6 Factors Leading to Muslims and non-Muslims Peaceful Coexistence in The Quran

Coexistence means living together, cooperating socially and economically of either the people of two countries to fulfill their livelihood or two individuals who might not share the same interests. In other words, coexistence includes being together, not interfering in others’ private affairs, and respecting the rights of others. Islam, which considers both the individual and social needs of human beings, offers a complete package for a thriving social life. Through its teachings, the Prophet’s (PBUH & HP) and infallible Imams’(AS) tradition (Sunnah), and the Quranic teachings, Islam has provided some clear guidelines for Muslims and the followers of other religions peaceful coexistence in the Quran. Here, we focus mostly on what the Quran offers in this regard. 


1. Justice and Beneficence in Dealing with Others for A Peaceful Coexistence in the Quran

The first point raised about the peaceful coexistence in the Quran is that Muslims should deal with non-Muslims with justice and beneficence, as far as non-Muslims have not expressed any hostility against them and don’t respond to their kindness with hatred (60:8). In Surah Mumtahina, it is said that: “Allah forbids you only in regard to those who made war against you on account of religion and expelled you from your homes and supported [others] in your expulsion, that you make friends with them, and whoever makes friends with them—it is they who are the wrongdoers.”(60:9). 

Accordingly, non-Muslims are in two groups — the first group who are in peace with Muslims and live peacefully with them. The Islamic government and Muslims of society should respect this group and recognize their rights. The second group is those who act against Muslims, Islam, and the Islamic government. Undoubtedly, they should be counteracted, and there would be no place for peace in this case [1]. That’s why Imam Ali (AS) had devoted a share of public treasury (Bayt al-mal) to help the needy people of other religions. It means that an Islamic government does not overlook non-Muslims, but recognizes their rights and supports them. (10:57) 


peaceful coexistence in the Quran


2. Recognizing Freedom of Thought is an Underlying Factor in Muslims Peaceful Coexistence in the Quran

Humans naturally tend to reject any imposed idea or belief. And, the Quran never orders something which opposes to human’s nature. Hence, non-Muslims are not compelled to convert to Islam (2:256), and they are free to keep their religion. In Surah An’am, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) is told that: “Had Allah wished, they would not have ascribed partners [to Him]. We have not made you a caretaker for them, nor is it your duty to watch over them.” (6:107). Based on these verses, along with some others, Islam recognizes other Abrahamic religions, and no Muslim is permitted to force any non-Muslim to accept Islamic ideas. Still, Muslims should let non-Muslims to retain their own religious views and beliefs and to live peacefully in society.

3. Peaceful Religious Discussion with Others

If Muslims want to discuss their religious viewpoints with followers of other religions, they are told: “not to argue with the People of the Book, except in a manner which is best” (29:46). It means to exchange peacefully with logical reasoning and argument. Even in their discussions with polytheists, Muslims are prevented from insulting those whom they invoke besides Allah Almighty; otherwise, they would affront Allah Almighty out of hostility (6:108) [1]. It should be noted that the aim of these discussions should be clarifying the truth and not obliging others to convert. As stated above, no one is forced to accept what we believe. This manner ensures Muslims and non-Muslims peaceful coexistence in the Quran.  

peaceful coexistence in the Quran

4. Islam recognizes other religions

In surah Baqara, it is stated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) and the faithful have faith in what has been sent down to him (PBUH & HP) from Allah Almighty, and they believe in Allah Almighty, His angels, His scriptures and His apostles, and they make no distinction between any of His apostles (2:285). It means that a real believer should recognize all previous Prophets sent by Allah Almighty and what they have brought to humans from Him [2]. Besides, in Ayat 62, the followers of other religions like the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabaeans who are faithful to Allah and the Day of Judgement and act righteously are told to have their reward from Allah Almighty (2:62). This is another proof that Islam recognizes other religions. Also, it reveals that there have been faithful people among the followers of other religions who truly believed in Allah almighty according to the teachings of their faith.

5. Islam Encourages Peace-Making

In dealing with the opponents of Islam, Islam orders Muslims to accept if they offer peace and declare a ceasefire and emphasizes that: “Allah does not allow you any course [of action] against them” (4:90). In other verses, Muslims are told that: “If they incline toward peace, then you [too] incline toward it” (8:61). 

6. Marriage and Friendship with non-Muslims

Another example that demonstrates Islamic teachings promote peaceful coexistence in the Quran with non-Muslims is that in the Quran, Muslims are told that: “the food of those who were given the Book is lawful to you, and your food is lawful to them” (5:5). Besides, according to the Quran, Muslim men can marry the chaste ones from among faithful women, and chaste women of those who were given the Book before Muslims, once their dowries are paid to them (5:5). These two instances show that Muslims are free to fraternize with non-Muslims and exchange with them in society.

What has been mentioned above are only some of the many Islamic guidelines that encourage treating others kindly and behaving friendly with the followers of other religions. That makes them incline slightly towards Islam, such that after a Christian boy who had converted to Islam changed his bad behavior with his mother, the mother was attracted and converted to Islam, too. This, together with many instances of the way that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) and Infallible Imams (AS) treated non-Muslims, proves Islam's deep care for the way Muslims deal with others which should ultimately lead them toward tolerance and maintaining a peaceful coexistence as stated in the Quran.  



[1]. M. A. Amini, “The principle of peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims in Islam,” Ma’rifat Journal, no. 165, p. 35-52.
[2]. M. H. Tabataba’ei, “Translation of Tafsir Al-Mizan, “vol. 2, p. 681.