Believers living in non-Muslim countries
Fatwa No: 81642

  • Fatwa Date:22-4-2004 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 3, 1425
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I have heard that living in non-Muslim country is forbidden until you have a valid reason for that. Economics is certainly is not one of them. When I contacted the Imam of the mosque he asked me where I will live then? His ruling was there is no place right now where true Islamic culture is present, even if you take a home just outside Haram (in Mecca) and Islam is not imposed in your own home, it does not matter where you live. He asked me to try to impose Islam in my own home and don't think about that. Can you enlighten Muslims about living in non-Muslim countries?


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there in none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. We ask Allaah to exalt his mention as well as that of this family and all his companions.


First, Muslims are not allowed to live among unbelievers or stay in their countries as this will have bad consequences with regards to their religion and that of their children as has been the experience of many Muslims living in that condition. Among the dangers that face any Muslim who lives among unbelievers are the following:

1.     His living among them could badly effect his own faith and creed as it might lessen the feeling of hatred a Muslim should always have towards the disbelief, deviation and moral laxity that are common in such places. His frequent exposure to seeing and hearing so much evil will make him less sensitive to it, so that he becomes accustomed to it to the extent that he might become inclined towards it. Finally, one becomes deceived by the disbelievers' material possessions, their appealing life, their seeming justice and concern for the needy. He might come to believe that they are on the right way while they are far from the truth.

2.     He faces great danger in his practice of the religious acts that Allaah has prescribed for him as disbelievers have many amusements and entertainment to tempt him, and hence make him neglect some of his religious obligations, and even to commit sins.

3.     His living among them could have a bad impact on his honor. For example, due to custom and legal protections, if a daughter brings her boyfriend home, the father cannot say anything or even show his disapproval without being challenged or even imprisoned.

4.     The Muslim in such countries might not be able to assure Islamicly permissible employment for himself. He may even be obliged to deal in Riba (usury and interest) transactions just to assure his livelihood and have a place to live.

5.     These disbelieving people are exposed to the danger of the punishment of Allaah that can be inflicted on them at anytime. So, whoever lives among them is facing the same risk.

6.     Your children are exposed to all these and even greater dangers. The Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "I am free from any Muslim who lives among polytheists". [Abu Daawood and Al-Bayhaqi].

Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah said: "The state of countries is similar to the state of human beings. Generally, at times a person may be Muslim and at other times he becomes a disbeliever. Sometimes he may be a true believer and some other times a hypocrite. Similarly, sometimes he may be pious and sometimes he commits sins and become dissolute. The state of countries is the same as the state of human beings depending on their activities. Therefore, the migration of a person from the place of disbelief and evil to the place of belief and obedience of Allaah reflects his sincere repentance to Allaah. This act of migrating from bad to good, from disbelief to Islam, and from a bad place to a good place will continue till the day of Judgment".

It is now clear that generally it is forbidden to live in non-Muslim countries.

However, there may be reasons that permit a Muslim to live among the disbelievers. Among them are the following:

1.     There is a real necessity that compels one to do so where he has no other choice, such as not having a peaceful refuge in any Muslim country.

2.     If one stays there to acquire useful knowledge for Muslims which can not be learned elsewhere.

3.     Fear that he will be harmed of killed by authorities, etc., should he return to his Muslim country.

4.     He stays there for the purpose of calling people to Islam but under the condition that he is secured from sinning or neglecting some of Islamic religious acts. Otherwise, he should preserve his own religion and leave such a country.

Any of the above reasons make it lawful for the Muslim to live in such countries. But he should be very careful and take all precautions to remain a good Muslim (modest, chaste and honest…). He should also make sure that he and his family abide by the Islamic legislations as he is responsible for his family in front of Allaah. One should also remember that when necessity makes permissible that which is prohibited, necessity needs to be assessed properly.

Allaah Knows best.

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