I requested Abu Isa to look into our discussions about Hijra and make some comments.
If you want to ask him anything about this you'll need to visit his site. Otherwise for more discussions/comments please feel free to continue here.
Much Ado About
Fewer issues cause as much angst and
disputation, whether at the top level of scholars or amongst general
laymen, as does the ruling concerning Hijrah or technically “the
emigration from the land of non-Muslims to the land of Islam.”
I wish to make the following various (and totally random) points to clarify what some of you may have understood from what I have said in a khutbah given in 2003 and various postings since then and thus to provide for reflection for those arguing about it.
- Firstly at the onset so as to make
my intentions clear and save everyone reading on if they so wish, I
follow the opinion that it is not an obligation upon the Muslims living
in non-Muslim lands to make Hijrah unless they are prevented
from performing the very basic aspects of their religion.
- This is an issue which has been differed over, more so in recent times by the contemporary scholars reflecting the fact that it is (in general) a relatively new problem. This difference in essence reflects their varying understanding of what “difficulty in practising their religion” actually means and whether the Muslims really are better off in their non-Muslim lands than other Muslim lands they might be able to move to.
- That said, Muslim minorities have
always existed in pockets distributed in various non-Muslim lands and
areas throughout the last 1400 years; the scholars in general preferred
their living with the Muslims under the rationale that their practising
of their religion would become more pure, safer and more complete. The
classical books of fiqh are replete with statements confirming
the obligatory nature of Hijrah unless the Muslims were amongst
tribes and people that didn’t restrict their practices.
- It becomes an absolute obligation for the Muslims to make Hijrah if they are unable to fundamentally perform their religion because Allah ‘azza wa jall says in Sūrat’l-Nisā’:
“Verily, as for those whom the angels take while they are wronging themselves, they say, 'In what condition were you?' They reply, 'We were weak and oppressed in the Earth.' They say, 'Was not the Earth of Allah spacious enough for you to emigrate therein?' Those will find their abode in Hell, and what an evil destination.” (4:97-98)
- Remember again that as the exegetes of the Qur’ān tell us, this above verse refers to in principle those Muslims who were fighting against the Islamic state on the side of the Polytheists, and those who are unable to practise their religion at all. At the very least, this verse is a severe warning for all Muslims who live in non-Muslim lands to assess their roles and functions in those societies.
- The inability to perform ones religion leads to the absolute individual obligation of emigration to any other place that allows one to do that, worst case being to another non-Muslim land and best case a true Muslim country running by Sharī‘ah as it should be (and not as it has been claimed to be in the last 100 years). This is of course from the basics of Maqāsid al-Sharī‘ah i.e. that to preserve ones religion takes priority over preservation of life and wealth and other necessities.
- Also, one must understand that the above verse does not obligate moving to an Islamic state but rather to where there is no fear, weakness and oppression i.e. where the person can live safely in security and confidently practise his/her religion fully. This can be seen in the action of the Companions who were sent by the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) from a land of warring and oppressive non-Muslims to another non-Muslim land (Abyssinia) with its own set of problems yet ultimately being ruled with justice and peace and hence allowing the Muslims to practice their Deen to an acceptable level.
- Also note, there is no evidence to show that the Companions were forced to return back to the Islamic state once the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) took control which would of course have been the case if it was an obligation. Rather they returned out of their own volition.
- Other than in this extreme situation (where one cannot pray, dress modestly and worship etc), there is no clear-cut evidence that puts the Muslims in sin for not emigrating to a Muslim land. The only other exception (which was also differed over) is when the Khalīfah gives a command to the Muslims to do so – unless it is impossible, to disobey him would be sinful according to the majority. Others opined that as a result of their refusal to make Hijrah, their families would not get the full-amount of blood money due if that country/area was attacked as can be found in the books of fiqh. Naturally this discussion doesn’t apply when a Jihād is declared for which it becomes obligatory for the Muslims to participate in.
- It is not lost on you I am sure
that rather than having a Khalīfah calling us to Dār’l-Islām
at the moment, we have many Muslim leaders trying their very best to
make it is as wholly difficult as possible to live in a Muslim country.
That is of course, if you can make it in. Once in, and as a foreigner,
you can guarantee that you’re already as big a suspect on the “War
on Terror” as you think you might be back in the West, except that
at least you have a fair chance of escaping torture back in Blighty.
At least the Lib Dems and Gareth Pierce might be watching your back.
- Likewise, to slightly complicate the issue albeit admittedly this does not provide legal evidence in this debate, it would be absolutely impossible to house the hundreds of millions of Muslims that live in the Europe, the USA, India, China etc into Muslim countries. This is a geographical, social, cultural and most importantly a political fact.
- At the very least, this reality would lead to a change in the conditions affecting a fiqhi (legal) ruling on the obligatory nature of Hijrah as is well known from the principles of usūl ul-fiqh.
