Immigration to a Non-Muslim Country: Allowed?

27 September, 2016
Q Dear scholars, as-salaam `alaykum. I would like to know the opinion of Islam regarding immigration to non-Muslim countries, taking into consideration that one will join the Islamic centers there, and participate in their activities, without losing the right direction of Islam? Jazakum Allah khayran.

Answer

Wa`alykum As-Salaamu Warahmatullahi Wabarakaatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.

Regarding your question, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states,

A Muslim can live in any place and in any country. However, there are some basic Islamic rules about migration:

1- It isharamfor a Muslim to live in or to migrate to a place where he cannot practice his/her religion, unless one is very weak and has no other way. Almighty Allah says, “Lo! As for those whom the angels take (in death) while they wrong themselves, (the angels) will ask: In what were you engaged? They will say: We were oppressed in the land. (The angels) will say: Was not Allah’s earth spacious that you could have migrated therein? As for such, their habitation will be hell, an evil journey’s end…” (An-Nisaa’ 4:97) It is obligatory upon Muslims to live in and to migrate to those lands where they can freely practice their religion.

2- It is not recommended for Muslims to migrate to the lands where their religion and their next generations’ religion might be at risk, unless they make every effort to safeguard their own religion and the religion of their next generations. Without such efforts it will bemakruh(reprehensible) [and in some cases even haram] to migrate to such lands.

3- It is permissible for Muslims to migrate to the lands where they feel confident that they can practice their religion freely and they can raise their children under the Islamic principles. It is, however, better for Muslims to live in Muslim lands where they can live under Islamic laws to govern their personal as well as collective lives

4- It is highly recommended for Muslims to migrate to those lands where they feel they can practice Islam and can spread the message of Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) sent manyCompanions to different areas to spread Islam and to teach Islam. After the death of the Prophet, manyCompanions left Madinah and went to different lands to live there and to teach Islam to the people of those lands. It is due to their efforts and the efforts of many Muslims after them that Islam spread in many lands. This is also our duty and we must make every effort to convey the message of Allah to the whole world.

In this regard, the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hanooti, member of the North American Fiqh Council, states,

A Muslim has a goal in his or her life: The goal is to take this worldly life as a place for arrangements to enter Paradise. This is very clear in Allah’s saying, “Allah has bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs.” (At-Tawbah 9:111)

In another place, Allah says: “I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me. I seek no livelihood from them, nor do I ask that they should feed Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56-57)

If one can accomplish this goal wherever in the world, it is legitimate for him/her to be there. If not, then one should move to another territory where he/she can have a better investment to go to Jannah.

Therefore, immigration to a non-Muslim country is allowed on the contingency that the Muslim should be able to maintain his way of life and practice Islam within the Shari`ah laws and rules. Whenever one is unable to practice Islam, he should leave the non-Muslim country and go back home or to a country where he can protect his belief and practice his religion.

Allah Almighty knows best.