Calling non-Muslims “brother” or “sister”

Question: When I invite non-Muslims to Islaam, I find that I sometimes call them “sister” and “brother” or I say “O brothers” meaning by that the human brotherhood. I do this in order to soften their hearts and to attract them to listen to what I have to say. Is there anything wrong in doing this?

Answer: There is no doubt that it is not permissible to call the non-Muslims “brothers” because Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says, {Verily, the believers are brothers} [Soorah Hujaraat, Aayah 10].

Brotherhood, therefore, is in faith. If, however, he were a brother by descent, it would be acceptable. Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says, {And to ‘Aad (We sent) their brother Hood} [Soorah Hood, Aayah 50].

{And to Madyan (We sent) their brother Shu’ayban} [Soorah Hood, Aayah 84]. And similar such verses.

This is acceptable when there is a fraternal relationship by lineage. However, he is not your brother in religion. Allaah, the Sublime, said to Nooh, concerning his son, {Verily, he is not of your family} [Soorah Hood, Aayah 46].

However, it is possible to find a way around this. He shouldn’t say, “Oh my brother” but rather he should say, “Oh brother” meaning by this, that he is brother to whoever is his brother, either in religion or through descent. In this way, he can attract him and soften his heart while not attributing brotherhood to himself. Hinting or allusion is a way out of lying.

[Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, al-Aqalliyaat al-Muslimah – Page 75, Fatwa No.15]

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