Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim
Muslims Living in Non-Muslim Lands
T he subject of how Muslims are supposed to behave in non-Muslim lands is
rarely covered in detail in classical works of fiqh. This is
understandable, since in previous times no sane Muslim would care to live
outside the fold of Islam. In light of recent events, it seems appropriate
to remind our brothers and sisters that just because we live in non-Muslim
lands this does not give us license to act like savages: not towards our
non-Muslim neighbors and not towards fellow Muslims. We Muslims have
responsibility towards Allah, the Muslim community, and the non-Muslims
around us--where ever we may be. So, in sha Allah the following will be a
lesson for those who do not know and a reminder for those who forgot.
May Allah reward the brother who forwarded the following article on this
much needed topic. And may Allah reward the author and his translators.
[Disclaimer: I do not know the author nor have any affiliation with him
other than him being a knowledgeable Muslim brother.]
Muslims Living in Non-Muslim Lands by Shaykh Salmaan bin Fahd Al-`Awdah
Translated by The Islamtoday Team (http://www.islamtoday.net/english)
As-salaamu `alaykum wa raHmatullaahee wa barakaatuhu,
A number of Muslims who reside in the Western Countries (studying,
working, seeking protection or for other reasons) were asking for
explanation regarding the extent to which they should observe
comply with laws and regulations of these countries, about the blood
the disbeliever and how to deal with them in general.
Muhammad the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) and his
had been ordered to emigrate from Makkah to Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
there was a king under whose rule no one was subject to oppression
Thus, a Muslim who is in need of emigration, shelter or resort has to
compare the available options and choose the one in which he,
religion, his family and his money are the most adequately
In his choice, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) preferred
Abyssinia to other places as Muslims would enjoy security and
during their settlement there.
Abyssinia was known to be under a fair king (Najashi) who was not a
Muslim at that time though later he was reported to have
Islam. The whole story of his journey to Islam up to his death can
found in the collections of Imaam Bukhaari and Imaam Muslim along with
the narrations of the Prophet Muhammad's performance of the
prayer for him (peace be upon him).
The above mentioned story was narrated via Abu Hurayrah in the Two
Correct Books of Bukhaari and Muslim and other books of authority
Muslims dwelling in foreign countries are thought to have followed one
of two ways:
1. By means of a valid visa with correct personal information,
2. By means of forged documents.
Either way, he is considered contracting and agreeing to rules adopted
in this country and he has to comply with them. This implies the
fulfillment of the promises he obliged himself with since he
agrees to stay and dwell in these countries.
Allaah the Almighty said: "Oh you who believe! Fulfill the
[al- Maa'ida 5:1]
And said: "and fulfill (every) covenant. Verily! The covenant will be
questioned about." [al-Israa' 17:34]
And said: "And fulfill the Covenant to Allaah (pledge for Islam) when
you have enjoined it, and break not the oaths after you have
them." [an-Nahl 16:91]
Reflecting upon the above verses, a Muslim is not to break or violate
oaths or promises. He will not be a true faithful Muslim at that
Allaah Said: "Is it not the case that every time they make a covenant,
some party among them throw it aside? Nay! The truth is that most
them believe not." [al-Baqarah 2:100]
Talking about the characteristics of hypocrites, "the one who acts
treacherously toward covenants, and when entrusted he betrays."
Some preceding scholars stated that those who enter non-Muslim
have to stick to their respective rules and regulations even if
illegally entered. There is no excuse accepted for breaking these
as he has been primarily entrusted the time he was allowed to enter.
Imaam Muhammad bin Hasan ash-Shaybaani [Biographies 2/6)]
He said: "if it happens that a company of Muslims came to the enemies
front troops and deceptively pretended to be messengers of the
Khaleefah with the order of handing over some documents, or just
allowed to pass through the enemies areas, they are not entitled
kill any from the enemy's troops. Neither are they entitled to take
of their money or properties as long as they are in their area
authority. This also applies in case of being truly entrusted by
Accordingly we conclude the following:
1. Muslims in foreign countries must comply with rules and regulations
of the country they have been entrusted to enter though valid visas.
the other hand, they have to avoid whatever contradicts the
teachings. In case they are obliged, they have to stick to the minimum
of these rules and as need be.
