The Islaamic concept of Walaa' and Baraa'
The topic of walaa' and baraa' is of great importance for three main reasons:
Firstly: that the concept of walaa' (allegiance) and baraa' (enmity) is one of the greatest fundamentals of the Islaamic creed ('aqeedah).
Shaykh Ahmad ibn 'Ateeq, rahimahullaah, said:
“There isn't in the Book of Allaah the Exalted - after the issue concerning the obligation of tawheed and the forbiddance of its opposite - any issue which has as so many proofs, nor so clearly explained, than the issue of walaa' and baraa'.”
As regards walaa' (allegiance), it is manifesting sincere love and help for Allaah, and for His Prophets, and for the Believers. Whereas, baraa' (enmity) is manifesting enmity and dissociation from falsehood and its people. And these matters are actually from the most fundamental issues of faith (eemaan).
Secondly: that the Muslim live in a very crucial time in which many of the basic and vital Islaamic concepts have either been forgotten, misunderstood or neglected; and from such basic concepts is the concept of walaa' and baraa'. The consequence of this is that many Muslims are no longer aware of those qualities that distinguish a believer from an unbeliever; which has in turn caused the faith of many Muslims to be severely weakened and has led many of them to take the unbelievers as intimate friends and allies - imitating their manners, ways and aspirations.
Thirdly: that because the concept of walaa' and baraa' is so central to the meaning of: 'laa ilaaha illallaah', then any error concerning it, actually means an error in understanding the very kalimah itself.
Understanding the essentials of Walaa' and Baraa'
In order to understand the issue at hand, we need to discuss the following six matters:
 The Meaning of 'laa ilaaha illallaah'
It means: “None has the right to be worshipped, except Allaah. So with this, the worship of all other deities has been negated; and worship has been affirmed for only Allaah alone.” Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, rahimahullaah, said:
“There is no happiness for the hearts, nor complete delight, except in loving Allaah and drawing close to Him with whatever He loves. And it is not possible to [truly] love Him, except by turning away from all that is loved besides Him. This is the reality of 'laa ilaaha illallaah' and it is the Religion of the close friend (khaleel) of Allaah; Ibraaheem 'alayhis-salaam, as well as that of all the Prophets and Messengers.”
So love of Allaah, and doing that which He loves and is pleased with, is the reality of laa ilaaha illallaah. Al-Haafidh al-Hakamee, rahimahullaah, said:
“The signs that a person loves his Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) is: [i] that he gives precedence to what He loves, even if it opposes the person’s own desires; [ii] to hate what his Rabb hates, even if his own desires incline towards it; [iii] to show sincere love and help (walaa') to those who ally themselves with Allaah and His Messenger; [iv] to show enmity to those who show enmity to Allaah and His Messenger; [v] to follow His Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam; and [vi] to accept his guidance.”
Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim, rahimahullaah, said in poetry form:
“A condition for true love is that your love should agree with;
The love of the one whom you love, without there being disobedience.
If you claim to love Him, yet show opposition;
Then your love is but a false pretence.
Do you love the enemies of the Beloved, whilst claiming to love Him;
Yet still seek love in return.
And you fight and show enmity to those whom He loves;
Is this true love, O brother, or the following of Shaytaan.
There is no worship without singling Him out exclusively;
Along with submitting the heart and limbs to Him in humility.”
 The Implications of laa ilaaha illallaah
● The declaration of laa ilaaha illallaah implies having walaa' and baraa' for certain matters.
