Surah al-Anam 6 Ayat 66-69: Can Muslims Join the Gatherings of Disbelievers?

وَكَذَّبَ بِهٖ قَوْمُكَ وَهُوَ الْحَقُّ ؕ قُلْ لَّسْتُ عَلَیْكُمْ بِوَكِیْلٍ ۟ؕ
And your people (O dear Prophet Mohammed – peace and blessings be upon him) denied it whereas this is undoubtedly the truth; say, “I am not responsible for you.”
لِكُلِّ نَبَاٍ مُّسْتَقَرٌّ ؗ وَّسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُوْنَ ۟
All matters have a fixed time and soon you will come to know.
وَاِذَا رَاَیْتَ الَّذِیْنَ یَخُوْضُوْنَ فِیْۤ اٰیٰتِنَا فَاَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ حَتّٰی یَخُوْضُوْا فِیْ حَدِیْثٍ غَیْرِهٖ ؕ وَاِمَّا یُنْسِیَنَّكَ الشَّیْطٰنُ فَلَا تَقْعُدْ بَعْدَ الذِّكْرٰی مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظّٰلِمِیْنَ ۟
And O listener (followers of this Prophet) when you see those who argue in Our verses, turn away from them until they engage in another topic; and if the devil causes you to forget, then do not sit with the unjust after remembering.
وَمَا عَلَی الَّذِیْنَ یَتَّقُوْنَ مِنْ حِسَابِهِمْ مِّنْ شَیْءٍ وَّلٰكِنْ ذِكْرٰی لَعَلَّهُمْ یَتَّقُوْنَ ۟
And the pious are not accountable for them in the least, apart from the giving of advice so that they may avoid.

This passage continues from the previous verses and includes a prohibition against joining or sitting with disbelievers and the disobedient, particularly while they mock and ridicule the verses of the Quran. The meaning here is: O Prophet! Your people have denied the Quran and the divine punishment, even though it is the truth. They, being deniers of Allah’s punishment, ask when it will come. Inform them that you are not their guardian; you are merely a messenger of Allah’s commands. Each account has a predetermined time when it will happen, including the punishment, which, when its time comes, will befall upon them, and they will soon realize its occurrence.

وَقَالَ مُقَاتِلٌ: لِكُلِّ خَبَرٍ يُخْبِرُهُ اللَّهُ وَقْتٌ وَقَّتَهُ وَمَكَانٌ يَقَعُ فِيهِ مِنْ غَيْرٍ خُلْفٍ وَلَا تَأْخِيرٍ
Muqatil said: For every news that Allah informs, there is a time and a place it occurs, without failure or delay. 

وَقَالَ الْكَلْبِيُّ: لِكُلِّ قَوْلٍ وَفِعْلٍ حَقِيقَةٌ، إِمَّا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَإِمَّا فِي الْآخِرَةِ وَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ، مَا كَانَ فِي الدُّنْيَا فَسَتَعْرِفُونَهُ، وَمَا كَانَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ فَسَوْفَ يَبْدُو لَكُمْ
And Al-Kalbi said: For every word and action, there is a reality, either in this world or in the hereafter and you will eventually know. What is in this world, you will come to recognize, and what is in the hereafter, will become apparent to you. [Ma’alim][1]

Then Allah stated: “And when you see those who argue in Our verses,” meaning: ridiculing [what is in] the Qur’an, “then turn away from them,” so leave them and do not sit with them, “until they engage in another topic,” meaning: they cease such ridiculment, “and if the devil causes you to forget,” and you forgetfully join them, “then do not sit with the unjust after remembering;” leave their company immediately upon remembering. When this verse (verse 6:68) was revealed, the Muslims asked, ‘If we avoid them, how can we offer counsel? And how can we perform prayers in the Sacred Mosque and Tawaf while they engage in such activities.’ Subsequently, this verse was revealed. [Jalal and others from Ibn Abbas][2] They were then granted permission to be in their company for prayers, Tawaf, preaching, advising, and for propagating Islam. Allah also stated: “And the pious are not accountable for them in the least,” except to advise them, “so that they may avoid” from mocking the Quran.
Note: Although the address in the verse is to the Prophet, it extends to all members of the Ummah, and every Muslim is commanded to not participate in the gatherings of disbelievers, the irreligious, the misled, and the sinful; rather to stay away from them. Especially the common people who lack familiarity with religious matters. They should absolutely not sit in such company or listen to them. Tafsir Ahmadi and others mention that the term ‘wrongdoers’ to include disbelievers, sinners, innovators, and the misled, and categorically prohibit sitting with any of them.
Note: The same ruling applies to contemporary misled sects such as Wahhabis, Rafidis, Kharijites, Natureis, etc. They also fall under purview of this noble verse, making it prohibited to join their gatherings. If one joins them unintentionally, one should depart upon realizing. Similarly, it is commanded: اَنْ اِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ اٰیٰتِ اللّٰهِ یُكْفَرُ بِهَا وَیُسْتَهْزَاُ بِهَا فَلَا تَقْعُدُوْا مَعَهُمْ [4:140] that is, when you hear them committing disbelief and mockery against Allah’s verses, do not sit with them. Some have considered the mentioned verse abrogated by this verse, but the correct view among most commentators is that it is not abrogated. The permission to sit with them is conditional upon preaching and advising. [Siraj and others]
Tafsir Jawahir al-Iqan Surah al-An’am verse 66-69
By Allamah Hasmat Ali Khan
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