Does the Qur’an forbid loving Christians and Jews?
QUESTION: The Qur’an forbids loving Christians and Jews: Take not the Jews and Christians for friends and allies (5:51). How can we make friends with them?
ANSWER: In order for a statement of the Qur’an and the Messenger to be the source of a definite, specific judgment, its meaning and purpose must be indisputably clear. This Qur’anic statement is open to interpretation and needs explanation. For the purpose and target of the prohibition it contains are not specified. So it needs to be specified. Time is a great interpreter; if it reveals restriction and specification, this should not be opposed. Furthermore, if the judgment is based on the target of the order or prohibition, this target becomes the reason for the judgment. That is, the verse forbids friendship and alliance with the Jews and Christians. This means that we cannot make friends with them in their Judaism and Christianity and act with them against believers. Moreover, a person is not loved because of themselves; they are loved because of their attributes or character and skills. Therefore, just as every attribute of a Muslim cannot be Muslim, so too, every attribute of an unbeliever does not have to originate from their unbelief. So, why should it not be permissible to appreciate or adopt a Muslim attribute and skill that is found in an unbeliever? If you have a Jewish or Christian wife, you will certainly love her because she is your wife.
Secondly, a supreme religious revolution took place during the Age of Happiness – the time of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings. As it turned all minds to the Religion, concentrating them on Islam, all love and enmity were purely for the sake of Religion. For this reason, any trace of love for non-Muslims gave off the smell of hypocrisy. However, since the present revolution is world-wide and takes place in the field of civilization, all minds are preoccupied with civilization, progress, and the world. Therefore, our friendship with non-Muslims is for the transference of their progress and beauty of civilization, and the preservation of public security, which is one of the foundations of worldly happiness. So, this sort of friendship is not included in the prohibition in the verse.
(From Munazarat [“Discussions”])
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi