Saturday, 21 February 2015
What does Awliya mean in Quran 5:51
A lot of the Islamophobes make a song and dance about this so it's important to have a closer look at meaning of Awliya in this Verse and whether Muslims can take non-Muslims as friends?
Here is a discussion by Haris Aziz on the subject which I have excerpted:
It is in the context of the general Quranic guidelines of peace and friendship that we must see the verse 5:51, which translates as 'O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your awliya: They are but awliya to each other.' The word awliya has various meanings such as friends, protectors and guardians, and if the meaning is taken to be friends then it seems to contradict the Islamic message of peace and cooperation. The context and the historical background of this verse have been well explained by David Dakake. In this verse, awliya needs to be understood as guardians or patrons in the strict military sense. This is because when this verse was revealed, Muslims were in a precarious position in Medina, with the Makkans planning to attack the Muslims and some of the Christian and Jewish tribes conspiring against them. Therefore Muslims were instructed to consolidate themselves and not depend on anyone needlessly. The whole background has been explained by al-Tabari, one of the earliest commentators on the Quran. Moreover, if we read the verses next to 5:51, the verse 5:57 clarifies the meaning even more:
O ye who believe! Take not for awliya those who take your religion for a mockery or sport - whether among those who received the Scripture before you, or among those who reject Faith; but fear ye Allah, if ye have faith [indeed].
This shows that whereas Muslims should adopt a general attitude of cooperation with non-Muslims and friendship with well-meaning non-Muslims, they should be wary of making as a guardian someone who has contempt for Islam or does not mean well for Muslims. It is disappointing to see that when a straightforward methodology leads us to the appropriate meaning, this verse is not only used in anti-islam discourse but also misused by some hate-mongering Muslim groups. Similarly, a warning (Quran 5:82) about the enmity of the Jews of Medina towards the Muslims must be seen in its historical context and should not warrant any ill will from Muslims. Islamic Political Radicalism - A European Perspective, Edited by Tahir Abbas, Anti-Semitism Amongst Muslims - Haris Aziz, Edingburgh University Press, p79-80
Related: Relationship with non-Muslims friends! Answered by Dr. Muhammad Salah on ask Huda.
Related: Can Muslims make Non Muslim Friends ! Yusuf Estes
Related: Dr Zakir Naik ,lecture on whether a Muslim is allowed to make friendship with non Muslims
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