Can Non-Muslims Display Religious Symbols in a Muslim State?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


In certain places, the hijab has been banned, citing it as a religious symbol. I just wanted to know whether non-Muslims can display their religious symbols under an Islamic Sacred Law State, such as the beard for the Jews, turbans for Sikhs, and the cross for Christians.


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

Under Sacred Law, Non-Muslims may worship freely, according to their religion’s rules. They may have beards and turbans, but symbols, such as the cross, that are unique to specific religions and not in conformity with Sacred Law may not publicly be displayed, and Allah knows best. [Keller, Reliance of the Traveler]

Justice in Sacred Law

The Muslim state’s power depended on its ability to provide two precious resources to its people: security and justice. Sacred Law is the tool through which security and justice are achieved. Christians, Jews, and other minorities who were technically not citizens of the Muslim state were considered Ahl al-Dhimma (a Protected People) under the protection of the state. [Goitein, Minority Selfrule and Government Control (in Muslims and Others in Early Islamic Society)]

Islamic Sacred Law enshrined their security, justice, and freedom of religion, but within the parameters that would not jeopardize the Law that afforded them that freedom and Allah knows best.

Please visit this related answer.

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.

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.