A distinctive characteristic of human interaction is needed. Muslims are expected to interact with everyone responsibly, sincerely and in a meaningful way. Sincerity is needed to have a relationship with other people. It leads the Muslim to behave in an open and straightforward manner, and to try to be conscious of the duty and obligation to society.
Islam’s emphasis on fairness and good treatment to all human beings without discrimination is very clear. It does not permit differentiation in the treatment of other people on the basis of religion, colour, race, sex or nationality.
Muslims, who do not treat the minority equal, do not follow the Islamic principles and are not consistent with the history of Islam.
When prophet Mohammed settled down in Medinah, he succeeded to get all inhabitants, Muslims, Jews, Christians and pagan Arabs to enter into some form of a social treaty.
The prophet of Islam said: “Whoever hurts a non Muslim, I shall be his complainant and for whoever I am a complainant, I shall ask for his right on the day of Resurrection.” (Hadith)
He also said: “ Whoever persecutes a non Muslim or demands work from him beyond his capacity or takes something from him with evil intentions, I shall be a complainant against him on the day of Resurrection.”(Hadith)
In Islam the meaning of worship is applying not only to the religious practices such as praying and fasting but everything Muslims do in accordance of the Islamic principles, to satisfy their proper needs and those of their society, is considered worship.
Islam determines the various acts of kindness and arranges the responsibilities and rights of different relationships. In social relationships, the responsibility of the Muslim lies firstly to the family then relatives, neighbours, friends and all other human beings.
Freedom for the Muslims as well as for the non-Muslims is guaranteed by Islamic law, which gives all citizens the right to complete equality and considers their life and property sacred. When Omar, the second Caliph, had learned that some Muslims had taken a piece of land belonging to a Jew, and had built a mosque on it, he ordered the demolition of the mosque and the land was given back the Jew.
Prophet Mohammed said: “ One who hurts a non-Muslim, he hurts me and one who hurts me, hurts God.” (Hadith)
Qur’an says: “… and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.” (16: 125)
Again the prophet said: “ Whoever relieves a human being from a grief of this world, God will relieve him from a grief on the day of judgment.” (Hadith)
So, Islamic teachings concerning social responsibilities are based on kindness and consideration of others. Muslims and non-Muslims alike have the right to live in peace and harmony hence the Islamic constitution ensures justice for all.
Freedom of religious practice, conscience, association, citizenship, law, are some types of guarantees that should be given to the non-Muslims and to minorities living under the protection of an Islamic state.
A great deal on the rights of the non-Muslims has been emphasized in Islam to be enjoyed without any interference, so that any Muslim who violates these rights is considered to be wrong.
The son of the Muslim governor of Egypt once slapped a native Christian when he had raced ahead of him. When the complaint was brought before Omar, the second Caliph, he ordered the son to be beaten by the Christian.
Omar said to the governor: “ How could you make slaves of these people who had been born free?”
Qur’an says: “God does not forbid you, to act fairly towards those who have never fought you over religion nor have driven you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them.” (60:8)
Islamic teachings instruct the Muslims to respect and cooperate with the followers of other religions and treat them equally provided they reciprocate the same feeling.
In the Qur’an special attention has been given to the people of the Book that is Christians and Jews, because their religions are based on the heavenly book, Torah and Bible.
Qur’an says: “ Do not argue with the people of the Book, unless it is in the politest manner.”(29:46)
When Omar entered Jerusalem victoriously, he visited the Holy Church. When the Muslims prayer was due, the Christian Patriarch asked him to perform his prayer in the church. But Omar refused, saying: “ I fear that once I have my prayer in this church, the coming generations of Muslims would say that in this place Omar had performed his prayer and therefore it has to be converted to a mosque. I want the church to remain a church.”
Muslims respect Jesus and acknowledge him as one of God’s messengers. They never refer to him simply as ‘Jesus’ but always add the phrase “peace be upon him” just as they do for prophet Mohammed and prophet Moses.
Qur’an says about Jesus: “ O’ Mary! God gives you good news of a word from Him, whose name shall be Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honoured in this world and the Here after, and one of those brought near to God.” (3:45)
And about Moses, the Qur’an says: “ Also mention in the Book Moses: For he was specially chosen. And he was a messenger and a prophet. And We called him from the right side of Mount (Sinai), and made him draw near to Us.” (19:51-52)
Moreover, a Muslim is allowed to marry a non-Muslim, Christian or Jew, and should give her the liberty to practice her religion without interfering or questioning her going to the church or to synagogue or drinking alcohol or practicing any other customs.
