Are Jews and Christians Mushriks according to the Quran?

Responding to One Muslim Scholar’s Denials

Sam Shamoun

In order to assist the readers in navigating and understanding the progression of our article more easily we have broken it down into the following categories:

Unbelieving Jews and Christians are the worst creatures
The interchangeability of the terms Kafir and Mushrik
Explicit references to both the Jews and Christians being mushrikeen
Is the Quran really claiming that only the pagan Meccans are unclean?
The Muslim scholars have spoken!
So we now have a contradiction!
Concluding Remarks


The Quran condemns the sin of shirk or of associating others with Allah, e.g. believing in other gods or (at least according to the traditional Islamic view) that there are multiple persons within Allah:

Lo! Allah forgiveth not that a partner should be ascribed unto Him (an yushraka bihi). He forgiveth (all) save that to whom He will. Whoso ascribeth partners (yushrik) to Allah, he hath indeed invented a tremendous sin. S. 4:48 Pickthall

Lo! Allah pardoneth not that partners should be ascribed unto Him (an yushraka bihi). He pardoneth all save that to whom He will. Whoso ascribeth partners (yushrik) unto Allah hath wandered far astray. S. 4:116 Pickthall

One would think that such a definition of shirk would naturally include Christians as being among those who associate others with God, that they are to be viewed as mushrikeen due to their belief in the Holy Trinity and in Jesus as the Divine Son of God.

However, there is one prominent Muslim leader and speaker who vehemently opposes the notion that the Quran classifies Christians (or Jews for that matter) as being guilty for committing the sin of associating others with Allah. In a lecture titled "Commonly Misunderstood Qur'anic Texts" (*), Dr. Jamal Badawi says that the Quran clearly distinguishes and differentiates Jews and Christians, called "the People of the Book," from al-mushrikeen or from those who ascribe divinity to others besides Allah. He bases this on the following reference:

IT IS NOT [conceivable] that such as are bent on denying the truth (kafaroo) - [be they] from among the followers of earlier revelation OR from among those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God (min ahli alkitabi WA al-mushrikeena) - should ever be abandoned [by Him] ere there comes unto them the [full] evidence of the truth: S. 98:1 Muhammad Asad (Source)

He also made appeal to this next citation to prove that the Quran views Jews and Christians as monotheists who believe in the one true God:

And do not argue with the followers of earlier revelation otherwise than in a most kindly manner - unless it be such of them as are bent on evildoing - and say: "We believe in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, as well as that which has been bestowed upon you: or our God and your God is one and the same, and it is unto Him that We [all] surrender ourselves." S. 29:46 Asad (Source)

In another citation Muhammad is commanded to say to the Jews and Christians that:

Unto this, then, summon (O Muhammad). And be thou upright as thou art commanded, and follow not their lusts, but say: I believe in whatever scripture Allah hath sent down, and I am commanded to be just among you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. Unto us our works and unto you your works; no argument between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and unto Him is the journeying. S. 42:15 Pickthall

In this current article we will examine whether Dr. Badawi’s assertions hold any weight and whether his statements accurately reflect what both the Quran and the so-called authentic traditions of Muhammad teach regarding the status of the Jews and Christians.

Unbelieving Jews and Christians are the worst creatures

It is interesting that Badawi failed to mention that the very same sura he referred to slanderously labels disbelieving Jews and Christians as the worst of all creatures:

Verily, those who [despite all evidence] are bent on denying the truth - [be they] from among the followers of earlier revelation or from among those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God - will find themselves in the fire of hell, therein to abide: they are the worst of all creatures. S. 98:6 Asad

That this isn’t referring only to the Jews and Christians during Muhammad’s time can be easily seen from the following narrative:

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed: By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, he who amongst the community of Jews or Christians hears about me, but does not affirm his belief in that with which I have been sent and dies in this state (of disbelief), he shall be but one of the denizens of Hell-Fire. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0284)

Muhammad asserted that any Jew or Christian who hears about and rejects his message will be thrown into hell. He doesn’t limit this only to the people of his time.

Now Badawi may feel that being called the worst of creatures isn’t as bad as being labeled a mushrik or polytheist, but for the rest of us we really do not see any difference. In fact, this particular sura shows that to be called a kafir (disbeliever) is just as bad of an insult as being identified as a mushrik.

The interchangeability of the terms Kafir and Mushrik

Badawi also failed to inform his audience that the terms kufr and shirk are used interchangeably in the Quran, that these words sometimes function as synonyms as the following examples prove:

Hence, he who invokes, side by side with God, any other deity [- a deity] for whose existence he has no evidence - shall but find his reckoning with his Sustainer: [and,] verily, such deniers of the truth (al-kafiroona) will never attain to a happy state! S. 23:117 Asad (Source)

Here, anyone who prays to someone other than Allah is called a kafir.

