Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim

Muslims Living in Non-Muslim Lands

T he subject of how Muslims are supposed to behave in non-Muslim lands is rarely covered in detail in classical works of fiqh. This is understandable, since in previous times no sane Muslim would care to live outside the fold of Islam. In light of recent events, it seems appropriate to remind our brothers and sisters that just because we live in non-Muslim lands this does not give us license to act like savages: not towards our non-Muslim neighbors and not towards fellow Muslims. We Muslims have responsibility towards Allah, the Muslim community, and the non-Muslims around us--where ever we may be. So, in sha Allah the following will be a lesson for those who do not know and a reminder for those who forgot.

May Allah reward the brother who forwarded the following article on this much needed topic. And may Allah reward the author and his translators.

[Disclaimer: I do not know the author nor have any affiliation with him other than him being a knowledgeable Muslim brother.]
Muslims Living in Non-Muslim Lands by Shaykh Salmaan bin Fahd Al-`Awdah
Translated by The Islamtoday Team (
As-salaamu `alaykum wa raHmatullaahee wa barakaatuhu,
A number of Muslims who reside in the Western Countries (studying,
working, seeking protection  or for other reasons) were asking for an
explanation regarding the extent to which they should  observe and
comply with laws and regulations of these countries, about the blood of
the  disbeliever and how to deal with them in general.
Muhammad the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) and his companions
had been ordered to  emigrate from Makkah to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) where
there was a king under whose rule no one was  subject to oppression or
Thus, a Muslim who is in need of emigration, shelter or resort has to
compare the available  options and choose the one in which he, his
religion, his family and his money are the most  adequately secure.
In his choice, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) preferred
Abyssinia to other places as  Muslims would enjoy security and stability
during their settlement there.
Abyssinia was known to be under a fair king (Najashi) who was not a
Muslim at that time though  later he was reported to have embraced
Islam. The whole story of his journey to Islam up to his  death can be
found in the collections of Imaam Bukhaari and Imaam Muslim along with
the  narrations of the Prophet Muhammad's performance of the absentee
prayer for him (peace be upon  him).
The above mentioned story was narrated via Abu Hurayrah in the Two
Correct Books of Bukhaari  and Muslim and other books of authority as
Muslims dwelling in foreign countries are thought to have followed one
of two ways:
1. By means of a valid visa with correct personal information,
2. By means of forged documents.
Either way, he is considered contracting and agreeing to rules adopted
in this country and he  has to comply with them. This implies the
fulfillment of the promises he obliged himself with  since he first
agrees to stay and dwell in these countries.
Allaah the Almighty said: "Oh you who believe! Fulfill the obligations"
[al- Maa'ida 5:1]
And said: "and fulfill (every) covenant. Verily! The covenant will be
questioned about." [al-Israa' 17:34]
And said: "And fulfill the Covenant to Allaah (pledge for Islam) when
you have enjoined it, and break not  the oaths after you have confirmed
them." [an-Nahl 16:91]
Reflecting upon the above verses, a Muslim is not to break or violate
oaths or promises. He  will not be a true faithful Muslim at that time.
Allaah Said: "Is it not the case that every time they make a covenant,
some party among them throw it aside?  Nay! The truth is that most of
them believe not." [al-Baqarah 2:100]
Talking about the characteristics of hypocrites, "the one who acts
treacherously toward  covenants, and when entrusted he betrays."
Some preceding scholars stated that those who enter non-Muslim countries
have to stick to their  respective rules and regulations even if they
illegally entered. There is no excuse accepted  for breaking these rules
as he has been primarily entrusted the time he was allowed to enter.
Imaam Muhammad bin Hasan ash-Shaybaani [Biographies 2/6)]
He said: "if it happens that a company of Muslims came to the enemies
front troops and  deceptively pretended to be messengers of the Muslims'
Khaleefah with the order of handing over  some documents, or just were
