The Ruling on Seeking Help from Non-Muslims
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
As for seeking help from non-Muslims, its ruling is well known by the people of knowledge and there are many proofs. The correct opinion is that which is contained in the decision of the Council of Senior Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: that it is permissible to seek help from non-Muslims for a necessity, in order to repel an oppressive enemy and to protect the country from evil, if the Muslim army is unable to prevent them. Indeed, in this case, it is permissible to seek help from anyone whether he is Jewish, Christian, an idol worshipper, or anything else.
Both of these things happened to the Prophet (pbuh). In Mecca, he sought the help of Mut‘im bin ‘Adiyy, when he returned from Tā’if and feared the people of Mecca after the death of his uncle, Abu Tālib. He sought the protection of others and they did not respond to him. Then, he sought the protection of Mut‘im, who was from the greatest of them in disbelief, and he protected him when the necessity called for doing so. He would present himself (pbuh) to the polytheists in their houses in Mina requesting them to provide him protection, so that he may spread the message of his Lord, despite their different forms of disbelief. He sought the help of ‘Abdullah bin Urayqit during his travel and migration to Medina – and he was a non-Muslim – when he knew that he was good for that particular job and that there was no danger from him. He said on the day of Badr: “I will not seek the help of a polytheist” but he did not say “do not seek their help.” Rather, he said “I will not seek their help” because at that time he was not in need of them, and all praise is for Allah, since there was a group of Muslims with him. This was from the causes of guidance of the one whom he sent back, until he became Muslim.
On the day of the conquest of Mecca, he took help from the armor of Safwān bin Umayya, and he was upon the religion of his people. He said: “Is this by force, O Muhammad?” He (pbuh) replied: “No, rather a secured loan.”
He sought the help of the Jews in Khaybar when the Muslims became too busy to farm due to jihad and he made an agreement with them to have half of the harvest of Khaybar, so that they would work on its date palms and fields; half for them and half for the Muslims. So he sought their help in this and allowed them to stay in Khaybar until the Muslims became free to look after their wealth in Khaybar during the time of ‘Umar, so ‘Umar ousted them.
There is also the well known rule; Allah says:
…while He has explained in detail to you what He has forbidden you, excepting that to which you are compelled… (1)
The Muslims if they are forced to go to an enemy whose evil is less than another enemy, and they are able to seek his help against another enemy who is more evil than him, there is no harm in doing so.
As for what was narrated from the Prophet (pbuh) regarding tribulations and not taking part in them, this is well known by the people of knowledge, and the details are as follows:
The Prophet (pbuh) said:
There will be tribulations in which the one who sits during them will be better than the one who stands, and the one who stands will be better than the one who walks, and the one who walks will be better than the one who hastens, the one who seeks them will be destroyed, so whoever is able to find a place of refuge or shelter, then let him do so.
These are the trials which rear their heads and the path of truth during them is not known, rather it is ambiguous. These are what a believer avoids and stays away from, by any means of escape. From this type of thing is his statement (pbuh):
Soon there will come a time when the best wealth a Muslim will have will be sheep which he will take to the mountaintops and places where rain falls, fleeing from trials for the sake of his religious commitment. (2)
Also from this type of thing is his (pbuh) statement when he was asked: “Which of the people are best?” He replied: “A believer who performs jihad for the sake of Allah.” It was said: “Then who?” He replied: “A believer in a mountain pass who worships Allah and leaves the people alone.”
What is intended is that when things become uncertain and when a believer fears for himself, he keeps away from these things. As for when the oppressor is clearly differentiated from the oppressed, and the truth is clearly differentiated from falsehood, that which is obligatory is to be with the truth, and to be with the oppressed in opposition to the oppressor and the falsifier, as the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Help your brother, whether oppressor or oppressed.” It was said: “O Messenger of Allah, how can I help him when he is an oppressor?” He (pbuh) replied: “Prevent him from oppression; this is helping him.” Meaning that you help the oppressor by preventing him from further oppression.
When the tribulations happened at the time of the companions it was confusing to some people and some of the companions delayed participating in it because of the ahādīth about the tribulations, such as Sa‘ad ibn Abi Waqqās, Muhammad bin Maslama and a number of them.
However, the great scholars of the companions who were more complete in knowledge fought with ‘Ali, because he was the closest of the two groups to the truth. And so they supported him against the Khawārij and against those who were oppressing him from the people of Shām (3), when they saw the truth and that ‘Ali was being oppressed and that it was obligatory to help him and that he was the leader who it was obligatory to follow and that Mu‘āwiya and those who were with him were oppressing ‘Ali, with mistaken justification due to the killing of ‘Uthmān.
Allah said in His Majestic Book:
And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses…(4)
He did not say: “Keep away from them,” He said:
…then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah. And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. (5)
So if the one who is oppressing is known, then it is obligatory to help the one who is oppressed, because of Allah’s statement: “…then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah…” Those who were oppressing at the time of the companions were Mu‘āwiya and those who were with him, and those who were correct were ‘Ali and those who were with him. Because of this, the leading companions helped them; they helped ‘Ali and became from those who were with him, as is well known.
