Is Islam tolerant of other peoples faith? Does Islam allow Muslims to hate non-Muslims?

Shaykh Salim Giza

Islam is a religion of peace and harmony. It is not a religion of hate and destruction. Whilst Islam like any other religion or nation has a right to defend itself and it’s followers from enemy attack, there are clear guidelines for this.

When it comes to dealing with non-Muslims there are two categories of a non-believer, 1) themselves 2)what they believe. It is not permissible to hate a person or human being but rather one can dislike and disagree with what they believe.

How Did Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) Treat Non Muslims?

The Prophet of Allah (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) was not only a mercy to Muslims but a mercy to all mankind. (As stated in the Quran 21:107). He acted with mercy and compassion even to those who came to attack him. Here are some examples:

  1. It is related that when the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) had his tooth broken and his face cut on the day of the Battle of Uhud, it was practically unbearable for his companions. They said “if only you would invoke a curse against them.” He replied “I was not sent to curse, but I was sent as a mercy. Oh Allah, guide my people for they do not know.” (As Shifa, Qadi Ayad)
  2. Once the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) was seated in Madinah, along with his Companions. During this time a funeral procession passed by. On seeing this, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) stood up. One of his Companion remarked that the funeral was that of a Jew. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) replied, “Was he not a human being?” This is a stark contrast to the behaviour many Muslims have today…there are some who perceive Jews as “the enemy” and in more extreme circumstances you get some who have the nerve to rejoice at the death of innocent non Muslims.
  3. One a Jewish lady gave the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) some poisoned lamb. The Prophet’s Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) companion was killed instantly. The woman was brought to the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) who asked her about the poisoned food. The woman told him that she intended to kill him. The companions naturally wanted to take their revenge. However, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) forbade them from seeking revenge and forgave her.
  4. Once a group of Christian priests were in Medina. They needed a place to stay so they went to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). He said you can stay at my house. He cooked them dinner and made them welcome. Soon it was the time for the Christians to pray, the Prophet (pbuh) took them to the Mosque of the Prophet and said you can do your worship here.

Do we see that happening today? WHY NOT? There are many other examples of the Prophet(pbuh) not only forgiving the non-Muslims but those who came to cause him harm. This way many people became Muslims.

Our Duty Towards Non Muslims

Our duty as Muslims in non Muslim lands is like that of the Muslims who emigrated to Africa during the time of the Prophet. They went there in peace and relayed their message of peace and love; and the belief in the one and only true Lord ‘Allah’ and to obey the Messenger.

Muslims are commanded to love their neighbour and this is what the companions did even if their neighbour was a Jew:

Abdullah ibn Amr had a sheep slaughtered and asked his servant, “Did you give some meat to our Jewish neighbour? For I heard the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) say “Jibril kept on enjoining the good treatment of neighbours to the extent that I though that he would include neighbours as heirs.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Ibn Mubarak (student of Imam Abu Hanifah) would not feed or clothe his own children until he had fed and clothed his neighbour’s children who were Jews.

These are the examples we should be following today.

Non Muslims Living In An Islamic State

A Dhimmi is a non-Muslim living in Muslim lands and pays his taxes. The Muslim Shariah law states that he would enjoin the protection of the Islamic state in the same way as a Muslim would and would be allowed to be left in peace and except for the Haramain areas (the two holy cities); he or she would be allowed to practice their religion freely.

This is why we see many old churches in the Islamic world. If hatred for non-Muslims was allowed then would the Ottoman Empire leave those churches standing. In the same way when the great Sultan Salahahuddin Ayyubi (May Allah shower His mercy on him) conquered Jerusalem he allowed the Christians and Jews to continue to practice their faith in their churches and synagogues.

Also, Muslim men are allowed under the Shariah to marry a Christian or Jewish woman in Islamic lands and allow their wives to remain in their faith. Would they then have to hate their wife? Of course not!

You Are An Ambassador For Your Faith

All of the above comes to the conclusion that Islam is a very tolerant and respectful religion. However, we find that Muslims sometimes go as far as adopting the ways of non-Muslims and start feeling ashamed of their religion of Islam; this is wrong and unacceptable.

A Muslim should understand that they are an ambassador for their faith and their actions will either attract or distract the non-Muslims to their faith. Please remember there will be no other Prophet after the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) and hence the duty of spreading Islam to the non-Muslims is the task of the Ummati (follower) of the Prophet of Allah.

Of course Allah knows best