One of the best protective methods for an emigrant Muslim is patience.
As long as he agreed to leave Islamic areas to non-Islamic ones, he
not to revolt against his choice even if it looks too hard for him
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told Huthayfa and his
father on the occasion that they were under their promise now to fight
their own kith and kin, "Go back, we are to fulfill our promise and
Allaah for help"
Hudaibiyah Reconciliation: (Bukhaari : 5/411)
The story of Abu Baseer (May Allaah Be Pleased with him): The Prophet
Muhammad (peace be upon him) told : "O Aba Baseer, you know what
have reconciled with these people upon and we are not ones to betray
break oaths, so go back to your people."
He then inquired: "Do you mean to send me back to disbelievers that
might torture and rid me of my religion?"
The Prophet answered: "Be patient and sacrifice it in anticipation of
Allaah's reward Who surely will relieve you and make you a way out
2. Blood, money and honor are forbidden areas for a Muslim to violate
trespass as an emigrant for the following:
We have mentioned above that basically a Muslim is primarily entrusted
the time he first got valid visa entry to such countries.
he is not thought to be dishonest or aggressive. Consequently he is
expected to do any act of betrayal or disloyalty and he should
acting as expected.
a. The story narrated by Al-Mughira ibn Shu`ba in Bukhaari that before
Islam he killed his company and took over their money. After that
came to Islam. On hearing the story, the Prophet Muhammad (peace
upon him) told him: "We accept you as a new Muslim. As for the money
is regarded as the outcome of disloyalty and this is not our way." Ibn
Hajar explained in FatH al-Baari (5/402): "Out of this Hadeeth, we
conclude that we are not entitled to take over the non-Muslims'
at the time of peace. Fellowship is supposed to be based upon
And a Muslim must fulfill his promises towards others whether they be
Muslim or non-Muslim." He continued: "The property and wealth of the
non-Muslims are only legal through legitimate battling and
(Jihaad for the sake of Allaah)."
b. Imaam ash-Shaafi`ee (May Allaah Have mercy on him) in Al-Umm
"In case we are in a battle time and one of the Muslims has received
permission and has been entrusted to enter the enemy's territory, he
not entitled to take over any of their properties or money be it
or great. That is because he asked for security and was granted
They are also supposed to enjoy the same from him. Besides being under
their protection entitles them to be as equally protected as
should be just like free non-Muslims enjoying Muslims
c. as-Sarkhasi in Al-Mabsoot (10/96) said:
I hate to see the Muslim betraying the non-Muslims while he is under
their protection. Betrayal is illegal according to the saying of
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): "Every traitor and cheat
come forth on Doomsday with the description of his treachery upon his
backside. And if he acted treacherously and managed to take some
their money back to the Muslim lands, I hate that other Muslims
have any deals with him in case he knows the source of this money
it is illicitly gained."
d. Ibn Qudaamah in Al-Mughni (9/237):
It is said regarding one who enters the land of the enemy with amnesty
that they should not be devious with their property, nor should
engage in Usury. Regarding the forbiddance of usury in the lands
war, we have already mentioned in (the section of) "Usury", with the
statement of Allaah ta`aala: "..and usury has been forbidden to you".
All of the Qur'anic verses and narrations which testify to the
that usury is forbidden deal with it for all places and all
Regarding deceiving them, this is forbidden. This is because amnesty
been granted upon the pretext that deceit will be abandoned, and
their safety from you will be secured. Even though this
may not be established verbally, it is known implicitly. Likewise, if
someone from them came to us under amnesty, and deceived us, then they
have invalidated their treaty. Even if this has been
then it does not make deception towards them permissible. For this
treachery, and treachery can not be made compatible with our Deen
(Islaam). Verily, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said, "The
are bound by their condition"
So if he has deceived them, stolen from them, or borrowed anything
them, it is compulsory for him to return what he took to their
respective owners. If the owner arrives into the lands of Islaam
amnesty or in faith, return it to him unless its delivery to him has
been arranged. For these goods were taken under a pretext
taking them was forbidden. Therefore, it becomes incumbent that
pilfered goods be returned as if they were taken from a Muslim.
