Allah (SWT) says in Quran in Al-Imran # 28
Let not the believers take the disbelievers as helpers or friend instead of the believers, and whoever does that will never be helped by Allah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them.
Let us first describe several possible levels of relationship between two individuals or two groups in order to fully appreciate this guidance.
The first level of relationship is directly heart to heart, and it is called Mowalat. This is allowed between believers only.
The second level of relationship is of sympathy and of goodwill and it is called Mowasat. This is enjoyed by all disbelievers except those at war with the believers. This is mentioned in Surah
Al-Mumtahinah. # 8
Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Allah loves those who deal with equity.
The third level of relationship is to have good moral behavior towards others. It is called Madarat. This is also allowed with disbelievers. For example, you must honor disbelievers when they are your guests. Believers are also allowed to display this good behavior in order to save themselves from the harm of the disbelievers. This is what it is meant when Allah (SWT) says in Al-Imran # 28
Except if you, indeed fear a danger from them.
The fourth level of relationship is in connection with trade, industry and job relationship. And it is called Mu’amalaat. This is permissible with all disbelievers as long as it does not hurt the interest of the believers. Hence it is permissible to seek a job with a non-muslim or to work in his factory. Similarly, it is allowed to engage in trade with disbelievers although it is not allowed to sell arms and ammunition to those who are at war with the believers.
This model behavior was demonstrated by Prophet Mohammad (SAS). For example, when the people of Makkah had famine, he helped them in spite of the fact that they had driven him out of his home. Similarly, after the conquest of Makkah, the people of Makkah expected Prophet Mohammad (SAS) to kill them, or make them slaves or at least take away their properties and belongings. They were extremely worried and wondered what declaration Prophet Mohammad (SAS) was going to make at this historic address. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) began this address by saying to the disbelievers,
Today there will be no blame on you for anything and no one will harm you anyway.
There is no other such example in the history of mankind to show this excellent behavior towards the enemies. As a result of this exemplary behavior thousands of Makkan accepted Islam.
Similary Prophet Mohammad (SAS) let a delegate of (Banu- Thaqeef) tribe stay in Masjid Nabawi even if they were non-muslims. It was to show them courtesy and respect.
Caliph Omar (RU) used to give scholarships to needy disbelievers from the government treasury.
Keeping all this explanation in mind we can now refer to several other verses in the Quran describing the relationship between the believers and the disbelievers. Allah (SWT) says in sura Al- Mumtahinah # 1
O you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies (i.e: disbelievers) as friends showing affection towards them.
At the end of this verse Allah says Al-Mumtahinah # 1
You show friendship to them (disbelievers) in secret while. I am All-Aware of what you conceal and what you reveal. And whosoever of you (Muslim) does that, then, indeed, he has gone astray from the Straight Path.
Allah (SWT) also says in Quran. Al-Maida # 51
O you believers, do not make friendships with Jews and Christians since they are supporters of each other. Hence who does this will be counted among them. Allah does not guide those people who are unjust.
Allah (SWT) says in Surah Al-Mujadalah # 22
O Mohammad (SAS) you will not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, making friendship with those who oppose Allah and His Massenger even though they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred people.
Hence the criterion for various levels of friendship or animosity is to obey Allah (SWT) and His Messenger. Any other personal, racial, territorial reasons must not motivate a person for friendship or animosity.
Prophet Mohammad (SAS) said: “Whosoever had a friendship and animosity solely for the sake of Allah (SWT), he perfected his faith.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)
It is clear that believers are not allowed to make intimate friendship with even Christians and Jews so that they do not share secrets of Islamic state with others. It is to safeguard the safety and security of the people and the state.
Allah (SWT) says in Quran, Al-Imran # 118,119,120
O you who believe, do not make intimate friendship with others than your own folk, who would spare no pains to ruin you. They love to hamper you. Hatred is revealed by the utterance of their mouths, but that which their breasts hide is greater. We have made plain to you the revelation if you understand.
Look, you are those who love them though they do not love you, although you believe in all the Scriptures. When they fall in with you, they say, “We believe.” When they go apart they bite their finger tips at you in rage. Say, “Perish in your rage. Allah (SWT) is aware of what is hidden in your breasts.”
If good befalls you, it grieves them, and if a disaster strikes you, they rejoice there at. If you are steadfast and fear Allah (SWT), none of their plans will be able to harm you. Allah (SWT) is surrounding what they do.
In spite of all this, Muslims are required to fulfill all obligations towards disbelievers living in an Islamic state. Ibn Masood narrated that Prophet Mohammad (SAS) has said, “I shall claim on behalf of the disbelievers on the Day of Judgment whosoever bothered a disbeliever living in Islamic state, When I am the claimant, I shall be the winner.”
Similarly, Ali (RU) narrated that Prophet Mohammad (SAS) has said, “Allah (SWT) has prohibited that I inflict cruelty on a disbeliever living in an Islamic State.”
Prophet Mohammad (SAS) has also said: “I shall plead on the day of judgment on behalf of a disbeliever who was harmed or whose due right was diminished or if more than bearable pressure was exerted on him or if something was taken from him without his consent by a believer.”
Thus the relationship between believers and disbelievers is very fair, honorable and logical. May Allah (SWT) help us to live according to this guidance of the Quran and exemplary character displayed by Prophet Mohammad (SAS) and his rightly guided Caliphs.