Quran 3:28 Not To Take Non-Believers As Friends?

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Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Auliya (supporters, helpers, etc.) instead of the believers, and whoever does that will never be helped by God in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them. And God warns you against Himself (His Punishment), and to God is the final return. Qur’an 3:28

Quran 3:28 is used by critics to claim that the verse encourages Muslims not to befriend anyone who is not Muslim. They say that Muslims are not allowed to be friends or ‘friendly’ with non-Muslims, and that when Muslims are outnumbered they can pretend to befriend non-Muslims and be friendly.

Related Article: “Surah 5:51, 3:28, 4:144 Explained

These claims are absurd. The prohibition of Muslims not being allowed to be friends with non-Muslims is only in war, making alliances with the enemy over the Muslims. That is what the passage is speaking about. There is no prohibition against Muslims having cordial friendly, everyday relations with non-Muslims. Moreover, ‘to guard’ themselves is only allowed is when the enemy is capable of hurting the Muslims. Example: if there was a tyrant about who persecutes Muslims, and a Muslim was a situation to declare whether he was a believer in Islam or not. If the Muslim lies, conceals his faith so to not to get persecuted, there is no blame on him.

The classical scholars such as Sheikh Tabarsi, Zamakhshari and Imam Baghawi held a similar concept of this verse that such is only allowed when a Muslim is in danger of being persecuted. The Prophet’s cousin Ibn Abbas understood that it refers to when in danger, when one can pretend to be one’s friend, to conceal one’s faith in order to save his/her life. Moreover, Surah 3:28 in it’s historical background refers to not having as wali’s (protectors, allies or supports) people like Ibn Ubayy, who used to plot against Islam. So, if such people trapped and forced death on a Muslim, one can pretend to take them as wali’s (protectors, allies or supports) and lie by verbally stating “I’m not a Muslim” in order to save his/her life. In such situations, a person is allowed to say things to preserve his life, so to not get tortured or persecuted. I don’t see anything wrong with someone lying to protect themselves in a dangerous situation. In addition, I have already addressed previously in detail that the Quran does permit Muslims to have friendly relationships with non-Muslims. Click on the article here.

Commentaries on Quran 3:28

al-Tabari (838 – 923):

“فتكلـم مخافة علـى نفسه، وقلبه مطمئنّ بـالإيـمان، فلا إثم علـيه
“When speaking (lies) and scared (and in danger of being persecuted) for himself while his heart has faith, then there is no sin on him.” (Tabari’s Tafsir – Quran 3:28, online source, http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=1&tSoraNo=3&tAyahNo=28&tDisplay=yes&Page=2&Size=1&LanguageId=1 )

Qurtubi (1214 – 1273):

“قال ٱبن عباس: هو أن يتكلم بلسانه وقلبه مطمئن بالإيمان، .وقرأ جابر بن زيد ومجاهد والضحاك: «إلاّ أن تَتَّقُوا منهم تَقِيَّةً» وقيل: إن المؤمن إذا كان قائماً بين الكفار فله أن يداريهم باللسان إذا كان خائفاً على نفسه وقلبُه مطمئن بالإيمان
“Ibn Abbas said: speak (i.e. lie) with the tongue, but have faith in the heart. And Jabir Bin Zaid and Mujahid and Dhahak recited the verse as (إلاّ أن تَتَّقُوا منهم تَقِيَّةً) and they said that when a believer is in between a disbeliever and is scared – in danger, and he says with the tongue (i.e. lies) but is satisfied with faith in his heart.” (Qurtubi’s Tafsir – Quran 3:28, online source, http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=5&tSoraNo=3&tAyahNo=28&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=1 )


Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an:

25 That is, “If a believer falls into the hands of the enemies of Islam and is afraid of maltreatment and high-handedness, he may conceal his Faith, and live among them as if he were one of them. Or, if they come to know of his Faith, he may make a show of his friendship towards them to save his life. In case of extreme fear, he is permitted even to disown his Faith, if he feels that he is not strong enough to endure their oppression.” [1]

The Holy Quran – Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction – Maulana Muhammad Ali:

28a. The Muslims, being in a state of war with the disbelievers, were forbidden to look to their enemies to guard their interests or for help of any kind. The clear statement made in 60:8, 9 settles the point beyond all doubt: ‘Allah forbids you not respecting those who fight you not for religion, nor drive you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly. … Allah forbids you only respecting those who fight you for religion and drive you forth from your homes and help (others) in your expulsion, that you make friends with them’. Auliya, which I translate as friends here, is the plural of wali, which is derived from a root meaning he held commend or had charge of or superintended a thing, and it accordingly means the manager of a thing or of the affairs of another, and the guarding or maintainer of an orphan, and the guardian of a woman who gives her away in marriage. It also means the executor of heir of a deceased person (LL). According to R, it indicates nearness in respect of place, relation, and religion, and in respect of friendship and help and belief, etc. The word therefore includes all relations of nearness. A man may also be said to be wali-Allah, as meaning one near to Allah or a friend of Allah. [2]

The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Text With English Translation & Short Commentary – Malik Ghulam Farid:

395. With the accession of political power in Islam, as promised in the preceding verses, forging of political alliances became necessary of the Muslim State. The verse under comment embodies the guiding principle that no Muslim State should enter into a treaty or alliance with a non-Muslim State which should in any way injure, or conflict with, the interest of other Muslim States.
The interests of Islam should transcend all other interests.
396. Muslims are warned to be on their guard against the plots and machinations of disbelievers. The expression, except that you guard yourselves fully against them, refers not to the power of the enemy but to his cunning of which Muslims should always be on their guard. [3]

Commentary on the Holy Qur’an – Zohurul Hoque & Hussain Nuri:

3:28 The Qur’ānic instruction of not taking the unbelievers as friends must be carefully analyzed and understood in the context of the circumstance under which the verse was revealed. The verse and sūrah was revealed in 3 A.H./625 C.E. after the battle of Badr and Uhud when the Muslims were in a state of confrontation with the unbelievers. Keeping this backdrop in mind, whenever conditions are hostile, people of other faith causing the hostility cannot be trusted to uphold the interest of the Muslims (cf. 3:118; 5:51; 60:8-9). According to Rāghib, the key word wali (Pl. auliya) commonly understood to be ‘friend’, ‘a close person’, ‘an executor’, ‘a guardian’ etc. refers to nearness or friendship with respect to help and belief. Under such circumstance if someone makes alliance or friendship with the enemies, then they are on their own, Allāh would not protect them. The message of this verse does not apply to casual friendship at work or school since 60:8-9 expressly allow making friendship with unbelievers who are not hostile to the Muslims and circumstances of war does not exist between them. [4]


[1] Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an http://www.englishtafsir.com/Quran/3/index.html#sdfootnote25sym
[2] The Holy Quran – Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction [Year 2002 Edition] by Maulana Muhammad Ali, page 142 – 143
[3] The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Text With English Translation & Short Commentary [2002] By Malik Ghulam Farid page 129 – 130
[4] LINK – Commentary on the Holy Qur’an – By Zohurul Hoque & Hussain Nuri

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8 Responses »

  1. Excellent! Thank you so much!

  2. Impressive!

    Thank you.

  3. Assalamualikum,

    It is strange that those who allege that Quran commands the Muslims not to make friends with non-Muslims are actually the ones who don’t want to be friends with Muslims.

    For anyone to think that the Quran commands its 1.6 Billion followers (22% of Mankind) to not to make friends with people of other faiths is a gross misjudgment.

    But for them to go to additional length and dig up proof from the Quran and justify their thought is misjudgment of an advanced level which doesn’t deserve attention from peaceful people. These people pose a greater threat to Peace and are the perpetuators of hatred.

    Regarding verse 3:28, the word “friend” does not occur in this verse. None of its synonyms like companion or pal etc occur in this verse. It is perfectly just and fair verse.

    The following article proves that the term “friends” doesn’t come into picture at all for verse 3:28 and provides additional arguments.


    • Walaykum salaam

      Sorry for the late reply.

      You’re right, indeed! They are the first ones who dont want to be friends with Muslims, all along pretending to care for Muslims when they hate the Muslims the most.

  4. As’salamualikum,
    May Allah SWT reward and protect you. The article has clarified my mis-conception regarding Muslims being friends with Christians and Jews. JazakAllah k hair

    Fatima, Bukar

  5. Jazakumullahu Khairan Fii Duniya Wal Akhira


  1. Are Muslims Allowed To Lie To Disbelievers? | Discover The Truth
  2. Response To ‘Taqiyya’ Deception – Lying

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