Jurisprudence for Muslim Minorities

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  • Jurisprudence for Muslim Minorities



    Some Rulings for Muslim Minorities

           We present here one of the most important rules of Sharî'ah; that is, A Muslim is bound to observe the discourse of Sharî'ah wherever he lives, since living in non-Muslim countries does not nullify any of the rules of Sharî'ah. So, what is incumbent on Muslims in Muslim countries is incumbent on them in non-Muslim countries. The same applies to what is prohibited and what is permissible so long as the individual adheres to the principles of the Religion.

            We have chosen six topics to present in this chapter as follows:

            THE FIRST TOPIC: The Rulings for Muslims Living in Non-Muslim Countries

            Since the natural situations in Muslim countries is that the Muslim individual can practice his worship, is provided with the facilities for doing it, is reminded if he neglects it, coupled with being safe and secure, immigration to Muslim countries has been ordained and has been imperative.

            Hijrah (immigration) originally means “abandoning words or actions”, and also means “moving from land to land”

            In Islamic terminology, it means abandoning residing with infidels and hypocrites who do not enable him to obey Allah's commandments. Of this is Allah's saying: “And so defilement forsake” (Al-Muddaththir: 5)

            It may also mean moving from non-Muslim countries to Muslim countries.

            In the beginning I say that the rule is that a Muslim should not live but in Muslim countries. Otherwise, he should have a good reason for staying there, provided that he should intend to leave it once the reason is over, since “the intention to stay in non-Muslim country without a legitimate reason is unacceptable.”*1

    The Ruling for Immigration:

            The ruling for immigration from non-Muslim to Muslim countries is closely linked to how far a Muslim is secure in practising his religious rites. In case he cannot freely practice his religious rites, he should leave that country when he can. The jurists are unanimous on this opinion, pursuing the following evidence:

            First: Allah's saying, “Surely the ones whom the angels take up (while) they are unjust to themselves ÜÜÜÜ (the angels) say, 'Wherefore were you?' They say, 'We were deemed weak in the earth” They (the angels say) “Was not the earth of Allah wide, so that you would have immigrated in it?' So, the abode for those (men) is Hell, and what an odious destiny! Except (the ones)deemed weak among the men and women and newborns (who) are unable (to contrive) a device and are not guided to a way. So, for those Allah may be clement towards them, and Allah has been Ever-Clement, Ever-Forgiving”. (An-Nisâ’:97-99)

            In these Verses Allah made it incumbent on Muslims who live among non-Muslims, and are unable to freely  practice their religion, to emigrate once they are able to do so. Scholars said that these verses apply to all Muslims, since Allah's saying, (while) they are unjust to themselves” implies that they are unjust to themselves because they abandoned immigration and committed sins by living among non-Muslims without being able to fulfill their religious duties, while they can immigrate through any way or by any means, since they are not excused. Likewise, Allah's saying, “except (the ones) deemed weak” implies an excuse for those people in abandoning immigration, since they are either old men or weak women or the newborn, as they cannot flee from the infidels’ hands, and even in case they could, they would lose their way.

            Al-Qurtubî says, “It is permissible to forsake immigration if one lacks providence and a means of transportation”. The current meaning of providence and transportation is to have cash money and a means of transportation.

            Ibn-‘Abbâs says, “My mother and I were among the weak whom Allah has excused; she is a woman, and I was young”.

            So, in case a disabled person took the pains and endured immigration, Allah will reward him, and the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) invocated for those weak people in his prayers”.

            Scholars said, “Immigration is a duty on those who embraced Islam while they were living in non-Muslim countries and were not able to freely practice their religion, meanwhile, they could emigrate out of those countries.”

            Second: The Prophet’s saying, “I disown any Muslim who lives among non-Muslims; they should not be close to them”

            And the Hadîth narrated by Mu'âwiyah and others relating that they heard the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) as saying, “Immigration should not cease until repentance ceases, and repentance will not cease until the sun rises from the west.”*

            So, scholars explained that immigration in these two Hadîths is incumbent on repressed Muslims, and said that Muslims were commanded to immigrate to the Prophet’s place, to be with him, so that they may cooperate, support each other in case they were afflicted, join other believers in supporting the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), learn and grasp from him the rulings (principles) of the Religion, learn what he says by heart, and convey it to others.

            Immigration was incumbent on every individual at the Prophet’s time, and became incumbent, after him, only on those who are liable to repression and losing religious freedom.

            It is worth mentioning that immigration does not imply retreat or escapism, but rather means moving from the whereabouts of mercilessness to those of righteousness to freely commit oneself to it, increase its adherents, and get ready with them to defend themselves against those people who hindered calling people to Islam.

            So, immigration, in the Qur’ânic sense, means taking the side of another community, i.e., the Muslims.

