What is the Islamic ruling on seeking help of non-Muslims in major issues and cooperating with them for a common goal?
Seeking the help of non-Muslims and working in coalition with them for a common goal – whether on an individual, societal, organizational or governmental level – is generally permissible, and even encouraged and necessary at times.
When a Muslim organization or government partners to work with a non-Muslim government, for example, they should ensure that:
a) there is general good in the task undertaken, and that it does not result in harm for the Muslims (whom the organization/government is representing) and also others.
b) The Muslim government/organization should have enough control to determine the outcome or, at least, be able to back out, if the outcome turns unfavorable or is harmful for the masses.
As such, if the control remains fully in the hand of the non-Muslim organization/government to the point that the Muslim organization/government has no say whatsoever, and cannot even back out, rather continue the support even if there is clear wrongdoing, then it is not permitted to create a coalition.
Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas says in his Ahkam al-Qur’an:
Our scholars (Hanafi) say: There is nothing wrong in seeking the assistance of non-Muslims in order to fight a common enemy as long as the Muslims have the upper hand [in terms of making decisions, etc].”
In the Siyar al-Kabir of Imam Muhammad, there are two separate chapters dedicated to this topic and it concludes with the above mentioned. Imam Ibn a- Humam (the great Hanafi Mujtahid) has also adopted the same view in his Fath al-Qadir.
Moreover, the great Hanafi jurist, Imam al-Kasani mentions in Bada’i al-Sana’i that if there is a genuine need and the Muslims are in a dire situation and there is no other way of saving their lives, then to seek the assistance of the Non-Muslims and to work jointly with them will be permissible even if the Non-Muslim government has the upper hand. (Bada’i al-Sana’i)
From the above, one may conclude that if there is no other way of getting the rights of the Muslims except by working in coalition with the Non-Muslims, then it is permitted. However, a Muslim government should consider this as part of a larger effort to gain enough strength and become independent.
And Allah Knows Best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK