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Muslims and the Ghetto-ization of Islam

11 September, 2017
Q Salam. Why are Muslims these days asking to have their own countries? Wasn't the emigration of faithful Yemeni businessmen who traveled to today's Korea, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia the main reason behind these countries' sincere reversion to Islam? Then why are we trying to isolate ourselves from every country as if we want to have ghettos in every country? I'm not saying this is the intention of Muslims today, since Muslims' original intention is to share their message with humanity. However, the mechanics used for delivery of such a message are being interpreted by others as "seclusion" and "prevention of mixing with non-Muslim citizens." I'm not saying Muslims shouldn't have their own countries, but the political struggles of Muslims in the Philippines, Chechnya, and other countries show that the other side just won't accept this. For the sake of minimizing bloodshed and ethnic cleansing practiced by the other side, shouldn't Muslim groups involved in such struggles work on two avenues at the same time: (1) da`wah by example and action and living the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) among non-Muslims, and (2) better preparation to rule the countries or regions they reside in for a military action to take on (according to Shari`ah) and lawfully rule the region with Shari`ah if non-Muslims don't accept the call of their message? Jazakum Allahu khayran for your boundless efforts, and may He reward you and us with Al-Firdaws (Paradise), and same goes to all of us. Amen. Wa as-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.


Salam Dear Brother,

Thank you for your question and for your du`aa’.

I agree with you that Muslims should not isolate themselves from their local communities or the world; it is more Islamic for them to reach out to others while preserving their unique culture.

Perhaps the more we know our culture, the more eager and confident we become to mix with others to exchange knowledge and experiences without risking getting negatively affected in the process.

I also agree that leadership by example is a basic Islamic principle taught by the Prophet (peace be upon him) as you stated, and it is a firm duty on each individual Muslim in daily life.

Consequently, immigration and travel should be regarded as opportunities for cultural interaction, which is actually a message of the Quran.

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Diversity Recognized in Islam

As a timeless, universal religion, Islam promotes brotherhood, equality, and freedom for all humans. Consequently, diversity is a fundamental aspect of Islam.

We are told in the Quran that while Allah Almighty was capable of creating us alike, people were created different for a reason:

O Mankind, We created you from a single pair of male and female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. (Quran 49:13)

Obviously, we cannot get to know one another except in a positive frame of mind. Preconceived doubts and hostilities are not welcome if people genuinely seek understanding.

We are also informed in the Quran that diversity is an unchangeable law of life that we must live with, not fight against:

If your Lord had pleased, He would have made all people in a single community, but they continue to differ — except those on whom your Lord has mercy — for He created them to be this way, and the word of your Lord is final. (Quran 11:118-119)

Islamic law is not rigid; on the contrary, it was created by the All-Knowing Allah for all times, so it is rich, flexible, and humane.

It recognizes the unique needs of each era of human existence and allows for growth and development — until the end of time — within the structure of the Islamic system.

Today, Muslims are members of an international family living in a global village we all call “home.”

Whether or not they live in a predominantly Muslim community, they are bound by the international laws and regulations governing life.

To be able to tackle your questions wisely, we need to differentiate between various sociopolitical situations:

  1. Muslim minorities living in non-Muslim communities as respected citizens or guests, enjoying full religious and social rights.
  2. Muslim majorities in a region of a non-Muslim-majority country, wanting to declare that region independent.
  3. Muslims living in occupied countries or regions.
  4. Muslims living in a Muslim-majority country, side-by-side with non-Muslim fellow citizens.

Oppressed Muslims

Your statement on military action was not very clear, so let’s remember that war is the exception as a last resort when all else fails.

Peaceful coexistence and mutual respect is the rule in Islam, both for Muslim nations sharing life with other minorities in Muslim countries and for Muslim minorities living within other cultures.

Regarding Muslims seeking independence, if their lands are occupied, it is an Islamic obligation to fight oppression, rescue the weak, and struggle to seek independence in a free state, under a government selected by the free will of the nation.

And even then, the Quran warns against transgression:

Combat in the cause of Allah those who combat against you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah does not love transgressors. (Quran 2:190)

And whoever defends himself after his being oppressed, these it is against whom there is no way {to blame}. The way(to blame) is only against those who oppress men and revolt in the earth unjustly; these shall have a painful punishment. And whoever is patient and forgiving, these most surely are actions due to courage. (Quran 42:41–43)

And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill-treated, and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors, and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help.” (Quran 4:75)

One Option: Hijrah

A dignified Muslim should not meekly accept oppression, discrimination, or ill-treatment as a second-class-citizen ranking based on ethnicity or religious beliefs.

It is an Islamic obligation to seek a stable, secure, and dignified life anywhere on God’s land, where one could freely and safely practice Islam and interact with other cultures as a respected equal:

Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (from evil)? (Quran 4:97)

If a Muslim majority living in a region within a non-Muslim country seeks to establish a Muslim state away from their motherland, this is a question of local politics.

If they are prevented by force from practicing Islam, then they should follow the rules of the oppressed to actively seek a solution.

But if they can elect a local government for their region and establish laws, taking into consideration the Islamic beliefs of the majority of local inhabitants, and if the political system of the country supports that and ensures its application — even under a non-Muslim government — then the motives to break up a unified country based on sectarian or ethnic principles are unfair.

Respected Muslim Minorities

If you are referring to Muslims living respectfully in non-Muslim-majority communities, enjoying equal full rights, then the Islamic rule is that Muslims should be extremely kind and courteous to their fellow citizens:

Allah does not forbid you, with regard to those who do not fight you for your Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing with extreme kindness and justice with them: For Allah loves those who are just. (Quran 60:8)

I hope this answers your questions. Please stay in touch.


(From AboutIslam’s archives)

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About Sahar El-Nadi
Sahar El-Nadi is an Egyptian freelance journalist who traveled to 25 countries around the world and currently based in Cairo. Sahar also worked in many people-related careers in parallel, including presenting public events and TV programs; instructing training courses in communication skills; cross cultural issues; image consulting for public speakers; orientation for first-time visitors to the Middle East; and localization consulting for international educational projects.