ChristiansJewsQur'anic VerseQur'anFriendship
Does the verse 5:51 of the Qur'an say that we should not take the Christians or the Jews as friends? What is its explanation?

O you who have faith! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for allies: they are allies of each other. Any of you who allies with them is indeed one of them. Indeed Allah does not guide the wrongdoing lot. (5:51)

Random number: 
26977
Zaid Alsalami, Shaykh Dr Zaid Alsalami is an Iraqi born scholar, raised in Australia. He obtained a BA from Al-Mustafa University, Qom, and an MA from the Islamic College in London. He also obtained a PhD from ANU, Canberra. He has written and translated several Islamic texts and also prepared educational videos on Islamic rulings and practices. 345 Questions Answered & 5 Days Average Response Time.
Abbas Di Palma, Shaykh Abbas Di Palma holds a BA and an MA degree in Islamic Studies, and certifications from the Language Institute of Damascus University. He has also studied traditional Islamic sciences in London, Damascus and Qom and taught for different institutions in Italy and UK. 208 Questions Answered
Sayyed Muhammad Husaini Ragheb, Sayyed Muhammad Husaini Ragheb has a BA in Law from Guilan University, Iran and has also undertaken Hawzah studies in Qom. He is a Cultural Affairs director of Ethics Group of Al-Mustafa Open University and has also taught Arabic conversation at Masoomieh school. 56 Questions Answered
Mahmood Abu Maryam, Trying to make sense of it all... 47 Questions Answered
Abolfazl Sabouri, Abolfazl Sabouri is based in New Zealand and has an MA in Jurisprudence and Islamic Studies. He is a graduate of Elmiyeh seminary in Qom with more than 15 years of study and research where he has also taught Tafsir, Theology and Jurisprudence. 43 Questions Answered
Mateen Charbonneau, Sheikh Mateen Joshua Charbonneau achieved a certificate from Harvard University in Islamic Studies. He undertook Howza classes under esteemed scholars since 2013 and has been teaching at Imam Mahdi Howza since 2017. He has compiled and published several books, has filmed several documentaries on Islamic subjects and has also promoted Islamic propagation in US jails. 39 Questions Answered
Zeinab Donati, Zeinab Donati has been studying books about various Islamic subjects for more than 19 years. She is deeply interested in history and politics as well as social issues in particular those pertaining to women. 25 Questions Answered
Nour Tessie Jørgensen, Nour Tessie Jørgensen has an MA in Islamic studies from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and a degree in Philosophy of Ethics at Al Mustafa International University in Qum, Iran. She works as an Islamic Studies teacher and a counselor in spiritual and female-related issues. 18 Questions Answered
Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour, Sheikh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour is lecturer of Islamic Studies at the Islamic College for Advanced Studies, London, and a visiting lecturer at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Oriental Studies. He was raised in Iran and holds a BA and an MA in Sociology from Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehran. He has also studied at Queen Mary College London and the London School of Economics. 15 Questions Answered
Saleem Bhimji, Shaykh Saleem Bhimji was born and raised in Canada. After completing his post-secondary education at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), he moved to Medina, New York, to study at the Imam al-Asr Theological Seminary. He later continued his religious studies at the Hawza of Qum. To date he has translated over 40 full-length books into English that have been printed worldwide. 15 Questions Answered
Abbas Jaffer, Sheikh Abbas Jaffer is an optometrist by profession and has a Master’s degree in Islamic Sciences. He is a part time lecturer at the Islamic College in London and is currently writing his doctoral thesis on the challenges faced by educators of young Muslims in modern day Britain. He has also co-authored a book on Qur’anic sciences for the Islamic College as well as translating several works from Persian into English. 14 Questions Answered
Vinay Khetia, Shaikh Vinay Khetia has studied at various traditional Islamic seminaries in London, Iraq and Syria. He has an undergraduate degree in Religious and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Toronto and an M.A. in the History and Philosophy of Religion from Concordia University. He is a PhD Candidate in the department of Religious Studies at McMaster University with a focus on the intellectual history of Islam and specifically Shi'ism. 14 Questions Answered
Seyed Ali Musawi, Seyed Ali Musawi studied religion and history at the University of California, San Diego and subsequently he studied for more than 8 years at the Islamic Seminary in Qum, Iran, focusing on Islamic history and jurisprudence. 11 Questions Answered
Masuma Jaffer, Dr Masuma Jaffer is a qualified dentist, with a Masters in Islamic Studies and has also attended Hawza in Qum. She obtained a PGCE - teaching qualification – and has taught Hawza studies at the Islamic College in London. She also has a Diploma in Counselling and is a Qualified Chaplain and worked with women prisoners at Holloway and with Hertfordshire Police advising them on Muslim matters. 10 Questions Answered
Seyed Saied Alavi, Seyed Saied Alavi is a researcher based in Qom who has studied from the Howzah of Qom and also completed a Pastoral studies program. He is currently a university lecturer in the fields of Shia Theology and the History of Religions as well as other subjects. 9 Questions Answered
Mohammed Al-Hilli, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hilli, originally from Iraq, has a Masters in Pharmacy from the University of London. He completed his Hawza degree from the ICAS in London under the supervision of Ayatollah Fadhil Milani, and also has an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University via the Islamic College. He is a teacher at the Hawza Programme at Islamic College in London. 8 Questions Answered
Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla, Zakira Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla is a graduate of York University in Canada from where she obtained a BA in Psychology and Sociology and a Masters in the field of Education. She lectures on Islam at mosques, universities, churches and interfaith gatherings and also recites majalises in Urdu, English and Gujarati. A published freelance writer, playwright, motivational speaker and Anti-Racist Educational Counsellor by profession, she conducts workshops on Race and Cultural sensitivity and often appears on TV program panels and radio talk shows to speak on Race Relations. 4 Questions Answered
Sayed Mohammad Saleh Qazwini, Sayed Mohammad Saleh Qazwini has a BA from the University of Michigan and an MA from Wayne State University. He is a graduate of the Islamic Seminary of Qom, Iran. 3 Questions Answered
Syed Nabi Raza Abidi, Syed Nabi Raza Abidi is based in the US and has a PhD in Theology and Philosophy having attended Howzah in Iran for several years. His research was conducted under the guidance of Ayatollah Ja'far Subhani. He has also taught various subjects such as Usul, Fiqh, Philosophy, and Tafseer in different Islamic schools. 3 Questions Answered
Hassanain Govani, Hassanain Govani is based in Sweden and has an MA in History of Religion from Uppsala University and an MA in Islamic Studies from the Islamic College of London, and has also studied Arabic in Damascus. He has a position as project secretary at SST, the committee for state support for religious communities. 3 Questions Answered
Hamid Waqar, Shaykh Hamid Waqar was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and converted to Islam at the age of sixteen. He started his Islamic studies in the year 2001 in Beirut and, a year later, moved to Qum where he has been studying since. He currently studies at the highest levels of Islamic jurisprudence, translates many books and runs the Muntazar website. 2 Questions Answered
Jerrmein Abu Shahba, Jerrmein Abu Shahba is originally from Egypt and has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a masters in Chemistry from Rutgers State University in the US. She is actively involved in many Islamic projects that include organizing annual youth camps, teaching Islamic subjects, writing articles and translating texts from Arabic. 2 Questions Answered
Faiyaz Jaffer, Shaykh Faiyaz Jaffer is the Associate Chaplain and Research Scholar at the Islamic Center at New York University. He attained an MA degree in Islamic Studies (UK), with a concentration on early Islamic history, after his undergraduate degree from SUNY Stony Brook University in Political Science and Religious Studies. In pursuing the classical course of Islamic education, Faiyaz has studied in the Seminary of Karbala, Iraq. 1 Question Answered
Shahid Pradhan, Shahid Pradhan is a graduate of Al-Mustafa International University, Qum. He is an activist and interested in Indian and international political and social issues. 1 Question Answered
Berak Hussain, Berak Hussain is a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) in Canada. She has a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Educational Counseling from the University of Ottawa. She speaks on a variety of Islamic and psychological issues bridging the connection and misconceptions around Islam and mental health and Islam and women. She has worked locally and internationally on a variety of mental health initiatives working tirelessly to break the stigma around the topic within the community. 1 Question Answered
Sayed Mohammedhassan Alsheraa, Sayed MohammedHassan Alsheraa attended the Hawzah in Detroit, Michigan, in the United States. Thereafter he continued his Islamic studies in the Hawza of Karbala, Iraq. Alongside his Hawza studies, he is also a student of political science at the University of Michigan, USA. 1 Question Answered
Mohammad Zakaria, Mohammad Zakaria is a senior lecturer at the Islamic College where he specialises in Research methodology and Islam's Education Philosophy and Teacher Training. His doctoral work focused on the intersection between Race, Human Rights and Education. 1 Question Answered
Nasim Walji Pirmohamed, Nasim Walji Pirmohamed is a religious lecturer and a teacher in Islamic Religious Education, Holy Qur'an and Arabic language. She has translated works from Persian to English, and has been very active in working for the improvement of women’s condition and their mental health across many countries. 1 Question Answered
Anwar Jaffer, Born and raised in London, Sheikh Anwar Jaffer has a Bsc in Economics and Finance from Queen Mary University of London. In 2010 he began his religious studies in Najaf and transferred to Qom in 2015 where he currently resides with his family. No Questions Answered
Greg Sowden, Ali Mahdi Greg Sowden studied world history at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Since then he has been a student at Al-Mustafa International University in Qom, in the Islamic Republic of Iran.No Questions Answered
Ayub Rashid, Shaykh Ayub Rashid is a graduate of the Islamic Seminary of Qom, Iran. He has a BA in Islamic law and MA in Islam and Community Studies from the UK and is also a qualified Muslim Chaplain from the Markfield Institute of Higher Education in Leicester.No Questions Answered
Amir De Martino, Amir De Martino is of Italian origin and has an MA in Islamic Studies from the Islamic College and a combined BA degree in Persian Language and Studies of Religion from SOAS in London. He has also obtained a PGCE in Social Research Methods from the Department of Education at Roehampton University as part of his preparation for doctoral studies, and is a member of Westminster’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education.No Questions Answered
Jaffer Ali Ladak, Shaykh Jaffer Ali Ladak is from Milton Keynes in the UK and has studied at Jami'a Imam as-Sadiq (a) Hawza Imam al-Jawad (a) in Karbala and at Al Mahdi Institute in Birmingham. He is currently completing his Masters Degree in Islamic Law at the Islamic College in London. He has also authored a book on Lady Umm Kulthum, the daughter of Imam Ali (a).No Questions Answered
Seyed Ali Shobayri,

Seyed Ali Shobayri is of mixed Iranian and Scottish descent who found the path of the Ahlul Bayt (a) by his own research. He holds a BA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University through the Islamic College of London. He also studied at the Hawza Ilmiyya of England and continues Hawza and Islamic studies with private teachers.

106 Answers
Amina Inloes,

Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the Islamic College in London and also the Managing Editor of the Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies.

392 Answers
Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi,

Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to religious questions. In the past, he has also spent significant time in India guiding the community.

1820 Answers
Passed
Rebecca Masterton,

Dr Rebecca Masterton graduated with a BA in Japanese Language and Literature; an MA in Comparative East Asian and African Literature and a PhD in Islamic literature of West Africa. She has been teaching for seventeen years through different media, and has also worked in media for ten years, producing and presenting programs for several TV channels.

84 Answers
Passed
Zoheir Ali Esmail,

Shaykh Zoheir Ali Esmail has a Bsc in Accounting and Finance from the LSE in London, and an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University. He studied Arabic at Damascus University and holds a PhD from the University of Exeter in the philosophical and mystical readings of Mulla Sadra in the context of the schools of Tehran and Qum.

306 Answers
Passed
Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 1 year ago

In addition to what has been said, my understanding of this verse is with respect to the meaning of "wali/awliya" as putting one's self under someone else's authority. That is, one should not put one's self under the authority (in the sense of dependence or giving over power of one's self to someone else, e.g. politically, financially, personally) of someone who is not Muslim in such a way that one loses control over one's life or society and cannot easily recover it.

To my understanding, one of the principles of the early Muslim community was self-definition and self-sufficiency. It doesn't mean that one cannot be friends; friendship is different from disempowerment. To see the results of political or economic disempowerment, one can look at what happened during the colonialist era as an instructive example. (I am not saying that European colonialism was a morally Christian act, but just that this is how these dynamics can play out in the real world)

I would like to add that, in this day and age, no one would argue the reverse; that is, none of the Western countries (which are somehow connected to the Christian heritage even if they are not necessarily "Christian") woud put themselves under the political, legal, financial, or cultural authority of Muslims, yet no one says that this is prejudiced. 

Seyed Ali Shobayri, Seyed Ali Shobayri is of mixed Iranian and Scottish descent who found the path of the Ahlul Bayt (a) by his own research. He holds a BA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University through the... Answer updated 1 year ago

Bismillah, 

Asalamu Alaykom, 

The verse that you have asked about is often used by some anti-Islam supporters to  portray Islam as a hateful and intolerant religion which goes against peaceful co-existence. 

