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3 Non-Muslims Praised by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

When we look at a person who is not a Muslim, what do we see? What thoughts come to our mind? In what light do we regard him or her?

The answers to these questions are a meter rule to measure our own belief. There are people all over the world whose answers are like these:

What do I see when I look at him?


What thoughts come to my mind?

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He doesn’t know anything. I am much better than him. I am a person of heaven while he is a person of hell. He’s completely different from me, more different than an alien would be, if they existed.

In what light do I regard him?

He’s filthy.

Clearly, these answers are judgmental and only prove our own ignorance. But what then are the correct answers? What would the answers be like, if these same questions were put to the prophets? To the Companions? To Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)?

Let us look at what Prophet Muhammad saw in three non-Muslims of his generation, and then try to answer these questions in light of these stories.

Mut’im ibn ‘Adi – A Qurayshi Disbeliever

It was a very sad time in the life of the Prophet. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was returning from Ta’if, humiliated and wounded by its people. His uncle Abu Talib had recently died, and he was completely without protection in Makkah, where people were roaming around with their swords ready to thrust into him.

Entering Makkah in such a situation was nothing less than suicide. So he sent messengers to different noblemen of Makkah, asking for their protection. Only one man answered his call – Mut’im ibn ‘Adi, a Qurayshi disbeliever.

Mut’im was one of those who had previously helped in nullifying the Quraysh’s boycott that led the whole sub-tribe of the Prophet to starve for three years. When he heard that the Prophet was asking for his protection, he immediately sent a positive answer.

Then he ordered his sons:

“Attire yourselves in armor and station yourselves around the corners of the House (i.e. the Ka’bah), for indeed, I have granted my protection to Muhammad.”

After that, the Prophet walked right into Makkah, flanked from all sides by Mut’im and his sons, all carrying weapons. They went straight to the Ka’bah, and Mut’im called out from on top of his mount:

“O people of Quraysh, I have indeed granted my protection to Muhammad, so let no one among you make a move to harm him.”

The Prophet Muhammad prayed two rak’ahs and then Mut’im and his children escorted him to his house. (Al-Qahtani 144)

Years later, after the Battle of Badr, the victorious Muslims had captured many prisoners of war from the Quraysh. Remembering Mut’im, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Were Mut’im ibn ‘Adi alive and interceded with me for these filthy people, I would definitely forgive them for his sake.” (Al-Bukhari 4023)

Mukhayriq – A Jewish Rabbi

It was the third year after Hijrah. The Muslims got news that a big army of the Quraysh was coming to attack them. They went out to the mountain of Uhud to await the arrival of their enemies. But they were in serious straits, outnumbered three to one.

The Jews of Madinah had a treaty with the Muslims to defend them if Madinah was attacked. But none of them was willing to keep to that treaty – except one man, Mukhayriq.

Dhahabi quotes ibn Is’haq’s version of the story of Mukhayriq. He says that at first Mukhayriq urged the people of his tribe to help the Prophet, reminding them of their treaty:

“O Jews,” he said, “you know very well that Muhammad’s victory is a right on you.”

They replied, “Today is the Sabbath.”

He said, “No Sabbath!”

Then he took his sword and equipment and went out, saying:

“If I’m killed, then my wealth will go to Muhammad, and he can do whatever he pleases with it.”

Then he went to Uhud and fought until he was killed.

And the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about him:

“Mukhairiq is the best of the Jews.” (Dhahabi 424)

Najashi – A Then-Christian King

Now let’s go back a decade. The Muslims in Makkah are being persecuted, imprisoned and tortured. Allah hasn’t given them permission to fight back, and anyway, they were so few that fighting back would mean a total extinction of Islam.

During this time, the Prophet gave permission to some of the Muslims to flee from Makkah. But where would they go?

The Quraysh wouldn’t let them live peacefully in any land. Who would protect the Muslims in a foreign land, among strangers, when their own people were after their blood? The Prophet only suggested one name – Najashi.

Najashi was the title of the king of Abyssinia. His actual name was Ashamah.

“The Prophet knew that Ashamah … was a just ruler who would not wrong any of his subjects, so he permitted some of his followers to seek asylum in Abyssinia (Ethiopia).” (Mubarakpuri 78)


First a few of the Muslims, and later a bigger group (83 men and 19 women), migrated to Abyssinia, seeking asylum.

The king welcomed them all with open arms. And when Quraysh sent emissaries to instigate him against the Muslims, he behaved exactly as a just king should do – he called the Muslims to his court and listened to their side of the story as well as the Quraysh’s.

“[The Quraysh] sent two delegates, providing them with expensive gifts for the king, and instructing them to convince the king to expel the Muslims from his kingdom.

When An-Najashi found out about the beauty of the Religion of Islam, and about the wonderful things it had to say about Jesus and Mary, he returned the gifts of the delegates and stated to them in no uncertain terms that he was not willing to expel his honored guests.” (Al-Qahtani 140)

Najashi later became a Muslim. But it was before he had any knowledge of Islam that the Prophet chose him over all other leaders and kings, and entrusted the Muslims to his care.

The Muslims remained in Abyssinia as long as they wished, freely practicing Islam, and returned many years later to Madinah, where the Prophet (peace be upon him) had already built a successful state (in the year of the Khaybar conquest).

When Najashi died, Prophet Muhammad and the companions prayed funeral (in absentia) over him. The Prophet said:

“Today a pious man from Ethiopia has died.” (Al-Bukhari 1320)

The Right Answers

After knowing about how Prophet Muhammad treated non-Muslims, if I were asked these questions, I would answer like this:

What do I see when I look at him?

A human being, an honored creation of Allah.

What thoughts come to my mind?

I’d like to know about this person. I’d like to earn Allah’s pleasure by being good to him.

In what light do I regard him?

He’s my brother in humanity, and a potential Muslim. And even if he’s not, he is still worthy of my respect.


Al-Qahtani, Sa’eed ibn ‘Ali bin Wahf. A Mercy to the Universe. Trans. Faisal bin Muhammad Shafeeq. Darussalam Publishers, Date retrieved 8 Mar 2017.

Al-Mubarakpuri, Safiur-Rahman. The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet (sa). Darussalam Publishers, Date retrieved: 13 Mar 2017.

Al-Dhahabi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Uthman. Sir a’lam al-nabla’. Date retrieved: 8 Mar 2017.

(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)