Is It Permissible to Move from a Muslim Country to a Non-Muslim Country?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


May one emigrate from a Muslim Country to a non-Muslim Country? What’s the context of the hadith “I disown every Muslim who settles among the Polytheists”?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

We pray that Allah facilitates ease for people of Faith across the world.

It is superior to live in Muslim lands (what qualifies as a Muslim country is a separate discussion) if one can. This tends to be safer for one’s and children’s religions.

The greatest gift we have is the gift of faith and guidance. The one thing we ask Allah Most High for in every cycle of every prayer is to remain guided on the Straight Path. [Quran, 1:6]

It is permitted to migrate to non-Muslim lands on two critical conditions:

  • If one can practice one’s religion; and
  • If one is committed with a firm resolve to ensure one’s children will learn and practice their religion.

Hadith Context

In the Sunna, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “I disown every Muslim who settles among the polytheists.” [Abu Dawud]

The above hadith refers to those who are not safe to practice their religion there. [Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari]


Allah says, “When the angels seize the souls of those who have wronged themselves —scolding them, ‘What do you think you were doing?’ they will reply, ‘We were oppressed in the land.’ The angels will respond, ‘Was Allah’s earth not spacious enough for you to emigrate?’ It is they who will have Hell as their home—what an evil destination!” [Quran 4:97]

Being concerned for one’s religious freedom is an important consideration. When practicing one’s religion is challenging in one’s country, though still possible, it may be advisable to practice patience since there are challenges for people of faith the world over.

If the conditions are unbearable, meaning one cannot practice one’s faith or fears that the faith of one’s offspring may be compromised in the future and change seems improbable, they are not obliged to rise against the rulers. Instead, a Muslim, in such a case, is obliged to emigrate from his country if he can find a better one, fleeing with his religion. [Ansari, Asna al-Matalib; Keller, Reliance of the Traveler]

I pray that this benefits.
[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.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, 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 served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning 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 living and fitness.