Muslims who live in non-Muslim countries are of three kinds
Fatwa No: 86405

Question

I have heard that it is forbidden for a Muslim to live in a non-Muslim country, so should all the Muslims who live in non-Muslim country e.g. USA go back to their native land?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is 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 his family and all his companions.

With respect to the matter of immigration from a non-Muslim country to a Muslim country, Muslims are of three kinds:

A) Those who cannot fulfill their religious obligations and commands, or fear temptation, (i.e., face hardship due to the bad environment and the prevalence of disbelief in the place where they dwell).  These Muslims are obliged to migrate.

B) Those who can practice their religion and do not face any temptation.  Immigration for them is merely desirable.

C) Those who are not required by Islamic law to migrate as they (physically, financially or due to other forcing reasons) are not able to migrate at all.

Evidence regarding immigration:

·  Allaah Says (what means): {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 earth."  They (angels) say: "Was not the earth of Allaah spacious enough for you to emigrate therein?" ….}[Quran 4: 97].  This is a stern warning from which the scholars deduced that it is a clear indication that migrating is obligatory.  Moreover, carrying out the religious obligations is compulsory on every individual who has the ability to do so.  Therefore, the one who cannot follow his religion in a place has to migrate from that place to another, since religion is more important and precious than any other matter.

·  The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "I am free from any Muslim who lives among polytheists  ...The fire of each group should not be visible to the other." [Abu Daawood and Al-Bayhaqi]  The narration means that they are not allowed to live at the distance from where they could see each other's fire at night.  According to the great majority of Muslim scholars  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them the ruling of this immigration remains mandatory till the Day of Judgement.

·  Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him also said: 'After the given details, people are of three kinds as far as the matter of immigration from a non-Muslim country is concerned: 

  A) Those who are obliged to migrate: Muslims who cannot follow their religion freely and who are able to migrate to a Muslim country must migrate (no other choice is given to them).'

  B) The ruling of migration does not cover the Muslims who cannot migrate due to compulsion or who are too weak to migrate such as women, children and the like, such are not addressed by this rule.  Allaah Says (what means): {Except the weak ones among men, women and children who cannot devise a plan, nor are they able to direct their way.  For these there is hope that Allaah will forgive them, and Allaah is Ever Oft-Pardoning, Oft-Forgiving.} [Quran 4:98-99].  Due to the lack of their ability to migrate, migration could not be considered recommended in this case under Sharee'ah.

 C) Migration is recommended for some Muslim but it is not compulsory.  For instance, Muslims who live in a non-Muslim country but they are allowed to act freely according to their religion; they are merely recommended to migrate to Muslim countries to help the Muslim nation and increase the members of the Muslim community.  The evidence for this is the fact that Al-'Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him the uncle of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) stayed in Makkah even after embracing Islam.  It is also reported that when Nu'aym An-Nahhaam  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him 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  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him  delayed his migration for a period and thereafter he migrated.  The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) 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  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him  replied, "But O Prophet of Allaah! Your people chased you away to the obedience of Allaah and to Jihaad against His enemies, while my people discouraged me from migration and held me back from the obedience of Allaah." [Al-Mughni].

Allaah Knows best.

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