Fatwa on Emigration of a Non-Muslim Country? How to Raise Children there? By Mufti Taqi Usmani
What is the ruling regarding the adoption of the nationality of a non-Muslim country? Many people who adopt the nationalities of these countries, or wish to do so, insist that they do so only because they are persecuted in their own countries, through imprisonment, threats and intimidation or confiscation of their property, etc. Others see no difference between their own countries, which though Muslim, have no Shariah, and those of the West. They contend that whilst both are equal in having no Islamic laws, their personal rights, property, and honor are safer in their adopted country, and they will not be imprisoned or persecuted without reason.
The issue of emigration to a non-Muslim country and permanent settlement there is one on which the ruling would differ according to the situation, and the reasons for the emigration:
a) If a Muslim is forced by his circumstances to emigrate, e.g., he is persecuted in his country or imprisoned, or his property is confiscated, etc., without his having committed any crime, and he sees no way other than to emigrate to a foreign country, then he would be permitted to do so in such a case without any Karahat (abhorrence) whatsoever:
- as long as he resolves to protect his faith.
- and keep himself away from the widespread evil found there.
b) Similarly, if a Muslim is forced to emigrate due to his financial situation, i.e. he cannot find the necessary means of subsistence despite the extensive effort and he sees no alternative other than emigration to a non-Muslim country, then he is permitted to emigrate subject to the above conditions. Earning a livelihood through permissible means is also a duty for a Muslim, after his other Fardh duties, and the Shari’ah has not specified a certain place for it, Allah Ta’ala says:
ھو الذی جعل لکم الأرض ذلولا فامشوا فی مناکبھا وکلوا من رزقہ وإلیہ النشور
“He is the one who has made the earth manageable for you. So traverse ye through its tracts, and enjoy of the sustenance which he furnishes; And unto Him is the resurrection.” (Surah AI Mulk, v. 15)
c) If a Muslim adopts the nationality of a non-Muslim country for the purpose of calling its people towards Islam, or to convey Islamic laws to the Muslims residing there, and to encourage them to stay firm on their faith, then this is not only permissible but also a source of reward. Many of the Sahabah and Tabi’een settled in distant Kuffar lands for this very purpose, and this action of theirs is counted amongst their virtues and points of merit.
d) If a person has enough means of livelihood available to him in his native country to be able to live according to the (average) standard of its people, but he emigrates in order to raise his standard of living and live a life of luxury and comfort, then emigration for such purpose has at least some degree of Karahat in it, because such a person is throwing himself into a storm of evil, and endangering his faith and moral character without there being any necessity for it. Experience shows that the people who settle in non-Muslim countries for luxury and comfort find their religious restraint diminishing in the face of the many temptations of evil.
Therefore, it is reported in the ahadith that one should not live with disbelievers unnecessarily.
Abu Dawood narrates from Samrah bin Jundub (R.A) that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) said:
من جامع المشرک وسکن معہ ،فإنہ مثلہ
“He who mingles with a disbeliever and dwells with him is like him”.
Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi also report that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) said:
أنا بریئ من کل مسلم یقیم بین أظہر المشرکین ، قالوا یا رسول اللہ ! لم ؟ قال : لا تر اءی نارا ھما
“lam free (i.e. I disavow myself) from every Muslim who lives with disbelievers” .The Sahabah asked: “Why, O Messenger of Allah? “He replied: “The fires of the two cannot co-exist”.
Khattabi says in his commentary on this hadith that it has several meanings. One is that the two (a Muslim and a Kafir) are not equal in Hukm (ruling) – they both have different rules. Some scholars take this view. Others explain the meaning as being that Allah has differentiated between the lands of Islam and Kufr and consequently it is not allowed for a Muslim to live amongst disbelievers in their lands, because when the Kuffar light their fires he will be seen as one of them. The scholars also derive from this ruling that one should not stay in the lands of the Kuffar when visiting for trade etc. (Khattabi, Ma’alim-As-Sunan, K. Jihad, 473:iii).
Abu Dawood relates from Makhool in his ‘Maraseel’ that the Prophet (S.A.W) said: “Do not leave your children amongst enemies (i.e. Kuffar). (TahzeebAs-Sunan, Ibnul Qayyim, 437:iii)
For this reason, some scholars say that living in Kafir countries, and increasing their numbers solely for material wealth, is an action which damages ones ‘Adala (integrity). (Takmila Raddul-Mukhtar, p.101, v.1)
Finally, if a person adopts a non-Muslim nationality solely for the purpose of increasing his standing in society, and as a matter of pride, or in preference to a Muslim nationality, or in imitation of the Kuffar, then all such actions are Haram without exception, and there is no need to cite evidence for this.
For the Muslims living in the West, bringing up their children in such an environment has its drawbacks and disadvantages, and it also has its benefits. There is a strong possibility of these children picking up habits from Christian and Jewish children with whom they play and mix.
This is especially so in those cases where the parents neglect their children’s’ upbringing due to their work etc., or where one or both of the parents have passed away. What would be the effect of this presumed harm on the ruling regarding emigration to a non-Muslim country? At the same time, many Muslims who live there contend that in the non-Muslim countries their children run the risk of being led away from Islam through mixing with atheist and communist groups, etc., especially when in some non-Muslim countries these groups are supported by the authorities, their beliefs and doctrines are included in the educational syllabuses, the minds of common people are poisoned with them, and those who oppose them are tortured and imprisoned. In such circumstances, living in that country is more dangerous for our children’s’ faith and beliefs.
Bringing up children in a non-Muslim country is a serious issue, and is a matter that is fraught with danger, and therefore, should be abstained from as far as possible in those cases where emigration to and residence in a non-Muslim country has been termed Makroohor Haram.
However, in those cases where adopting a foreign nationality and living there is allowed without Karahat (abhorrence), since a valid reason exists, the same ruling would apply to bringing up one’s children in that country. Such a person should then attend to the upbringing of his children with special attention, and the Muslims living there should create an environment in which newly arriving Muslims can properly protect and preserve their beliefs, actions, and moral character.
Source: Contemporary Fataawa, By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani.
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