Friendship with non-muslims or kafirs
I read the article “Can Non-Muslims Be Made Friends?“. I think I agree with the Indian Muslim scholar in totality. I’m not so sure I agree with the part where you say we can marry non-Muslims that easily. Is it not true that marriage to a non-muslim person of the book is allowed but not encouraged at all, and none of the companions did it. Also, in Surah Baqarah, the Quran says it is better to marry a momin slave man/woman than to marry a mushrik.
Also, I’m not so sure I would differentiate between kafir Christians and Jews and not-so-kafir Christians and Jews – especially in the modern world where awareness is not hard to come across.
I would say I agree with the idea of maintaining good relations with Non-Muslims when you work with them, are their neighbours etc. but I would prefer to demarcate between being friends and being cordial. Being cordial is essential because its part of being Muslim, but being close friends might not be the best idea.
Thanks for reading the article carefully and raising questions on it. There are two things that need to be clarified in response to what you have written. There are two categories of people in this world: Kafirs or non-Kafirs. A Kafir is a person who has rejected our religion despite knowing it and is therefore worthy of God Almighty’s condemnation, both in this world and the hereafter. The condemnation of such Kafirs is so clear that the Almighty describes them as “worse than beasts”. When we speak of non-Muslims today we ought to be clear as to which category do they belong: If they are Kafirs, they are worthy of our hatred and if they are not, they ought to be treated in the best possible manner so that they are brought close to Islam. The level of information of a non-Muslim about Islam doesn’t qualify him to become a Kafir. It is the certain knowledge about him that he knows and recognizes the truth and yet denies it deliberately that makes him a Kafir. Such clarity about an individual’s intransigence is something that can only come from God through His revelation, the communication through which has now terminated. So we have no way of peeping into the hearts of others to declare that they are stubborn Kafirs. If we do that, we might be declared guilty of doubting the intentions of others without proper knowledge.
If somebody is not a Kafir, he/she cannot belong to the category of people who cannot be made friends. The Qur’an categorically debars us from not making Kafirs our friends. Of course, we have to be careful in making friends from within the non-kafir, non-Muslims, as indeed we should be careful in the case of Muslims as well. God Almighty has Himself asked Muslims to repel the wrong behavior of others whom we approach for Da’wah (and the ones approached at the time Qur’an was revealed were all non-Muslims) with good behavior; the result of it would be, he says, that the one between him and you there was hitherto enmity would become your “valiyyun hameem” (bosom friend). (41:34)
When God Almighty allows Muslim men to marry women of Ahle Kitab (people of the book), marrying them is allowed. No one has the right to declare what God has allowed as disallowed. The verse you have quoted about marrying Mushrik is not relevant to Ahle Kitab. A Mushrik is a person who ascribes partners to God and declares openly that Shirk is God’s religion. Otherwise, the Almighty despite informing us that Jews and Christians used to do shirk declared them as a separate category from the Mushrik of Arabs. (98:6) Also, if that were the case then even within Muslims many people would declare getting married to other fellow Muslims as haram because to them those others were indulged in Shirk. Of course, if you are not comfortable with the ideas of someone, Muslims or non-Muslims, you are under no obligation to marry them. However not marrying someone for one’s own reasons of discomfort is one thing and declaring someone as ineligible for getting married is quite another. God’s message is free from any contradictions. It allows Muslim men to marry women form amongst the people of the Book. No authority can declare haram what God has made halal. It would amount to interfering in His Shari’ah.
The point I have tried to emphasize in my article is that Muslims are to play an extremely important role of inviting others to their faith. They cannot play that role while carrying a grudge against the non-Muslims. You have to love them, sympathize with them, and be sensitive about them in order for you to be able to properly perform the duty of inviting them to your religion. If we consider them Kafirs or unworthy of of being made friends, we cannot play that role. The Almighty cannot, and has not, asked us to do the impossible job of inviting them to our faith on the one hand and maintaining a clear distance with them on the other. And Allah knows the best.