Indeed all praise is due to Allah, we praise Him, seek His aid and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil of our souls and the wickedness of our actions. Whomsoever Allah has guided no one can misguide, and whomsoever Allah has misguided no one can guide. I beware witness that no god is worthy of worship except Allah exclusively who has no associate, and I bear witness that Muḥammed is His servant and messenger.
يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقاتِهِ وَلا تَموتُنَّ إِلّا وَأَنتُم مُسلِمونَ
“O’ you who believe, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims.” [Q 3:102]
يا أَيُّهَا النّاسُ اتَّقوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذي خَلَقَكُم مِن نَفسٍ واحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنها زَوجَها وَبَثَّ مِنهُما رِجالًا كَثيرًا وَنِساءً ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذي تَساءَلونَ بِهِ وَالأَرحامَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كانَ عَلَيكُم رَقيبًا
“O’ people, fear your Lord who created you from a single soul, and from it created its mate and from them both sent forth multitudes of men and women. Fear Allah, by whom you mutually seek the rights of the womb. Indeed Allah is Ever-Watching over you.” [Q 4:1]
يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقولوا قَولًا سَديدًا يُصلِح لَكُم أَعمالَكُم وَيَغفِر لَكُم ذُنوبَكُم ۗ وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسولَهُ فَقَد فازَ فَوزًا عَظيمًا
“O’ you who believe, fear Allah and say a precise word; Allah will in turn rectify your actions and forgive you of your sins. Whoever obeys Allah and His messenger has indeed attained great success.” [Q 33:70-71]
Indeed the most truthful speech is the speech of Allah, and the best form of guidance is the guidance of Muḥammed ﷺ. The most evil of issues are religious innovations. Every religious innovation that is regarded as part of Allah’s religion is a Bid’ah and every Bid’ah is misguidance.
I am gathered with the brothers at Masjid Dar-us-Sunnah via tele-link in the city of London, the capital of Britain, on Saturday evening, the 17th of the month of Allah al-Muḥarram, year 1439H to deliver this short lecture entitled: The Obligations of a Muslim Who Resides in a Western Country. After this, there will be an open dialogue session wherein I will answer questions from the brothers – by the grace of Allah.
This topic was suggested by the brothers – may Allāh reward them. They requested a clarification regarding the duty of a Muslim who resides in a western country. In my opinion, dialogue on this topic revolves around a number of issues.
The first among many issues that must be taken into due consideration by Muslims residing in the West:
They must pay attention to the ḥadīth of the Prophet ﷺ which was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah – may Allah be pleased with him. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Muslims abide by their terms of agreement.” [Collected by Abu Dāwūd and declared ‘Ḥasan’ by al-Albāni and Arnaūt and others.]
This ḥadīth comprises one of the most important issues that a Muslim, residing in a western country, must take into consideration. This is because he is only residing in that country based upon the terms of agreement for his residency; as stipulated by the authorities of that country. So it is a must that he abides by these terms and does not violate them because Muslims abide by their terms of agreement. The meaning of this is all terms of agreements that do not contradict the Book of Allah or the Prophetic traditions of His messenger ﷺ. As for terms of agreements that contradict the Book of Allah and the Prophetic traditions of Allah’s messenger, then they are invalid.
The main point is that firstly he must conscientiously abide by the terms of agreement which form the premise of allowing him to reside in that country.
The second issue that must be taken into due consideration is that the Muslim must abide by the treaty, agreement, and covenant which is between that western country and the Muslims. He must not violate that because the pledge of the Muslims is collective, the lowest ranking Muslim endeavors to abide by it.
Abiding by agreements and covenants is in line with the statement of Allah:
يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنوا أَوفوا بِالعُقودِ
and His statement ﷻ regarding the description of the believers:
الَّذينَ يوفونَ بِعَهدِ اللَّهِ وَلا يَنقُضونَ الميثاقَ
and His statement ﷻ:
وَأَوفوا بِالعَهدِ ۖ إِنَّ العَهدَ كانَ مَسئولًا
“And fulfil agreements, indeed agreements will be asked about.” [Q 17:34]
So the second issue, which is the duty of every Muslim residing in such countries, is to abide by the pledge of the Muslims and the agreements that are between both them and the authorities of such countries. He must not violate it nor contradict such an agreement or covenant in any way because Allah ﷻ commanded the Muslims to abide by their agreements and covenants.
The third Issue: He should know that it is permissible for him to reside in those countries on the condition that he is able to openly practice his religion, and ensure for himself and his family safety from tribulations. Thus, if he is not able to openly practice his religion and ensure for himself and his family safety from tribulation, then it is obligatory, in this situation, for him to leave that country and emigrate to an Islamic country because the Prophet ﷺ said: “Indeed Allah and His messenger are free from the believer who resides among the polytheists.” [A slightly different wording of the same ḥadīth was collected by Abu Dāwūd in his Sunan and declared authentic by al-Albāni]. The Prophet ﷺ also said: “Two fires should not be visible two each other: the fire of the Believer and the fire of the polytheists.” [Collected by Ibn Māja and declared authentic by Shaykh al-Albāni.]
Allah ﷻ rebuked the believers who resided in Mecca under the authority of the disbelievers and did not emigrate to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. He did not excuse anyone except the disadvantaged. This highlights that whoever is unable to emigrate from a western country, in which he cannot openly practice his religion and ensure safety for himself and his honor, is then regarded as disadvantaged and is excused for residing in that country. He incurs nothing of sin upon himself on the condition that as soon as he is able to emigrate, he emigrates from that country because it is not permissible for him to reside in a country in which he cannot openly practice his religion.
The fourth Issue: He must endeavour to study the Islamic knowledge which is obligatory for him to know. The knowledge that is obligatory for him to study is that knowledge which will establish his obligatory acts of worship. Whatever is a requisite of an obligation is itself an obligation. So it is obligatory that he studies the rulings of ritual purification and Salāt. When the month of Ramaḍān arrives, he is obligated to fast; so it is a must that he studies the rulings of fasting. If he possesses a surplus amount of wealth that exceeds his needs and has reached the threshold of Zakāt, and has also been in his possession for the period of a year, he must then study the rulings of Zakāt. When Hajj becomes an obligation on him and he is able to perform it, he must then study the rulings of Hajj. If he engages in commerce, he must learn the rulings of doing business. If he wants to get married, he must learn the rulings of marriage and marital intimacy. If he wants to get divorced he must then learn the rulings of divorce and so on – so that all of his deeds and acts of worship are in conformity to the Islamic legislation.
Indeed, studying the knowledge of Islam which he needs in order to establish his practice of Islām is an obligatory duty; due to the ḥadīth of the Prophet ﷺ which was narrated by Anas, ibn ‘Umar and others: The Prophet ﷺ said: “Studying Islamic knowledge is the duty of every Muslim”.1
The fifth issue: He should be enthusiastic about being with his Muslim brothers in that country, as is the case in Muslim countries. They should be brothers who have mutual love as Allah said:
إِنَّمَا المُؤمِنونَ إِخوَةٌ فَأَصلِحوا بَينَ أَخَوَيكُم ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُم تُرحَمونَ
“Indeed the believers are nothing but brothers.” [Q 49:10]
The Messenger ﷺ said: “The similitude of the believers in their compassion and mercy for each other is that of a body. When one of its limbs complains, the rest of the body suffers from sleepless nights and fever.” [al-Bukhārī and Muslim].
He ﷺ also said: “A believer towards another believer is similar to a structure, each part of it is supportive of another part.” [al-Bukhārī and Muslim].
