Are we allowed to have non-Muslim friends?
Islam teaches us that we should treat all creatures, whether human or animal, with kindness and compassion. Thus when even animals must be treated with kindness, it is obvious that we should display good character to all human beings to an even greater extent – even non-Muslims – treating them with justice, kindness and compassion. In fact, in many instances good character and politeness became the means of attracting non-Muslims to Islam.
It should be borne in mind that although we display good character to non-Muslims, we cannot be friends with them. Good treatment is a different issue from friendship. Friendship entails giving place in one’s heart for some one. Friends become close to one another, develop a bond and close relationship and even have some love for one another. How can a Muslim ever have love for a non-Muslim who, at every moment, rejects Allah Ta‘ala and denies His infinite favours? For this reason, Allah Ta‘ala instructs us in the Quraan Majeed, “The Believers should not take the disbelievers as friends.” (Surah Aal ‘Imraan, v28)
Non-Muslims have no laws of Deen to follow and so they do as they please. When we are friends with them, we will automatically be expected to conform to their way. To do this, one will speak like them, behave like them and even dress like them. In doing so, he abandons the way of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), choosing the way of the disbelievers instead. If their circle of friends includes girls, one will have to be friendly with the girls as well. Naturally, it is difficult to be a friend, yet always say ‘No’. Eventually, a person feels bad and does not wish to hurt his friend, so he compromises on Deen. First one haraam, then the next, until there is no Deen left at all!
While interacting with them, it is natural that certain topics will be discussed. Sometimes, aspects of Deen are also discussed. Often, because our imaan is weak and we lack the knowledge and understanding of Deen, when the non-Muslim friend gives his opinion on Deeni matters or raises objections against them, we become influenced and affected. We thereafter begin to doubt our own Deen, and some people have even gone as far as leaving the fold of Islam (may Allah Ta‘ala save us).
Similarly, many a Muslim boy or girl has fallen into a same-sex relationship after befriending a non-Muslim who had this tendency, as they were corrupted by the mindset and unnatural, filthy inclinations of this person.
It is clear that for the sake of our imaan and Deen, we should never befriend non-Muslims, although we will be polite to them and deal with them with good character.