● The kalimah implies showing walaa' (sincere love and help) to Allaah, His Religion, His Book, His Prophets, and His righteous worshippers; as well as taking them as close allies and helpers:
“Indeed your helper and protector is none other than Allaah, His Messenger, and the Believers.” [Soorah al-Maa'idah 5:55]
● It implies dissociation for those who worship other than Allaah and enmity towards all that is worshipped besides Him:
“Indeed there is for you an excellent example in the Prophet Ibraaheem and those with him, when they said to their people: Indeed we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allaah; we have rejected you, and there has arisen between us and you enmity and hatred, until you believe and worship Allaah alone.” [Soorah al-Mumtahanah 60:4]
“Whosoever rejects at-taaghoot and believes in Allaah, has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks.” [Soorah al-Baqarah 2:256]
Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abdul-Wahhaab, rahimahullaah, said:
“And know that a person will not be considered a Believer, except by rejecting all that is worshipped besides Allaah. The proof is this Verse.”
● It implies having love for what Allaah has prescribed:
“Follow that which has been revealed from your Rabb, and do not follow any friends and helpers other than Him.” [Soorah al-A'raaf 7:3]
● It implies having enmity for those laws and judgements that oppose Islaam:
“Do they seek after a judgement from the times of ignorance. And who is better in judgement than Allaah, for a people who have certainty.” [Soorah al-Maa'idah 5:5]
● It implies dissociation from every religion other than Islaam:
“Whoever seeks after a Religion other than Islaam, never will it be accepted from him, and in the Hereafer he will be one of the lossers.” [Soorah Aal-'Imraan 3:85]
 What laa ilaaha illallaah Negates and Affirms
The kalimah negates certain matters, and affirms certain matters. It negates four matters: aalihah, tawaagheet, andaad, and arbaab
[i] Aalihah: If a person directs his hopes and fears to something, believing that it can bring benefit or ward of harm in and of itself, then such things have been made into deities that are worshipped besides Allaah (aalihah). So the kalimah negates this for anything other than Allaah.
“If Allaah afflicts you with some harm, there is no one who can remove it except Allaah. And if He desires good for you, there is no one who can repel His favour.” [Soorah Yoonus10:107]
[ii] Tawaagheet: whoever is worshipped and is pleased with it, or claims having some qualities of divinity; such as claiming to have knowledge of the unseen, or deems it permissible to legislate laws in opposition to Allaah’s Laws - then such people are transgressors who have overstepped the limits (tawaagheet).
“To every nation We sent Prophets and Messengers, ordering: Worship Allaah alone, and turn away from the taaghoot.” [Soorah an-Nahl 16:36]
[iii] Andaad: Whatever draws a person away from obedience to Allaah, whether family, children, wealth or dwelling, become rivals (andaad) to Allaah.
“And of mankind there are those who take others besides Allaah as rivals to Allaah. They love them as they should love Allaah.” [Soorah al-Baqarah 2:165]
[iv] Arbaab: those who knowingly give verdicts in opposition to Allaah’s Laws, and are then followed in this, have been made into Rabbs (arbaab) besides Allaah.
“They took their rabbis and priests to be rabbs besides Allaah.” [Soorah at-Tawbah 9:31]
The kalimah also affirms four matters:
[i]: Sincerity: That the object of our worship should be Allaah, and that all worship should be exclusively directed to Him alone (ikhlaas):
“And they have not been commanded, except that they should sincerely and exclusively worship Allaah alone.” [Soorah al-Bayyinah 98:5]
[ii]: Love: That Allaah should be loved more than anything and everything else.
“But those who believe are stronger in their love of Allaah.” [Soorah al-Baqarah 2:165]
[iii], [iv]: Fear and Hope: that reverential fear and hope should be for Allaah alone:
“So do not fear them, but fear Me and beware of disobeying Me, if you are true believers.” [Soorah Aal-'Imraan 3:175]
“So whoever hopes to see his Rabb and be rewarded by Him, then let him make his worship correct and make it purely and exclusively for Him; and let him not give any share of it to other than Him.” [Soorah al-Kahf 18:110]
: The Companions and laa ilaaha illallaah
How the Companions, radiallaahu 'anhum, understood and acted upon the requirements of this great kalimah, has been beautifully explained to us by Imaam Sufyaan ibn 'Uyaynah, rahimahullaah.
Muhammad ibn 'Abdul-Malik al-Musaysee said:
We were with Sufyaan ibn 'Uyaynah in the year one-hundred and seventy, and a person asked him about faith (eemaan), so he replied: “It is statement and action.” The man asked: Does it increase and decrease? He replied: “It increases as Allaah wishes, and it decreases as Allaah wishes; to the extent that no more than the likes of this remains, [and he demonstrated with his hand]” The man asked: How should we deal with those who claim that it is statement without action?
Sufyaan replied: “This is what they used to say before the rulings and limits of eemaan were established. Indeed Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, sent our Prophet Muhammadsallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam to all of mankind to tell them that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah, and that I am the Messenger of Allaah. So when they said that, there blood and wealth would be protected, except by right, and their reckoning would be with Allaah. When Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, was satisfied with the truthfulness of this from their hearts, He commanded the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam to order them to Pray; so he ordered them and they did it. By Allaah! Had they not done so, then their first act would not have benefited them.
When Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, was satisfied with the truthfulness of this from their hearts, He commanded him to order them to migrate to Madeenah; so he ordered them and they did so. By Allaah! Had they not done so, then neither their first act, nor the Prayer would have benefited them.
When Allaah, the Most Blessed, the Most High was satisfied with the truthfulness of this from their hearts, He commanded him to order them to return to Makkah, in order to fight their [disbelieving] fathers and sons; until they said the kalimah that they had said, prayed their Prayer, and joined them in their migration. So he ordered them and they did so. By Allaah! Had they not done so, then neither their first act, nor the Prayer, nor their migration would have benefited them.
When Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, was satisfied with the truthfulness of this from their hearts, He commanded him to order them to migrate to perform tawaaf around the house in worship of Him, and to shave their heads out of humility; so he ordered them and they did so. By Allaah! Had they not done so, then neither their first act, nor the Prayer, nor their migration, nor their fighting their fathers would have benefited them.
When Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, was satisfied with the truthfulness of this from their hearts, He commanded him to order them to migrate to give charity from their wealth in order that it may purify them; so he ordered them and they did so - giving a little and alot. By Allaah! Had they not done so, then neither their first act, nor the Prayer, nor their migration, nor their fighting their fathers, nor their performing tawaaf would have benefited them.
When Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, was satisfied with the truthfulness of this from their hearts - which were no in harmony with the rulings and limits of eemaan, Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, said:
“This day have I perfected your Religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen Islaam as your Religion.” [Soorah al-Maa'idah 5:3]
Sufyaan then said: “So whoever abandons any part of eemaan, then he is an unbeliever in our view. However, if he leaves it out of laziness or neglect, then we will discipline him, and he is - in our view - deficient in eemaan. This is the Sunnah; relate it from me to whoever asks you about it.”
Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abdul-Wahhaab said:
“If we have clearly understood this, then we will know that many of those who claim to follow the Religion really do not understand 'laa ilaaha illallaah’. Since how are we to explain the patience that the [early] Muslims had to endure when under torture, captivity, beating, and migration to Ethiopia. And this, along with the fact the he sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam was the most merciful of people; had there been a way to spare his Companions [these hardships], then he would have done so.”
: The Meaning of Walaa' and Baraa'
Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said:
“The declaration of 'laa ilaaha illallaah' requires not to love and hate, except for the sake of Allaah; neither should there be any walaa and baraa, except for the sake of Allaah; and that one should love and hate that which Allaah loves and hates.”
Linguistically the word walaa' implies: love, help and drawing close. And baraa' is its opposite. Another term that is frequently used for baraa' is the term 'adaa (enmity).
The technical meaning of walaa and baraa:
Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, rahimahullaah, said:
“Wilaayah (closeness) is the opposite of 'adaawah (enmity). The root of wilaayah is love and intimacy, and the root of 'adaawah is enmity and being distant.”
