Travelling to reside in non-Muslim countries

His eminence Al Mishari Faisal Malawi, Vice President of the European Council for Fatwa and Research says: migration to non-Muslim countries for either work or settlement is basically permissible. However, this permissibility has turned into makruuh (disliked) or Haram (forbidden) when this movement resulted to falling into prohibition of Sharia. It may also turn into mustahab (permissible) or waajib (obligatory) when the stay resulted in doing legitimate sharia duties. This matter varies according to individuals – that is, individual differences, and the situation in his country; and If he is being forced to leave his home country. The ruling can also be varied depending on the country to which he migrated,  If there are Islamic gatherings in the place where he is able to preserve his Islamic ethics and his children upbringing.

Thus, it is not possible to give a general fatwa on this kind of matter.

Sheikh Dr Yusuf Al Qardawy says: immigration is sometimes permissible and sometimes obligatory when a person cannot uphold the teachings of his religion in his own country. In this regard, Allah says: Indeed, those whom the angels take [in death] while wronging themselves – [the angels] will say, “In what [condition] were you?” They will say, “We were oppressed in the land.” The angels will say, “Was not the earth of Allah spacious [enough] for you to emigrate therein?” (Q4:97).

This type of immigration is not only permissible; rather it is compulsory for a Muslim to move when he sees a land that will accommodate him and his religion. It is also necessary for him to migrate to where he would be able to protect his religious teachings and uphold at least the fundamental acts. Therefore, Muslims who migrated to these countries have a lot of responsibilities to carry out and not just to say we travelled for the sake of travelling.

Unfortunately, there are Muslims whose first generation that moved to Australia, Argentina, North America are completely gone. They mingled and melted into the society, and their identities have been erased because they did not know or have any association with Islam nor do they have any commitment to Islam. They went for sustenance and daily means alone. Some of them got married in the society, lived there and ended without being known as a Muslim. This type of lifestyle is not permissible.

That is why we emphasise that whoever migrates to these countries has five responsibilities to do:

– A responsibility towards oneself

– A responsibility towards his family and children

– A responsibility towards his Muslim brothers

– A responsibility towards the community in which the non-Muslims live

– A responsibility towards matters of his great Ummah

The most important of all these responsibilities is the first one; to safeguard his Islamic identity (duty to oneself) so that he does not melt into the society. This does not mean he should desert the society or be isolated. This is another challenge and we do not want a Muslim to withdraw to himself by deserting the community.

We also do not want him to open up in such a way that he will perish into the society by removing all barriers completely. Rather we want a middle course. A moderate lifestyle for those who live in the non-Muslim countries.

To sum up, the idea behind travelling to the West should be for security and reassurance of religion practice.