… Thus is God, your Sustainer: unto Him belongs all dominion - whereas those whom you invoke instead of Him do not own so much as the husk of a date-stone! (If you invoke them, they do not hear your call; and even if they could hear, they would not [be able to] respond to you. And [withal,] on the Day of Resurrection they will utterly disown your having associated them with God (bishirkikum). And none can make thee understand [the truth] like the One who is all-aware. S. 35:13-14 Asad

In the above citation invoking someone other than Allah is the sin of shirk, making the person a mushrik. Thus, the foregoing shows that at times a kafir is also a mushrik and a mushrik is also a kafir. Moreover, all mushriks are kafirs even though not all kafirs are mushriks.

Now the question to ask is, does the Quran use the term kafir synonymously with mushrik when it speaks of Christians? In other words, does the Quran identify Christians (and the Jews for that matter) as both kafirs and mushriks?

Well, seeing that Christians invoke the Triune God in their prayers:

"To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:" 1 Corinthians 1:2

"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." 2 Corinthians 13:14

"John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you FROM him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and FROM the seven spirits before his throne, and FROM Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:4-6

"He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen." Revelation 22:20-21

This means that, according to the Quran, Muslims are to view them as al-mushrikeen and al-kafireen.

Explicit references to both the Jews and Christians being mushrikeen

Moreover, contrary to the claims of Badawi, the Quran does explicitly say that Christians, as well as Jews, are mushrikeen:

O YOU who have attained to faith! Those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God are nothing but impure (innama al-mushrikoona najasun): and so they shall not approach the Inviolable House of Worship from this year onwards. And should you fear poverty, then [know that] in time God will enrich you out of His bounty, if He so wills: for, verily, God is all-knowing, wise! [And] fight against those who - despite having been vouchsafed revelation [aforetime]-do not [truly] believe either in God or the Last Day, and do not consider forbidden that which God and His Apostle have forbidden, and do not follow the religion of truth [which God has enjoined upon them] till they [agree to] pay the exemption tax with a willing hand, after having been humbled [in war]. AND THE JEWS say, "Ezra is God's son," while the Christians say, "The Christ is God's son." Such are the sayings which they utter with their mouths, following in spirit assertions made in earlier times by people who denied the truth (kafaroo)! [They deserve the imprecation:] May God destroy them! How perverted are their minds! They have taken their rabbis and their monks - as well as the Christ, son of Mary - for their lords beside God, although they had been bidden to worship none but the One God, save whom there is no deity: the One who is utterly remote, in His limitless glory, from anything to which they may ascribe a share in His divinity (yushrikoona)! They want to extinguish God's [guiding] light with their utterances: but God will not allow [this to pass], for He has willed to spread His light in all its fullness, however hateful this may be to all who deny the truth (al-kafiroona). He it is who has sent forth His Apostle with the [task of spreading] guidance and the religion of truth, to the end that He may cause it to prevail over all [false] religion - however hateful this may be to those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God (al-mushrikoona). S. 9:28-33 Asad (Source)

Jews and Christians are disbelievers since they are guilty of ascribing partners to Allah for believing that Ezra or Jesus are the Son of Allah and for taking their rabbis and monks as lords.

We will have more to say about Q. 9:28 a little later in our rebuttal.

In this next example, Christians who worship Jesus are accused of ascribing a partner to Allah and are therefore disbelievers:

They surely disbelieve (kafara) who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah (innahu man yushrik biAllahi), for him Allah hath forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers. They surely disbelieve (kafara) who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no God save the One God. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve (kafaroo). S. 5:72-73 Pickthall

Hence, the Quran unapologetically labels (more like slanders) Jews and Christians as disbelievers (al-kafireen) and polytheists (al-mushrikeen).

With passages such as these how could Badawi dare say that the Quran does not classify Jews and Christians as al-mushrikeen? It can’t be because he is ignorant of what the Quran says since he has spent most of his life studying, debating and lecturing on various Islamic topics. Could it be that Badawi is using concealment (taqiyya) and deception (khida) seeing that Islam permits its adherents to lie and deceive disbelievers in order to protect the interests of Muslims and to prevent the unbelievers from discovering Islam’s real agenda and from seeing its true face (1, 2, 3)?

Is the Quran really claiming that only the Pagan Meccans are unclean?

Dr. Badawi tried to limit the application of Q. 9:28 to its immediate historical significance, to the situation which Muhammad and his followers found themselves in shortly after conquering Mecca. He asserts that the Quran forbade pagans from worshiping their gods and from circumambulating the Ka’ba in the nude since such acts made them unclean or defiled.

It is rather unfortunate that at this point Badawi failed to follow his own advice. Badawi had proposed a certain methodology on how to accurately handle and understand the message of the Quran. Here are some of the criteria that Badawi stated were important for correctly interpreting the Muslim scripture:

Badawi basically violated all of the above criteria throughout his lecture since he didn’t consistently apply these principles when interpreting the Quran.(1) His exegesis of Q. 9:28 is a case in point.

Badawi failed to note that, although the text is referring to a specific historical context, its application isn’t limited to that particular situation but extends beyond its historical circumstances. If one were to read the passage within its own immediate context then it is obvious that the expulsion of the mushrikeen includes the Jews and Christians since the verses which follow right afterwards unambiguously identify them as being among the mushriks. Here, once again, are the verses so as to help the readers see this point more clearly:

O Believers! only they who join gods with God (al-mushrikoona) are unclean (najasun)! Let them not, therefore, after this their year, come near the sacred Temple. And if ye fear want, God, if He please, will enrich you of His abundance: for God is Knowing, Wise. Make war upon such of those to whom the Scriptures have been given as believe not in God, or in the last day, and who forbid not that which God and His Apostle have forbidden, and who profess not the profession of the truth, until they pay tribute out of hand, and they be humbled. The Jews say, "Ezra (Ozair) is a son of God"; and the Christians say, "The Messiah is a son of God." Such the sayings in their mouths! They resemble the saying of the Infidels (kafaroo) of old! God do battle with them! How are they misguided! They take their teachers, and their monks, and the Messiah, son of Mary, for Lords beside God, though bidden to worship one God only. There is no God but He! Far from His glory be what they associate with Him! Fain would they put out God's light with their mouths: but God only desireth to perfect His light, albeit the Infidels (al-kafiroona) abhor it. He it is who hath sent His Apostle with the Guidance and a religion of the truth, that He may make it victorious over every other religion, albeit they who assign partners to God (al-mushrikoona) be averse from it. S. 9:28-33 Rodwell

Let the reader observe that Q. 9:28 tells the Muslims not to fear any loss of want (i.e. money, resources etc.) since Allah promises to compensate them for expelling the mushriks from Mecca. Now how does Allah intend to make up for their losses? The verse right after this tells us… by extracting the jizya or tribute from the Jews and Christians!

To put it another way, Allah promised to enrich the Muslims for their obedience by forcing the subjected Jews and Christians to pay their Muslim overlords the jizya! This is something which is even admitted by the classical Islamic exegetes and historians:

… Then He said (v. 28): ‘The polytheists are nothing but unclean, so let them not approach the sacred mosque after this year of theirs, and if you fear poverty’ that was because the people said ‘the markets will be cut off from us, trade will be destroyed, and we shall lose the good things we used to enjoy,’ and God said, ‘If you fear poverty God will enrich you from His bounty,’ i.e. in some other way, ‘if He will. He is knowing, wise. Fight those who do not believe in God and the last day and forbid not that which God and His apostle have forbidden and follow not the religion of truth from among those who have been given the scripture until they pay the poll tax out of hand being humbled,’ i.e. as a compensation for what you fear to lose by the closing of the markets. God gave them compensation for what He cut off from them in the former polytheism by what He gave them by way of poll tax from the people of the scripture. (The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Karachi Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth Impression 1995], p. 620; bold emphasis ours)

The two Jalals note that:

O you who believe, the idolaters are indeed unclean, [they are] filth, on account of their inner vileness, so do not let them come near the Sacred Mosque, that is, let them not enter the Sanctuary, after this year of theirs, year 9 of the Hijra. If you fear impoverishment, poverty, as a result of the cessation of their commerce with you, God will surely enrich you from His bounty, if He will: and He indeed enriched them through conquests and [the imposition of] the jizya. God is Knowing, Wise. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source)

In fact, jizya proved to be a very lucrative means of support just as the second caliph realized:

Narrated Juwairiya bin Qudama At-Tamimi:
We said to 'Umar bin Al-Khattab, "O Chief of the believers! Advise us." He said, "I advise you to fulfill Allah's covenant (made with the Dhimmis) as it is the covenant of your Prophet and the source of the livelihood of your dependents (i.e. the taxes from the Dhimmis.)" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 388)

Thus, this shows that there is an immediate connection between the statements of Q. 9:28 with what follows right after.

