Socialization with Non-Muslims: Permissible?
Are we ever allowed to socialize with non-Muslims? How do we tell
our non-Muslim friends that we cannot be their friends anymore,
without hurting their feelings?
Answer by Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Kutty:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise
and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His
Dear brother in Islam, we highly appreciate your interesting question
and seize the chance to shed light on some of the Islamic teachings
that are mostly misconceived. We implore Allah Almighty to help
us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.
First of all, Muslims are allowed to socialize with non-Muslims
within limits. Muslims should have good relations with all people
of every religion. At school, at work, in the neighborhood, et cetera,
a Muslim should be kind and courteous to everyone. Islam teaches
its adherents to interact with all people and cooperate for the
good and betterment of the whole mankind. Muslims are taught to
care for all people regardless of their faith or their opinions.
In their relation with non-Muslims, Muslims should be aware of and
observe their religious duties.
In his response to your question Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer
and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario,
"It is not all correct or accurate to say that we are not
allowed to socialize with non-Muslims at all. Therefore, instead
of saying that all forms of socialization with non-Muslims are forbidden,
we should be more specific, and make distinctions and say: while
there are some types of socialization that are considered either
permissible or recommended, while there are others that are considered
impermissible and still there are certain others that are considered
Islam encourages Muslims to cooperate with everyone regardless
of his/her religion or creed in all projects that are virtuous or
beneficial to humanity or other creatures of God; so we must cooperate
with everyone on projects intended to restore justice, peace and
betterment of humans or God's creation. We learn from the sources
that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as well as his
Companions never stayed away from forging such relations with the
non-Muslims. In fact, the Prophet fondly cherished his memories
of a pact he had entered during the pre-Islamic times, which was
related to siding with the oppressed against the oppressors and
restoring the rights of those who have been victimized. His words
in this context are almost axiomatic: "If I were to be invited
to a similar pact by anyone, I would certainly hasten to join it!"
We also learn from his seerah (biography) that he entered into a
relationship of mutual cooperation and partnership with the Jews
of Madinah. Although later on, they broke their part of the covenant,
he never initiated such a breach.
So ask yourself what kind of socialization you are talking about.
If it falls in the above category of virtue, piety or even things
that are beneficial for worldly and other-worldly considerations,
then we are certainly allowed to join in solidarity with them. Allah
says, "Cooperate on virtue and God-consciousness and do not
cooperate on sin and aggression." (Al-Ma'idah: 2)
If, on the other hand, by socialization you mean joining them in
drinking, dancing, or any such activities that are considered unlawful,
then we can never do so regardless of whether they are Muslims or
non-Muslims. To think that we may do so with Muslims and not with
non-Muslims is sheer ignorance, for haram shall remain haram, no
matter who practices it, and halal shall remain halal, no matter
who practices it.
Then there is yet another type of socialization which also falls
under the forbidden or undesirable category. If, for instance, you
are a weak Muslim and you are afraid of losing or compromising your
values and morals while socializing with the non-Muslims, then you
must not do so out of love for preserving your religion intact.
In light of the above, let me conclude by saying: We should consider
our actions as well their effects carefully before we embark on
It is important for us Muslims to join with our fellow citizens
in all laudable and beneficial projects that are intended for the
betterment of the country and people. To do so is not only our duty
as citizens but a religious duty since, as Muslims, we must always
serve as instruments of goodness, mercy and compassion to all people
and to all of Allah's creation. Among such noble and laudable projects
we can include the following: working to eradicate poverty and homelessness;
to save the children; to make our streets free of drugs, alcoholism,
prostitution and homosexuality; to fight cruelty against animals;
and to work for a cleaner environment, et cetera. We must never
have any hesitation or reservation about cooperating with our non-Muslim
neighbors for such causes.
As a matter of fact, this is our mandate as Muslims, for Allah
states in the Qur'an, "O you who believe! Bow down, prostrate
and worship your Lord and do good works in order for you to prosper."
Allah Almighty knows best.