Ruling on seeking the help of Kafirs in fighting other Kafirs

Praise be to Allah. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, his Companions, and those who follow them in righteousness until the Day of Resurrection.

Scholars hold two different views with regard to the ruling on seeking the help of Kafirs (disbelievers/non-Muslims) to fight other Kafirs :

First view

The first group holds that it is prohibited to seek the help of Kafirs to fight other Kafirs. They base their argument on the following:

First: It was related by Muslim in his Sahih (book of Hadith) on the authority of ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) set out for Badr. When he reached Harrat-ul-Wabarah (a place four miles from Medina), a Mushrik (one who associates others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) who was known for his valor and courage met him. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) were pleased to see him. He said: I have come so that I may follow you and get a share from the booty. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to him: Do you believe in Allah and His Messenger? He said: No. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Go back, I will not seek the help of a Mushrik. He went on until we reached Shajara, where the man met him again. He asked him the same question and the man gave him the same answer. He said: Go back. I will not seek the help of a Mushrik. The man returned and overtook him at Baida’. He asked him the same question once again: Do you believe in Allah and His Messenger? The man said: Yes. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to him: Then come along with us.” 1

Second: They also base their argument on the Hadith reported by Al-Hakim in his Sahih (book of Hadith) from Yazid ibn Harun from Mustalim ibn Sa’id Al-Wasity from Khubayb ibn ‘Abdul-Rahman ibn Khubayb from his father on the authority of his grandfather Khubayb ibn Yasaf who said: “A man from my tribe and I came to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). I told him: O Messenger of Allah! We feel ashamed that our people will fight in a battle and we will not take part with them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked: Embrace Islam! We replied: No. He (peace be upon him) said: We do not seek the help of the Mushriks. Khubayb ibn Yasaf said: Thus, we embraced Islam and participated with them.2 Al-Hakim said: “The Isnad (chain of narration) of this Hadith is Sahih (authentic) but Al-Bukhari and Muslim did not report it. Khubayb is a well-known Sahabi (Companion of the Prophet).” This Hadith was also mentioned by Al-Hafizh Al-Zayla’i in his book entitled, “Nasb Al-Rayah” (p. 423.) He said: “This Hadith was reported by Ahmad, Ibn Abu Shaybah, and Is-haq ibn Rahawayh in their Musnads (Hadith compilations) and Al-Tabarani recorded it in his book, “Al-Mu’jam” on the authority of Ibn Abu Shaybah. The author of Al-Tanqih said: “Mustalim is trustworthy and Khubayb ibn ‘Abdul-Rahman is a reliable narrator. Allah knows best.

Al-Zayla’i reported another Hadith which was recorded by Ishaq ibn Rahawayh in his Musnad: It was reported by Al-Fadl ibn Musa from Muhammad ibn ‘Amr ibn ‘Alqamah from Sa’id ibn Al-Mundhir on the authority of Abu Humayd Al-Sa’idi who said: “When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) went out on the day of Uhud and passed Thaniyyat-ul-Wada’, he looked behind him and there appeared a squadron. He (peace be upon him) inquired: Who are they? It was said: This is ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul, and his Jewish allies; they are the tribe of ‘Abdullah ibn Salam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked: Have they embraced Islam? They said: No, they still hold to their religion. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: Tell them to go back. Verily, we do not seek the help of the Mushriks against other Mushriks.3

This Hadith was also recorded by Al-Waqidi in his book entitled, “Al-Maghazy” with this wording: The Prophet (peace be upon him) inquired: “Who are they? It was said: O Messenger of Allah! They are the Jewish fellows of Ibn Ubay. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “We do not seek the assistance of the Mushriks in fighting against other Mushriks.

Al-Hazimi stated in, “Al-Nasikh wal-Mansukh”: “Scholars hold different opinions with regard to this matter. A group agrees on the prohibition of seeking the help of the Mushriks, such as Ahmad; they adhere to the Hadith of ‘Aishah which was previously mentioned. They state that the other Hadiths which contradict this Hadith are not as authentic as this one. Therefore, the claim that this Hadith was abrogated is disqualified. Another group holds the view that it is permissible for a Muslim leader to permit the Mushriks to fight with them on two conditions:

  1. First, Muslims are few in number and so need help from the Mushriks.
  2. Second, the Mushriks are trusted with the affairs of the Muslims.

Then he quoted Al-Shafi’i as saying: Malik reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) refused to seek the help of the Mushriks in the Battle of Badr. However, in the Battle of Khaybar, years after the Battle of Badr, the Prophet (peace be upon him) sought the help of the Jews from Banu Qaynuqa’. Again, in the Battle of Hunayn, which took place in 8 A.H., he sought the help of Safwan ibn Umayyah who was a Mushrik at that time. So if the Hadith narrated by Malik indicates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was free to choose between seeking the help of the Mushriks or refusing their help, and that he would even refuse to seek the help of a Muslim if he doubts him, then the two Hadiths will not conflict with each other.

If, however, it [the Hadith narrated by Malik] indicates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) refused the man’s desire to participate with them in the battle because the latter was a Mushrik, the answer will be that this Hadith was abrogated by the other Hadith which showed that he sought their help afterwards. It is permissible to seek the help of Mushriks to fight against other Mushriks, if they are willing to help. It is permissible to give them a little but not a share of the booty as it was not authentically reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave them a share. Al-Shafi’i said: “He (peace be upon him) might have refused to let the Mushrik participate in the Battle of Badr, hoping that he would embrace Islam. It is permissible for the Muslim leader to turn down a Mushrik or to give him permission.” The opinion of Al-Shafi’i is quoted by Al-Bayhaqi. 4

[End of quote]

Al-Nawawi (may Allah be merciful to him) stated in his book, “Sharh Sahih Muslim” : “The Hadith narrated on the authority of ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) states that the Prophet (peace be upon him) set out to Badr, and when he reached Harrat-ul-Wabarah which is four miles from Al-Madinah, he (peace be upon him) said: “Go back, I will not seek the help of a Mushrik.” (see footnote #1) According to another Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) sought the help of Safwan ibn Umayyah before the latter embraced Islam; so a group of scholars base their argument on the first Hadith in general, while Al-Shafi’i and other scholars maintain that it is permissible to seek help from Kafirs, if they offer good advice to Muslims and when it is necessary; otherwise, it is Makruh (disliked). The two Hadith imply these two cases. However, if a disbeliever is given permission to participate, he is to be given a little of the booty but should not receive a share of the booty. Allah knows best.” 5

[End of quote]

Al-Wazir ibn Hubayrah stated in his book, “Al-Ifsah ‘an Ma’ani Al-Sihah” (vol. 2, p. 281): “Scholars hold different views with regard to seeking the help of or helping the Mushriks to fight against their enemies. Malik and Ahmad maintained that it is not permissible to seek the help of or help the Mushriks at all. However, Malik added that it is permissible to do so if they are in the service of the Muslims. Abu Hanifah maintained that it is absolutely permissible to seek their help or help them if they are under Islamic rule; otherwise, it is Makruh to use them. Al-Shafi’i said that it is permissible to seek the help of Mushriks subject to two conditions: First, the Muslims are few in number while the Mushriks are great in number. Second, the Mushriks hold good opinions about Islam and are inclined to it. There is no harm in taking their advice but they should not receive a share of the booty. However, Ahmad in one of his two narrations said that it is permissible to give them a share of the booty. Al-Shafi’i said: If they were hired, they should be paid from money, which has no specific owner. He also said that they should be given a little from the spoils. Al-Wazir said: “I see that this case is the same as those of Jizyah (poll tax required from non-Muslims living in an Islamic state) and Kharaj (tax on agricultural land).” 6

[End of quote]

Second view

The second group holds the view that it is permissible to seek help from the Mushriks when fighting against other Mushriks, if there is need or necessity. They base their argument on a number of proofs among which is Allah’s (Exalted be He) saying in Surah Al-An’am: “…while He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity” [Al-An’am: 119]. They also base their argument on what Al-Hazimi quoted from Al-Shafi’i (may Allah be merciful to him) which was previously mentioned as supporting evidence by the first group.

Al-Hazimi (may Allah be merciful to him) quoted that a group of scholars permitted seeking the help of Mushriks on two conditions:

  1. First, Muslims are few in number and so need help from the Mushriks.
  2. Second, the Mushriks are trusted with the affairs of Muslims.

We have previously stated what Al-Nawawi quoted from Al-Shafi’i that he permitted seeking help from the Mushriks provided that the two conditions are fulfilled; otherwise, it will be Makruh. The opinion of Al-Shafi’i was also transmitted by Al-Wazir ibn Hubayrah as previously mentioned. Those who are of the opinion that seeking the help of the Mushriks is permissible cited as evidence the Hadith which was reported by Ahmad and Abu Dawud on the authority of Dhu Makhmar who said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying: “You will make a peace-treaty with the Romans and together you will invade an enemy beyond Rome. You will be victorious and take much booty…7 The fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not dispraise them [those who sought the help of the Romans and fought with them] was considered approval of what they will do. This Hadith shows that this matter is permissible when necessary as mentioned above.

[End of quote]

Al-Majd ibn Taymiyyah (Grandfather of Ibn Taymiyyah) said: “It is not permissible to seek the help of the Mushriks unless it is necessary. If the Muslim army will increase in strength by joining the Mushrik army and they will both form a powerful front against the enemy, and they [the Mushriks] hold good opinions about Islam, this will be permissible; otherwise it is not.” 8

[End of quote]

Al-Muwaffaq stated: “It is not permissible to seek the help of the Mushriks except when necessary.” 9

[End of quote]

In “Al-Mughny” (vol. 8, pp. 414-415), he (Al-Muwaffaq) said: “It is not permissible to seek the help of the Mushriks. Ibn Al-Mundhir, Al-Jawzajani, and a group of scholars held the same opinion. Ahmad recorded a Hadith which indicates the permissibility of seeking their help. Al-Khiraqi is of the opinion that it is permissible to seek their help when necessary. This is also the opinion of Al-Shafi’i on account of the Hadith which was narrated above by Al-Zuhri concerning Safwan ibn Umayyah. The Mushrik whose help is sought must have a good opinion with regard to the Muslims; otherwise, it is not permissible to seek their help. Since the help of an untrustworthy Muslim, like one who weakens the morale of the Muslims and spreads rumors to dishearten them, is forbidden to be sought, the help of the Kafir is also forbidden in this case.

The supporting evidence quoted by the first group is the Hadith reported on the authority of ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), who said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) set out for Badr. When he reached Harrat-ul-Wabarah (a place four miles from Al-Madinah), a Mushrik who was known for his valor and courage met him. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) were pleased to see him. He said: I have come so that I may follow you and get a share of the booty. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to him: Do you believe in Allah and His Messenger? He said: No. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Go back, I will not seek the help of a Mushrik. He went on until we reached Shajara, where the man met him again. He asked him the same question again and the man gave him the same answer. He said: Go back. I will not seek the help of a Mushrik. The man returned and overtook him at Baida’. He asked him as he had asked previously: Do you believe in Allah and His Messenger? The man said: Yes. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to him: Then come along with us.” (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim and related by Al-Jawzajani) (see footnote #1).

It is recorded by Imam Ahmad on the authority of ‘Abdul-Rahman ibn Khubayb who said: “A man from my tribe and I came to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). I told him: O Messenger of Allah! We feel ashamed that our people will fight in a battle and we will not take part with them. The Prophet (peace be upon them) asked: Embrace Islam! We replied: No. He (peace be upon him) said: We do not seek the help of the Mushriks. (see footnote #2)

It is not safe to have a Mushrik in the Muslim army, for he might dishearten the Muslims and spread rumors. Ibn Al-Mundhir stated that it is not affirmed that the Prophet (peace be upon him) sought their help. 10

[End of quote]

After quoting the Hadith related to the permissibility and impermissibility of seeking help from the Mushriks, Al-Hafizh said in his book, “Al-Talkhis”: It is possible to reconcile between the Hadith of ‘Aishah and the report concerning Safwan ibn Umayyah, and the Hadith Mursal (a Hadith with no Companion of the Prophet in the chain of narration) reported by Al-Zuhri through the following ways:

  1. First, which was transmitted by Al-Bayhaqi from Al-Shafi’i, the Prophet (peace be upon him) felt that the man would embrace Islam so he sent him back hoping that he would accept Islam and he was correct. However, this view is questionable, bearing in mind that the wording of the Hadith indicates generality, because of using the indefinite form in the context of negation.
  2. Second, it might mean that the matter should be referred to the Imam (ruler); however, this view is also questionable.
  3. Third, it might also mean that seeking the help of Mushriks was initially prohibited but this prohibition was later lifted by a Rukhsah (concession); this opinion is more likely to be correct, and it was adopted by Al-Shafi’i.

Al-Hafizh said: It is Makruh to seek the help of the Kafirs, unless it is necessary while a group of scholars said, unless there is a need to do so. Al-Hafizh holds that this is permissible if the Kafirs hold a good opinion about the Muslims. He (Al-Hafizh) added in Al-Muharir, “When his power depends on the enemy.” 11

[End of quote]

Al-San’ani (may Allah be merciful to him) said in his book “Subul Al-Salam” in his explanation of the Hadith narrated by ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), “Go back, I will not seek the help of a Mushrik.”: This Hadith is supporting evidence for those who maintain that it is not permissible to seek the help of a Mushrik in fighting, which is the view of a group of scholars. However, Al-Hadwiyyah, Abu Hanifah and his followers believe that this matter is permissible because the Prophet (peace be upon him) sought the help of Safwan ibn Umayyah in the Battle of Hunayn, and he also sought the help of the Jews of Banu Qaynuqa’ and gave them a little of the booty. This was related by Abu Dawud in Al-Marasil (Book of Hadiths Mursal), and Al-Tirmidhi on the authority of Al-Zuhri as a Hadith Mursal.

However, the Hadiths reported in the from of Mursal, which are narrated by Al-Zuhri are Da’if (a Hadith that fails to reach the status of Hasan, due to a weakness in the chain of narration or one of the narrators). Al-Dhahabi said: Because he used to make mistakes, the Hadith which he narrates contain doubtful matters and Tadlis (misrepresentation resulting from a Hadith narrator who provides misleading information about his shaykh or the chain of narration). Al-Bayhaqi recorded on the authority of Abu Humayd Al-Sa’idi that the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent the Mushriks back. The compiler said: The different narrations can be reconciled by the assumption that the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent back the Mushrik during the Battle of Badr because he (peace be upon him) felt that he would embrace Islam; so he sent him back hoping that he would accept Islam and he was correct. It might also mean that seeking the help of Mushriks was prohibited but the Prophet (peace be upon him) was given Rukhsah and this opinion is the closest view. He (peace be upon him) sought the help of Mushriks in the Battle of Hunayn in return for a share of the booty.

Al-Hadwiyyah stipulated that the Imam should have with him a group of Muslims who can manage the matter. It is reported in “Sharh Muslim” that Al-Shafi’i said: “If the Mushrik holds a good opinion about Muslims and they need his help, it is permissible to do so; otherwise, it is Makruh.” According to Ijma’ (consensus of scholars), it is permissible to seek the help of the hypocrites for the Prophet (peace be upon him) sought the help of’‘Abdullah ibn Ubay and his people.” 12

[End of quote]

These are the opinions of the scholars that we could collect on this question. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.


In another occasion, His Eminence Shaykh Ibn Baz (may Allah be merciful to him) said:

As for seeking help from some disbelievers to fight against other disbelievers when necessary, the right opinion is that there is nothing wrong with doing so if the ruler chooses to seek help from some individuals or from a disbelieving country to fight against the aggressive country to ward off aggression according to all proofs. When there is neither a need nor a necessity, it is impermissible to seek their help. When there is a need or a necessity, it is permissible to seek their help as long as this benefits the Muslims and does not harm them. Doing so matches with the Shar’i proofs, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) sought the help of Al-Mut’im Ibn ‘Ady upon returning from Al-Ta’if. The Prophet entered Makkah under his protection. He (peace be upon him) sought the help of ‘Abdullah ibn Urayqit Al-Diyaly to guide him on the way to Al-Madinah. Both these two men were Mushriks (those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity or worship).

Moreover, the Prophet allowed the Muslim immigrants to immigrate to the Christian Abyssinia (Ethiopia) for the public interest of Muslims and keeping them away from the harm they may suffer at the hands of their tribe in Makkah. He (peace be upon him) borrowed arms from Safwan ibn Umayyah, who was a disbeliever, during the battle of Hunayn. According to the Hadith of ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), the Prophet said to the Mushrik (one who associates others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) who wanted to fight with him at the battle of Badr: “Go back as we will not seek the help of a Mushrik.13 Yet the Prophet allowed the Jews to settle in Khaybar and entrusted them with the works of agriculture and palm farms, because Muslims were in need of such trees and the Companions were engaged in defending the Way of Allah. When Muslims were in no need of the disbelievers, ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) ended this state. There are many proofs supporting this.

It is obligatory upon Muslim scholars to reconcile the texts, not to make them seem contradictory. The Ba’th nation is more dangerous to the Muslims than the Christian nation, because it is apparent that atheists are more indulged in Kufr than the people of the Scripture. What has been committed by the Ba’thist ruler of Iraq against Kuwait exposes his extreme malice and plot against Islam and Muslims. It should be noticed that some people assume that seeking the help of disbelievers is considered supporting them. But this is not the case, because seeking their help differs from taking them as allies. When he sought the help of Al-Mut’im ibn ‘Ady, ‘Abdullah ibn Urayqit, or the Jews of Khaybar, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was neither allying with the disbelievers nor taking them as intimates. Rather he (peace be upon him) did so, because the Muslims were in need of using them in such matters that would benefit Muslims and keep harm away from them. The same applies to sending the immigrants from Makkah to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), This is not out of allying with the Christians. Rather, the Prophet did so out of seeking the benefit of Muslims to relieve them from the evil committed against them. A Muslim should differentiate between what Allah made different and should employ the proofs appropriately. Allah (Glorified be He) is the One Who gives success and the Giver of guidance. There is no God but He. There is no Lord except Him.


  1. Narrated by Muslim, Book on Jihad and military expeditions, Chapter on the reprehensibility of seeking the help of an unbeliever during battles, no. 1817.  2 3

  2. Narrated by Imam Ahmad, Section on the Hadiths narrated by Meccan narrators, the Hadith narrated by Khubayb (may Allah be pleased with him), no. 15336.  2

  3. Narrated by Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, Book on Jihad, Chapter on we should not ally with polytheists in our fight against other polytheists, no. 2604; and Ibn Abu Shaybah, Al-Musannaf, Book on expeditions, Chapter on this is the narrations Abu Bakr learnt by heart during the battle of Uhud, no. 35708. 

  4. Nasb Al-Rayah, by Al-Zayla’i, vol. 3, pp. 423-424, first edition, ed. Dar Al-Ma’moun. 

  5. Sharh Sahih Muslim by Al-Nawawi, vol. 12, pp. 198-199, ed. Dar Al-Fikr for printing, 1403 A.H. 

  6. Al-Ifsah ‘An Ma’any Al-Sihah, by Ibn Hubayrah, vol. 2, p. 438, second edition, Al-Maktabah Al-Halabiyyah (1366 A.H-1947 C.E.) 

  7. Narrated by Abu Dawud, Book on Battles, Chapter on the battles against the Romans, no. 4292. 

  8. Al-Muharar fi Al-Fiqh, by Ibn Taymiyyah, vol. 2, p.171, Maktabat Al-Ma’arif, Riyadh, second edition, 1404 A.H 

  9. Al-Muqni’, Al-Muwaffaq Ibn Qudamah, vol. 1, p. 492, third edition, Al-Sa’idiyyah establishment, Riyadh. 

  10. Al-Mughni, by Ibn Qudamah, vol. 8, pp. 414-415, third edition, Dar Al-Manar, 1367 A.H. 

  11. Al-Furu, by Ibn Muflih, vol. 6, p. 205, second edition 1388, 1967 A.H. Dar Masr for printing. 

  12. Subul Al-Salam, by Al-San’ani, vol. 4, pp. 49-55, fourth edition (1379 A.H.-1960 C.E.), Dar Ihy’a Al-Turath Al-‘Arabi. 

  13. Muslim, Sahih, Book on Jihad and military expeditions, no. 1817; Al-Tirmidhy, Sunan, Book on military expeditions, no. 1558; Abu Dawud, Sunan, Book on Jihad, no. 2732; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Book on Jihad, no. 2832; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 6, p. 149; and Al-Darimy, Sunan, Book on military expeditions, no. 2496.