Shaykh 'Abdul-Lateef aalush-Shaykh, rahimahullaah, said:
“The root of walaa is love and the root of 'adaa is enmity. From them both spring actions of the hearts and the limbs. Those [actions] that enter into the reality of walaa and baraa include: the giving of help, socialising, co-operation, jihaad, migrating, and their like.”
So walaa and baraa are necessary consequences of the kalimah - as is proven from the Book and the Sunnah. Some of the evidences from the Book of Allaah include:
“Let not the Believers take the unbelievers as intimate friends and helpers (awliyaa) in preference to the Believers. Whoever does so will never be helped by Allaah in any way; unless you fear a danger from them. And Allaah warns you against punishment from Himself. And to Allaah is the final return.” [Soorah Aal-'Imraan 3:28]
“Say: If you do love Allaah, follow me. Allaah will love you; forgive you your sins. Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Say: Obey Allaah and the Messenger, but if they turn away, then know that Allaah does not love the unbelievers.” [Soorah Aal-'Imraan 3:31-32]
“They desire that you reject faith and disbelieve; as they have rejected faith, and thus that you all become equal and like one another. So do not take intimate friends from amongst them, until they believe and migrate in the Path of Allaah.” [Soorah an-Nisaa 4:89]
“O you who Believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as friends and protectors; they are friends and protectors one to another. Whoever takes them as friends is one of them. Indeed, Allaah does not guide a wrong-doing people.” [Soorah al-Maa'idah 5:51]
“O you who Believe! Whoever turns back from his Religion; know that in his place Allaah will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him; humble towards the Believers, and stern against the unbelievers, fighting in the Path of Allaah and not fearing the blame of the blamers.” [Soorah al-Maa'idah 5:54]
The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
“Be sincere to every Muslim, and dissociate from the unbelievers.”
“The strongest hand-hold of faith is to love and hate for the sake of Allaah.”
“The strongest hand-hold of faith is to have allegiance and closeness (walaa) and enmity and dissociation ('adaa) for the sake of Allaah; and to love and hate for the sake of Allaah.”
Ibn 'Abbaas radiallaahu 'anhu said:
“Whoever loves for Allaah’s sake and hates for Allaah’s sake; has walaa for Allaah’s sake and 'adaa for Allaah’s sake will receive, because of this, Allaah’s allegiance and closeness (wilaayah). A person will not experience the taste of faith - even if he prays and fasts in abundance - until he is like this. Today the people in general base their friendships upon worldly affairs, but this will not benefit them at all [i.e. in the Hereafter]”
Shaykh 'Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Hasan said about the above saying:
“It will not benefit them, rather it will actually harm them; just as Allaah, the Exalted, said:
“Friends on that day will be enemies one to another; except the pious.” [Soorah az-Zukhruf 25:67]
Shaykh Sulaymaan ibn 'Abdullaah, rahimahullaah, also commented:
“His saying: 'has walaa for Allaah’s sake' explains the necessity of loving for the sake of Allaah, which means: expressing allegiance. It also indicates that mere love alone is not sufficient. Rather, it is essential that along with this love, there should be allegiance, which is a necessary consequence of this love. This entails assisting, honouring, respecting and being with those whom you love inwardly and outwardly. His saying: 'and 'adaa for Alaah’s sake' explains the necessity of hating for the sake of Allaah, which means: displaying enmity by actions such as jihaad against the enemies of Allaah; dissociation from them; and being far from them, both inwardly and outwardly. It indicates to the fact that mere hatred in the heart does not suffice. Rather it is essential, that along with this, there should be a manifestation of its requirements; just as Allaah, the Most High, said:
“Indeed there is for you an excellent example in the Prophet Ibraaheem and those with him, when they said to their people: Indeed we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allaah; we have rejected you, and there has arisen between us and you enmity and hatred, until you believe and worship Allaah alone.” [Soorah al-Mumtahanah 60:4]”
: Walaa' and Baraa' and the Creed of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jammah
