Surah 5:51, 3:28, 4:144 Explained

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It is often the case among some critics online to misrepresent Ibn Kathir’s commentary on 5:51, claiming that Muslims in general, are completely prohibited from befriending Christians and Jews.

Even when it is pointed out that they’re misinformed and do not understand the verse, they say, that western Muslims are moderate and go against Allah’s teachings on 5:51. It seems those who push this type of claims are most likely those who would not like to be friends with a Muslim in the first place. We have written detailed article on Surah 5:51 and 3:28,

(1) – “Can Christians And Jews Be Friends With Muslims?

(2) – “Quran 3:28 Not To Take Non-Believers As Friends?

(3) – “The Relationship Of The Muslim With Non-Muslims

Ibn Kathir states that Surah 5:51, 3:28 and 4:144 says that it refers to those people who aim to harm Muslims or mock, and Insult Islam and Muslims should not be friends with these people.

Ibn Kathir’s (1301 – 1373 AD) commentary on 5:51, he explains in more detail elsewhere who these individuals are referred to in 5:51. He states that the verse refers to those who mock, insult Islam and harm, persecute and expel Muslims. That a Muslim is forbidden from befriending such a people:

“Reason behind revealing Surat Al-Mumtahanah

The story of Hatib bin Abi Balta`ah is the reason behind revealing the beginning of this honorable Surah. Hatib was among the Early Emigrants and participated in the battle of Badr. Hatib had children and wealth in Makkah, but he was not from the tribe of Quraysh. Rather, he was an ally of `Uthman. When the Messenger of Allah decided to conquer Makkah, after its people broke the peace treaty between them, he ordered the Muslims to mobilize their forces to attack Makkah, and then said,

‘O Allah! Keep our news concealed from them.’ Hatib wrote a letter and sent it to the people of Makkah, with a woman from the tribe of Quraysh, informing them of the Messenger’s intent to attack them. He wanted them to be indebted to him so that they would grant safety to his family in Makkah﴾. Allah the Exalted conveyed this matter to His Messenger, because He accepted the Prophet’s invocation to Him to conceal the news of the attack. The Prophet sent someone after the woman and retrieved the letter. This story is collected in the Two Sahihs. Imam Ahmad recorded that Hasan bin Muhammad bin `Ali said that `Abdullah bin Abu Rafi` — or Ubaydullah bin Abu Rafi` — said that he heard `Ali say, “Allah’s Messenger sent me, Zubayr and Al-Miqdad saying,

‘Proceed until you reach Rawdat Khakh, where there is a lady carrying a letter. Take that letter from her.’

So we proceeded on our way, with our horses galloping, until we reached the Rawdah. There we found the lady and said to her, `Take out the letter.’ She said, `I am not carrying a letter.’ We said, `Take out the letter, or else we will take off your clothes.’ So she took it out of her braid, and we brought the letter to Allah’s Messenger . The letter was addressed from Hatib bin Abu Balta`ah to some pagans of Makkah, telling them about what Allah’s Messenger intended to do. Allah’s Messenger said,

‘O Hatib! What is this’ Hatib replied, `O Allah’s Messenger! Do not make a hasty decision about me. I was a person not belonging to Quraysh, but I was an ally to them. All the Emigrants who were with you have kinsmen (in Makkah) who can protect their families. So I wanted to do them a favor, so they might protect my relatives, as I have no blood relation with them. I did not do this out of disbelief or to renegade from my religion, nor did I do it to choose disbelief after Islam.’ Allah’s Messenger said to his Companions,
‘Regarding him, he has told you the truth.’ …

The Group with the exception of Ibn Majah, collected this Hadith using various chains of narration that included Sufyan bin `Uyaynah. Al-Bukhari added in his narration in the chapter on the Prophet’s battles, “Then Allah revealed the Surah,

‘O you who believe! Take not my enemies and your enemies as protecting friends…’ ” Al-Bukhari said in another part of his Sahih, `Amr (one of the narrators of the Hadith) said, “This Ayah,
‘O you who believe! Take not my enemies and your enemies as protecting friends’…’ was revealed about Hatib, but I do not know if the Ayah was mentioned in the Hadith (or was added as an explanation by one of the narrators).” Al-Bukhari also said that `Ali bin Al-Madini said that Sufyan bin `Uyaynah was asked, “Is this why this Ayah,
‘O you who believe! Take not my enemies and your enemies as protecting friends.’ was revealed” Sufyan said, “This is the narration that I collected from `Amr, I did not leave a letter out of it. I do not know if anyone else memorized the same words for it.”

