Can a Muslim in the West Join the Army?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


I have a question about joining the army. A friend of mine recently told me about his aspirations to join the military, and I discouraged him from doing so; I would like to get a scholarly opinion on this.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him. Amin.

Joining any army requires careful consideration of one’s intentions, the potential for involvement in injustice or harm, and ensuring actions align with Islamic principles of preserving life and justice, as guided by traditional Islam.

  1. Intention (Niyya): The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Actions are by intentions, and every man shall have only that which he intended” [Agreed Upon]. The intention behind joining a military force must be evaluated in light of Islamic values such as promoting peace and justice.
  2. Justice and Oppression: Allah says, “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives…” [Quran, 4:135]. Joining a force that may perpetrate injustice or oppress others contradicts Islamic teachings and would be impermissible.
  3. Preservation of Life: The sanctity of life is paramount in Islam. Allah states, “…whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely” [Quran, 5:32]. Engaging in or supporting harm against innocents is unlawful and severely condemned.
  4. Loyalty and Allegiance: A Muslim’s ultimate loyalty is to Allah and His commandments. This should guide one’s actions and decisions, ensuring they do not compromise Islamic beliefs and duties.

Guidance and Decision-Making

  • Consultation with Scholars: Engaging with knowledgeable Islamic scholars can provide insight into the complexities of such a decision in light of Sacred Law and the current geopolitical context.
  • Prayer for Guidance (Istikhara): Seeking Allah’s guidance through Istikhara prayer is recommended for all significant decisions, as it can lead to clarity and contentment with one’s choice.


Joining an army requires a deep reflection on Islamic teachings regarding intention, justice, the preservation of life, and allegiance to Allah. Muslims must carefully weigh these considerations, consult with scholars, and seek divine guidance to make decisions that align with their faith and contribute to the greater good, and Allah knows best.

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar Shaykh Taha Karaan (Allah have mercy on him), where he taught.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Shaykh Muhammad Awama, Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Hitu, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has been the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and, for six years, the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has fifteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic podcast, education, and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy Prophetic living and fitness.