Question # 459: Regarding the issue of moving from Muslim majority lands like Pakistan to lands where kufr is spread such as Canada without any issue to safety but only due to worldly reasons such as passport and so on, is this not forbidden in the ahadith of the Prophet Sallahu Alahi wa Sallam. BarakAllahu Feekum

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: The basic principle is that it is not permissible for a Muslim to settle in Non-Muslims Countries if he is unable to practice his religion openly while being able to live and practice in his own country. Additionally, he will be exposing himself to temptation and immorality because of the permissiveness in the non-Muslim Countries that are protected by their own laws. Nevertheless, not all non-Muslim countries are the same and they vary widely with regard to religious freedom and moral laxity; hence, it is not possible to have a general statement that covers all countries and all individuals. Rather, each Muslim has his own unique set of circumstances and his own ruling that applies to him, and each person is accountable for himself.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Indeed actions are judged according to their intentions. So, everyone will be rewarded for what he intends… Whoever migrates for worldly benefits… then his migration is for what he migrated for…” Therefore, it is known among the people of knowledge that no one travels outside the lands of Islam except for a valid Islamic reason, such as calling people to the religion of Allah, teaching Muslims Shari’ah rules, seeking knowledge that does not exist in the lands of Muslims and so forth.

Long Answer: The basic principle is that it is not permissible for a Muslim to settle among the mushrikeen if he is unable to practice his religion openly while being able to emigrate to [or live in] a Muslim country. This is indicated by evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “Verily, as for those whom the angels take (in death) while they are wronging themselves (as they stayed among the disbelievers even though emigration was obligatory for them), they (angels) say (to them): “In what (condition) were you?” They reply: “We were weak and oppressed on the earth.” They (angels) say: “Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to emigrate therein?” Such men will find their abode in Hell — what an evil destination!” (Soorah an-Nisa’a, 4:97)

In the Sunnah, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “I disown every Muslim who settles among the mushrikeen.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood; classed as saheeh by al-Albani in Saheeh Abi Dawood)

[In general], the Muslim who settles among the mushrikeen [in non-Muslim countries] cannot carry out many of the rituals and visible acts of worship of Islam; in addition to the fact that he is exposing himself to temptation because of the permissiveness in those countries that are protected by their laws. The Muslim should not expose himself to temptations and trials.

…[Nevertheless,] the [non-Muslim] countries are not all the same with regard to their permissiveness and moral laxity; they vary in that regard… [Hence,] it is not possible to have a general ruling that will cover all countries and all individuals. Rather, each Muslim has his own unique set of circumstances and his own ruling that applies to him, and each person is accountable for himself. If he is able to practice his religion in the Muslim country in which he lives more than he can in a [non-Muslim] country, then it is not permissible for him to settle in a [non-Muslim] country. But if it is the other way around, then it is permissible for him to settle in a [non-Muslim] country, subject to the condition that he is confident that he can resist the desires and temptations to be found there by taking the precautionary measures prescribed in shari’ah.

There follow some comments of the scholars which support [the] above:

  • Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: This is one of the most difficult issues nowadays because countries vary,… and because for some Muslims, if they go back to their homelands they will be persecuted for their religion whereas they are safe from that in the [non-Muslim] countries. But if we say that it is haraam for them to settle among the non-Muslims, then where is the Islamic state that will accept them and allow them to settle there?!
  • Zakariya al-Ansari al-Shafi’i said in his book Asna al-Mataalib: It is obligatory to migrate from the [non-Muslim] lands to the Muslim lands for those who are able to do that if they are unable to practice their religion openly.
  • Ibn al-‘Arabi al-Maaliki said: Hijrah (migration) means leaving dar al-harb [non-Muslim lands] and going to dar al-islam [Muslim lands]. This was obligatory at the time of the Prophet (saws) and remains so after his time for those who fear for their lives. (Nayl al-Awtaar by al-Shawkaani)
  • Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar said concerning the hadith, “I disown every Muslim who settles among the mushrikeen”: This is to be understood as referring to those who are not safe to practice their religion there. (Fath al-Baari, commentary on the above hadith)
  • In al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, it says: Dar al-harb refers to every place in which the rule of kufr One of the rulings that have to do with dar al-harb is hijrah (migration). [However,] for [those] whom migration is mustahabb but not obligatory… include those who are able to migrate but are also able to practice their religion openly in dar al-harb.

The evidence for this is the fact that Al-‘Abbas (ra), the uncle of the Prophet (saws) stayed in Makkah even after embracing Islam.  It is also reported that when Nu’aym An-Nahhaam wanted to migrate, his tribesmen came to him and said: ‘Stay here and follow your religion, we will protect you from anyone who causes harm to you, and keep on doing to us the good you used to do (he used to look after their orphans and widows).  He delayed his migration for a period and thereafter he migrated. The Prophet (saws) said to him: “Your people were better for you than my people were for me. My people expelled me and tried to kill me, while your people protected you and gave you shelter.”  He replied, “But O Prophet of Allah! Your people chased you away to the obedience of Allah and to fight against His enemies, while my people discouraged me from migration and held me back from the obedience of Allah.” (Al-Mughni)

  • In a fatwa issued by the Standing Committee: One may also migrate from a mushrik land to another mushrik land that is less evil and where there is less danger to the Muslim, as some of the Muslims migrated from Makkah at the Prophet (saws)’s command to Abyssinia.

[Furthermore,] ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) narrated: ”The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Indeed actions are judged according to their intentions. So, everyone will be rewarded for what he intends. Whoever migrates for the Sake of Allah and His Prophet, then his migration is for the Sake of Allah and His Prophet, and whoever migrates for worldly benefits, or for the purpose of marrying a woman, then his migration is for what he migrated for (i.e. he will not get a reward from Allah for migrating as it was not for His Sake)” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Therefore, if there are any religious benefits in residing [in non-Muslim countries], then [that Muslim] will be rewarded. [He will be] considered …a person who strives in the Cause of Allah) calling people to Islam, especially if he speaks their language. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “I swear by Allah! If Allah guides one single man (to Islam) by your efforts, that will be better for you than possessing an abundant number of red camels (a very expensive breed of camels).” (Al-Bukhari)

Dr. Salah Al-Sawy, the Secretary-General for the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America stated in one of his fatawa: “…it is known among the people of knowledge that no one travels outside the lands of Islam except for a valid Islamic reason, such as Da’wah to Allah, or seeking knowledge that does not exist in the lands of Muslims and so forth. Also, this is with the condition that one is safe from fitnah in religion and able to establish acts of worship and religion in public…”

However, if [someone immigrates] …there for a material purpose, then residing in a Muslim country is better for you. Nonetheless, you are permitted to reside there if you are not committing prohibitions and provided you are able to show and practice your religious rites.

In the end, we would like to mention what Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America, stated in one of his fatawa: “As of the ahadith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) that prohibit Muslims from living outside the land of Islam, that was in a time in which the difference between Islam and disbelief was clear, and the land of Kufr was a land of oppression and persecution against Muslims. Since it is not the case nowadays, the ruling of staying outside the Muslim world is that it is permissible unless otherwise proven.”

(Most part of the above reply is based on the following resources:

  • Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar
  • Amjaonline fatawa
  • Various answers provided by Islam Q&A on similar topics)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam