Muslims in Non-Muslim Lands

Muslims in Non-Muslim Lands

Muslims in non-Muslim lands
Muslims in non-Muslim lands

Sheikh Hamad Ibn Ateeq, may Allah have mercy upon him, divided those Muslims who live in nonIslamic countries into three groups: Those who prefer to live amongst Non-Muslims because of their affection for them; those who live amongst non-Muslims yet ignore their obligation to denounce disbelief; and those who live amongst the non-Muslims but uphold their obligation to denounce disbelief.

The first group: stays amongst the disbelievers by choice and inclination, they praise and commend them, and are happy to disassociate themselves from the Muslims. They help the disbelievers in their struggle against the Muslims in any way they can, physically, morally, and financially. Such people are disbelievers, their position is actively and deliberately opposed to religion. Allah says,

The believers shall not take the disbelievers as allies in preference to the believers. Whoever does this shall never be helped by Allah in any way [40]

At-Tabari remarks that such a person would have washed his hands of Allah, and that Allah would have nothing to do with a person who actively rejects Him and denies His Religion. Allah , says:

O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as protectors, they are protectors of one another, whoever takes them as protectors is one of them.[41]

Then, in the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him): "Whoever joins the,disbelievers and lives amongst them is one of them'[42]

Abdullah Ibn Omar said: "Whoever settles amongst the disbelievers, celebrates their feasts and joins in their revelry and dies in their midst will likewise be raised to stand with them on the Day of Resurrection. [43] .

Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, may Allah have mercy upon him, mentioned that in the case of a Muslim whose people remained bound to disbelief and followed the enemies of Islam, he too would become a disbeliever if he refused to abandon his people, just because he found it difficult. He would end up fighting against the Muslims alongside his nation, with his money and life. And if they were to order him to marry his father's wife, but could not prevent that unless he migrates from his country, he would be forced to marry her. His alliance and participation with them in their campaign against Islam and their struggle against Allah and His Messenger is far worse than marrying his father's wife. He is also a disbeliever, about whom Allah has said:

You will find others who hope for your protection, and for that of their own people. But whenever they are sent to temptation, they yield thereto. If they do not withdraw from you, nor offer you peace, nor restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you may find them. In their case, We have given you a clear warrant against them. [44]

The second group: are those who remain amongst the disbelievers because of money, family or homeland. He does not demonstrate a strong attachment to his religion (Islam), nor does he emigrate. He does not support the disbelievers against the Muslims, whether in word or deed. His heart is not bound to them, nor does he speak on their behalf.

Such a person is not considered a disbeliever merely because he continues to live among the disbelievers, but many would say that he has disobeyed Allah and His Messenger by not going to live among the Muslims, even though he may secretly hate the disbelievers. Allah has said,

Verily! As for those whom the Angels have taken (in death) while they are wronging themselves (as they stayed among the disbelievers even though emigration was obligatory to them), they (angels) asked them, "In what condition were you?". They replied, "We were weak and oppressed on earth". The Angels asked, "Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to migrate therein?"

Such men will find their abode in Hell - what an evil destination!”[45]

Ibn Kathir remarks: They were (wronging themselves) by refusing to emigrate. He continues by saying that this verse establishes a general rule which applies to anyone who is prevented from practising his religion, yet willingly remains among the disbelievers. There is no disagreement among the scholars, and the sources all state that this course of action is prohibited. [46]

Al-Bukhari relates that Ibn Abbas said that this verse was about "Some people from among the Muslims who stayed with the Pagans of Makkah, swelling their ranks, in the days of the Prophet. When fighting broke out some of them were killed and some wounded. Then Allah revealed the verse:

(Verily! As for those whom the Angels have taken (in death) while they are wronging themselves)”[47]

Whatever excuses they may have offered were rejected by the revelation,

Say, 'If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kinsmen, the wealth which you have acquired, the commerce in which you fear a decline, or the houses you love - if these are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard and fighting in His cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (Torment). Allah does not guide those who are AI-Faasiqun.[48]

Anyone who refuses to emigrate uses one of these eight excuses. But these excuses have already been rejected by Allah, Who has said that those who make such claims are disobedient to Him, and this was specifically with regard to those who chose to remain in Makkah which is the holiest place on earth. Allah required the believers to quit this place, and even love for it was not an acceptable excuse for refusal. How would such an excuse fare then for places other than Makkah? [49]

