Is the land Dar al-Kufr even if we can manifest and practise Islam?

…they declare people non-believers due to sin and disobedience, and follow this with permitting/making halal (istihlal) the blood and the property of the believers, and describe the Dar al-Islam as Dar al-Kufr, and only the land they rule as Dar al-Iman.[1]

– Ibn Taymia

In the past the Sunni scholars viewed any land where their faith could be practised as Dar al-Islam. Among the criteria for Dar al-Islam defined by Tahrir and others is the imposition of the Shariah rules – condition, which as we have seen, is not even an obligation for them, because in their view adopting the rules by the government and enforcing them is merely mubah (permitted).

In the time after the migration of the Prophet (pbuh) to Medina, a man by the name of Fudayk was being chastised for not going to live with the Prophet (pbuh) and the Muslims in Medina. Instead, he preferred to remain with his tribe, who were mainly non-Muslims. The Prophet (pbuh) said to him:

Oh Fudayk! Pray, avoid evil and live in the land of your people wherever you wish.[2]

The hadith demonstrates that the Prophet (pbuh) had no dislike for someone to live among their people (qawm), even if they aren’t Muslims. This is one of the reasons that Imam Mawardi and others come to the conclusions at which they arrive. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani[3] quoted al-Mawardi[4]:

If a Muslim is able to declare his Islam in any land from the lands which (are dominated by and therefore considered) lands of Kufr… then that land becomes a homeland for Islam (Dar al-Islam) and living therein is better than leaving it, as he is a means of others coming to Islam.[5]

The statement from Mawardi above shows clearly that the criteria imposed by Tahrir are wrong, or open to difference at the very least. Moreover, it renders absurd Tahrir’s citing of Mawardi in justifying their views.

Rather if a Muslim is able to practise his religion in a land without persecution then such a land is naturally a place within which Muslims should reside. They should take an interest in its affairs, see it as their country and home, and engage within the political, social, and security concerns of the country.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah states:

The verdict of the majority of the jurists, and they are the Hanafiyyah, Hanbaliyya, and the Shafiiyyah, is that wherever a Muslim is permitted to profess his faith and is protected, it is permitted for him/her to live there.[6]

Traditionally, scholars even obliged defending the country militarily; even when the Muslims were mere subjects of an empire and not citizens of a state as we are today. The Hanafi mujtahid Imam Abu Bakr Muhammad al-Sarakhsi[7] states:

If Muslims fear their security in a land which has granted them safety, even in Dar al-Harb [a hostile territory], then there is no problem with them fighting to repel such a harm from themselves and it is not considered to be supporting polytheism. The basis for this is found in the tradition of Jafar, may Allah be pleased with him, who fought alongside the Abyssinian Emperor against his enemies because the Muslims lived in safety with the Negus, and Jafar feared for his safety and the safety of the Muslims, and we know from this that when there is such a fear there is no problem with this.[8]

Al-Sarakhsi’s statement, ‘…there is no problem with them fighting to repel such a harm from themselves and it is not considered to be supporting polytheism’, has particularly resonance today: ‘supporting polytheism’ (or shirk) would be precisely the description of such actions by groups such as Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun.[9]

Scholars such as Imam al-Awza’i and Imam Sufyan al-Thawri also permitted Muslims to join the armed forces of non-Muslims and fight their common enemies. Imam Malik’s view was that it is forbidden to spill blood without just cause. Therefore, if the Muslims are to support any fighting, there must be a just cause underlying that fighting if the Muslims are to join it.[10]

Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haythami went even further and explained that when people have the freedom to practise their faith and live freely as Muslims, Muslims both inside the country and outside the country (such as Muslim majority countries) are obliged (wajib) to defend the country and protect it when that country comes under attack.[11]

Today, the political circumstances are different and Muslim theologians consider that Muslims everywhere are able to safely and securely practise the Islamic ahkam (rules) and that the sha’air (symbols) of Islam are manifest across the world. As such the scholars describe the world as Dar al-Islam (abode of Islam).

