Can Muslims take nationality of America or other non-Muslim countries?

muslims in non muslim land

Is it allowed for Muslims to take nationality of America or some other non-Muslim country?

Is it allowed for Muslims to live in the lands of Kufr and Shirk?

Following is published for knowledge and guidance of people, who:

a. live in a non-Muslim country but criticize those who reside in a Muslim country
b. are planning to migrate to a non-Muslim country

Verily, Allah (swt) knows best.


Is it allowed to take the nationality of America or some European country?

Some people who have already taken their nationality or are in the process argue that they are persecuted in their Muslim homelands, imprisoned unfairly, their wealth is seized, and all this forces them to adopt the nationality of non-Muslim countries.

Some other Muslims say that when our own Muslim countries do not implement the Islamic punishments (hudud) or Islamic Sharia, then what difference is there between an Muslim and a non-Muslim country? Both are equal in not implementing Islamic laws. On the contrary, when we take the nationality of a non-Muslim country, it preserves our right to live, own wealth, and honor. Moreover, they are safer than Muslim countries. We do not fear imprisonment without a due cause, whereas in a Muslim country we always fear imprisonment.

According to the scholars, the basic principle is that it is not permissible for the Muslim to settle among the mushrikeen. This is indicated by evidence from the Quran and Sunnah, and on the basis of common sense.

In the Quran , Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

Verily! As for those whom the angels take (in death) while they are wronging themselves (as they stayed among the disbelievers even though emigration was obligatory for them), they (angels) say (to them): “In what (condition) were you?” They reply: “We were weak and oppressed on earth.” They (angels) say: “Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to emigrate therein?” Such men will find their abode in Hell – What an evil destination! [al-Nisa  4:97]

In the Sunnah, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:  “I am not responsible for any Muslim who stays among polytheists”. Narrated by Abu Dawood, 2645; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.

Qais ibn Abi Hazim reports on the authority of Jarir ibn Abd-Allah that the Prophet (saw) said, “”I am free of every Muslim who lives among the Musrikeen.” We asked, “Why is that, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “Their fires should not be visible to one another.” Reported by Abu Daud and at-Tirmidhi. Most of the the reports are mursal from Qais ibn Abi Hazim from the Prophet (saw). At-Tirmidhi said he heard Muhammad – that is al-Bukhari – saying the correct opinion concerning the hadith of Qais is that it is mursal.

With regard to common sense, the Muslim who settles among the mushrikeen cannot carry out many of the rituals and visible acts of worship of Islam, in addition to the fact that he is exposing himself to temptation because of the permissiveness in those countries that is protected by their laws. The Muslim should not expose himself to temptations and trials.

This is if we look at the evidence of the Quran and Sunnah without paying attention to what is really happening in Muslim countries and kaafir countries. But if we look at what is really happening in Muslim countries, we cannot agree with the statement. Especially since the Muslim countries are no longer very different from others with regard to adherence to the laws of Islam.  But this generalization is not correct. The Muslim countries are not all the same with regard to how closely or otherwise they adhere to the laws of Islam. Rather they vary in that, and even within one country, regions and cities may vary in that regard.

Similarly the kaafir countries are not all the same with regard to their permissiveness and moral laxity; they also vary in that regard.

So given that the Muslim countries vary, as do the kaafir countries, and given that the Muslim cannot go to a Muslim state and settle there because of visa and strict settlement laws etc, and that a Muslim may not be able to practice his religion in some Muslim countries, when he may be able to do so in whole or at least in part in some kaafir countries  for all these reasons it is impossible to issue a general ruling that will cover all countries and all individuals. Rather we should say that each Muslim has his own unique set of circumstances and his own ruling that applies to him, and each person is accountable for himself.

If a Muslim is able to practise his religion in the Muslim country in which he lives more than he can in a kaafir country, then it is not permissible for him to settle in a kaafir country. But if it is the other way round, then it is permissible for him to settle in a kaafir country, subject to the condition that he is confident that he can resist the desires and temptations to be found there by taking the precautionary measures prescribed in sharee’ah.

