ۘ وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ Help one another in furthering virtue and Allāh-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and aggression. (Al- Mā’idah, 5:2)
This is a fundamental principle that governs all our cooperation with others. Cooperative arrangements result from calculations that it will be, as normally phrased, a win- win situation. But what does that exactly mean? It means that both the parties entering into a pact of cooperation will achieve their self interest. However for Muslims, considerations of virtue override all other considerations. Any enterprise, no matter how attractive on the basis of self interest, is a no-no if it leads to sin, evil, or aggression.
Perfection of Religion
ۚ الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا Today, I have perfected your religion for you, and have completed My blessing upon you, and chosen Islam as Dīn (religion and a way of life) for you. (Al-Mā’idah, 5:3)
This āyah was revealed at ʿArafāt in the afternoon of Friday, the 9th of Dhu ’l-Ḥijjah, 10 AH, eighty-one or eighty-two days before the death of the Prophet ﷺ. No legal injunction whatsoever was revealed after this. Here was the announcement that the sequence of revelations to the last of the prophets was now coming to an end. The deen, the system of beliefs and practices, was completed. It was perfected. People are free to accept or refuse to accept the message of the Qur’ān. But this categorical declaration does not leave any room for anyone to “improve” it or “reform” it.
Additionally this āyah contains the last legal ordinances ever revealed to the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ. They deal with ḥalāl and ḥarām meat. This shows the importance of eating ḥalāl.
Conflict of Interest: Justice in the Face of Enmity
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا ۚ اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allāh, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety: and fear Allāh. For Allāh is well-acquainted with all that you do. (Al-Mā’idah 5:8)
This āyah deals with the other equally potent impediment to justice: hatred. It commands loudly and clearly that you cannot do injustice even when you are dealing with the enemy.
The natural, uneducated, and uncivilized tendency is to treat the enemy as less than a human being; one who has no rights and deserves no justice or fairness. It was as true in the pre-Islamic tribal jahiliyyah (based on ignorance) society as it is today. See how Islam directly curbs it. It is a command to the believers, with a reminder that Allāh is watching you, that enmity of others cannot be used as an excuse for committing injustices against them.
Friendship with Enemies of Islam
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا دِينَكُمْ هُزُوًا وَلَعِبًا مِّنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ وَالْكُفَّارَ أَوْلِيَاءَ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ O you who have attained to faith! Do not take for your friends such as mock at your faith and make a jest of it—be they from among those who have been given the Book prior to you, or the disbelievers. But remain conscious of Allāh, if you are (truly) believers. (Al- Mā’idah, 5:57)
This āyah is self explanatory and sets the limits on interfaith friendship. Yūsuf Ali writes: “It is not right that we should be in intimate association with those to whom religion is either a subject of mockery or at best is nothing but a plaything. They may be amused, or they may have other motives for encouraging you. But your association with them will sap the earnestness of your Faith, and make you cynical and insincere.”