The question of intimacy!
The second next ayah with the address Yaaa Ayyuhal Lazeena Aamanu in Surah Aali Imran is Ayah No. 118.
For a Believer in Islam, the question of intimacy is vital for the welfare of Muslim Ummah. What category for people are worthy of being taken as intimate friends? With whom a Muslim can share his inner secrets? Who are the those we can consider as close confidants?
“O you who have believe, do not take as intimates those other than yourselves, for they will not spare you [any] ruin. They wish you would have hardship. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater. We have certainly made clear to you the signs, if you will use reason.” (Surah Aali Imran 3: 118)
1. A brief historical background is necessary to understand why this ayah was revealed:
The Jews living on the outskirts of Madinah had long enjoyed friendly relations with the two tribes of Aws and Khazraj. In the first place this was the result of relations between individuals. Later, they were bound by ties of neighbourliness and allegiance as a result of tribal inter-relationship. Even after the people of Aws and Khazraj embraced Islam, they maintained their old ties with the Jews and continued to treat them with the same warmth and cordiality.
However, the hostility of the Jews towards Prophet Muhammad (sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) and his mission was far too intense to allow them to maintain a cordial relationship with anyone who had joined the new movement. Outwardly, the Jews maintained the same terms of friendship with the Ansar (Helpers) as before but at heart they had become their sworn enemies. They made the best use of this pretended friendship, and remained constantly on the look-out for opportunities to create schisms and dissensions in the Muslim body-politic, and to draw out the secrets of the Muslims and pass them on to their enemies.
Here Allah warns the Muslims to note this hypocrisy and take the necessary precaution. (Tafheem)
2. Even though this warning was in the backdrop of the situation described above, the warning is not limited to any particular period of history. It applies at all times. It deals with a situation which may exist at any time, as it does indeed in our present time.
3. Allah forbids His believing servants from taking the hypocrites as allies, so that the hypocrites do not have the opportunity to expose the secrets of the believers and their plans against their enemies. The hypocrites try their very best to confuse, oppose and harm the believers any way they can, and by using any wicked, evil means at their disposal. They wish the very worst and difficult conditions for the believers. Ibn Kathir
4. The word ‘Bitanah’ in Arabic means ‘intimate friends’, ‘confidants’.
“Take not as (your) Bitanah those other than your own” is in reference to taking followers of other religions as consultants and allies, for advisors of a certain person have access to his most secret affairs. Al-Bukhari and An-Nasa’i recorded that, Abu Sa`id said that the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah has not sent any Prophet nor was there any Khalifah but they have two types of allies, one that commands him with righteousness and advises it, and another that commands him with evil and advises him with it. Only those whom Allah gives immunity are immune.”
So Muslims are not allowed to use or take non-Muslims as close confidants in matters that affect the affairs of Muslims and expose their secrets, for they might convey these secrets to combatant disbelievers. Ibn Kathir
5. The Muslims, even nowadays, maintain their intimate friendship with people who reject Allah and His Messenger. They pay little heed to Allah’s words which apply to them in the same way as they applied to the first Muslim community: “They love to see you in distress. Their hatred has already become apparent by [what they say with] their mouths, but what their hearts conceal is even much worse.” (Verse 118)
Allah also says to the Muslims: “See for yourselves how it is you who love them and they do not love you. You believe in all revelations. When they meet you they say: ‘We, too, are believers.’ But when they find themselves alone, they bite their fingertips with rage against you.” (Verse 119)
Allah also points out to the Muslim community the true feelings of such people: “When good fortune comes your way, it grieves them; and if evil befalls you, they rejoice.” (Verse 120)
6. Time and again the Muslim Ummah goes through bitter experiences but none of these seem to wake us up. Time after time we discover the unbelievers’ evil intentions, cleverly masked, but we do not seem to learn our lesson. Yet they make many slips of the tongue which reveal their deep hatred of Islam. It is only natural that we find ourselves weak, defenceless and humiliated, suffering the distress which they love to see us in, and weakened by the corruption they spare no effort to spread among us.
7. We should note that Islam meets all this hostility with tolerance. It simply commands the Muslims not to take such people as their intimate friends. It does not, however, encourage a policy of measure for measure with the unbelievers. It does not require them to return the unbelievers’ hate, grudges and evil schemes with similar feelings and attitudes. It seeks only to provide protection for the Muslim community. It simply warns the Muslims of the danger presented by other people.
A Muslim treats all people with the tolerance characteristic of Islam. He is motivated by his love to do good to all mankind. He tries to foil the evil schemes of others against him, but he does not scheme against anyone. He does not harbour grudges although he takes care not to fall victim to other people’s grudges. (Points 5-7 taken from ‘In the shade of the Qur’an)
8. We Muslims are asked to keep, develop and maintain good relationship with all sections of society irrespective of caste, creed or colour. This command ‘not to take intimate friendship with those who are not of one’s faith’ is related to those who have evil agenda and are given to harm and hamper the interest of Islam and Muslims.
May Allah give us the Tawfeeq and Hidayah to follow the teachings of Islam as it should be followed in our life. May He guide us always on the Right Path. Aameen
Jazakallaahu Khayra for reading this post.
Read this related du’a, Inshaa’Allah: Our Lord! Do Not Make Us a Test…..
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