The Messenger ﷺ prohibited the Muslims from having hatred for each other. He ﷺ said: “Do not envy each other nor conspire to increase prices on each other nor hate each other nor turn your back on each other. You must not undercut each other’s business transactions. Be worshippers of Allah, brothers to each other! A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim, he does not oppress him, forsake him, lie to him or belittle him. Piety is here (pointing at his chest three times) enough evil of a person is that he belittles his Muslim brother. Every Muslim is deemed inviolable to another Muslim: his blood, wealth and honour” [Muslim]
Therefore, a Muslim should be enthusiastic about being one hand with his brothers in love, harmony and brotherhood, helping and supporting each other; especially in those countries wherein everyone around them are non-believers and people who contradict the legislation of Allah. Thus, the need for brotherhood, cooperation, and mutual love exclusively for the pleasure of Allah is greater. The Messenger ﷺ mentioned: “Among the seven whom Allah will shade under the shade of His Throne on the Day when there will be no shade except His shade: two individuals who loved each other exclusively for the pleasure of Allah. They came together by way of that, and separated on that.”2
The Prophet ﷺ also mentioned: “The worshipper will not reach the reality of Emān until Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to him than anyone else, and if he loves a person, he only loves him for the pleasure of Allah, and he would hate to return to disbelief just as he would hate to be thrown into the fire.”3
The Sixth issue: He should ensure that the Muslim community in that country is facilitating everything that helps those who embrace Islam; especially the women who enter Islam but do not have a guardian because their fathers, brothers, uncles and those categorised as a guardian for them are non-Muslims. It is known that there is no guardianship of a disbeliever over a Muslim. So it is a must that the Muslims in that country mutually cooperate and help the new Muslim women, and support them in these affairs. They must do so with decency, fear of Allah, and piety in their interactions with them. And generally, they should assist the new Muslims and thus attain a noble reward in doing so. Allah aids a worshipper as long as that worshipper aids his Muslim brother [al-Bukhārī].
The seventh issue: He should distance himself from every doubtful matter, as in the Arab proverb: O’ stranger, behave well. Meaning: he should distance himself from every doubtful matter and anything that may agitate the authorities of the country.
The eighth issue: He should not take such a country as his homeland because as soon as a person starts practicing Islām, he is required to emigrate from that non-Muslim country to a Muslim country. If he is able to openly practice his religion there, then he is allowed to reside there. However, this does not mean that he should then take it as a homeland. If a Muslim in such a country is able to openly practice his religion, and ensure safety for himself and his honor, then we say to him: residing in that country is permissible for you, but you must not take it as a homeland. It is befitting that you keep in your heart resolve to emigrate from that non-Muslim country to a Muslim country.
This is a collection of issues which a Muslim residing in a Western country must pay attention to, conscientiously abide by and not undermine the importance of.
To conclude, there is a common mistake which is said by some people: ‘I made Hijrah to Europe’ or ‘I made Hijrah to Britain’ or ‘I made Hijrah to France’ etc. Hijrah is none other than moving from a non-Muslim country to a Muslim country, not the opposite. So this is a common mistake that contradicts what is Islamically legislated regarding the definition of Hijrah.
I ask Allah The Most Glorious, The Most High to bestow on all of us guidance, direction, and success. May Allāh bestow salutations of praise upon Muḥammed, his family and companions.
1. A slightly different wording of the same ḥadīth was collected by Abu Dāwūd in his Sunan and declared authentic by al-Albānī in his book: Irwā al-Galīl. Shaykh al-Albānī commented: “In this authentic ḥadīth, the Prophet ﷺ alluded to how the Arabs, especially the Bedouins, used to live before Islam. They would light a fire at the front of their tent, and so He ﷺ said: It is befitting of a Muslim that his home is far away from the home of the polytheist, such that if both of them were to light a fire at the front of their tent, neither of them would be able to see the fire of the other due to the extent of the distance between them”.
2. “…….They came together by way of that, and separated on that.” Shaykh al-Uthaymīn: “They came together by way of that in this world and their mutual love for Allah’s sake continued until death separated them.
3. In a different wording of the same ḥadīth: “There are three things which if present in a Muslim he will then experience the sweetness of Emān…..” to the end of the ḥadīth [al-Bukhārī and Muslim].