Moreover, if we have correctly understood and exegeted the reference in its intended context we would expect to find Muslims forbidding both the Jews and Christians from approaching Mecca since, being al-mushrikeen, their presence there would end up defiling the place. Lo and behold, this is precisely what we find the Muslims doing since the so-called authentic hadiths state that:

It has been narrated by 'Umar b. al-Khattab that he heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim. (Sahih Muslim, Book 019, Number 4366)

Muhammad not only prohibited them from approaching Mecca he even expelled them from the entire Arabian Peninsula! Muhammad’s father-in-law and close friend, Umar ibn al-Khattab, carried out his prophet’s wishes:

Narrated Ibn 'Umar:
Umar expelled the Jews and the Christians from Hijaz. When Allah's Apostle had conquered Khaibar, he wanted to expel the Jews from it as its land became the property of Allah, His Apostle, and the Muslims. Allah's Apostle intended to expel the Jews but they requested him to let them stay there on the condition that they would do the labor and get half of the fruits. Allah’s Apostle told them, "We will let you stay on thus condition, as long as we wish." So, they (i.e. Jews) kept on living there until 'Umar forced them to go towards Taima' and Ariha'. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 39, Number 531)

Now compare this with Muhammad’s orders to expel the pagans from the Arabian Peninsula:

Narrated Said bin Jubair:
Ibn 'Abbas said ... "The Prophet on his death-bed, gave three orders saying, ‘Expel the pagans from the Arabian Peninsula, respect and give gifts to the foreign delegates as you have seen me dealing with them.’ I forgot the third (order)" (Ya'qub bin Muhammad said, "I asked Al-Mughira bin 'Abdur-Rahman about the Arabian Peninsula and he said, ‘It comprises Mecca, Medina, Al-Yamama and Yemen.’" Ya'qub added, "And Al-Arj, the beginning of Tihama.") (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 288)

Doesn’t this clearly prove that Muhammad treated the Jews and Christians the same way he treated the pagans and that he considered all of them to be unclean?

If the above wasn’t clear enough to establish the point that the context of Q. 9:28 includes Jews and Christians as being among the unclean mushrikeen here is how certain Muslim scholars of the past interpreted this specific citation:

Idolators are no longer allowed into Al-Masjid Al-Haram

Allah commands His believing servants, who are pure in religion and person, to expel the idolators who are filthy in the religious sense, from Al-Masjid Al-Haram. After the revelation of this Ayah, idolators were no longer allowed to go near the Masjid. This Ayah was revealed in the ninth year of Hijrah. The Messenger of Allah sent `Ali in the company of Abu Bakr that year to publicize to the idolators that no Mushrik will be allowed to perform Hajj after that year, nor a naked person allowed to perform Tawaf around the House. Allah completed this decree, made it a legislative ruling, as well as, a fact of reality. `Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Jabir bin `Abdullah commented on the Ayah

<O you who believe! Verily, the Mushrikin are impure. So let them not come near Al-Masjid Al-Haram after this year> "Unless it was a servant or one of the people of Dhimmah." Imam Abu `Amr Al-Awza'i said, "Umar bin `Abdul-`Aziz wrote (to his governors) to prevent Jews and Christians from entering the Masjids of Muslims, and he followed his order with Allah's statement

<Verily, the Mushrikin are impure.>" `Ata' said, "All of the Sacred Area [the Haram] is considered a Masjid, for Allah said…

<So let them not come near Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah) after this year.> This Ayah indicates that idolators are impure and that the believers are pure. In the Sahih is the following…

<<The believer does not become impure.>> Allah said…

<and if you fear poverty, Allah will enrich you, out of His bounty.> Muhammad bin Ishaq commented, "The people said, ‘Our markets will be closed, our commerce disrupted, and what we earned will vanish.’ So Allah revealed this verse…

<and if you fear poverty, Allah will enrich you, out of His bounty>, from other resources…

<if He wills>, until…

<… and feel themselves subdued.> This Ayah means, ‘this will be your compensation for the closed markets that you feared would result.’ Therefore, Allah compensated them for the losses they incurred because they severed ties with idolators, by the Jizyah they earned from the People of the Book." Similar statements were reported from Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak and others. Allah said…

<Surely, Allah is All-Knowing>, in what benefits you…

<All-Wise>, in His orders and prohibitions, for He is All-Perfect in His actions and statements, All-Just in His creations and decisions, Blessed and Hallowed be He. This is why Allah compensated Muslims for their losses by the amount of Jizyah that they took from the people of Dhimmah. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 9:28; source)

Muslim scholar Ibn Juzayy noted:

(The mushrikun are unclean) It is said that they are impure because of their rejection. It is said that it is by janāba (impurity as a result of sexual intercourse).