            Among the conditions that make the immigration incumbent is freedom of travelling and availability of a resort to which the Muslim can flee with his religion. However, having a look at the Muslim world today, we see that it is insecure and not fully ready to receive tens of millions of repressed Muslims all over the world, in case the authorities allowed them in, or in case the authorities of their countries allowed them to depart.

            So, we can say that Muslims who are repressed in their homeland because of their religion, and are unable to immigrate, are not deemed sinful, Allah willing. Yet, those who caused such misery and wretchedness to them will be held responsible for doing so in case they are able to relieve them.

            But we must remind ourselves that it is not unlawful for any Muslim group who live in a non-Muslim country where they are able to defend their religion, selves, and riches to depart from it; on the contrary, they should stay there.

            The author of Nihâyatul-Muhtâj says, “Whoever manages to stay and defend himself in a non-Muslim country, and does not need to immigrate to seek Muslims’ support, should stay wherever he is, since he is deemed living in a Muslim country, because in case he immigrated it would turn into a non-Muslim country. Moreover, if he could call them to Islam he should do so; otherwise he should not.

            In general, in case Muslims living in non-Muslim countries are weak and unable to spread Islam, and are prevented from practicing their rites in public, they should immigrate when it is possible; otherwise, they should not, but the intention of immigration as well as working on achieving it as diligently as possible, should be in their hearts. Allah Almighty said, “O My bondmen who have believed, surely My earth is wide; so Me (only) do you worship.” (Al-‘Ankabût: 56)

            However, whosoever was able to immigrate and did not do so is committing a sin that may lead to apostasy and disbelief. This is because staying in such a state, and abandoning religious duties, in addition to responding to disbelief and committing sins, forsaking duties and obligations, and doing forbidden things and evils, while he is able to avoid them, seems to lead him to utter disbelief, forsaking the true Religion, and joining the atheists. So, it is incumbent in this case to flee from those countries, which are dominated by infidels, to the countries of safety and security.

            However, in case Muslims are able to freely practice their religious rites in public, without endangering themselves or their families, the majority of scholars maintain that they do not have immigrate.

            The majority of scholars recommended Muslims to depart from non-Muslim countries, even if they were able to practice their religion in public, so that they may not follow the manners, customs, and appearance of non-Muslims under the influence of neighborhood and companionship.

            This is highly recommended in our time, since evils have prevailed, and the parental authority has grown weaker in non-Muslim countries. It is true that evils have spread in recent times, and sins have been committed in public all over the world, but a Muslim, in such a case, should opt for the least country in evil if he could ever do so.

            Al-Baghawî said, “It is incumbent on anyone who lives in a country where sins are openly perpetrated while he cannot change such a situation to immigrate to a place where he can practice worship. However, in case all countries have such a situation in common, as is the case in our time, immigration is, unanimously, not incumbent.

            Likewise, Ibn Taymiyah says, “The conditions of countries are just like those of people; so, a person may be sometimes a Muslim and other times an infidel, sometimes a believer and other times a hypocrite, and sometimes pious and righteous, and other times libertine and wretched”. The applies to abodes according to their dwellers. The immigration from a place of disbelief and wrong deeds to a place of belief and obedience is like repentance and moving from disbelief and disobedience to belief and obedience. This is a situation which will last until Doomsday.”

            What Muslims face nowadays in non-Muslim countries, is disrespect to their religious feelings, and attempts to  absorbing them into the communities where they live, whether by the authorities of those countries, or by the will of the children of the Muslims themselves. Such a situation leads to rejecting the educational principles and Islamic traditions, severing their relations to their creed and religious heritage, westernizing their thoughts and behavior, adopting the surrounding manners, and getting influenced by the educational methods of those countries in the intellectual, psychological, and social formation, which contradicts our ethics and the teachings of our religion. Let alone the influence of environment on shaping the personality of Muslims and their way of thinking, coupled with lack of family monitoring, and ineffective and inadequate services rendered by Islamic educational institutions, vis a vis that which is offered by clubs and mass media of evil, corruption, and libertinism, which may obliterate the Islamic values and noble examples. Added to this is what the active schools and churches that work day and night to convert Muslim youths into Christianity and other religions, or at least, incorporate and melt them in their societies.

             All this urges us to say, “Whosoever could not resist and avoid these attempts, lowered his head to them, and tolerated them, undergoes the opinion that says it is prohibited for him in this case to stay in those countries, even in case he entertained freedom of religion that allows him to practice his rites in public if he liked to. That is, any pretext that leads to neglecting worshipping Allah in every sense of the word, and to allying the associators is prohibited, unless his stay would lead to achieving a remarkable benefit to Muslims, since the good consequences of his stay would surpass the vice that he is liable to suffer, provided that he would be able to practice his call to Allah, and the rites of his religion in public. Thus, he is permitted to stay there for gaining any benefit that concerns Muslims, such as learning science, a profession, or any thing else that the Muslim nation needs, or to be an ambassador to the Muslim nation in those countries. 

    *-Personal contact with Dr. Wahbah Al-Zuhayli


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