allowed to pass through the enemies areas, they are not entitled  to
kill any from the enemy's troops. Neither are they entitled to take any
of their money or  properties as long as they are in their area of
authority. This also applies in case of being  truly entrusted by the
other party."
Accordingly we conclude the following:
1. Muslims in foreign countries must comply with rules and regulations
of the country they have  been entrusted to enter though valid visas. On
the other hand, they have to avoid whatever  contradicts the Islamic
teachings. In case they are obliged, they have to stick to the minimum
of these rules and as need be.
One of the best protective methods for an emigrant Muslim is patience.
As long as he agreed to  leave Islamic areas to non-Islamic ones, he is
not to revolt against his choice even if it  looks too hard for him to
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told Huthayfa and his
father on the occasion that they were under their promise now to fight
their own kith and kin, "Go  back, we are to fulfill our promise and call
Allaah for help"
Hudaibiyah Reconciliation: (Bukhaari : 5/411)
The story of Abu Baseer (May Allaah Be Pleased with him): The Prophet
Muhammad (peace be upon  him) told : "O Aba Baseer, you know what we
have reconciled with these people upon and we are  not ones to betray or
break oaths, so go back to your people."
He then inquired: "Do you mean to send me back to disbelievers that
might torture and rid me of  my religion?"
The Prophet answered: "Be patient and sacrifice it in anticipation of
Allaah's reward Who  surely will relieve you and make you a way out from
this situation."
2. Blood, money and honor are forbidden areas for a Muslim to violate or
trespass as an  emigrant for the following:
We have mentioned above that basically a Muslim is primarily entrusted
the time he first got  valid visa entry to such countries. Accordingly,
he is not thought to be dishonest or  aggressive. Consequently he is not
expected to do any act of betrayal or disloyalty and he  should be
acting as expected.
a. The story narrated by Al-Mughira ibn Shu`ba in Bukhaari that before
Islam he killed his  company and took over their money. After that he
came to Islam. On hearing the story, the  Prophet Muhammad (peace be
upon him) told him: "We accept you as a new Muslim. As for the money  it
is regarded as the outcome of disloyalty and this is not our way." Ibn
Hajar explained in FatH al-Baari (5/402): "Out of this Hadeeth, we
conclude that we are not  entitled to take over the non-Muslims' money
at the time of peace. Fellowship is supposed to be  based upon honesty.
And a Muslim must fulfill his promises towards others whether they be
Muslim or non-Muslim." He continued: "The property and wealth of the
non-Muslims are only legal  through legitimate battling and fighting
(Jihaad for the sake of Allaah)."
b. Imaam ash-Shaafi`ee (May Allaah Have mercy on him) in Al-Umm (4/284):
"In case we are in a battle time and one of the Muslims has received
permission and has been  entrusted to enter the enemy's territory, he is
not entitled to take over any of their  properties or money be it small
or great. That is because he asked for security and was granted  it.
They are also supposed to enjoy the same from him. Besides being under
their protection  entitles them to be as equally protected as Muslims
should be just like free non-Muslims  enjoying Muslims protection."
c. as-Sarkhasi in Al-Mabsoot (10/96) said:
I hate to see the Muslim betraying the non-Muslims while he is under
their protection. Betrayal  is illegal according to the saying of the
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): "Every traitor  and cheat will
come forth on Doomsday with the description of his treachery upon his
backside.  And if he acted treacherously and managed to take some of
their money back to the Muslim lands,  I hate that other Muslims should
have any deals with him in case he knows the source of this  money that
it is illicitly gained."
d. Ibn Qudaamah in Al-Mughni (9/237):
It is said regarding one who enters the land of the enemy with amnesty
that they should not be  devious with their property, nor should they
engage in Usury. Regarding the forbiddance of  usury in the lands of
war, we have already mentioned in (the section of) "Usury", with the
statement of Allaah ta`aala: "..and usury has been forbidden to you".
All of the Qur'anic  verses and narrations which testify to the fact
that usury is forbidden deal with it for all  places and all times.