Ibn Taymiyyah, rahimahullaah, said: “It is upon the Believer to have enmity for Allaah’s sake and allegiance for Allaah’s sake. If the person is a Believer, then it is upon him to show allegiance to him; even if he is wronged by him. This is because wrong-doing does not cut-off the allegiance [which is required] by faith (al-mawaalaatul-eemaaniyyah). Allaah, the Most High, said:
“And if two parties from amongst the Believers fight each other, then make peace and reconciliation between them.” [Soorah al-Hujuraat 49:9]
So they are considered to be brothers, along with the fact of them fighting and transgressing against each other; and the order is given to make reconciliation between them. So the Believer should consider: That it is obligatory to show allegiance to a Believer, even if he wrongs you and over-steps the limits concerning you. Whereas it is obligatory to shoe enmity to the unbeliever, even if he gives you things and shows kindness to you. Indeed Allaah sent the Messengers, and revealed the Books so that the whole way of life would be for Allaah; so that His awliyaa would be loved, His enemies would be hated, and that honour and reward would be for His awliyaa, and dishonour and punishment would be for His enemies.
If a person combines in him both good and evil; obedience and disobedience; righteousness and wickedness; Sunnah and bid'ah; then he is deserving of allegiance and reward in proportion to what he has of good, and he is deserving of enmity and punishment in proportion to what he has of evil. So it may be that a person possess what warrants both honour and dishonour, and he possess some of this and some of that. This is just like a thief that is poor; whose hand is cut off for what he has stolen, but he is given what will satisfy his needs from the storage of charity. So this is a fundamental principle that is agreed upon by Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah; but is opposed by the Khawaarij, theMu'tazilah, and those that agree with them.”
The people are of three categories with regards to walaa and baraa:
[i]: Those whom we should sincerely love and have allegiance for; showing no enmity towards them whatsoever: The people of this category are the true Believers; the Prophets, the truthful ones, the martyrs, and the righteous.
[ii]: Those whom we should purely hate and have enmity for, without showing love and allegiance to them: In this category fall the unbelievers, the mushriks, the hypocrites, the apostates and the atheists. And this is the case, even if such people are closely related:
“You will not find any people who believe in Allaah and the Last day loving those who resist Allaah and His Messenger; even though they were their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their relatives.” [Soorah al-Mujaadalah 58:22]
“O you who believe! Do not take as intimate friends and protectors your fathers and your brothers, if they love unbelief over faith. And if any do so, then they are the wrong doers.” [Soorah at-Tawbah 9:23]
However, this does not negate being just to them, nor treating them kindly when possible, nor giving to them their rights, nor desiring guidance for them. Rather, these things are prescribed, either as obligations or recommendations.
[iii]: Those who are to be loved and shown allegiance to from one angle, but are to be hated and shown enmity to from another angle: In this category fall the sinful and disobedient ones from amongst the Muslims. So we should love due to what they possess of faith (eemaan), and hate them for what they have of sins and disobedience to Allaah; providing such sins are not the greater type of unbelief (kufr) or shirk. Loving them requires sincerely advising them; as well as commanding them with good and forbidding them from evil.
Summing up the creed of Ahlus-Sunnah in this matter, Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said:
“As for praise and censure, love and hate, allegiance and enmity - these are things for which Allaah sent down His proof; and His proof is His Book. So whosoever is a Believer (mu'min), then it is obligatory to show allegiance to him; whatever group he is from. But whosoever is an unbeliever (kaafir), then it is obligatory to show enmity to him; whatever group he is from ... Whoever has in him both faith and wickedness; he is given allegiance in proportion to his faith, and shown enmity to in proportion to his wickedness. He is not expelled from [the fold] of faith in totality merely because of committing sins and acts of disobedience; as is the view of the Khawaarij and the Mu'tazilah.”