The relations among the members of the Islamic society are based on two fundamental principles: first, awareness of the strong bond of brotherhood which links one individual to another, and second, the protection of the rights of the individual and the sanctity of his life, honor, and property, as guaranteed by the Shari’ah of Islam.

Any words, deed, or behavior that contravenes or threatens these two principles is prohibited by Islam, the degree of prohibition depending on the magnitude of material or moral injury that might result from it. In the following ayat, we find some examples of those prohibited acts which are injurious to the brotherhood and sanctity of human beings.

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala says: Verily, the Believers are brothers. Then set matters right between your brothers and be conscious of Allah in order that you may obtain mercy. O you who believe, let not some people mock at other people, for they may be better than themselves, nor (let) women (mock) at women who may be better than themselves. And do not slander yourselves, nor revile by (offensive) nicknames; evil is a name connoting wickedness after believing; and whoever does not turn away (from doing this), those are wrongdoers. O you who believe, avoid (indulging in) much suspicion; truly, some suspicion is a sin. And do not spy or backbite one another; would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor that. And be conscious of Allah; indeed, Allah is Relenting, Merciful. (49:10-12)

Here Allah proclaims that the Believers are indeed brothers to one another united through the brotherhood of Islam in addition to their brotherhood in humanity. This brotherly relationship requires that they get to know each other and do not avoid each other, that they establish ties and do not break them, that they love and do not hate, that they are sincere and not superficial, and that they come together and do not separate from one another. And the Prophet (peace be on him) says, Do not be envious of each other, nor backbite nor hate one another, but become brothers in the service of Allah. (Reported by al-Bukhari and others.)

Special Consideration for the People of the Book
While Islam does not prohibit Muslims from being kind and generous to peoples of other religions, even if they are idolaters and polytheists, as for example, the polytheists of Arabia, concerning whom the above verses were revealed, it looks upon the People of the Book, that is, Jews and Christians, with special regard, whether they reside in a Muslim society or outside it.

The Qur’an never addresses them without saying, “O People of the Book” or “O You who have been given the Book,” indicating that they were originally people of a revealed religion. For this reason, there exists a relationship of mercy and spiritual kinship between them and the Muslims, all having in common the principles of the one true religion sent by Allah through his prophets (peace be on them all): He has ordained for (the Muslims) the same religion which He enjoined on Noah, and that which We have revealed to thee (Muhammad) and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: that you should establish the faith and make no division in it…. (42:13)

Muslims are required to believe in all the Books revealed by Allah and in all the prophets sent by Him; otherwise, they are not Believers. Say: We (Muslims) believe in Allah and in what He has revealed to us, and in what He revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes (of Israel), and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and in what was given to (all) the prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit. (2:136)

Consequently, if the People of the Book read the Qur’an, they will find in it praise for their Books, messengers, and prophets.

If Muslims hold discussions with the People of the Book, they should avoid such approaches as cause bitterness or arouse hostility: And do not dispute with the People of the Book except by (the way) which is best, unless it be with such of them as transgress, and say, ‘We believe in what has been sent down to us and sent down to you, and our God and your God is one, and to Him do we submit.’ (29:46)

We have already seen how Islam permits eating with the People of the Book, sharing the meat they slaughter, and marrying their women, marriage being a relationship of mutual love and mercy. As Allah Ta’ala says: …The food of those who were given the Scripture (before you) is permitted to you and your food is permitted to them. And (lawful to you in marriage are) chaste women from among the Believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you…. (5:6 (5))

This relates to the People of the Book in general. However, Christians in particular have been given special status by the Qur’an and are considered much closer to the hearts of the Believers.