In a world where people want to divide humankind into opposing camps, accusations of kufar (or kafir), shirk and taghut are being carelessly, sometimes maliciously, thrown around. In some cases, many are afraid to be friends with people who might be classified as so-called ‘non-believers’.

But judging people is not the way of the Prophet (PBUH).

As Muslims, we are taught to love our brothers and sisters irrespective of their religion. Muslims are our brothers and sisters in faith. Non-Muslims are our brothers and sisters in humanity.

When someone pushes the idea that non-Muslims are lesser beings it’s important to consider what agenda they may be pursuing: On whose authority are they acting? On want grounds? And what do they have to gain by labelling them so harshly and publicly?

This divisive hostility is not just aimed at individuals but also at institutions. But under sharia, we are called on – and we have a responsibility – to fully participate in society and respect the laws of the land we live in. This does not mean we always have to agree with these laws but we need to accept their application to our lives, unless they are forcing us to do something completely forbidden in our religion.

Our religion calls on us to be active citizens – not passive observers. For example, there is nothing wrong with the act of voting. In fact, supporting (and holding to account) a political candidate who promises to advocate for your family, your community and your area is one of the most influential things you can do.

So, can we be friends with non-Muslims? Yes, if we want to follow the Prophetic way.