A Question on Migration to the Lands of Islam answered by Dr. ‘Abdullah bin Bayyah


Answered by Dr. ‘Abdullah bin Bayyah | Translated by Suhaib Webb

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The Question:

The following question was put to the erudite scholar, Shaykh `Abdullah bin Bayyah:

“I’m interested in leaving my homeland and migrating to the lands of Islam. I’ve heard that it is an obligation to do so and wanted your guidance on this issue.”

The Answer:

“The questioner’s desire to live in a Muslim country is commendable. However, I would like to remind him of the following verse of the Qur’an, “Allah does not burden a soul more than it can bear.” (Qur’an, 2:286) If he is able to observe the rites of Islam and worship Allah in his homeland, then it is not obligatory upon him to migrate from there based on the hadith of the Companion Fudayk (God’s pleasure be upon him). This hadith was related by Ibn Hibbān (4861) and its narrators are trustworthy (Thiqāt). In it the Prophet ﷺ said,

‘O Fudayk! Establish the five daily prayers, abandon evil, and live amongst your people wherever you wish to live.’ The narrator of this hadith speculated that the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘(and) you will be considered as one who migrated (Muhajir).’

Fudyak’s tribe, with whom he resided, was non-Muslim and he was asking the Prophet ﷺ about migrating. Based on this, three major schools of Islamic law, the Hanafis, Shafi’s and Hanbalis, contended that if a person was able to practice his faith, then leaving his country was not an obligation and migration was not compulsory upon him.  Other scholars, such as Imam Mālik, God’s mercy be upon him, and the Literalist (Zāhiri) school, viewed it as an obligation. There were some scholars such as al-Mawardī and some of the Shāfi’is who contended that if one was able to perform his religious rites, then it was not allowed for him to migrate in the first place; nay, it is obligatory for him to stay in his country because if he migrated, there would be no Muslims left there.

This issue is one of great flexibility and ease and we beseech Allah for His guidance.”

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12 Comments

  1. Certainly we need Muslims living in the land of the non-Muslims so they can carry out da’wah and increase the visibility of Muslims. They can also benefit from the greater wealth, superior technology and freedom of speech of the West, and use that to help all Muslims around the world.

    However, it’s a fact that raising Muslim children in the West is very difficult. Many, many children are lost to un-Islamic customs and lifestyles, and sometimes lost to Islam altogether. This is a steep price to pay.

    If someone feels that he can live a more Islamic lifestyle in the Muslim world, and raise his children more easily to be good Muslims, then I would encourage him 100%. For example, I knew a Latin American Muslim convert who spent three years studying in Malaysia. He had his wife and children with him. It was a wonderful experience for all of them and they were probably happier there then they have ever been.

    At the very least, I would encourage converts in particular to visit various Muslim countries and get the feeling of what it’s like to be in a Muslim society. If you fall in love with a particular place, why not move there and enrich your life with a new experience?

    • Mlik says:

      As I recently came from a Muslim country to the US, and faced a better place to practice my faith here, I don’t recommend converted Muslims to move their for purpose of living as better Muslim.

      • Aminah says:

        I just came to a muslim country ,1 of the main reasons was my business.There are wayyy more opportunaties than in Europe alhamdulillah!

        Therefore I strongly recommend to all the muslims to look up diffrent ways in diffrent muslim countries.

        Allah is Ar Razaq!

  2. ummabdullah says:

    pretty reasonable.

    i dont believe its FARDH to move from the US(at least thats what i know of). however, i do beleive its soo much easier to raise children in the muslim world. Ofcourse, within the muslim world, within the same country or city, u HAVE to find a SITUATION that helps u to do that. cuz muslim world is filled with junk as well. I think Its just easier to find that situation in a muslim world in my experience.
    I do know other parents however who have had to move back home to the US cuz they weren’t able to find that ‘situation’. For example: some muslims prefer international schooling. international schooling overseas has alot of issues like spoiled rich kids, non practicing peers etc.. so they end up feeling like ‘back home’ was more islamic w/ the sunday school and masjid and stuff.

    And Allah knows best.

  3. thabit says:

    why not show both sides of the opinion?

  4. shakib says:

    According to Tariq Ramadan (2004) the right to practice one’s faith, acquisition of knowledge, protection of law, autonomous representation and political organization are sound principles upon which a citizenship or political idenity can be formed islamically in a traditionally non-islamic sphere of influence. In his book “To be a European Muslim” he argues for domicile from a position of a shared need to maintain diversity within liberal countries (with a sizeable minority) and not from the traditional binary position of perpetual harb (conflict). The lack of consensus among ulemas on the issue of necessity for migration, as evident from Dr. Abdullah’s explanation, indicates that domicile was not to be determined based on freedom to practice one’s faith alone but the responsibility to “bear witness” (shahid) as a muslim. Ramadan however notes that while is true that most of the conditions fulfilling one’s religious rites are protected in most liberal countries in the west, 80% of muslims do not perform their daily prayers. So the quesiton of migration is a balance between the external protection to protect minority group identity from harm the societal culture and individual freedom of conscience to exit the group that seeks protection. The niqabi woman who was denied education and subsequently intergration in Quebec, could be an example here, for whom migration could seen a plausible option because her presence although negligible, (0.015% in France and even less in Sweden) in the larger society is mistakenly seen disastrous to both of diveristy and notions of equality. Although the liberal state should not represent any paticular conception of social good, realistically it fails to promote diversity without infringing upon the rights of the most vulnerable.

    The flip side of diversity or cultural rights is autonomy, and most liberal philosophers including those in the early Islamic thinkers linked autonomy with rationality. The liberal conception of individual freedom comes from the idea of consistent rationality whereas in Islam, autonomy is tied to the concept of free will, which is very closely tied to the wellbeing of the umma, in which the islamic spirit lives. Thus the Muslim is concerned with communitarian values over individual values because the individual cannot live outside the community. Whereas the liberal society is concerned with the individual autonomy because to no end is his or her end worth showing allegience. The liberal state adopts a framework of rivision and rejection based on which it decides the limits of inclusion and exclusion, the basis of which is determined by the notion of equality between and among the groups living within its boundary. Appiah another post-colonial critic argues that this shared memory of tolerance is environmentally determined and triggerd often without a conscious decision from the majority population, based on their collective behaviour and subject to socializing. The Muslim’s predilection in such a minority status is often of gradual integration (through media, schools or other institutions) or limited alienation (by withholding cultural protections). If the Muslim values his or her right to practice individual autonomy (no matter how illiberal or illogical it may sound practically) and decide to migrate to secure his or her religious beliefs as one sees fit then the same options of revisability should also apply in determining the soundness of that choice.

  5. Muslim says:

    So what about not being able to implent Islamic religion in judicial cases(everything from inheritance, marriage/divorce, economics, taxes that go over seas and drop bombs on innocent people, aid to Isreal, etc…)?

  6. Abu Adam says:

    From the practical side, Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah’s fatwa is right on target. Where can the Muslims of West migrate to? Which Muslim country is going to take them in? The rules of citizenship and immigration are typically more stringent in Muslim countries than many Western countries.

    How many Muslims I have met that have lived in countries like Saudi Arabia (for more than one generation) and still they cannont own property or even marry a citizen from that place without special permission.

    Come and live in the Muslim world and you will quickly see the reality of making hijrah.

  7. Abu Adam says:

    Please can someone give me the hadith related by Ibn Hibbān (4861) in Arabic, Baraka Allahoe fiekoum. Plus here’s a benifical video about Migration. Its very useful and the shaich goes Deeper in the hadith.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/fbreza
    Please put this on the website and don’t cencure it. It is benificial for us all. And it doesn’t contradict what Shaich bin Bayyah have stated. Its only more comprehensive.
    Baraka Allah fiekoum,
    Abu Adam, Ibrahim
    Amsterdam, Hollan

  8. A.T.K. says:

    Dear Sheikh Suhaib, I am sure you are cognizant of the fact that one of the greatest Fitan of today, if not the greatest, is excess and extremism in Takfeer.

    Dear Sheikh, there are 2 articles by Sheikh Bin Bayyah on his website about Takfeer which consist of 2 parts. They deal with Takfeer. Unfortunately my Arabic is very weak. Those articles seem to be from among the pearls written on this subject.

    I request you dear Sheikh to translate those articles mentioned. May Allah reward you for it.

    Please have a look at the articles: I guess you will see why I am so eager to have those articles translated:

    http://www.binbayyah.net/portal/all_artciles?page=1

    Hopefully you accept my suggestion.

    A.T.K.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Having lived in the Middle East for four years now, I would caution any would-be migrants to look before they leap. There are situations in the societies here that, if they exist, are not as prevalent as in the U.S. And it’s tough seeing those things happen in a “Muslim” society. There are still challenges to practicing Islam, they are just different challenges. Will they be easier for you and your family to deal with? Allah knows best. Because my family does not speak Arabic, we are basically cut off from halaqas at the masjid and my children are cut off from learning Qur’an at the masjid. Learning our deen here is very much do-it-yourself. We miss having access to teachers who can communicate with us in our native tongue.

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