Do Muslims believe that Non-Muslims Do Not Deserve Life?
Name of Questioner: Isadore
Date: 17-12-2019 11:47:52 AM
Consultant: Ask About Islam Editorial Team
I am an atheist thinking of Islam. I heard that Muslims believe that non-Muslims do not deserve life. How far is this correct?
Thank you for your question.
Answering your question, Dr. Jasser Auda, Professor and Al-Shatibi Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South Africa, the Executive Director of the Maqasid Institute, states:
What you heard about Muslims believing that non-Muslims do not deserve life is simply not true! The best proof for that is the Quran, the Glorious Book of Islam, which defines what Islam is about, basically.
It might be appropriate for me to quote here some verses from the Quran, to make my point clearer.
Here is a verse that acknowledges the faith of all those who believe in God and the hereafter.
Verily, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians -all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds-shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve. (Quran 2:62)
And this is a similar verse:
For, verily, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Sabians, and the Christians - all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds - no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve. (Quran 5:69)
As for 'fighting against the disbelievers' that you might have heard some extremists talk about, here is the related verse, which is fair enough, I am sure:
"And fight in God's cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression-for, verily, God does not love aggressors." (Quran 2:190)
There are many verses that talked about a relationship of friendship between Muslims and non-Muslims. Here is an example:
As for such [of the unbelievers] as do not fight against you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity: for, verily, God loves those who act equitably. God only forbids you to turn in friendship towards such as fight against you because of [your] faith, and drive you forth from your homelands, or aid [others] in driving you forth: and as for those [from among you] who turn towards them in friendship; it is they, they who are truly wrongdoers! (Quran 60:8-9)
Notice that the word "birr" (translated as kindness) that God used in this context is the same word that is used for the type of kindness that a Muslim should show to his/her parents, as in "birr al-walidain" (kindness to parents)! This is not just friendship but deep respect, isn't it?
The other verse I would like to mention is the verse that allowed Muslims to marry Christians and Jews:
… virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who received the Scripture before you are lawful for you … (Quran 5:5)
Again, this is not just friendship. This is the closest and strongest possible human relationship; a husband and his wife, who is his lover, friend, and mother of his children. No other religion (officially) allows that.
As for the verses that 'forbid' friendly relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims, for example: "O you who have attained to faith! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for your allies: they are but allies of one another and whoever of you allies himself with them becomes, verily, one of them; behold, God does not guide such evildoers. (Quran 5:51)
This was revealed in certain historical circumstances, in which there was a war between the infant Islamic State on different occasions on four different fronts (the Romans, the Persians, the pagans of Arabia, and the Jews of Medina).
So, the historical context of the revelation of this verse is a situation of war between Muslims and the People of the Book (Jews, internally in Medina, and Christians, through a Roman crusade), and Muslims were not allowed to make friends with the enemies during the time of war, simply.
This verse is an exception in an exceptional case, and is by no means a general rule.
We hope this answers your question.
Keep in touch.