Is Islam by Nature Hostile to non-Muslims?
The idea, often postulated in the media, that Islam is hostile to non-Muslims simply because they are non-Muslims, is a major a misconception. According to the majority of scholars, beyond the conditions described above, there exists no valid reason to hold any hostility towards them. Sayyid Sābiq says:
The relationship of Muslims with non-Muslims is one of acquaintance, cooperation, righteousness and justice for Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوباً وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّه عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).
And in advising righteousness and justice He says:
لَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ
Allah does not forbid you from those who do not remove you from your homes (by force) and who do not fight you because of your religion, that you act kindly and justly towards them…
Among the basics of this relationship is mutual, general well-being (or welfare) of a society and strengthening human relations. The reference in this verse is to the non-Muslims in general.
Loyalty and Enmity (Al-wala wal-bara’a)
Many of today’s self-appointed Islamic leaders and scholars state:
Enmity for the sake of God (al-barā’a) means to declare opposition in deed, to take up arms against His enemies...
Sayyid Sābiq says:
This meaning doesn’t permit prevention of friendship with the non-Muslims. The prohibition exists when friendship with the non-Muslims is meant in aggression against the Muslims. Serious dangers to the existence of Islam come from assisting the non-Muslims who are [actively] working against the Muslims, weakening the power [and security] of the believing society.
As far as the relationship between the Muslims and non-Muslim subjects (dhimmis) living in Muslim nations, harmony, peace, with good manners and courtesy, friendly social intercourse, mutual welfare and cooperation for the sake of righteousness and good conscience are all that Islām calls for.
Even with regard to those who fought against the Muslims, despite their enmity, Allah says:
عَسَى اللَّهُ أَن يَجْعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَ الَّذِينَ عَادَيْتُم مِّنْهُم مَّوَدَّةً وَاللَّهُ قَدِيرٌ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
It may be that Allah will grant love (and friendship) between you and those whom ye (now) hold as enemies. For Allah has power (over all things); And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.