(they should not come near the Masjid al-Haram) This is a text barring the idolaters from the Masjid al-Haram. The scholars agree on that. By analogy, Malik took mushrikun to apply all the unbelievers of the People of the Book and others. By analogy, he makes the Masjid al-Haram to apply to all mosques. Thus he forbids all unbelievers from entering any mosque. Ash-Shafi'i made it particular to the unbelievers and the Masjid al-Haram. He forbade ALL unbelievers from entering the Masjid al-Haram in particular and permits them to enter other mosques. Abu Hanifa confines it to the position of the text. He forbids the idolaters in particular from entering the Masjid al-Haram in particular but allowed them to enter other mosques and he permits the People of the Book to enter the Masjid al-Haram and other mosques. (Aisha Bewley, Tafsir (Commentary), Surat at-Tawbah (Repentance); source; bold emphasis ours)

In light of the foregoing it is apparent that Badawi chose to ignore the textual context of Q. 9:28 as well as overlooking the way Muslims of the past understood and applied this specific reference. He obviously didn’t want his audience (specifically the non-Muslims) to know how Muhammad and his companions implemented the injunction of Q. 9:28 since they would have seen that the first Muslims clearly included Jews and Christians among those whom the Quran classifies as unclean due to their so-called polytheistic beliefs explaining why they were expelled from Arabia.

The Muslim scholars have spoken!

We already looked at some of the statements made by Muslim scholars and saw how they basically agreed with us that the Quran does indeed label Jews and Christians as disbelievers, unclean, and associators. Our purpose in quoting these Islamic scholarly reference works was to prevent any Muslim from accusing us of distorting the meaning of the verses that we cited throughout our paper. Here we will present some additional citations of specific Islamic scholars and websites so as to provide further evidence that Muslims themselves appeal to these same references to prove that both Jews and Christians are among the mushrikeen.

The following comments are taken from, an online site which provides answers from Muslim scholars to commonly asked questions. Unlike Badawi, these Muslims don’t feel the need to appease westerners or Jews and Christians by interpreting the Quran in a manner which would be agreeable to their sensitivities. The authors are very blunt and to the point in answering the question of whether Jews and Christians are both unbelievers AND associators/polytheists.

In response to a question on whether the Quran refers to the Christian belief in the Trinity the writers state that:

Yes, this belief is mentioned in the Qur’aan, but that is by way of refutation and proving it to be false, and describing the one who believes in it as a kaafir and mushrik. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning) [quotes Q. 5:17, 73 and 9:30-31]…

This is something that is well known among the Muslims, and they are UNANIMOUSLY AGREED that the Christians are kaafirs, and even that those who do not regard them as kaafirs ARE ALSO KAAFIRS. Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhaab said concerning the things which are unanimously agreed to nullify Islam:

"Whoever does not regard the mushrikoon as kaafirs, or doubts that they are kaafirs, or thinks their religion is correct, is himself a kaafir." … (Question No. 12713, Is the trinity that the Christians believe in mentioned in Islam?; source; capital and underline emphasis and comments within brackets ours)

They further say in regards to the Quran’s command to fight Jews and Christians in Q. 9:29:

– He then stated the reason that made it obligatory to fight them, which was their disbelief in Allaah AND THEIR SHIRK – which included their speaking ill of Allaah by attributing a son to Him, when He is the One, the Self-Sufficient Master, He begets not, nor was He begotten, and there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him. The Jews said that ‘Uzayr is a son of Allaah, and the Christians said that the Messiah was a son of Allaah. ‘Uzayr was a righteous man from among the Children of Israel, who was venerated by the Jews. It was said that the reason why he was venerated was that he had memorized the Tawraat (Torah), so the Jews, or some of them, exaggerated about him and claimed that he was a son of Allaah. So Allaah condemned them for that and told them that by saying this they were doing the same as the mushrikeen who said that the angels were daughters of Allaah. The Christians also spoke ill of Allaah when they said that the Messiah was a son of Allaah; by doing so they resembled the Jews and mushrikeen… (Question No. 9459, The Jews’ idea that ‘Uzayr is "a son of Allaah; source)

And here is their answer to the question on whether Jews and Christians are among the mushrikeen:


The Jews and Christians are both kaafirs and mushrikeen. They are kaafirs because they deny the truth and reject it. And they are mushrikeen because they worship someone other than Allaah. 

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning) [quotes Q. 9:30-31] … 

Here they are described as mushrikeen. In Soorat al-Bayyinah they are described as kaafirs, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning) [quotes Q. 98:1]… 

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, REFUTING those who [like Jamal Badawi] say that the word mushrikeen cannot be applied to the People of the Book

It is most likely that the people of the Book are included among the mushrikeen, men and women alike, when this word is used in general terms, because the kuffaar are undoubtedly mushrikeen. Hence they are forbidden to enter al-Masjid al-Haraam, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning) [quotes Q. 9:28] … 

If the People of the Book did not come under the general heading of mushrikeen, then this verse would not apply to them, and Allaah would not have referred to the beliefs of the Jews and Christians in Soorat Baraa’ah (al-Tawbah) where He says (interpretation of the meaning) [quotes Q. 9:31]… 

So they are all described as mushrikeen, because the Jews said that ‘Uzayr is the son of God and the Christians said that the Messiah is the son of God; and because they took their priests and rabbis as lords instead of Allaah. All of this is the worst form of shirk. And there are many similar verses. End quote. 

Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 4/274 

And Allaah knows best. (Question No. 67626, The difference between the mushrikeen and the kuffaar, and to which category do the Jews and Christians belong?; source; bold and capital emphasis and comments within brackets ours)

Let the reader note that the above scholars are basing their views on the plain reading of the Quranic text, unlike Badawi who has to ignore and/or distort so many passages of the Quran to arrive at his conclusions. In fact, the above fatwa is from Sheikh Ibn Baaz, who wasn’t just any scholar but the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and considered by many to be the highest Islamic authority of his time (*).

So we now have a contradiction!

Remember that Dr. Badawi appealed to Q. 98:1 to show that both Jews and Christians are distinguished from al-mushrikeen or associators/polytheists, and argued on the basis of this single reference that it is not correct to label the People of the Book as mushriks. Yet throughout our discussion we presented specific passages where the Quran identifies both Jews and Christians as kafirs and mushriks, which means that we have a clear-cut contradiction in the Quran.

He further used Q. 29:46 to prove that the Quran acknowledges that Jews and Christians are worshiping the same God as the Muslims. Yet how can the Muslim scripture say that the Muslims worship the same God as Christians when the latter believe in the doctrine of the Trinity and the absolute Deity of Christ? Does this mean that the Quran is exhorting the Muslims to worship the Triune God and to confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior?

The problem is further compounded when we realize that elsewhere in the Quran Muslims are forbidden from marrying a kafir or mushrik:

AND DO NOT marry women who ascribe divinity to aught beside God (al-mushrikati) ere they attain to [true] belief: for any believing bondwoman [of God] is certainly better than a woman who ascribes divinity to aught beside God (mushrikatin), even though she please you greatly. And do not give your women in marriage to men who ascribe divinity to aught beside God (al-mushrikeena) ere they attain to [true] belief: for- any believing bondman [of God] is certainly better than a man who ascribes divinity to aught beside God (mushrikin), even though he please you greatly. [Such as] these invite unto the fire, whereas God invites unto paradise, and unto [the achievement of] forgiveness by His leave; and He makes clear His messages unto mankind, so that they might bear them in mind. S. 2:221 Asad (Source)


O ye who believe! When believing women come unto you as fugitives, examine them. Allah is Best Aware of their faith. Then, if ye know them for true believers, send them not back unto the disbelievers (al-kuffari). They are not lawful for them (the disbelievers), nor are they (the disbelievers) lawful for them. And give them (the disbelievers) that which they have spent (upon them). And it is no sin for you to marry such women when ye have given them their dues. And hold not to the ties of disbelieving women (al-kawafiri); and ask for (the return of) that which ye have spent; and let them (the disbelievers) ask for that which they have spent. That is the judgment of Allah. He judgeth between you. Allah is Knower, Wise. S. 60:10 Pickthall

In light of the Quran’s plain teaching regarding the status of Jews and Christians one would naturally assume that the foregoing texts are prohibiting Muslims from marrying any Jew or Christian. In fact one particular Muslim, the son of the second caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, used Q. 2:221 to dissuade people from marrying any Christian on the grounds that Christians are the worst of idolaters for believing that Jesus is Lord:

XVI. The words of Allah Almighty, "Do not marry idolatrous women until they believe. A believing slavegirl is better for you than an idolatress, even though she attract you." (2:221)

4981. It is related from Nafi' that when Ibn 'Umar was asked about marrying a Christian or Jewish woman, he said, "Allah has made idolatresses unlawful for the believers. I do not know of a more terrible shirk than that a woman say, ‘My Lord is ‘Isa,’ when he is one of the slaves of Allah." (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 71. Book of Divorce; source)

But this introduces another gross error within the Quran since there is one specific text which allows Muslim men to marry a virtuous Jewish or Christian woman:

This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And so are the virtuous women of the believers AND the virtuous women of those who received the Scripture before you (wa al-muhsanatu mina al-muminati WA al-muhsanatu mina allatheena ootoo al-kitaba min qablikum) (lawful for you) when ye give them their marriage portions and live with them in honour, not in fornication, nor taking them as secret concubines. Whoso denieth the faith, his work is vain and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter. S. 5:5 Pickthall

Amazingly, even this reference makes a distinction between believing women (i.e. Muslim women) and women of the Book (i.e. Jewish or Christian women). So we have a problem!

