Different Types of Aiding the Polytheists
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, Most Merciful
Showing allegiance and helping non-Muslims can be divided into three types:
First: to show general, total, and unconditional allegiance. This is disbelief which takes a person outside of the religion of Islam. This is what is meant by those who refer to supporting the polytheists as disbelief.
The proof is the statement of Allah the Exalted:
O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people. (1)
And His statement, the Exalted:
O you who believe, do not take My enemies and your enemies as allies, extending to them affection while they have disbelieved in what came to you of the truth – having driven out the Prophet and yourselves [only] because you believe in Allah, your Lord. If you have come out for jihad in My cause and seeking means to My approval, [take them not as friends]. You confide to them affection, but I am most knowing of what you have concealed and what you have declared. And whoever does so among you has certainly strayed from the soundness of the way. (2)
Ibn Kathīr said in explaining these verses:
Allah the Blessed and Exalted forbade His believing servants from showing allegiance to non-Muslims and from taking them as allies, extending to them affection, in place of the believers. Then He mentioned the threat of punishment for the one who does so, saying: “And whoever [of you] does that has nothing with Allah”, meaning that whoever falls into the prohibition of Allah in this matter, he is free from Allah. As Allah the Exalted said: “O you who believe, do not take My enemies and your enemies as allies, extending to them affection” until the point when He said: “And whoever does it among you has certainly strayed from the soundness of the way.” And Allah the Exalted said: “O you who believe, do not take the disbelievers as allies instead of the believers. Do you wish to give Allah against yourselves a clear case?” He, the Exalted, also said: “O you who believe, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them…”
And Allah, the Exalted, said, after mentioning the allegiance of the believers from the emigrants, the Ansār, and the bedouins: “And those who disbelieved are allies of one another…” (3)
The imam, Ibn Jarīr at-Tabari, said:
Whoever shows allegiance to them and helps them against the believers, then he is from the people of their religion and faith. For indeed, no person shows allegiance to anyone except that he is pleased with them and their religion and what they are upon. If he is pleased with that person and he is pleased with their religion then he is an enemy to whatever opposes that person and makes him angry, and he takes on the ruling of those people.
The shaykh, ‘Abdul-Latīf bin ‘Abdur-Rahmān bin Hasan Āl-Shaykh, said:
The Sunna has explained it and has restricted and limited it to [those who show] complete and general allegiance.
The shaykh, ‘Abdur-Rahmān as-Sa‘adi, said:
If it is a form of showing allegiance which is total, then this is disbelief, and there are levels which are extremely severe, just as there is that which is lesser in severity.
Second: This allegiance is for the sake of gaining benefit for the person who shows it and supports them, without there being a valid reason for him to do so, such as fear and similar things; this is forbidden, but it is not disbelief.
The proof is the story of Hātib bin Abi Balta’a t which was narrated by al-Bukhāri, Muslim, and others, in which he wrote a letter to the Quraysh, informing them about the preparedness of the Prophet (pbuh) to march on Mecca.
Since the Prophet (pbuh) was preparing to conquer Mecca and had concealed the fact in order to surprise the Quraysh, so that they would be forced to accept a treaty, as he r did not want to fight a war. Hātim sent his letter with a servant woman who had put it in the braids of her hair. Allah informed His Prophet of this, and he sent ‘Ali, Az-Zubayr, and Al-Miqdād to catch up with her, and he said: “Go out until you reach the meadow of Khākh. You will find there a woman travelling by camel who has a letter with her; take it from her.” When the letter was brought to him, he said: “O Hātib, what is this?” He said: “O Messenger of Allah, do not be hasty with regard to me! I was closely connected to Quraysh, but I was not from their tribe and those who are with you from the emigrants have relatives who would protect their families and wealth, so I wanted to recompense for my lacking any blood relation to them by doing them a favour – so that they might protect my dependents. I did this neither out of disbelief, nor apostasy, nor out of preferring disbelief to Islam.” Allah’s Messenger said: “Hātib has told you the truth.” ‘Umar sought permission from the Prophet (pbuh) to kill him, but he did not give him permission. They said that the statement of Allah the Exalted was revealed regarding this:
O you who have believed, do not take My enemies and your enemies as allies, extending to them affection while they have disbelieved in what came to you of the truth, having driven out the Prophet and yourselves [only] because you believe in Allah, your Lord…
Al-Hāfidh ibn Hajar said:
The statement of ‘Umar in the story of Hātib ibn Abi Balta’a: “O Messenger of Allah, allow me to strike his neck!” ‘Umar only said that, despite the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) believing Hātib in his justification, because of what ‘Umar had of strength in the religion and the hate of those who were ascribed to hypocrisy.
He thought that the one who goes against something which the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) ordered deserved to be killed, but he did not say that it was definitely so, for that reason he sought permission. He used the word ‘hypocrite’ for him because of his concealing something which was different to what he showed openly. The justification of Hātib was what he mentioned, since he only did this believing that it would not cause any harm. At-Tabari recorded a narration from Al-Hārith bin ‘Ali about this story: “[The Prophet] said: ‘Did he not take part in Badr?’ [‘Umar] replied: ‘Yes but he broke his oath and helped your enemies against you’.”
Ibn Hazm said:
As for the one from the Muslim people of the border town, whose fervor led him to seek help from the polytheists who were being fought, and he used their power to fight those Muslims who went against him, or to take their wealth from them, or imprison them; if he was the one in power and the disbelievers were like followers of him, then he is destroyed at the peak of disobedience, but by doing so he does not become a disbeliever, since nothing in the Quran or consensus has come which necessitates that he be declared a disbeliever.
