Interacting With People of Other Faiths
I live in the US and some non-Muslims want to become my friends. What is the best way to deal with them?
Islam provides a philosophical perspective towards the universe at large and how we should deal with all animate and inanimate beings in it. Muslims are taught to love and respect all God’s creature as a token of love for their Creator. Therefore, Muslims feel this sense of total serenity and deep connection with the universe at large as all natural inanimate beings are part of God’s work of art. For this reason, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, used to look at the moon and say, “your Lord and my Lord is one”. This sense of connection and belonging is intensified with the fact that all the universe with all its animate and inanimate beings are in a continuous state of worshipping through praising and glorifying God, each in its own way and language as is clearly stated in the Quran, “The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts [ Allah ] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving.” (17-44).
The universal state of worshipping by all God’s creature is deeply reflected in the Muslim’s behavior towards nature and natural objects such as plants and trees and the products coming out of them as the Prophet commanded us not to slam doors or use unnecessary violence or harshness with inanimate objects. The Prophet said, “God loves gentleness in everything and there is nothing done with gentleness except it beautifies it and nothing excludes gentleness except it disgraces it”. Also the Prophet ordered us to conserve water and not to waste it. Moving from the realm of inanimate beings to animate beings such as animals for example, the Prophet guided us to the importance and immense reward of showing kindness and mercy to animals. It was reported that the Prophet stated that a woman entered hellfire due to a cat which she locked and did not feed her nor let her out to eat from earth. Another prophetic hadith emphasized that a man entered paradise for quenching with water the thirst of a dog. Also the Prophet forbid us from overburdening animals with heavy loads and to take turns on riding animals in order not to exhaust them. When it comes to hunting, the Prophet emphatically prohibited hunting birds and animals for the sake of entertainment and only allowed hunting for food purposes.
Moving to the highest realm which is the realm of human beings, it would be natural to deal with all people with love, mercy and respect regardless of their racial origin, religious background or cultural heritage. God the Almighty had created us with different colors, beliefs and races in order to know one another, to love one another not to hate, oppress and kill one another. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) emphasized that an Arab is no better than a non- Arab nor a white person over a black one except through piety.
Muslims along their history extended their kind and gentle treatment to both their friends and foes as Muslim scholars unanimously agree that there are two kinds of brotherhood either brotherhood in religion or brotherhood in humanity. Therefore, for Muslims all people regardless of any religious, racial or cultural considerations are their brothers and sisters.
Numerous prophetic traditions support this perspective as Prophet Muhammad was the best role model in visiting his sick Jewish neighbours even when he was subjected to their harm. He used to answer people’s invitation to lunch and dinner regardless of their religion or social status. He used to show his mercy and compassion to all people alike. He used to be merciful to children, help the weak, support the needy and fed the destitute.
For being a perfect Muslim, one should aspire to follow the Prophetic model of conduct as Prophet Muhammad was described in the Quran as “Mercy to the worlds” and we should notice that the word “worlds” came in its plural form to encompass all realms of beings.
Therefore one of the best ways of representing Islam is through following the footsteps of the Prophet’s moral conduct and merciful nature. Love your friends and set the best example you can give to them and let them see the beautiful merciful nature of the faith emanating through your gentle words and rightful deeds.