The Command to have Enmity towards the Disbelievers and to abandon supporting Them
Allah’s statement,

‘O you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies as protecting friends showing affection towards them, while they have disbelieved in what has come to you of the truth,’ refers to the idolators and the disbelievers WHO ARE COMBATANTS against Allah, His Messenger and the believers. It is they whom Allah has decided should be our enemies and should be fought. Allah has forbidden the believers to take them as friends, supporters or companions. Allah the Exalted said in another Ayah,

‘O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as protecting friends, they are but protecting friends of each other. And if any among you takes them (as such), then surely, HE IS ONE OF THEM.’ (5:51) This Ayah contains a stern warning and a sure threat. Allah the Exalted said,

‘O you who believe! Take not as protecting friends those who take your RELIGION AS A MOCKERY and fun from among those who received the Scripture before you, nor from among the disbelievers; and have Taqwa of Allah if you indeed are true believers.’ (5:57)

‘O you who believe! Take not for protecting friends disbelievers instead of believers. Do you wish to offer Allah a manifest proof against yourselves’ (4:144) and,

‘Let not the believers take the disbelievers as protecting friends instead of the believers, and whoever does that will never be helped by Allah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them. And Allah warns you against Himself (His punishment).’ (3:28)

This is why Allah’s Messenger accepted Hatib’s excuse when he said that he only wanted to have a favor on the Quraysh, because of the property and family members he left behind in Makkah. Allah’s statement,

‘and HAVE DRIVEN OUT THE MESSENGER AND YOURSELVES ( FROM YOUR HOMELAND)’ follows His encouragement to fight against them and to avoid being their supporters. This is because they EXPELLED THE MESSENGER AND HIS COMPANIONS ON ACCOUNT OF THEIR HATRED FOR TAWHID (MONOTHEISM) and worshipping Allah alone in sincerity. This is why Allah the Exalted said,
‘because you believe in Allah, your Lord!’ meaning, `your only fault is that you believed in Allah, Lord of all that exists.’ Allah the Exalted said in other Ayat,

‘And they had no fault except that they believed in Allah, Almighty, Al-Hamid!’ (85:8) and,

‘Those who have been expelled from their homes unjustly only because they said: “Our Lord is Allah.”’ (22:40) Allah said,

‘If you have come forth to strive in My cause and to seek My good pleasure.’ Allah says, `if you are as described here, then do not take the disbelievers as supporters. If you migrated in Jihad for My cause and for seeking My pleasure, then do not take My enemies and your enemies as protecting friends, after THEY EXPELLED YOU FROM YOUR HOMES AND PROPERTY IN RAGE AGAINST YOU and rejection of your religion.’ Allah’s statement,

‘You show friendship to them in secret, while I am All-Aware of what you conceal and what you reveal.’ Allah asks, `do you do this while I know the secrets of the hearts, the intentions and all apparent things,’

‘And whosoever of you does that, then indeed he has gone astray from the straight path. Should they gain the upper hand over you, they would behave to you as enemies, and stretch forth their hands and their tongues against you with evil,’ meaning, `if they gain the upper hand over you, they would use every type of harm in their disposal to hurt you in words and action,’

‘and they desire that you should disbelieve.’ meaning, `they are eager that you do not earn any good. Therefore, their enmity to you is outward and inward, so how can you become supporters of this type of people’ This also encourages the enmity. …” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) [Abridged by A Group of Scholars Under The Supervision Of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri. Maktaba Dar-us-Salam – Second Edition, 2003], volume 9, page 583 – 589)

 

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