How can the Quran permit Muslims to marry from among the People of the Book in light of their disbelief in Muhammad and their embracing doctrines such as the Deity of Christ? Even a noted Muslim such as Ibn Umar clearly saw the problem with marrying Christians since he realized that passages such as Q. 2:221 forbade such marriages due to the Christian belief in Jesus’ Divinity.

He wasn’t alone since the following Muslim sources, although seeking to harmonize and make sense out of these conflicting passages, nonetheless are forced to admit that it would be unlawful for Muslims to marry Jews and Christians since the Muslim scripture expressly labels them as unbelievers had it not been for Q. 5:5!

The Christians and Jews are kuffaar and mushrikeen, according to the Qur’aan, but they are excluded from the prohibition on marrying their women, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning) [quotes Q. 2:221] …

This is the clearest way of reconciling between the two verses.

Allaah has described them as being mushrikeen as He says (interpretation of the meaning) [quotes Q. 9:31] …

So they are kuffaar and mushrikeen, but Allaah has permitted us to eat their meat and to marry their women if they are chaste. This is an exemption from the general meaning of the verse in Soorat al-Baqarah.

But it should be noted that it is better and safer not to marry women of the people of the Book, especially nowadays. Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: "… as this is the case, it is better not to marry a woman of the people of the Book, because ‘Umar said to those who married women of the people of the Book: ‘Divorce them,’ so they divorced them, except Hudhayfah. ‘Umar said to him: ‘Divorce her.’ (Hudhayfah) said: ‘Do you bear witness that she is haraam?’ He said: ‘She is a live coal, divorce her.’ He said: ‘Do you bear witness that she is haraam?’ He said: ‘She is a live coal.’ He said: ‘I know that she is a live coal, but she is permissible for me.’ A while later, he divorced her and it was said to him: ‘Why did you not divorce her when ‘Umar commanded you to?’ He said: ‘I did not want the people to think that I had done something wrong (by marrying her).’ Perhaps he was fond of her or perhaps they had a child together so he was fond of her."

Al-Mughni, 7/99 (Question No. 44695, Are the Jews and Christians who exist nowadays mushrikeen (polytheists) and is it permissible to marry their women?; source: bold emphasis and comments within brackets ours)


The Prohibition of marrying Mushrik Men and Women

Allah prohibited the believers from marrying Mushrik women who worship idols. Although the meaning IS GENERAL AND INCLUDES every Mushrik woman from among the idol worshippers AND THE PEOPLE OF THE SCRIPTURE, Allah excluded the People of the Scripture from this ruling. Allah stated…

<(Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time when you have given their due dowry, desiring chastity (i.e., taking them in legal wedlock) not committing illegal sexual intercourse.> (5:5)

`Ali bin Abu Talhah said that Ibn `Abbas said about what Allah said…

<And do not marry Al-Mushrikat (female idolators) till they believe (worship Allah Alone).> "Allah has excluded the women of the People of the Scripture." This is also the explanation of Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Makhul, Al-Hasan, Ad-Dahhak, Zayd bin Aslam and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and others. Some scholars said that the Ayah is exclusively talking about idol worshippers and not the People of the Scripture, and this meaning is similar to the first meaning we mentioned. Allah knows best.

Abu Ja`far bin Jarir (At-Tabari) said, after mentioning that there is Ijma` that marrying women from the People of the Scripture is allowed, "`Umar disliked this practice so that the Muslims do not refrain from marrying Muslim women, or for similar reasons." An authentic chain of narrators stated that Shaqiq said: Once Hudhayfah married a Jewish woman and `Umar wrote to him, "Divorce her." He wrote back, "Do you claim that she is not allowed for me so that I divorce her?" He said, "No. But, I fear that you might marry the whores from among them." Ibn Jarir related that Zayd bin Wahb said that `Umar bin Khattab said, "The Muslim man marries the Christian woman, but the Christian man does not marry the Muslim woman." This Hadith has a stronger, authentic chain of narrators than the previous Hadith.

Ibn Abu Hatim said that Ibn `Umar disliked marrying the women from the People of the Scripture. HE RELIED ON HIS OWN EXPLANATION OF FOR THE Ayah

<And do not marry Al-Mushrikat (female idolators) till they believe (worship Allah Alone).>

Al-Bukhari also reported that Ibn `Umar said, "I do not know of a bigger Shirk than her saying that Jesus is her Lord!" (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 2:221; source)


The Permission to Marry Chaste Women From the People of the Scriptures

Allah said…

<(Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers> The Ayah states: you are allowed to marry free, chaste believing women. This Ayah is talking about women who do not commit fornication, as evident by the word `chaste'. Allah said in another Ayah

<Desiring chastity not committing illegal sexual intercourse, nor taking them as boyfriends (lovers).> [4:25] `Abdullah Ibn `Umar used to advise against marrying Christian women saying, "I do not know of a worse case of Shirk than her saying that `Isa is her lord, while Allah said

<And do not marry idolatresses till they believe.>" Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Malik Al-Ghifari said that Ibn `Abbas said that when this Ayah was revealed…

<And do not marry idolatresses till they believe,> the people did not marry the pagan women. When the following Ayah was revealed…

<(Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture before your time> they married women from the People of the Book. Some of the Companions married Christian women and did not see any problem in this, relying on the honorable Ayah

<(Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from those who were given the Scripture before your time> Therefore, they made this Ayah an exception to the Ayah in Surat Al-Baqarah

<And do not marry the idolatresses till they believe,> considering the latter Ayah to include the People of the Book in its general meaning. Otherwise, there is no contradiction here, since the People of the Book were mentioned alone when mentioning the rest of the idolators. Allah said…

<Those who disbelieve from among the People of the Scripture and the idolators, were not going to leave (their disbelief) until there came to them clear evidence.> and…

<And say to those who were given the Scripture and to those who are illiterates: "Do you (also) submit yourselves?" If they do, they are rightly guided.> (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 5:5; source)

It is apparent as to why these Muslims would claim that S. 5:5 qualifies Q. 2:221 and 60:10, that the former text provides an exception to the general rule stated in the latter references. All of these Muslims erroneously assumed that the Quran is a divinely revealed book and therefore free of any real discrepancies, just as it claims:

Will they not, then, try to understand this Qur’an? Had it issued from any but God, they would surely have found in it many an inner contradiction! S. 4:82 Asad (Source)

Yet it is obvious to those of us who have not been duped into believing that this rather incoherent and error-laden book is God’s word that the Muslim scripture is definitely contradicting itself on this and various other issues.

Concluding Remarks

It should be rather clear to the readers by now that the Islamic scripture identifies Jews and Christians as infidels and polytheists for denying Muhammad and for believing such doctrines as the Divinity of Jesus and that God has sons. It is also apparent that the Quran, at the same time, distinguishes the Jews and Christians from the polytheists and asserts that Muslims are basically worshiping the same God. Throughout this article we saw the problems that such conflicting statements pose for the Muslims who hold to the belief in the divine origin of their scripture.

What is rather unfortunate and so troubling about all this is that a prominent Muslim apologist would actually go around trying to deceive people into thinking that the Quran does not slander and libel Jews and Christians by classifying them as al-mushrikeen (idolaters/polytheists). Does Dr. Badawi really think that people won’t go back and check his references? Is he really that naļve to assume that his audience will swallow just about everything he says? Doesn’t he stop for a moment to think that even if the majority of his listening audience blindly accepts whatever he pushes on them that there will be some exceptions, that there will be a few who will definitely go back and check to see if he has quoted his sources accurately? And what does this say about his opinion about the people he speaks with? Since he can so blatantly distort his own religious references and thinks that he can get away with it doesn’t this demonstrate that he views his target audience as ignoramuses, assuming that they lack reasoning ability and intelligence?

More importantly, what does this say about his integrity and credibility? What does this say about the religion of Islam? If leading Muslim apologists, scholars and lecturers must lie and distort the plain statements of their own religious books and are forced to use deception in order to cover up the doctrines of the Quran and Sunna doesn’t this prove that Islam is intellectually bankrupt? Isn’t this a clear indication that Islam cannot stand a careful examination of its core teachings since people will see for themselves just how dangerous and wicked it truly is? And what kind of religion is this that requires its adherents to lie and deceive people in order to cover up its real teachings? Such a religion surely cannot be from God:

"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44

"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3:19-21

"So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body." Ephesians 4:17-25

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’" Ephesians 5:8-14

Further Reading


(1) Badawi’s criteria presuppose that the Quran is both a coherent and consistent scripture, being devoid of any real discrepancies. This is why he can say that a passage should be explained or interpreted in light of what the Quran teaches overall, which assumes that different parts of the Quran will explain, rather than contradict, a specific text in question. But as we have seen both here and elsewhere (1, 2), the Quran is far from being coherent or logically consistent. It is full of irreconcilable contradictions which have led Muslims to come up with some of the most fanciful and desperate explanations. Badawi’s methodology is basically inviting people to turn a blind eye to all of the Quran’s gross errors and to adopt a concordist or harmonious (more like a sympathetic) approach which would allow them to embrace his interpretation (or distortion) of the Quran, one which flies in the face of all the massive evidence to the contrary.

Articles by Sam Shamoun
Further responses to Dr. Badawi
Answering Islam Home Page