- Muslims should realise that in
principle, they belong in Muslim lands where they can practice their
Islam with strength, respect and honour. A Muslim shouldn’t normally
leave such a land for the land of the non-Muslims except temporarily
for a specific legal reason. It is sheer folly to try and argue otherwise.
As for the Muslim born and living in a non-Muslim land, it is recommended
for him to be in a land where Islam is fully established, so that he
can enjoy and utilise the strength of the nation in expressing his religion.
- The oft-repeated ‘narration’ of the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) which many use as the main evidence to prohibit the residence of Muslims in non-Muslim lands namely:
بعث رسول اللَّه صلى الله عليه وسلم سرية إلى خثعم فاعتصم ناس منهم بالسجود، فأسرع فيهم القتل، قال: فبلغ ذلك النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فأمر لهم بنصف العقل، وقال: «أنا بريء من كل مسلم يقيم بين أظهر المشركين» قالوا: يا رسول اللَّه لِـمَ؟ قال: لا تراءى ناراهما
Jarīr b. ‘Abdullah
is reported to have said that the Messenger of Allah (sallallāhu
‘alayhi wa sallam) sent a battalion to the tribe of Khuth‘um.
Some of the members of the tribe sought salvation in performing prostration.
However, the battalion hurriedly killed them. When the Messenger of
Allah heard of this, he ordered their families to be paid half the amount
of blood money and said, “I
am free from every Muslim who lives amongst the Polytheists.” We asked, “Why
is that, O Messenger of Allah?”
He replied, “You
could not distinguish between their two fires.”
(i.e. between who were Muslims and who were non-Muslims)
This narration was collected by Abu
Dāwūd and Tirmidhi. It was graded weak by al-Bukhāri, al-Nasā’i,
Abu Hātim al-Rāzi, al-Dāraqutni as well as many others (see ‘Ilal
al-Hadith of Abu Hātim, No. 942). Such a weak (and mursal)
report cannot be used as evidence that the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi
wa sallam) has prohibited for Muslims to remain amongst non-Muslims.
- For the sake of argument even if the above narration was authentic, it doesn’t in any way indicate that it is impermissible for Muslims to live amongst non-Muslims. Rather it indicates, as is found in the books of fiqh under the chapters of jināyāt and diya, that those who choose to live like this will take responsibility for their own lives. So for example, if a Khalīfah established himself as a leader of the Jihād in Afghanistan and decided to launch a nuclear attack against the UK in retaliation to the invasion of 2001, and we British Muslims all died alongside British non-Muslims, our extended families would not be able to claim for blood-money, or could only claim limited damages against the Khalīfah, as discussed and differed over by the Fuqahā’. This is because we chose to live here despite being warned by the leader not to. If the above hadith was authentic, then it is the same: the leader declaring himself free of any liability arising out of Muslim or peaceful non-Muslim deaths.
- At the same time, no-one should be so naïve to believe that Muslims have it all good in the non-Muslim lands just because Muslims are able to pray, fast, cover their hair and get double stamp duty exemption. Those scholars who obligated emigration did so for the hidden and subtle damage that occurs to the belief and faith of the Muslim as they live their lives and sub-consciously ingest the diseases of disbelief and hypocrisy. Please do not patronise these scholars and those who sincerely make Hijrah in the belief that they are protecting their families and religion. “And for every man is that what he intended.”
- This fact should make many Muslims in the non-Muslim lands be very careful and weary in case they are indeed in sin. And no doubt, many Muslim families have fallen foul of our religious requirements especially when it comes to protecting the family, failing miserably in the tarbiyyah of their children who are now the biggest drug users and abusers, dealers and pimps in this country; and if not drugs then the Asians and then British Muslims have reached a greater percentage of inmates in the British prison system than their percentage of the population of this country.
- Likewise, one shouldn’t be so naïve to believe that one will become a better Muslim by being in so-called Muslim countries for it often leads to the exact opposite for some. Hence, one should deal with the issue on an individual case-by-case basis; it is all about the maslahah and the mafsadah and whether the good outweighs the bad.
- People need to judge their own situations specifically and make decisions that are well thought out and planned that will be the best for their Deen and Dunya and future generations, ensuring that priority is given to the Right of Allah ‘azza wa jall and then promote His justice throughout the world as the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said collected by Imām Ahmad (1420):
"البلاد بلاد الله، والعباد عباد الله، وحيثما أصبت خيراً فأقم"،
lands are the Lands of Allah, and the servants are the Servants of Allah,
so wherever you come across good, then stay there.”
- The Muslim who lives in non-Muslim
lands doesn’t have to feel guilty every day and night just because
they might not be a scholar or a student of knowledge helping and guiding
other people, as is mistakenly quoted by some. Rather the obligation
concerns the preservation of ones own religion and then the propagation
of it as a gift to others only if one has that particular ability. And
God does not burden a soul more than it can bear.