There follow some comments of the scholars which support what we have said above:

Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about this matter and he said: This is one of the most difficult issues nowadays because countries vary, as stated above, and because for some Muslims, if they go back to their homelands they will be persecuted for their religion whereas they are safe from that in the kaafir countries. But if we say that it is haraam for them to settle among the kuffaar, then where is the Islamic state that will accept them and allow them to settle there?! This is the meaning of what he said, may Allaah have mercy on him.

Zakariya al-Ansaari al-Shaafa’i said in his book Asna al-Mataalib (4/207):

It is obligatory to migrate from the kaafir lands to the Muslim lands for those who are able to do that, if they are unable to practice their religion openly.

Ibn al-Arabi al-Maaliki said: Hijrah (migration) means leaving dar al-harb [non-Muslim lands] and going to dar al-islam [Muslim lands]. This was obligatory at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and remains so after his time for those who fear for their lives. From Nayl al-Awtaar, 8/33, by al-Shawkaani.

Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar said concerning the hadeeth, “I disown every Muslim who settles among the mushrikeen”:

This is to be understood as referring to those who are not safe to practice their religion there. Fath al-Baari, commentary on hadeeth no. 2825

In al-Mawsooh al-Fiqhiyyah (20/206) it says:

Dar al-harb refers to every place in which the rule of kufr prevails. One of the rulings that have to do with dar al-harb is hijrah (migration). With regard to migration from dar al-harb, the fuqaha divided people into three categories:

(a) Those who are obliged to migrate: they are those who are able to migrate and who cannot practice their religion openly in dar al-harb. It is obligatory upon a female even if she does not have a mahram, if she thinks she will be safe when travelling, or if the risk of travelling is less than the risk of staying in dar al-harb

(b) Those who are not obliged to migrate: they are those who are unable to do so, either because of sickness or because they are forced to stay in the kaafir land, or those who are weak, such as woman and children, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Except the weak ones among men, women and children who cannot devise a plan, nor are they able to direct their way” [al-Nisa 4:98]

(c)Those for whom migration is mustahabb but not obligatory: they include those who are able to migrate but are also able to practice their religion openly in dar al-harb. It is mustahabb for such a person to migrate so that he can participate in jihad and increase the numbers of the Muslims.

In a fatwa issued by the Standing Committee (12/50): One may also migrate from a mushrik land to another mushrik land that is less evil and where there is less danger to the Muslim, as some of the Muslims migrated from Makkah at the Prophet’s command to Abyssinia.

When it is allowed to take permanent residence in a non-Muslim country?

(A) Taking permanent residence in a non-Muslim country, adopting their nationality, and making it one’s country of residence as its citizen is a matter whose ruling (hukm) differs with those who seek citizenship, their motivations, and intentions. For instance:

(1) If a Muslim is persecuted in his home country without any crime, imprisoned for no due reason, his wealth seized unjustly and he has no way of protecting himself from these injustices except taking residence in a non-Muslim country, then in this case it is permissible for him to take its citizenship without any dislike (kiraha) given he makes sure that he will be able to practice his deen in daily life and is able to guard against the promiscuity and evil widespread over there. The evidence for this is the following: the Companions migrated to Abyssinia after being persecuted by the people of Mecca. Abyssinia at the time was led by the unbelievers. And they stayed there, some Companions did not cease to reside after the migration of Allah’s Mesenger (saw) to Madina. Abu Musa al-Ashari did not return till the expedition of Khaibar, that is in the seventh year after the Hijra. Moreover, it is the right of one’s self (nafs) on a person that he protects it from all forms of injustice (dhulm). If a person can not find protection for himself except in the land of the unbelievers, then there is no obstacle in migrating to it as long as he safeguards his religious obligations and stays away from forbidden abominations.

(2) Similarly a person faced by financial hardships who can not find sufficient means of support without which he can not do and he does not find them except in such lands, then it is permissible for him with the conditions mentioned. This is because earning a livelihood is a duty (faridah) after other obligations which the Sharia has not restricted to any one place. Allah says:

He it is, Who has made the earth subservient to you, so walk in the path thereof and eat of His provisions, and to Him will be the Resurrection.” 67:15

(3) Similarly, if a person becomes a citizen of a a country to invite its people to Islam or to teach the rulings of the Sharia to the Muslims living in it, then not only is it permissible, but he will be rewarded for it. Many Companions and Tabi’een took residence in the land of the unbelievers for this praiseworthy purpose, and this is counted among their merits.