The same meaning was expressed by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in the authentic hadīth about the Khawārij: “A group of people will rebel against a group of the Muslims, those who are closest to the truth will kill them.” They were killed by ‘Ali and those who were with him, and they are the group who was closest to the truth. The Prophet (pbuh) said in the hadīth of ‘Ammār: “‘Ammār will be killed by the rebellious group.” ‘Ammār was killed by Mu‘āwiya’s group in the events of Siffīn. Therefore, Mu‘āwiya and those who were with him were rebellious. However, they were trying to reach the truth and thought that they were justified in seeking retribution for ‘Uthmān, just as Talha and Az-Zubayr thought on the Day of the Camel, and ‘Ā’isha with them – may Allah be pleased with her. However, they were not correct, so they had the reward of making the effort to reach the truth, but they lost the reward of being correct.
‘Ali had the reward of making the effort to reach the truth, as well as the reward of being correct. This is the Islamic principle with regard to those who are qualified to exercise their judgment in reaching the truth from the people of knowledge; that whoever makes an effort in reaching the truth and looks at the proofs surrounding the issue, whether a judge, peacemaker, or fighter, then they have two rewards if they are correct, and one reward if they did not reach the truth – the reward of making the effort to do so – as the Prophet (pbuh) said:
If a judge rules in something, striving to reach the truth, and he is correct, then he has two rewards, and if he rules in something, striving to reach the truth and he errs, then he has one reward.
The hadīth is agreed upon its authenticity. Therefore, whatever tribulations happen by the hand of a person from the Muslims or from the people of innovation, or from the non-Muslims, should be looked into, and the believer should be with the truth, and with the one who is being oppressed against the one who is oppressing, and against the falsifier. In this way, the truth is being supported, and the affairs of the Muslims will be upright, and in this way, the oppressor will be deterred from his oppression. The one who is seeking the truth knows the obligation of cooperating in righteousness and piety and not cooperating in sin and transgression; acting upon the statement of Allah the Exalted:
And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and transgression. (6)
Therefore, fighting the one who rebels and those who transgress against the Muslims due to their oppression; this is truth and righteousness, and a means of restraining the oppressor. Therefore, the Muslims fighting Saddam and the likes of him is from righteousness and guidance. It is obligatory for them to make every effort which they are able in order to fight him, and for them to seek the help of any authority which they think will benefit and help in restraining the oppressor and curbing his whims and destroying him, and saving the Muslims from his evil. It is also not permissible for the Muslims to abandon the oppressed and to hand them over to the oppressor, so that he can do whatever he wants with them. Rather, it is obligatory for them to restrain the oppressor and to support the oppressed, in every major and minor issue.
Therefore, the obligation upon all of Muslims is to gain knowledge in the religion, and to have insight as to what they should do and what they should not, and to judge by the majestic Book of Allah and the Sunna of His noble Prophet (pbuh) in every matter, and to study matters as someone who seeks the truth and desires Allah’s face and the hereafter, the one who wishes to see the rule of Allah implemented amongst the servants of Allah. They must also keep far away from following desires, since desires drive their people into the hellfire. Allah the Exalted said:
and do not follow [your own] desire, as it will lead you astray from the way of Allah. (7)
Allah also said:
But if they do not respond to you – then know that they only follow their [own] desires. And who is more astray than one who follows his desire without guidance from Allah? Indeed, Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people. (8)
The one with intellect and insight would never doubt that had Saddam been given the opportunity, he would have ravaged through the peninsula helped by his supporters from the North and South upon his falsehood. That would have led to catastrophes, corruption, and vast evil.
However, from the help of Allah and His mercy, bounty, and grace the rulers were aware of his depravity and evil and the falsehood which he concealed and the evil and corruption which he fermented, and so they sought the help of multinational forces to make war against him and to defend the religion and the country, until Allah rendered his plan worthless, and prevented him from achieving that which he wished for.
We ask Allah to give us the best result, and to save us from the evil of others, and to help our Muslim armies and those who help them until oppression is removed. Just as we ask Allah to give all of our armies the understanding of the religion and to suffice us against the evil of our sins and our shortcomings and to suffice us all evil. Just as we ask Him to put in control over all Muslims those who will rule between them with the law of Allah and will lead them with the Book of Allah and the Sunna of His Messenger (pbuh) and to suffice the Muslims against the evil of their rulers who go against Allah’s law, and to correct the rulers of the Muslims and those who lead them, and to guide them to His straight path, and to put in control over all of the Muslims in every place, the best of them, and to correct their situation in every place and to suffice them against the evil of their enemies wherever they might be, and to render the plots of the enemies useless and to suffice us against their evil and to suffice us against the evil of all of our sins and to bless us with sincere repentance.
We ask Allah to give success to those who call to the truth to do that which pleases him and to correct the situation of all of the Muslims in every place and to unite our position – all of us Muslims – upon the truth and guidance, wherever we might be, and to suffice us against all evil. Indeed, He is Noble and Generous, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His slave and messenger, our Prophet Muhammad, and upon his family and his companions and those who follow him in good.
1 The Quran, Sura al-An‘ām :119.
2 Al-Bukhāri narrated it in his Sahīh.
3 Shām is geographic or Greater Syria and includes today’s Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and the Turkish region of Antioch.
4 The Quran, Sura al-Hujurāt :9.
5 The Quran, Sura al-Hujurāt :9.
6 The Quran, Sura al-Mā’ida :2.
7 The Quran, Sura Sād :26.
8 The Quran, Sura al-Qasas :50.