Regarding deceiving them, this is forbidden. This is because amnesty has
been granted upon the  pretext that deceit will be abandoned, and that
their safety from you will be secured. Even  though this understanding
may not be established verbally, it is known implicitly. Likewise, if
someone from them came to us under amnesty, and deceived us, then they
have invalidated their  treaty. Even if this has been substantiated,
then it does not make deception towards them  permissible. For this is
treachery, and treachery can not be made compatible with our Deen
(Islaam). Verily, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said, "The Muslims
are bound by their  condition"

So if he has deceived them, stolen from them, or borrowed anything from
them, it is compulsory  for him to return what he took to their
respective owners. If the owner arrives into the lands  of Islaam under
amnesty or in faith, return it to him unless its delivery to him has
been  arranged. For these goods were taken under a pretext wherein
taking them was forbidden.  Therefore, it becomes incumbent that the
pilfered goods be returned as if they were taken from  a Muslim.
It has been reported in both two correct books Saheeh al-Bukhaari &
Muslim via ibn Abbaas (May  Allaah be Pleased with them):
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sent Mu`aath to Yemen while
they were still  non-Muslims (they were People of the Book). He
recommended that he should invite them to Islam.  Then he said: "Beware
the supplication of the oppressed ones! There is no barrier between such
a supplication and Allaah!"
Out of this we can say that there are no legal support for such wrong
doing against  non-Muslims.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), along with the ones who
responded to his call, stayed  in Makkah 13 years and never permitted
any of them to plunder any wealth or property of the  non-Muslims, nor
did he permit any bloodshed or blemish of honor until he emigrated.
Muslims were deemed weak, underestimated and disparaged in Makkah.
Notwithstanding, they were  not allowed to practice any kind of
wrongdoings of the kind mentioned above.

Neither the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), nor the companions
were reported to have  authorized or empowered any Muslim to take over
the property or money of others. Overtaking and  robbing is cruelty,
villainy and lowliness. It is considered ill conduct as well. The one
used  to it will never be able to abstain doing so thereafter. It will
be part and parcel of his  attitude and disposition.
3. Islam's Reputation and Tone- It is one of the lofty aims of the
Muslim to keep the  reputation of Islam intact. Sacrificing this aim for
a handful of money or something one might  long for or desire can never
be excused. Especially if coming out of those whom we believe to  be
adhering to Islam and its teachings.
Describing the true believer Allaah says: "Our Lord! Make us not a trial
for the polytheists  and wrongdoers and save us by your Mercy from the
disbelieving folk". [Surah Yunus]

That is exactly what a Muslim should be acting accord to. He should be
appealing to Allaah to  save him from the plights of the disbelievers.
At the same time, he shouldn't be acting wrongly  reflecting a defamed
image about Islam.
How is it possibe that a Muslim will call others to embrace Islam and
his hand stealthily  pilfers their money or is consorting with their
daughters? Who can confirm or approve such  behavior? What kind of
morals are these? What kind of reason would endorse it? What kind of
legal perception can this be classified? No wonder then, that their
media triumphantly invests  such efforts on discrediting the image of
4. It is of the Lord's comfort and ease to His slaves that some of these
countries give  immigrants the freedom to reside and work freely. They
also give them facilities that might not  be given in their homeland.
In case these immigrants begin to show indifference to society, break
oaths and betray their  entrusted residential agreements, thereby,
frightening the citizens of that country, they will  be deprived of it
sooner or later.
5. Consequently, A Muslim is exposing both himself and his family to
imprisonment or expulsion  or further trouble. Why then should a Muslim
humiliat himself with for no good reason? He  should not expose his
family or those under his care to trial (fitnah). He might be
incarcerated leaving his family alone without support.
6. It is easily perceived that deeming money and the property of others
legal to pilfer would  soon go further to regard the honor of others as
being lawful as well. It is an obscene filthy  slip. Soon, it will be an
insatiable madness that can't be put out.
The same applies to bloodshed that might generally affect the condition
of all Muslim residents  there and act as a barrier for others to find
such a refuge.
At least, we can  regard such behavior as careless and reckless. Muslims
must keep away and be  careful of it. In both Bukhaari and Muslim it
says, "The one who avoids ambiguity and  uncertainity, is relieved in
both religion and honor."
In another Hadeeth: "Sin is that thing which you hate in your heart and
would hate others to  know about. No doubt, the one who is doing such
deeds is hesitant and hateful that anyone  should discover it."
To me, it doesn't seem to be an carelessness and recklessness. I
consider it purely illegal and  unlawful. It emerges out of lust and
according to one's own desires and inclination for an  easier and
lighter way of living.
Allaah did not enjoin reaching success by means of illegal ways. It is
clearly understood that  if legal facilities might lead to illegal
consequences, that legal thing is considered illegal.  In our issue
here, all evidences prove it illegal, as well as the scholars' verdicts
about its  illegality as well.

Finally, these were some of the evidences that support the viewpoint of
forbidding the  undertaking such deeds. If reasonably pondered upon by
the public, and moreover the Muslim, it  would support its restriction
and unlawfulness.
We ask Allaah to guide us and all the Muslims to the correct path by
word and deed.
And Allaah Knows the Best,
Shaykh Salmaan bin Fahd Al-`Awdah

[article edited for typographical purposes and to fix one small mistake]