When it is not allowed to migrated to a non-Muslim country?

If a person has sufficient financial means at his disposal in his Muslim homeland such that he can spend his life according to the standard of life of other people in his town, but he migrates to the land of the unbelievers to raise his standard of living and to be able to live in luxury, then such is not devoid of dislike (kiraha). He has exposed himself to the evil spread over there without any wordily or religious need sactioning it. Experience testifies that the religious zeal of those who adopt citizenship for the sake of a luxurious life weakens and they melt in front of the glitter of unbelievers.

Abu Daud reports on the authority of Samura ibn Jundub that the Prophet (saw) said, “Whoever joins a Mushrik and lives with him is like him.” (Abu Daud, at-Tirmidhi) Jabir relates the Prophet (saw) said, “I am free of every Muslim who lives among the Musrikeen.” We asked, “Why is that, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “Their fires should not be visible to one another.” (Abu Daud)

Imam al-Khattabi writes:

“Different scholars have interpreted this hadith in different ways. One is that they are not equal in their hukm (ruling; meaning they both have different rulings pertaining to them). Others say this hadith means Allah has differentiated between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Kufr, hence it is not allowed for a Muslim to live in the land of the unbelievers since when they will lit their fire, he will be seen to belong to them. It also an evidence that it is disliked (makruh) for a Muslim to goto Dar al-Harb for trade and to stay there for more than four days.” (Mu’alim us-Sunnan by al-Khattabi. Kitab al-Jihad)

Abu Daud reports in his Marasil from Makhool from the Prophet (saw), “Do not leave your children among the polythiests.”

This is why some jurists (fuqaha) have mentioned that Muslims living in Dar al-Kufr and increasing their numbers for the sake of making money takes away a person’s adala (uprightness). (Takmila Radd al-Mukhtar I:101)

Taking citizenship of foreign lands to earn respect and honor, or to prefer their citizenship over that of Muslim countries, or to resemble them in daily life is absolutely haram. This does not even require any evidence!

The ruling (hukm) of traveling (safr) to the land of the unbelievers

Traveling (safr) to the land of the unbelievers is impermissible (la yajooz) unless three conditions are met:

(a) That the person has knowledge (ilm) to repel doubts (shub-bahaat).

(b) That he has deen which will prevent him from falling into lustful desires (shah-a-waat).

(c) There is a need to travel.

If these conditions are not met he is not allowed to travel to the land of the unbelievers due to the fitna or fear of fitna that exists there and the wasting of wealth that usually accompanies such visits. As for some (genuine) need like medical treatment or acquiring knowledge that is not found in his land, and he has knowledge (ilm) and deen as we have described above, then there is no harm in it.

As for traveling for tourism to the land of the unbelievers, then there is no need for that, also, it is possible for him to go to the lands of the Muslims to safeguard the manifest symbols of Islam for his family. Our lands, and all praise is due to Allah, have become tourist attractions where one may possibly go.

How can the soul of a believer feel good about settling in the land of the unbelievers where the symbols of unbelief are dominant, the rule belongs to other than Allah and His Messenger (saw), and he witnesses to that with his eyes and hears with his ears and is pleased with it! Rather he ascribes himself to those lands and settles in them with his family and children and feels content with that as if he was in the land of the Muslims! This is notwithstanding the great danger on him, his family and children regarding their deen and morals.


Mufti Muhammad Taqi al-Uthmani, a response written for the Majlis of Majma al-Fiqh al-Islami, held in Amman, Jordan from 8-13 Safr, 1407 A.H. corresponding to 11-16 October, 1986 in response to one of the 28 questions sent by the Islamic Center of Washington to the Majma on issues pertaining to Muslims residing in North America and Europe. It was published in “Buhuth fi-Qadayaa Fiqhiyya Mu’asara.” (p. 328-331)

Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Salih al-Uthaimeen, response to questions taken from “al-Majmu al-Thameen min Fatawa fadilatis-sheikh Muhammad Ibn Salih al-Uthaimen.” Vol 1, p. 54-61

Can Muslims settle in kaafir countries for the sake of a better life? [ link here]


Leave a Reply