The ruling on befriending non- Muslims
What is the ruling on being friends with non- Muslims?
Maintaining ties, gifting, visiting and congratulating non-Muslims are all from among kind treatment. God Almighty commands us to speak kind words to everyone alike. He says, “And speak to people good [words]” (Quran 2: 83). God also commands us to always be kind to others. He says, “God enjoins justice and good conduct” (Quran 16: 90).God Almighty also says, “God does not forbid you from those who do not fight you not for (your) faith and do not expel you from your homes—from being righteous toward them and acting justly towards them. Indeed, God loves those who act justly”(Quran 60: 8).
It is established through authentic mass transmitted hadiths that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) accepted gifts from non-Muslims. He accepted the gift of Al-Muqawqis, the ruler of Coptic Egypt. Ali Ibn Abu Talib (may God be pleased with him) reported that Chosroes, and other kings sent gifts to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and he accepted them.
The scholars of Islam understood from these hadiths the permissibility or recommendation of accepting gifts from non-Muslims because it is an act of benevolence. Commenting on the gifts the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) offered non-Muslims, al-Sarkhasi said, "Offering gifts to others is from among good morals based on the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and “I was sent to establish good manners.” Therefore, scholars understood that gift exchange between Muslims and non-Muslims is a recommended matter” (Sharh Al-Siyar Al-Kabir, vol. 1, p. 96).
Al-Fatawa Al-Hindiya mentions Mohammed Ibn Al-Hasan (may God have mercy on him) as saying, "There is no harm in visiting and hosting ahl al-dhimma (non-Muslims coexisting peacefully with Muslims) even if they are merely acquaintances. Likewise, there is no harm in a Muslim visiting a non-Muslim whether or not they are close or coexist in peace" (Al-Fatawa Al-Hindiya, vol. 5, p. 34). In Fath Al-'Ali Al-Malik (vol. 2, p. 349), Sheikh 'Ilish was asked whether congratulating non-Muslims is considered apostasy. He replied, "Congratulating a non-Muslim by wishing him a long life is not considered apostasy since it does not imply venerating or admitting disbelief.”
Through the above mentioned noble verses, hadiths and scholarly opinions, it is evident that maintaining ties with non-Muslims by exchanging visits, offering condolences and good wishes, exchanging gifts and the like are from among kind treatment. This is considered one of the ways of calling to the religion of God through noble manners.
And God Almighty knows best.