Sheikh Wahbah Zuhayli[12] states:

As for safety, it is attained in most of the places of the world today for any citizen… This opinion is shared by most of the jurists of the Malikiyyah and Shafiiyyah schools of thought. They believe that when the symbols of Islam are established in a land, then that land should be considered Dar al-Islam.[13]

He goes on to say:

The basis of relationships between states today is not premised on war but rather on peace.[14]

And explains that:

The relationship between Muslims and others was one of conflict… In most cases there was no treaty made between them… and this was not based on the Shar’iah… The reality is one thing and Shari’ah something else.

The Sheikh goes on to state that:

This separation of the world into the two Dars (i.e., one of war and one of peace) is not mentioned in the Quran or the Sunnah. And jihad is not the normal relationship, rather the norm is one of calling to Islam in a peaceful manner. We can simply refer to the verses of peace for this: jihad is solely to defend the freedom to express one’s faith and to defend oneself.[15]

Hence the Sheikh ends by stating that:

The separation of the world into two Dars was based upon the reality, not upon the Shariah.[16]


[1] Majmou al-Fatawa, vol. 19, p. 73 cited by Sheikh Wahbah Zuhayli on p. 411 of Qidaya al-Fiqh wal-Fikr al-Muasir, Dar el-Fikr – Damascus, 2006.

[2] Narrated by Ibn Hibban and Bayhaqi in their collections of hadith, by Imam Bayhaqi in Sunan al-Kubra, vol. 9, p. 17; and the Sahih of Ibn Hibban, vol. 11, p. 202.

[3] Al-Haafidh Shihabuddin Abu’l-Fadl Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Muhammad (1372 – 1448), better known as Ibn Hajar due to the fame of his forefathers, al-Asqalani due to his origin. He was a medieval Shafiite Sunni scholar of Islam and represents the entire realm of the Sunni world in the field of Hadith.

[4] Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Habib al-Mawardi, known in Latin as Alboacen (972- 1058), was a Muslim jurist of the Shafii school. He also made contributions to Quranic interpretations, philology, ethics, and literature. He served as judge in several Iraqi districts, including Baghdad, and as an ambassador of the Abbasid caliph to several Muslim states. Al-Mawardi’s works on Islamic governance are recognized as classics in the field.

[5] Ibn Hajar, Fat’h ul-Bari, vol. 7, p. 230.

[6] Sana’at ul-Fatawa wa Fiqh ul-Aqalliyaat, Dar ul-Minhaj, 2007, p. 281.

[7] Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Abi Sahl Abu Bakr al-Sarakhsi (from Sarakhs in Khorasan) was an Islamic scholar of the Hanafi school, who lived and worked in Transoxiana. His family background is unknown; he died around the year 1106.

[8] Kitab ul-Mabsut, vol. 5; Juz 10 chapter on marriage with the Ahl al-Harb (hostile territory) and entering such lands with an assurance of safety [amaan], Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, p. 1871.

[9] Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad (T. J. Winter) also makes the same statement that Jurists accepted Muslims “…serving in the army of Christian King”. The same edict has been given by Shaykh Bin Bayya and Mufti al-Judai.

[10] Taj wal-Ikleel li-Mukhtasar Khaleel by Imam Muhammad bin Yusuf al-Abdari al-Mawwaaq, vol. 3, p. 389 – published alongside ‘Mawahib al-Khaleel li-Mukhtasar Khaleel’ by Muhammad Maghribi al-Hattaab in 6 volumes published by Sa’aada 1328 hijri.

[11] Shihab al-Din Ibn Hajar al-Haythami in his Fat’h al-Jawwad, vol. 2, p. 346.

[12] Professor Sheikh Wahbah Mustafa al-Zuhayli (b. 1932 in Dair Atiah, Syria), is a prominent Sunni professor and Islamic scholar specializing in Islamic law and legal philosophy. He is also currently a preacher at Badr Mosque in Dair Atiah. He is the author of scores of books on Islamic and secular law, many of which have been translated to English. He is chairman of Islamic jurisprudence at the College of Sharia at Damascus University. He is also a signatory to the Amman Message and A Common Word documents.

[13] Athar al-Harb fil-Fiqh al-Islami, Damascus: Dar el-Fikr, 1998, p. 173.

[14] Ibid, p .176.

[15] Ibid, p. 193.

[16] Ibid, p. 194.

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