By: Majd Arbil
O YOU who have attained to faith! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for your allies: they are but allies of one another and whoever of you allies himself with them becomes, verily, one of them; behold, God does not guide people who are unjust. (Quran 5:51)
This verse is often quoted to show that Islam is intolerant.
Quran is a complete book of guidance and while studying various issues it should be kept in mind that a particular issue may be discussed over several chapters or several verses in the same chapter. A complete understanding can only be achieved by understanding the whole issue as presented over all the verses and chapters and not by looking at only part of the Quran. God specifically warns us against doing just that, upholding part of the Quran while disregarding the rest.
.. Then is it only a part of the Book that ye believe in, and do you reject the rest? but what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life? – and on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty. For God is not unmindful of what ye do. (Quran 2:85)
Let us look at some other verses about this issue. The following two verses regulate relations with any people, regardless of faith:
As for such [of the unbelievers] as do not fight against you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity: for, verily, God loves those who act equitably. (Quran 60:8)
And yet you can not see how those in whose hearts there is disease vie with one another for their good will (the hostile Jews and Christians), saying [to themselves], “We do fear lest a change of fortune bring us disaster.” But God may well bring about good fortune [for the believers] or any [other] event of His own devising, whereupon those [waverers] will be smitten with remorse for the thoughts which they had secretly harboured within themselves- (Quran 5:52)
Chapter 5 Verse 57 of the Quran makes it clear again, who are not to be taken as friends; O you who believe! take not for friends and protectors those who take your religion for a mockery or sport,- whether among those who received the Scripture before you, or among those who reject Faith; but remain conscious of God, if you are (truly) believers. (Quran 5:57)
God teaches us throughout the Quran that there are righteous Jews and Christians. As such there is no prohibition for Muslims to be friends with Jews, Christians or people of any other faith who are of good character.
Quranic verses referring to the righteous Jews and Christians:
Verily, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians – all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds-shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve. (Quran 2:62)
The following verse from the Quran capsulates this issue:
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Quran 49:13)