Many Islam haters claim that Islam preaches hatred of non Muslims by quoting the Quran, Surah 98 verse 6, which says
"Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures."
How to respond to this allegation?
Yes it is true that many anti Islamic propagandists use this verse widely to malign Islam. I will try to explain the true meaning of this verse in the proper context.
Any discussion on such type of Qur’anic verses would be meaningless, without taking into consideration all the verses related to this theme. Before we study the verses in question, therefore, let us examine this issue in a wider perspective:
The Qur'an informs us that well-meaning believers of different faiths have been promised paradise.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَىٰ وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
"Surely, those who believe (i.e. Muslims) and the Jews and the Christians and the Sabians, whoever (from among them) believes in God and the last day and does good deeds, shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve." [Surah al-Baqarah 2/ Aayah 62]
According to this verse there is no question of insulting any non Muslim for his faith.
At another place in the Quran, Allah expressly commands Muslims to be kind and just towards non Muslims. Allah, the Exalted says,
لَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُمْ مِنْ دِيَارِكُمْ أَنْ تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ
"Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just." [Surah 60, Aayah 8]
These verses prove that the Quran is not hateful towards good non Muslims at all. But those who are bent on maligning Islam never focus on these verses.
The verse under question (98:6) is referring to those who deliberately reject the Truth, and especially when the Messenger in present among them who brings them clear evidences. See verses 1 through 5 of this Surah. The name of this Surah is 'al-Bayyinah' which means 'The Clear Evidence'. Both the People of the Book, to whom revelation had come in previous times, and the idolaters of Arabia, among whom no Prophet has appeared, were sunk so deep in immorality and sin that only a Divine Messenger could now free them from this bondage.
Thus when the Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) started his mission of reforming the creeds and the deeds of the people he was met with stiff opposition by people who had vested interests in the ongoing system. They refused to believe in the pure message of the Messenger (refer 98:2-3). It is such people who rejected the truth even after seeing clear evidences in favour of it, who are being spoken of in verse 6.
Of course those humans who deny the truth even after understanding what it is are worst creatures in the sight of God. No sane person will deny this universal truth.
The words 'worst of creatures' are not an insult at all and are not used for all non Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in many of his sayings used such terms for Muslims as well. For example, consider the following Hadith (tradition) of the Prophet
عن علي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يوشك أن يأتي على الناس زمان لا يبقى من الإسلام إلا اسمه ولا يبقى من القرآن إلا رسمه، مساجدهم عامرة وهي خراب من الهدى، علماؤهم شر من تحت أديم السماء، من عندهم تخرج الفتنة وفيهم تعود
"Ali narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: ‘A time will come in the near future when there will be nothing left of Islam except its name. And there will be nothing left of the Qur’an except its words [meaning the Qur’an would not be understood and followed]. The mosques of that age will apparently be full of people, but will be empty of guidance. Their ulema (scholars) will be the worst creatures under the sky. Discord will rise from them and will come right back to them."
[Mishkaat ul Masabeeh, Kitaab ul Ilm and Kanz ul Ummaal Chapter 6, P.43; Quoted from Shu'b ul Eemaan of Imaam Bayhaqi 3/317-318]
In this saying the Noble Prophet is condemning the so-called Muslim scholars who will appear in the future and is calling them the 'worst creatures under the sky'. This tradition proves that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) condemned evil equally whether done by a Muslim or a non Muslim. This is the greatness and unbiased nature of the Prophet (pbuh). The shameless anti-Islamic propagandists are simply proved wrong, by the clear evidence I have presented, thus exposing their lack of proper Islamic knowledge.