“Muslims Must Not Take the Infidels as Friends” Qur’an 3:28

Non-believers believe the Qur’an is full of evil and oppression and promotes terrorism. This is because they do not understand the Qur’an’s context as they read like they do with the bible. I recently received a question in my WhatsApp inbox “My Muslim brother, you claim Islam is a religion of peace, how do you answer this?” He sent me a list of Qur’anic verses which he and others believe the Qur’an is evil.

This article is my answer to the Christian friend and I hope it shall be helpful to Muslim brothers and sister who encounter the same questions.

Qur’an 3:28 “Muslims Must Not Take the Infidels as Friends”

This is another Language problem. Just learn Arabic language before interpreting the Qur’anic verses, or else, you will not see any goodness from the Qur’an.

In the Qur’an, we have many words that have different meanings, but if we translate them into English or Chichewa, we’ll have five Arabic words with different meanings that give us one English word with a single meaning. That’s the problem. Arabic is the richest language in the world, and we can’t just interpret its terms anyhow. That’s why we have to learn it to understand the Qur’an. For example let me just take the word found on the quoted verse (3:28)

Friend: Swadiq – Nasweer – Rafeeq – Swaahib – Zameel – Waliyy

These words mean FRIEND in English, but each word has a different meaning of the kind of friendship:

Swadiq, Zameel = the word comes from swaddaqa (believed), that is a friend whom you believe, and zameel is commonly used to refer to a friend in school (school/classmate). These words are mostly used in classic Arabic.

Nasweer = the word comes from naswara (help/support/defend etc), that is a friend who supports or defends you etc. This was used by Jesus (May Allah’s peace be on him) on his disciples, and in Islam, those who stood up for Jesus are called Naswaara (Jesus’s supporter). Read Qur’an 3:52:

But when Jesus felt [persistence in] disbelief from them, he said, “Who are my supporters for [the cause of] Allah?” The disciples said,” We are supporters for Allah. We have believed in Allah and testify that we are Muslims [submitting to Him].

Rafeeq, Swaahib = the word comes from raafaqa (associated), that is a friend with whom you do things together, walk together etc. (comrade, colleague, fellow, etc). Swaahib is commonly used to refer the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be on him). We say “The Sahaba of the Prophet” referring to all those who saw and believed in the Prophet.

Waliyy = the word comes from wallaa (take responsibility), that is a friend who takes care of you (guardian, keeper, curator, caretaker, custodian, sponsor, patron etc.) This is the one who takes care of your affairs, know almost everything about you and can possibly be your lawyer…in this context; we refer waliyy to “friend in faith”


Let’s get back to our verse (3:28) where the Qur’an says:

“Muslims must not take the infidels as friends”.

The verse 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.

To quickly understand the meaning, let’s see which word among those words has Allah used to mean “friends” in English. It is Awliyaa (plural form of Waliyy). Now look at the meaning of Waliyy above.

In this verse Allah has prohibited Muslims to take non-Muslims (infidels/who don’t believe what Muslims believe) as their friends in faith, their guardians, caretakers, custodians etc.

As I said, our friends have the problem of reading a part of the verse and interpret according to their desires. But the Qur’an clearly interprets every word by itself. So I present to you Qur’an 5:51, which interprets the meaning of 3:52:

“Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors; they are but protectors to each other”.

Let’s answer this question: Protectors from what?

Muslims are commanded to protect their belief. Non-believers cannot be taken as protectors of what they don’t believe. Muslims cannot have their faith protected by those who don’t believe it. They protect their faith and Muslims protect their faith.

That is the meaning of Waliyy (friend in faith)

Several Qur’anic Verses have recommended Muslims to take a nonbeliever as a friend (but not in faith). These verses to you will seem contradicting the verse you quoted (3:28) if you take the same meaning of friendship!

Check the terminology used in these verses:

4:36 – “…and  do good to parents, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side…”

In this verse, Allah used the word “Swaahib” (companion). You may take a disbeliever as a companion (swaahib).  A swaahib can be your neighbor, workmate, classmate, friend (he is not a brother in faith).

31:15 – Even if your parents relentlessly call you to become an apostate or an infidel, do not follow them, but still be kind to them and be their companion   (swaahib).

Your parents can be non-believers. But the Qur’an commands us to obey them in everything except in faith issues, when they ask us to deviate our faith, do not be friends (in faith) with them.

18:13 – A swaahib can be a disbeliever: “And he (a nonbeliever) had fruit, so he said to his companion (a believer) while he was conversing with him, “I am greater than you in wealth and mightier in [numbers of] men.”

Also, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was addressed as the swaahib of the both the believers and disbelievers in Noble Verses 34:46, 53:2, 81:22.

A Muslim man can also marry a Jewish or Christian woman. Also, some of the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) are from among the blessed ones. See Noble Verses 5:5, 3:199, 3:113-114. More proof that having a life friendship with disbelievers is permitted.

However, the disbelievers may not be your allies without or against the Believers.  And if he’s hostile towards Islam, then you must end your relationship with him (4:89, 2:193, 58:8-9, 29:46, 60:8).

Be forgiving to those who disagree with your faith who are not hostile.  Show kindness to them.  Pardon people.  Restrain your anger.  And be just.  See Noble Verses 5:8, 60:8, 5:2, 4:58, 4:135, 7:159, 5:44, 2:62, 3:134, 7:199, 15:85, 5:13, 2:109, 24:22, 45:14, 76:7-10, 90:11-17, 2:177, 2:215, 17:26, 38:26, and 42:42.

Please read this from Qur’an 60:8-9

“Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allah loves the doers of justice. Allah only forbids you respecting those who made war upon you on account of (your) religion, and drove you forth from your homes and backed up (others) in your expulsion, that you make friends with them, and whoever makes friends with them, these are the unjust.”

So the Qur’an Does Not Command Us to Hate Christians and Jews.