunnah for every
Muslim for optimum benefit of the society:
Tool of ‘Dawah’(invitation to Islam)
There is an old folk saying, ‘You can draw more flies with honey, than with
vinegar.’ Prophet Muhammad (saws) with a pleasant and just demeanor was able to
reach out and touch people’s hearts. Thus, countless people entered into the
fold of Islam. Even those who did not convert to Islam always attested to his
truth and magnanimity.
When Allah’s Messenger (saws) sent Muath Ibn Jabal and Abu Musa al-Asharee to
Yemen, he advised them, “Be lenient and not strict and bring glad tidings and do
not repel people.” (Bukhari and Muslim).
This is precisely because our actions speak louder than our words. At times we
are negligent of the fact that we as Muslims are ambassadors of Islam. One
questionable act or word from us brings the credibility of Islam in the line of
Tolerance, an integral part of Islam
Islam urges Muslims to exercise benevolence with non-Muslims. Believers are
encouraged to give gifts, money and visit non-Muslims. This will educate the
non-Muslims of social relations in Islam. Quran states, tolerant people will be
rewarded with “...a garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and
earth...” (Surah Al-Hadid 57:21).
Similarly, it is not considered in good taste to ridicule other beliefs. Prophet
Muhammad (saws) always gave a fair chance to all his opponents to explain their
case explicitly. He never interrupted their speech nor did he abuse them
verbally or physically. There was never a shade of personal ego attached to any
of his actions or words.
Today there is a place in Kuala Lumpur that is a symbol of religious tolerance.
Here, a mosque, a temple and a church share common boundaries and their
respective worshippers freely practice their beliefs with no fear.
Charity and aid
It is certainly permissible to help poor non-Muslims, unless one knows that they
are actively hostile to Islam. It is reported that Umar Ibnul Khattab (rali) saw
an elderly Christian man begging. He inquired about his circumstances and when
he was told that the man was a Christian, he ordered that he should be given
help from the treasury of the Muslim state. His reasons were that the man paid
taxes imposed on non-Muslims when he was able to earn. Therefore, he was
entitled to help when he lost that source of his income.
Besides that, voluntary alms in the form of Sadqa can be given to destitute
non-Muslims to uplift their conditions.
Relations with Neighbours
A neighbour’s rights are of prime importance in Islam regardless of which belief
he belongs to. Muslims are encouraged to abide by decent and courteous civic
laws and actively participate in community service. For starters, they can begin
with their own neighbourhood and ensure their neighbour’s are never placed in a
hurtful or awkward position.
Abdullah ibn Amr t slaughtered a sheep and he said, “Have you presented a gift
from it to my neighbour, the Jew, for I heard the Messenger of Allah e say,
‘(the angel) Gabriel kept on commending the neighbour to me until I thought he
would make him an heir’.” (Abu Dawud).
Asma Bint Abi Bakr (rali) once asked Allah’s Apostle e, if it was permissible
for her polytheist mother to visit her and enter her house. He said to her,
“Yes, be in touch with your mother.” (Agreed upon).
It is also narrated that Umar Ibnul Khattab presented his polytheist brother
with a silk dress as a gift, which the Prophet Muhammad (saws), had given to
Safiyya, one of the wives of Prophet Muhammad (saws), endowed her Jewish brother
with part of her fortune to show him how much she cared and kept good relations
with him. (Baihaqi).
Conversely Allah also states, “O you who believe, do not take your fathers and
your brothers as friends if they prefer unbelief over faith…” (Surah At-Tauba
9:23). Any relative who deliberately attempts to jeopardize a believer’s faith,
is not considered to be a friend. A Muslims’ foremost sincerity belongs to Allah
and His Apostle.