The shaykh, Muhammad Rashīd Ridā, said:
And if the Legislator (Allah) did not rule Hātib a disbeliever in supporting the polytheists, which is the essence of the prohibition…
For this reason, the scholars of fiqh did not mention this support and allegiance as being from the things which take a person outside of Islam, in the chapters of their books which deal with the ruling in regard to an apostate. This will become clear to those who read Kitāb al-Iqnā’ and its explanation, Al-Mughni, and others.
It should be noted that Allah called Hātib by the name of faith, in His statement: “O You who have believed, do not take…” This shows that he did not disbelieve by this action of his, even though Allah said: “extending to them affection” and He said: “You confide to them affection.”
Third: That this allegiance is due to fear of the disbelievers and similar things, and the ruling of this is that it is permissible.
The proof is the statement of Allah the Exalted:
…except when taking precaution against them in prudence. (4)
Ibn Kathīr said:
Meaning: except for the one who fears their evil in some times and places, so it is allowed for him to take precaution against them [by showing allegiance] openly, not on the inside and not with his intention, as al-Bukhāri narrated from Abu ad-Dardā’ that he said: “Indeed, we smile at the faces of some people, while our hearts curse them.”
The shaykh, Muhammad Rashīd Ridā, said:
Those who speak in the religion without knowledge and interpret the Quran according to their desires, mistakenly believe that the āyah of [Sura] Āl ‘Imrān and those which have similar meanings from both general and specific prohibitions, such as His statement, the Exalted: “O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies…” (5) suggest that it is not permissible for the Muslims to forge allegiances or agree with others, even if this allegiance or agreement is in their best interests. They have missed the fact that the Prophet (pbuh) was allies with [the tribe of] Khazā’a whilst they were still upon polytheism. Some of those who are zealous in the religion even think out of ignorance that it is not permissible for a Muslim to have good dealings with a non-Muslim, or to live in a good way together, or to trust him in anything.
He also said:
According to this it is permissible for the rulers of the Muslims to form allegiances with non-Muslim countries for the sake of benefiting the believers by repelling a harm or gaining something beneficial.
So whenever you find someone showing allegiance and supporting non-Muslims, then the one who applies the type of support and allegiance to one of these three categories should fear Allah by not being hasty, and he must know the reality of the matter and its essence, since being prudent so as not to eat something forbidden and so as not to do something wrong is not more deserving than being prudent in not declaring a Muslim to be outside of the religion of Islam. Giving rulings in these matters of public importance which relate to the relations of countries with others and the relations of rulers with their counterparts is not the right of every person who is a student of knowledge.
Rather, it is specifically for the senior scholars who have a direct association with the rulers and who know the reality of the situation. Much of the time the things that are made public are not the true reality of the situation. Therefore, the mufti is like a doctor who examines the disease first of all, then he prescribes a medicine. And some of those who give verdicts are like pharmacists: they have knowledge of the texts, but they are not able to apply the knowledge of these texts to the situation. Just as individual verdicts in matters of public importance end up calling to divisions and disagreements, thus leading to the disagreement of the umma and its splitting, rebelling at a time in which the umma is in desperate need of coming together and uniting upon a single position.
Whoever examines the situation of the Prophet r with the polytheists and his relations with them, the meaning of these texts becomes clear to him, and how they give attention to that which benefits the Muslims and how they are taken into account in preventing negative consequences.
This is clear when the Prophet (pbuh) made a treaty with the polytheists of Quraysh at Hudaybiya, for a length of ten years. By doing so, he gave them the ability to stay in Mecca upon their polytheism and to defile the K‘aba by associating partners with Allah and by their erecting idols. The treaty also encompassed what is mentioned in Sahīh al-Bukhāri:
When Suhayl refused to conclude the treaty with Allah’s Messenger except on that condition, the Messenger of Allah concluded it, so he sent back Abu Jandal ibn Suhayl on that day to his father Suhayl bin ‘Amr, and none of the men came to the Messenger of Allah [from Mecca] except that he sent them back during this period, even if he was Muslim.
Yet, if a ruler after the Prophet (pbuh) was to do the same thing and to send back the Muslims and hand them over to the disbelievers, some of those who are ascribed to knowledge would rule him a disbeliever and an apostate.
Therefore, my advice to the Muslims generally, and especially to the students of knowledge, is to withhold from the causes of disunity between the Muslims, since this is from those things which serve the interests of our enemies who lie in wait. We must give all of our efforts to consolidating our opinion and uniting our ranks. Allah the Exalted said:
And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided… (6)
The Prophet (pbuh) said:
Whoever comes to you when you are united upon a single man (as your ruler) and wishes to rebel and break up your unity, kill him, whoever he may be.
The people of fiqh in this umma and the firmly-grounded scholars pay attention when giving out verdicts to the principles of Islamic legislation, such as the principle of seeking to achieve the benefit and increase it, and to repel the harm and reduce it, as well as the principle of doing the lesser of two evils to prevent the occurrence of the greater of them. We ask Allah the Generous to bring together all of the Muslims and to unite their ranks upon the truth and to give honour to His religion, and to raise high His word; indeed He is the responsible for that and the One who is capable of doing so. And may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and his companions.
1 The Quran, Sura al-Mā’ida, :51.
2 The Quran, Sura al-Mumtahina :1.
3 The Quran, Sura al-Anfāl :73.
4 The Quran, Sura Āl Imrān :28.
5 The Quran, Sura al-Mā’ida :51.
6 The Quran, Sura Āl Imrān :101.