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Is Migration from Non-Muslim Lands Obligatory?
Question asked by Zain Chaudhry.
Posted on: Sunday, April 24, 2005 - Hits: 2719

Do verses 97-100 of Surah Nisa obligate Muslims living in non-Muslim countries to migrate away except when necessitated by pressing needs or for preaching?

A simple translation of verse 97 follows:

Surely (as for) those whom the angels cause to die while they have been unjust to their souls (for they have been not openly declared their faith fearing the powerful persecutors), they shall say: In what state were you? They shall say: We were weak in the earth. They shall say: Was not Allah's earth spacious, so that you should have migrated therein? So these it is whose abode is hell, and it is an evil resort. (4:97)

The addressees employ the words ‘we were weak and helpless’. This indicates that the persecuted group could not practice their religion openly or discharge their basic religious obligations in that society. Though, they had the option of migrating to Madinah where a Muslim state had been established.

The aforementioned severe retribution can only be extended to a parallel situation in the present time. Merely living in a non-Muslim state under any reasonable excuse cannot be connected with the situation depicted in the verse. Therefore, in our opinion, Islam has not forbidden the believers from settling in any non-Muslim state, unless such a state prevents them from fulfilling their obligations towards God. In such a case they must try to settle in a country where they can freely act upon the Divine directives. [1]


Tariq Mahmood Hashmi
Research Assistant, Studying Islam

[1] This response has been written in light of the interpretation of the verse by Amin Ahsan Islahi and Javed Ahmed Ghamidi.

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