Cursing Non-Muslims is Not Islamic
By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Some weeks ago, someone sent me a list of questions by email, seeking my responses to them. Some of these questions had to do with the manner in which many Muslims relate to people of other faiths. Among these questions was the following:
“Last Friday, I went to a mosque for the Friday prayer. The khutba was in Arabic, but although I cannot speak Arabic, I could get a gist of some of the things the imam was saying. He was talking about the Christians and Jews in negative terms—perhaps as ‘oppressors’ of Muslims—and he also seemed to be praying for their suppression or destruction. He was talking of Muslims as persecuted people. I think he also did dua for their victory over non-Muslims. ”
The questioner believed that the imam of the mosque seemed to think of Christians and Jews—or, probably, all non-Muslims—as by definition ‘enemies of Islam’. That is why he felt that the imam was praying for their destruction. He wanted to know my reaction to this imam, his khutba and his dua.
I replied to the questioner saying that this kind of khutba and dua are quite contrary to the Islamic spirit. I said that I was aware that this practice is very common among Muslims. But, I added, it is a fact that this practice is un-Islamic. Muslims have developed what in Urdu is called a qaumi mazhab mentality—they wrongly conflate Islam with Muslim community identity and perceived community interests. That is why, I explained, they have developed this kind of psyche. People who think in this way cannot be good dais. According to the Quran (7:68), the first prerequisite for being a dai is being a well-wisher for the madu. If you have hatred in your heart for the madu and curse him, how can you engage in dawah? How can you be a dai?
Dawah work needs sincerity on the part of the dai as well as madu-friendly behaviour. Without inculcating this behaviour, neither can the dai do dawah work properly, nor will he be rewarded by God. Dawah is a great Islamic action, but it entails a necessary condition. And this condition is the maintenance of a normal relationship between the dai and the madu. The responsibility for establishing such a relationship devolves unilaterally on the dai. That is, it is he, and not the madu, who is responsible for normalizing the situation between himself and the madu. This injunction can be found in several verses of the Quran. For example, the Quran (22:67) says: ‘Let them not dispute with you on this matter. Call them to the path of your Lord—for surely, you are rightly guided—[…]’.
If praying for the destruction of non-Muslims is not the Islamic way, then, what dua should we do for people of other faiths, the questioner wanted to know.
In my reply, I said that we should pray for all on an equal basis. The Quran (1:2) refers to God as the “Lord of the Worlds” and not as “God of Muslims”. This fact has been declared in the very first chapter of the Quran. Also, the Quran (21:107) calls the Prophet rahmatul-lilalamin, that is, a mercy for all mankind. The Quran does not say that the Prophet is rahmat or a mercy for Muslims alone. The Prophet prayed for the guidance of others. He never prayed for their destruction.
Of their own accord, many Muslims wrongly consider some people or communities as the ‘enemies of Islam’. Seeing others in this light is their own self-styled belief. It has nowhere been mentioned in the Quran that these people are enemies of Islam.
In this regard, Muslims are committing a double mistake—that is, first, they have developed a self-styled belief of considering some people as enemies of Islam; and, second, this belief has no sanction in the Quran. Thus, it is not their right to say that someone is an enemy of Islam. Saying so is, without doubt, an unlawful act. If you see that someone is a zalim, or oppressor, according to your way of thinking, then why do you curse that person? You should instead engage in dawah with him. You should communicate the message of God to him. Give the Quran to him to read and understand. Under no circumstances do you have the right to curse him. You can only pray for his guidance, convey God’s message to him and try to make him understand. Beyond this, everything lies in God’s hands.
Our responsibility is to do dawah work, to convey God’s word to people, and to help them discover the Truth. If people express doubt or apprehension, then one should sincerely try to discuss the matter with them, rather than curse them. If you take the name of Islam, or want to do something in the name of Islam, then you must understand that there is only one domain in which you should exert your energies—and that is, dawah work. One should explain and help people understand the message of God. One should also pray for them. But, to declare that some people are enemies and to engage in cursing against them is certainly not allowed in Islam.
Our task is to convey the message of God. The Quran says: “So, [O Prophet] exhort them: your task is only to exhort, you are not their keeper.” (88:21-22). This means that the believer’s task is to perform dawah work. The believer does not possess the right to take any action against others. Prophet is told that only peaceful dawah is his domain, and the rest has to be left to God.
There are certain prerequisites or conditions for carrying out dawah work. These conditions can be fulfilled only when the dai adopts patience and tolerance. If the dai does not remain patient, he cannot engage in the work of dawah. For dawah work, it is essential to maintain normalcy, that is, a peaceful atmosphere. And for that you have to be patient with the madu, not to go about cursing him! If you think positively and wish well for the madu, then you will be able to rightly convey the message of God to him by taking into account the demands of wisdom and talif-e-qalb—dealing with the madu in a manner that causes the softening of his heart towards the dai and the message of Islam.
Today, curses are invoked against others with great fervour in mosques. I can say with full conviction that those people or communities whom the Muslims consider as oppressors are not oppressors at all. These communities are not anti-Muslim or anti-Islam. But, for the sake of argument, if it were true that certain groups are oppressors, even then it is not permissible for Muslims to pray for God’s wrath to come down upon them. In every situation, we have to be well-wishers for others, maintain our composure and convey God’s message to them. We must pray for their guidance, and leave everything else to God.