Verse 5:51 from the Quran categorically makes it HARAM for Muslims to be friends with kafirs and commands Muslims to bear hostility against them.
The zanaadiq who are embarrassed to call themselves Muslims and do not have the courage to uplift Islam and Muslims and who seek to honor kufr and the kuffaar, play on the meaning of the verse in 2 matters:
1) They say that the verse applies to war times only. This is the only explanation they can give to their kafir brothers and sisters without upsetting them.
2) They say that it only refers in the context of seeking ‘protection’ or ‘guardianship’ from christians and jews ‘against’ Muslims, and does not refer to the cozy personal friendships they harbor with their kafir brothers and sisters in everyday life.
Major SUNNI tafaasiir (exegesis) slaughter both these claims by these munaafiqiin and refute them handsomely, expounding on the meaning of the verse and its wordings. The first claim is buried, and the fallacy contained in the second one is laid bare. This is the verse:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تَتَّخِذُواْ الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَى أَوْلِيَاء بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاء بَعْضٍ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُم مِّنكُمْ فَإِنَّهُ مِنْهُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
Translation of meaning: O you who believe! Do not take the jews and christians as friends; they are friends of each other; and he who bears affinities to them from amongst you, then he is from them; indeed, Allah does not guide a transgressing people. [Holy Quran 5:51]
The Tafsiir of Imam Abul Hasan ‘Ali bin Muhammad Al-Khazen for this verse states that:
اختلف المفسرون في سبب نزول هذه الآية وإن كان حكمها عاماً لجميع المؤمنين , لأن خصوص السبب لا يمنع من عموم الحكم
The mufassiroon (authorities of tafsiir/exegesis) disagree on the reasons of the revelation of this verse, but the command of it is universal (i.e., to ALL times, places, circumstances) to all believers [i.e., Muslims], because the specificity of the circumstances of revelation are not a deterrent to the universality of the commandment.
In relation to the [and he who bears affinities to them from amongst you, then he is from them] part, it states:
يعني ومن يتولَّ اليهود والنصارى دون المؤمنين فينصرهم على المؤمنين فهو من أهل دينهم وملتهم لأنه لا يتولى مولى إلا وهو راض به وبدينه وإذا رضيه ورضى دينه صار منهم وهذا تعليم من الله تعالى وتشديد عظيم في مجانبة اليهود والنصارى وكل من خالف دين الإسلام
It means that he who befriends jews and christians and not believers (i.e., Muslims), he is helping them against the believers and he is from their religion and their people, because someone does not offer friendship unless he is pleased with one and his religion – and if someone is pleased with a person and his religion, he becomes one from amongst them (i.e., one amongst the people whom he is befriending) – and this is education from Allah Ta’ala – and a magnanimous harshness towards jews and christians and who ever else goes against [i.e., believes against] the religion of Islam.
The ayah mentions the words “awliyaa” and “yatawalla” in relation to friendships.
The 4th Islamic century Hanafi Imam Abu Bakr Al-Jassaas, elaborates in relation to the usage of the words ‘waliy’ (singular for ‘awliyaa’) and ‘wilayah’ (that which externalizes through a waliy, that is, friendship/affinity) and expounds on the usage of the terms in relation to the verse, and the pertaining commandments and rulings for Muslims.
Imam Abu Bakr Al-Jassaas’ Ahkaam Al-Quran states that:
وَالْوَلِيُّ هُوَ النَّاصِرُ ; لِأَنَّهُ يَلِي صَاحِبَهُ بِالنُّصْرَةِ , وَوَلِيُّ الصَّغِيرِ لِأَنَّهُ يَتَوَلَّى التَّصَرُّفَ عَلَيْهِ بِالْحِيَاطَةِ , وَوَلِيُّ الْمَرْأَةِ عَصَبَتُهَا لِأَنَّهُمْ يَتَوَلَّوْنَ عَلَيْهَا عَقْدَ النِّكَاحِ . . وَفِي هَذِهِ الْآيَةِ دَلَالَةٌ عَلَى أَنَّ الْكَافِرَ لَا يَكُونُ وَلِيًّا لِلْمُسْلِمِ لَا فِي التَّصَرُّفِ وَلَا فِي النُّصْرَةِ ; وَيَدُلُّ عَلَى وُجُوبِ الْبَرَاءَةِ مِنْ الْكُفَّارِ وَالْعَدَاوَةِ لَهُمْ ; لِأَنَّ الْوِلَايَةَ ضِدُّ الْعَدَاوَةِ , فَإِذَا أُمِرْنَا بِمُعَادَاةِ الْيَهُودِ وَالنَّصَارَى لِكُفْرِهِمْ فَغَيْرُهُمْ مِنْ الْكُفَّارِ بِمَنْزِلَتِهِمْ . وَيَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنَّ الْكُفْرَ كُلَّهُ مِلَّةٌ وَاحِدَةٌ
The ‘waliy’ – he is the helper, because one follows the provider [of the wilayah] in his help. And the ‘waliy’ of a minor is [called such] because he takes over managing his matters with responsibility; and the ‘waliy’s of a woman are her male relatives because they are in charge of her marriage [i.e., giving her away in marriage]. And in this verse, there is proof that a kafir can not possibly be a ‘waliy’ of a Muslim, neither in [personal] behaviorism nor in [material] support. And it establishes evidence for the necessity of establishing alienation from the kuffaar and for bearing enmity towards them, because ‘wilayah’ is the opposite of ‘enmity’ (‘adaawah). For if we are commanded to bear enmity to jews and christians due to their kufr, then the other kuffaar are of the same status [or even further debased]. It establishes evidence that all of kufr is one nation.
The exegesis of the scholars of the ummah also make it crystal clear that NONE of them EVER considered christians and jews as ‘believers’. ALL Muslim scholars call christians and jews as kafirs.
Whoever does not call jews and christians as kafirs and/or even refrains from calling them kafirs and/or calls christians and jews as ‘believers’ in Islam, is himself a kafir and an apostate outside of Islam. This is the consensus of the scholars of the ummah. (A recent convert who is in the learning phase will be taught Islamic rulings and not all apostasy rulings apply on him.)