- Just because the level of fitnah in “The West” is high (although rapidly reaching parity in many Muslim lands) it is not the answer to run away and not a reason to obligate Hijrah; this isn’t just because of the old adage established by ‘Umar (radhy Allāhu ‘anhu) of worship in times of fitnah being better and more rewardable. Rather if you believe that by moving to some Muslim land (or even the Khilāfah established upon Prophethood) that you will be protected from fitnah, then you have made a huge mistake.
- The land/country/area that you reside in will not become some sudden shield for you if your heart is still diseased and your mind ignorant from the laws, principles and details of Islam. It is of no surprise to learn then that when Abu al-Dardā’ settled in Palestine and wrote a letter to his very close friend Salmān al-Fārisi (radhy Allāhu ‘anhum) inviting him to leave Iraq where he was staying and return back to “al-‘Ardh al-Muqaddasah” (the Holy land of Palestine), Salmān replied:
ان أبا الدرداء كتب إلى سلمان الفارسي ان هلم إلى الأرض المقدسة فكتب إليه سلمان ان الأرض لا تقدس أحدا وإنما يقدس الإنسان عمله
land never makes someone holy; rather what makes man holy are his actions.”
- The real issue is the level and
quality of your Islam after your Hijrah. There are some people
who take a greater portion from their prayer performed in more difficult
circumstances surrounded by fitnah in the lands of disbelief
than those who are absent in mind and indeed absent in heart whilst
standing in front of the very Ka‘bah itself. Never has a Prophetic
narration made more sense than when one actually experiences this reality.
- It is wholly incorrect to argue against the benefits of making Hijrah to a Muslim country because of illegal bribery, corruption, inefficiency and lower modern standards. Indeed those who live in the non-Muslim lands who know anything about how Governmental agencies and departments work will recognise that all the above occurs here too – but just in a more subtle form and indeed “legalised.”
- We must remember that the reason for Hijrah is to become closer to Allah and use all possible resources to reach that objective in whichever land you reside. Hijrah to some Muslim countries in the form of job promotion to the Middle East or returning back to countries of ethnic origin to live with extended family might be all well and convenient, cheaper, provide high quality education for the kids at private foreign schools (the irony!) and eventually lead to an easier life but has Hijrah been done because one is sick of tired of working 9-5 every day or because it is for the pleasure of your Lord?
- Back to the issue of “being able to practice ones religion”. A good working standard could be that which was offered by the hadith of Fudayk (radhy Allāh ‘anhu), despite the difference over its authenticity:
– وكان قد أسلم، وأراد أن يهاجر فطلب منه قومه وهم كفار أن يبقى معهم، واشترطوا له أنهم لن يتعرضوا لدينه، ففر فديك بعد ذلك إلى النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فقال: يا رسول الله إنهم يزعمون أنه من لم يهاجر، هلَكَ فقال النبي – عليه الصلاة والسلام –: "يا فديك أقم الصلاة، واهجر السوء، واسكن من أرض قومك حيث شئت"
A Companion called Fudayk became Muslim and wanted to make Hijrah but his people, who were non-Muslims, wanted him to stay, and promised him that he could practice his religion freely. He came to the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, they claim that the one who doesn’t emigrate is destroyed,” to which the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) replied, “O Fudayk, establish the Prayer, stay away from sin and then live in the land of your people wherever you wish.” (Ibn Hibbān, 4861)
What are the key points or conditions
then of living in a land like ours: to establish the prayer i.e. you
must be able to perform all your prayers at any time without any problem.
Secondly, that you must stay away from and protect yourself (and family)
from as much sin as possible. If you are sinning yourself or having
problems with prayer which are related to your location, then you must
leave – it becomes a fardh al-‘ayn and that’s why the
asl of Hijrah is obligatory, i.e. that one moves to a place
where Islam can be established and the Deen can be practiced.
In conclusion to all these many random
points, listed here only really to show the depth of the discussion
concerning Hijrah and illustrate some potential mistakes that
protagonists on both sides are guilty of, I would like to end with this:
The practical reality (and not the legal ruling of course) is that there are millions of Muslims who are firmly settled in their countries and societies from birth and who have a huge responsibility to safeguard their Deen and that of their families, friends and communities. Many have claimed that the grass is greener on the other side but it has proved anything but for a small number of Muslims who became too concerned with the external Hijrah and left the internal Hijrah for later.
The internal always comes first, then
followed by the external. If we can all focus how to purify our lives
and preserve our surroundings the best we can, we might be able to fulfill
the Prophetic injunction which precedes any physical Hijrah to
another land, rather it starts with the internal Hijrah obligatory
on every soul in every corner of the Earth, namely:
المهاجر من هجر ما نهى الله عنه
real Muhājir is the one who leaves that which Allah has forbidden.”
For many millions of Muslims, the only Islam they know is the particular nuanced flavour of Islamic culture they live out in their various communities around the world. Although it might be possible yet very difficult for many Muslims to try and adapt totally to a new culture and way of life in a Muslim country, they are not obligated to leave their current areas as long as their particular flavour of Islam tastes the same as the blessed Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). By the way, a change in the packaging is okay.
And Allah ‘azza wa jall knows best.