They use the verse to say that a Muslim isn’t allowed to be friends with non-Muslims. It is correct that some translations have translated the word ‘Awliya’ - the plural of wali’ - as ‘friends’ but the word wali or awliyah, can have various meanings depending on the context. 

Firstly in Islam as we know, marriage is allowed  with the people of the book. Therefore it wouldn’t make sense for Allah to command us not be friends with the people of the book and at the same time, allow marriage with them. Is it possible that one may have a Christian or Jewish wife but not be her friend?! 

Secondly, when we read history, we find that the prophet Mohammad had (sawa) peaceful interactions with the people of the book as well as friendship. 

Extracted from a longer Hadith in Kitāb Al-Tawhīd by Sheikh Saduq, we find the following: 

كان لرسول الله صديقان يهوديان 

“The Messenger of Allah had two Jewish friends” 

This shows us that according to our books, the prophet did in fact have friendship with those from the people of the book. By coupling this hadith with the verse, we would come to realise that the word ‘wali’ must have a different meaning than friend. 

When we look into some books of history, we find that according to some reports, this verse was revealed during an incident relating Jews who had breached a covenant with the prophet. 

Please read the passage below: 

“It is reported that the Messenger of Allah besieged them for six days until finally they surrendered to him. `Abdullah ibn Ubayy came to him and interceded on their behalf saying: “O Apostle of Allah, these are my allies and clients who have defended me against the black and the red (that is, against all kinds of people). They were three hundred armoured soldiers and four hundred without armour. Would you now cut them down all in one morning? By Allah, I can then find no security; rather I dread the turns of for- tunes!” The people of Banu Qaynuqa` were allies of the Khazraj tribe only, and not of the Aws. `Abdullah ibn Ubayy persisted in his entreaties until the Prophet relented and granted him their blood. But seeing the humiliation which they had suffered, the people of Banu Qaynuqa` left Medina altogether and settled in Adhri'at in Syria. Then Allah sent down concerning `Abdullah ibn Ubayy and others of the Khazraj tribe:

O you who have faith, take not the Jews or the Christians as patrons. . . (Qur'an. 5 : 51‐ 52) .”

Source: Beacons of Light: Muhammad, the Prophet and Fatimah az-Zahra’ (the Radiant) a Partial translation of I'lamu 'l Wara bi Alami 'l-Huda of Abu Ali al Fadl ibn al Hasan ibn al Fadl at Tabarsi (c. 468/1076 - 548/1154). 

So we see that from this source, a hypocrite from among the companions, tried to intercede for the Jews of Banu Qaynuqa who broke the peace treaty with prophet which was a betrayal. The Prophet allowed this Jewish tribe to reside in Medina on the condition that they do not help enemies against the Muslims; despite this, they still broke their agreement. 

From this source it shows that Allah revealed this verse to rebuke the hypocrite Abdullah bin Ubay who took these people as his allies and his protective guardians. He relied on them and had a type of attachment towards them over the prophet and Muslims. 

This leads us understand that if we take the verse to mean friends, it would indicate those from them who Muslims  have conflicts with, and not regular people from Ahlul kitab. 

However from the context of the historical report, it seems that the correct translation could be the following: 

O you who have faith, take not the Jews or the Christians as patrons or protective guardians. . . (Qur'an. 5 : 51‐ 52) 

Also it could be possible for a Muslim to be forbidden from friendship with some other Muslims. For example if they would lead him astray or to an immoral path, he must not be friends with them despite them being Muslims. So this isn’t discriminatory and restricted to only people of the book. 

If a Muslim was to have a Christian friend for example, who he may study with or partake in sports with etc, then this would be permitted providing that this person wouldn’t lead him down an immoral path or a deviated path. How many times have we found ourselves around Christians who held better moral traits than Muslims although they are upon Batil? 

Also to mention, it is better for someone to take mu’minin as friends as  this will lead them to become stronger in iman and prevent them from haram things. 

It should be noted that the  book above, also contains reports from non-Shia reported Seerah of the prophet. This is due to the Shia losing many books by having them burnt by the enemies, so the above opinion is a possible exegesis for the verse and not 100% definite. Allah swt knows best and the full explanation of the Quran will be with us when Imam Mahdi (May Allah hasten his reappearance) returns. 

What we do know for certain, is that it wouldn’t mean friends in the absolute sense as the Prophet had two Jewish friends as reported in our sources. As we know, the Prophet Mohammad (sawa) is of course our role model who we try to imitate. If he showed friendship and kindness towards the non-Muslims, we may also take this example. 

May Allah grant you success