“Believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends.” [The Qur’an (5:51)]
“This verse is enough to prove that Islam is a religion of hatred and enmity. It orders Muslims not to befriend the people of the book (i.e. Jews and Christians) on account of their faith.” [A fellow non-Muslim in a western TV program].
Now let’s read the previous verse in its complete context in order to understand what it is actually saying. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“O Messenger, do not be grieved by those who vie with one another in denying the truth, those who say with their tongues, ‘We believe,’ but have no faith in their hearts (i.e. Muslim hypocrites). From among the Jews also, there are those who listen eagerly to any lies and listen to others (i.e. their religious leaders) who did not come to meet you [out of pride and conceit]. They (i.e. these Jewish leaders) take the words out of their context and they say, ‘If this [Qur’an] be inspired to you, receive it, but if not, then beware of it!’ [O prophet] if anyone’s trial is intended by Allah, you cannot in the least give aid to him. Those whose hearts Allah does not intend to purify, shall be subjected to disgrace in this world and a severe punishment in the Hereafter. [This is because] they listen eagerly to falsehood, and devour forbidden things voraciously. If they come to you [seeking arbitration], you may judge between them or turn away from them. If you turn away from them, they can in no way harm you. But if you do judge between them, then judge justly, for Allah loves those who are just. Why do they come to you for judgment when they have the Torah, which enshrines Allah’s own judgment? Yet, in spite of that, they turn their backs to it, and certainly those are not believers. Verily, We have revealed the Torah in which there was guidance and light. By it Our obedient prophets judged between the Jews. So did the rabbis and the priests judge according to Allah’s Book which had been entrusted to their care, and to which they were witnesses. Have no fear of people but fear Me, and do not sell My revelations for a paltry sum. Those who do not judge by what Allah has sent down are deniers of the truth. We prescribed for them in [the Torah]: a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and a wound for a wound. But, if anyone forgoes, this shall be atonement for him. Those who do not judge by what Allah has sent down are wrongdoers! We caused Jesus, son of Mary to follow in their footsteps, fulfilling what had been revealed before him in the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, in which there was guidance and light, fulfilling what was revealed before it in the Torah: a guide and an admonition to the God fearing. Therefore, let those who follow the Gospel judge according to what Allah has revealed in it. Those who do not judge by what Allah has sent down are rebellious. We have sent down the Book to you with the truth, fulfilling [the predictions] revealed in the previous scriptures and determining what is true therein, and a guardian over it. Judge, therefore, between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their vain desires turning away from the truth that has come to you. To every one of you We have ordained a law and a way, and had Allah so willed, He would have made you all a single nation, but He did not so will, in order that He might try you by what He has given you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good works, to God you shall all return, then He shall make clear to you what you have been disputing about. Judge between them by what Allah has sent down and do not be led by their desires. Beware of them lest they turn you away from a part of that which Allah has revealed to you. If they reject your judgment, know that Allah intends to punish them for the sins they have committed. Indeed a large number of the people are disobedient. Is it pagan laws that they wish to be judged with? Who is a better judge than Allah for those whose faith is firm? O believers do not take the Jews and Christians as allies. They are allies with one another. Whoever of you takes them as allies then he is one of them. Allah does not guide the wrongdoers. You will see those whose minds are diseased hastening towards them, saying, ‘We fear lest a misfortune befalls us.’ But Allah may well bring about victory or a decision according to His will. Then will they repent of the thoughts which they secretly harbored in their hearts. Then the believers will say, ‘Are these the men who swore their strongest oaths by God that they were with you’? Their works will come to nothing and they will lose all. O believers, if any among you apostates from his faith, Allah will replace them by others who love Him and are loved by Him, who will be kind and considerate towards the believers and firm and unyielding towards those who deny the truth. They will strive hard for the cause of Allah and will in no way fear the reproaches of the fault finders. Such is Allah’s bounty, which He gives to whomever He wishes. Allah is Bountiful and All-knowing. Verily, your helpers are Allah, His Messenger and the believers who preserve their prayers and pay the alms and bow down in worship. Those who ally themselves with God, His Messenger, and the believers must know that Allah’s party is sure to triumph. O believers! Do not seek alliance with those who were given the Book before you (i.e. Jews and Christians) and the deniers who ridicule your religion and make a jest of it, if you are true believers. When you call for prayers, they take it in amusement and treat it as a jest. This is because they are people who have no understanding.” [The Qur’an (5:41-58)]
These verses are describing a certain sect of Muslims, Jews and Christians. They all claim to be adhering to their faiths while actually they are hypocrites. Although they know the truth and understand it with their minds, they don’t truly believe with their hearts nor do they follow Allah’s messages. Their actions contradict their understanding. They follow false verdicts in their judgments and neglect Allah’s laws. These hypocrites were habitually used to issuing religious edicts as desired by the people, either for the benefit of relatives or to satisfy their greed for money, property, influence, and recognition. This had become a common custom particularly in matters involving punishments that they would deliberately change if the crime was committed by an influential person, or a dignitary. In which case, they would change the severe punishment of their scriptures into an ordinary one. It is this behavior pattern of theirs which has been described in the above verses. The end product of their hypocritical attitude is that the world inclines towards a distorted unbalanced system more and more every day. Eventually this shall lead to our destruction. As for the believers who acknowledged the truth when they received it, they take Allah and each other as allies in this unbalanced system. Muslims who take hypocrite Jews or Christians as allies are described in the verses as apostates, Allah knows what’s in their hearts, He proclaims that He shall protect the prophet from their schemes, and replace them with others who are sincere in their faith.
Now the reader may wonder, why couldn’t Muslims take allies from among the sincere people of the book when the prophet himself took Negus, king of Abyssinia, as an ally when he was still a Christian known of his justice and piety? The prophet also took the Jews of Madinah as his allies when he immigrated to Madinah and he respected this alliance until they committed high treason when Madinah fell under attack during the invasion of the confederates. The prophet used as well to praise a rabbi named “Mukhaireeq” for refusing to betray the alliance with Muslims and died while defending Madinah with the Muslims’ army in the “Battle of ’Uhud.” The verses answer all these questions saying that those among the people of the book who ridicule Islam and treat it as a jest are the ones intended. There are many from among the people of the book who respect Islam and treat Muslims in a very kind manner. I have known an American who was raised in adoption by a Christian mom. He told me that when he started thinking about embracing Islam, she gave him great support and never tried to hinder him from following his own heart. He described her to be the most honest woman he ever knew. When he spoke about her final illness and departure, the grief in his voice was honestly heart breaking. People are not all alike, some non-Muslims may show moral respect towards Islam more than some born Muslims do. By all means, those who sincerely adhere to the original teachings of their religions while they respect your religion and freedom of choice are the only ones worthy of your friendship and alliance. This was Prophet Muhammad’s practice and what he taught.
Amazingly, Islam haters neglect the entire preceding context and the reasons of revelation, then they trim out only verse (5:51) from amidst its context, and present it to the public. The worst forgery of all is when they neglect verse (5:57) in the same page, this verse is very clear in stating that those who ridicule Islam and mock Muslims are the ones intended by the preceding verses, but as the verses describe their attitude “This is because they are people who have no understanding”.
The Qur’anic context is clear, it doesn’t need elaborated explanation. Please read it again and decide for yourself whether this is a religion that promulgates hatred, or respect to our Creator’s messages, and mutual respect between faithful believers.
Written by: Ehab Shawky
In Response To:unfurl