The third group: are those who may remain among the disbelievers without impediment, and they are two categories:

1. Those who are openly able -to proclaim their religion and dissociate themselves from disbelief. When they are able, they clearly disassociate themselves from the disbelievers and tell them openly that they are far from truth, and that they are wrong. This is what is known as 'Izhar ad-Din' or 'assertion of Islam'. This is what exonerates a person from the obligation to emigrate. As Allah has said: (Say, "0 Disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship and you are not worshipers of what I worship.. ).

Thus, Muhammad (peace be upon him), was commanded to tell the disbelievers of their clear disbelief and that their religion was not the same, nor was their worship, nor what they worshipped. That they could not be in the service of Allah, so long as they remained in the service of falsehood. He was commanded to express his satisfaction with Islam as his religion and his denial of the faith of the disbelievers. Allah SWT says:

Say (0 Muhammad): "0 mankind! If you are in doubt about my religion (Islam), then know that I do not worship what you worship besides Allah, rather I worship Allah Who causes you to die, and I am commanded to be among the believers. And (it is inspired to me): Direct your face (0 Muhammad) towards the religion Hanifan (Islamic Monotheism), and never be one of the Mushrikeen. [50]

Therefore, Whoever does this is not obliged to emigrate.

Asserting one's religion does not mean that you simply leave people to worship whatever they please without comment, like the Christians and the Jews do. It means that you must clearly and plainly disapprove of what they worship, and show enmity towards the disbelievers; failing this there is no assertion of Islam.

2. Those who live amongst the disbelievers, and have not the means to leave nor the strength to assert themselves, have a license to remain. Allah SWT, says,

Except for the weak ones among men, women and children who are unable to devise a plan, nor to direct their way.[51]

But the exemption comes after a promise to those who remain among the disbelievers, that,

Such men will find their abode in Hell - What an evil destination![52]

It is an exemption to those who could not devise a plan nor find any other way out. Ibn Kathir remarks: "These were people who could not rid themselves of the disbelievers, and even had they been able to do so, they would not have been able to direct their way" [53]

Allah says:

And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the Cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help'


So in the first verse, Allah swt mentions their situation, their weakness and inability to find any way to extricate themselves, and in the second, He mentions their plea to Allah to deliver them from their oppressors and to give them a protector, a helper and guide to victory. For these people Allah swt says:

For these there is hope that Allah will forgive them, and Allah is Ever Oft-Pardoning, OftForgiving.[55]

Al-Baghawi commented that: "A Muslim who becomes a captive of the disbelievers must flee, if he is able, as he would not be permitted to remain under them. If they make him give his word that he would not run away if they were to release him, he should give them his word, but then he must try to escape; there would be noguilt upon him for his lie, since they had obligated him themselves. But if he had given them his promise, in order to ingratiate them to himself, he would be obliged to escape, just the same, but must also offer penance for his wilful deception of their trust"[56]


[40] Aal-Imran: 28.

[41] 'Al-Ma'idah: 51.

[42] Ibn Ateeq, "Ad-Difaa "', p, 10- 12.

[43] Ibn Taymiyyah said in his book: "Iqtidha' as-Sifat alMustaqeem", p.200, that the chain of narration of this Hadith is Sahih.

[44] An-Nisa’: 91.

[45] An-Nisa': 97

[46] "Tafsir Ibn Kathir", 2/343, and Ibn Ateeq, "Ad-Difaa "', p. 13.

[47] "Sahih al-Bukhari", Vol.8/262, Hadith 4596.

[48] AI-Ma'idah: 24.

[49] Ibn Ateeq, "Ad-Difaa "', p. 13-14, and see also, Ibn Ateeq's "Bayan an-Najaat wal Fakak", p.70-72.

[50] Yunus: 104-105.

[51] An-Nisd: 98

[52] An-Nisa’: 97

[53] "Tafsir Ibn Kathir", Vol.2/343

[54] An-Nisa’: 75

[55] An-Nisd: 99

[56] Al-Baghawi, "Sharh as-Sunnah", Vol. 10/246.

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