Answer

Assalamualaikum, what is Imam Shafie's opinion on living in a non-muslim country (kaafir land)?

Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,

In his Fatawa, Shaykh Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Kurdi mentioned details regarding Muslims residing under a non-Muslim state. When they can practice Islam openly by displaying its observances -like Friday prayers, fasting Ramadan, observing proper dress, refraining from eating pork, abstaining from drinking wine, etc.- then it is permissible for them to stay there. He said:

أن يمكنهم إظهار دينهم فيها فهؤلاء تستحب هجرتهم إلى دار الإسلام ولا تجب

“It is possible for them to openly practice their religion, so migration is recommended but not obligatory.”

And when they hope that Islam will flourish there, then it is best for them to stay. He mentioned:

أن يرجى ظهور الإسلام بإقامتهم ثمة وهؤلاء إقامتهم أفضل

“By their residency it is hoped that Islam will emerge, so their staying there is best.”

And when they can institute positive changes that stop disbelief and wrongdoing there, and do not expect to be of a benefit to the Muslims if they migrate, then it is obligatory for them to stay. He said:

أن يقدروا على الامتناع من الكفر والاعتزال ثمة ولم يرجوا نصرة المسلمين بالهجرة فهؤلاء تكون إقامتهم واجبة لأن موضعهم دار الإسلام بإقامتهم فلو هاجروا صار دار حرب

“They are able to stop disbelief and wrongdoing there, and benefiting the Muslims is not anticipated in the instance that they migrate, so staying there is obligatory because the area is Dar al-Islam by them remaining there. If they were to migrate, then it would become Dar al-Harb.”

Shihab Ramli stated:

بأن لا تجب الهجرة على هؤلاء المسلمين من وطنهم لقدرتهم على إظهار دينهم به لأنه صلى الله عليه وسلم بعث عثمان يوم الحديبية إلى مكة لقدرته على إظهار دينه

“Migrate from their homeland is not obligatory on these Muslims, due to their ability to display their din there. Since, the Prophet Muhammad sent ‘Uthman to Mecca as he had the ability to display his din.” (Fatawa Shihab Ramli 557)

Kurdi also mentioned that when Muslims are oppressed to the point that they can no longer practice their din, then it is obligatory for them to leave that country.

Similar details are found in Imam Nawawi’s Rawdat al-Talibin 7/474-75, Ibn Hajar’s Tuhfat al-Muhtaj 9/268-71, Ramli’s Nihayat al-Muhtaj 8/82, and Shihab Ramli’s Fatawa 557.

And Allah knows best.

Answered by Shaykh Yaqub Abdurrahman