It has been reported in both two correct books Saheeh al-Bukhaari
Muslim via ibn Abbaas (May Allaah be Pleased with them):
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sent Mu`aath to Yemen while
they were still non-Muslims (they were People of the Book). He
recommended that he should invite them to Islam. Then he said:
the supplication of the oppressed ones! There is no barrier between
a supplication and Allaah!"
Out of this we can say that there are no legal support for such wrong
doing against non-Muslims.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), along with the ones who
responded to his call, stayed in Makkah 13 years and never
any of them to plunder any wealth or property of the non-Muslims,
did he permit any bloodshed or blemish of honor until he emigrated.
Muslims were deemed weak, underestimated and disparaged in Makkah.
Notwithstanding, they were not allowed to practice any kind of
wrongdoings of the kind mentioned above.
Neither the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), nor the companions
were reported to have authorized or empowered any Muslim to take
the property or money of others. Overtaking and robbing is
villainy and lowliness. It is considered ill conduct as well. The one
used to it will never be able to abstain doing so thereafter. It
be part and parcel of his attitude and disposition.
3. Islam's Reputation and Tone- It is one of the lofty aims of the
Muslim to keep the reputation of Islam intact. Sacrificing this aim
a handful of money or something one might long for or desire can
be excused. Especially if coming out of those whom we believe to
adhering to Islam and its teachings.
Describing the true believer Allaah says: "Our Lord! Make us not a
for the polytheists and wrongdoers and save us by your Mercy from
disbelieving folk". [Surah Yunus]
That is exactly what a Muslim should be acting accord to. He should be
appealing to Allaah to save him from the plights of the
At the same time, he shouldn't be acting wrongly reflecting a
image about Islam.
How is it possibe that a Muslim will call others to embrace Islam and
his hand stealthily pilfers their money or is consorting with
daughters? Who can confirm or approve such behavior? What kind
morals are these? What kind of reason would endorse it? What kind of
legal perception can this be classified? No wonder then, that their
media triumphantly invests such efforts on discrediting the image
4. It is of the Lord's comfort and ease to His slaves that some of
countries give immigrants the freedom to reside and work freely.
also give them facilities that might not be given in their
In case these immigrants begin to show indifference to society, break
oaths and betray their entrusted residential agreements,
frightening the citizens of that country, they will be deprived of
sooner or later.
5. Consequently, A Muslim is exposing both himself and his family to
imprisonment or expulsion or further trouble. Why then should a
humiliat himself with for no good reason? He should not expose
family or those under his care to trial (fitnah). He might be
incarcerated leaving his family alone without support.
6. It is easily perceived that deeming money and the property of
legal to pilfer would soon go further to regard the honor of others
being lawful as well. It is an obscene filthy slip. Soon, it will be
insatiable madness that can't be put out.
The same applies to bloodshed that might generally affect the
of all Muslim residents there and act as a barrier for others to
such a refuge.
At least, we can regard such behavior as careless and reckless.
must keep away and be careful of it. In both Bukhaari and Muslim
says, "The one who avoids ambiguity and uncertainity, is relieved
both religion and honor."
In another Hadeeth: "Sin is that thing which you hate in your heart
would hate others to know about. No doubt, the one who is doing
deeds is hesitant and hateful that anyone should discover it."
To me, it doesn't seem to be an carelessness and recklessness. I
consider it purely illegal and unlawful. It emerges out of lust
according to one's own desires and inclination for an easier and
lighter way of living.
Allaah did not enjoin reaching success by means of illegal ways. It is
clearly understood that if legal facilities might lead to
consequences, that legal thing is considered illegal. In our
here, all evidences prove it illegal, as well as the scholars'
about its illegality as well.
Finally, these were some of the evidences that support the viewpoint
forbidding the undertaking such deeds. If reasonably pondered upon
the public, and moreover the Muslim, it would support its
We ask Allaah to guide us and all the Muslims to the correct path by
word and deed.
And Allaah Knows the Best,
Shaykh Salmaan bin Fahd Al-`Awdah
[article edited for typographical purposes and to fix one small