In addition to that, non-Muslims living in the Islamic states have the right of practicing their own customs such as eating pork and drinking alcohol, which are forbidden to Muslims.
Qur’an says: “This day, are all things good an pure made lawful to you. The food of the people of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. Lawful unto you in marriage are not only chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the people of the Book revealed before your time.” (5:6)
Islam teaches us that we should be friendly to all people. Islam teaches us that we should deal even with our enemies with justice and fairness. Allah says in the Qur'an in the beginning of the same Surat Al-Ma’dah: [O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as witnesses to fair dealings 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. Fear Allah, indeed Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.] (Al-Ma’dah 5 :8)
In another place in the Qur'an, Allah Almighty says:
[Allah forbids you not with regard to those who fight you not for your faith, nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them. For Allah loves those who are just. Allah only forbids you with regard to those who fight you for your faith, and drive you out of your homes and support others in driving you out, from turning to them for protection (or taking them as wali). Those who seek their protection they are indeed wrong- doers.] (Al-Mumtahinah 60: 8-9)
Moreover, Allah Almighty has described Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as "a mercy" to the worlds. He was a sign of Allah's Mercy to all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims. In his kindness and fair treatment he did not make any difference between the believers and non-believers. He was kind to the pagans of Makkah and fought them only when they fought him. He made treaties with the Jews of Madinah and honored the treaties until they broke them.
He (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have received the Christians of Najran with kindness in his Masjid in Madinah. They argued with him about Islam, but he returned them with honor and respect. There are many examples from his life that show that he was the friendliest person to all people.
In the verse you quoted, the word "Awliya" is used. It is a plural and its singular is "wali". The correct translation of the word ""wali"" is not "friend" but it is someone who is very close and intimate. It is also used to mean "guardian, protector, patron, lord and master".
In the Qur'an this word is used for God, such as [Allah is the Protector (or Lord and Master) of those who believe. He takes them out from the depths of darkness to light…] (Al- Baqarah 2: 257)
There are many other references in the Qur'an that give this meaning. The same word is also sometimes used in the Qur'an for human beings, such as [And whosoever is killed unjustly, We have granted his next kin "wali" the authority (to seek judgement or punishment in this case)…] (Al-‘Isra' 17 :33)
The correct translation of the verse in Surat Al-Ma’idah is: [O you who believe! Do not take Jews and Christians as your patrons. They are patrons of their own people. He among you who will turn to them for patronage is one of them. Verily Allah guides not a people unjust.] (Al-Ma'dah 5: 51)
It is obvious that Jews patronize the Jews and Christians patronize the Christians, so why not Muslims patronize Muslims and support their own people. This verse is not telling us to be against Jews or Christians, but it is telling us that we should take care of our own people and we must support each other.
In his Tafsir, (Qur’an exegesis) Imam Ibn Kathir has mentioned that some scholars say that this verse (i.e. the one you referred to) was revealed after the Battle of Uhud when Muslims had a set back. At that time, a Muslim from Madinah said, "I am going to live with Jews so I shall be safe in case another attack comes on Madinah." And another person said, "I am going to live with Christians so I shall be safe in case another attack comes on Madinah." So Allah revealed this verse reminding the believers that they should not seek the protection from others, but should protect each other. (See Ibn Kathir, Al-Tafsir, vol. 2, p. 68)
Muslims are allowed to have non-Muslims as friends as long as they keep their own faith and commitment to Islam pure and strong. You are correct in pointing out that a Muslim man is also allowed to marry a Jewish or Christian woman. It is obvious that one marries someone for love and friendship. If friendship between Muslims and Jews or Christians was forbidden, then why would Islam allow a Muslim man to marry a Jew or Christian woman? It is the duty of Muslims to patronize Muslims. They should not patronize any one who is against their faith or who fights their faith, even if they were their fathers and brothers. Allah says: [O you who believe! Take not for protectors (awliya') your fathers and your brothers if they love unbelief above faith. If any of you do so, they are indeed wrong-doers.] (Al-Tawbah 9: 23)
In a similar way, the Qur'an also tells Muslims that they should never patronize the non-Muslims against other Muslims. However, if some Muslims do wrong to some non-Muslims, it is Muslims' duty to help the non-Muslims and save them from oppression. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that he himself will defend a Dhimmi living among Muslims to whom injustice is done by Muslims. But Islam also teaches that Muslims should not seek the patronage of non-Muslims against other Muslims. They should try to solve their problems among themselves. Allah Almighty says, [Let not the Believers take the unbelievers as their patrons over against the Believers…] (Aal-'Imran 3: 28)