What is the Middle Way?
This article has been compiled in order to clarify the current confusion that exists regarding the terms Dar Al-Islam, Dar Al-Ḥarb, Dar Al-Kufr and Hijra. If Allah so wills, it will be made clear that no single term can be applied in blanket fashion to the entire world. Rather, those same classifications that the great scholars of Islam have used throughout history still apply today, and with Allah alone is every success.
Dar Al-Islam and Hijra
In Al-Arbaʿīn An-Nawawiyyah, Imam an-Nawawī, the muʿtamad source for the Shāfiʿī school, quotes the great Mālikī scholar, Qāḍī Abū Bakr Ibn Al-ʿArabī, who said:
‘The ʿulamāʾ, may Allah be pleased with them, have divided travel in the earth into flight and search, and the former sub-divides into six sub-divisions:
‘First, going out from the abode of war to the abode of Islam, and this remains until the Day of Resurrection. That which ceased with the Conquest [of Makkah] according to his words, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, “There is no emigration after the Conquest [of Makka]”, was the emigration to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, where he was.
‘Second, leaving the people of innovation. Ibn Al-Qāsim said, ‘I heard Mālik say, “It is not permitted for anyone to remain in a land in which the Salaf are being cursed.”’
‘Third, leaving a land where the ḥarām is predominant, since it is an obligation upon every Muslim to seek the ḥalāl.
‘Fourth, fleeing from harm to one’s body. It is one of the bounties of Allah that He makes an allowance for that. If one fears for oneself in a place then Allah permits one to leave it, and fleeing with oneself will save one from that peril. The first person to do this was Ibrāhīm, peace be upon him, when he feared his people and said, “I am leaving this place to follow the pleasure of my Lord.” [Al-ʿAnkabūt 29:26] Allah the Exalted has also told us about Mūsā, peace be upon him, saying: “So he left there fearful and on his guard.” [Al-Qaṣaṣ 28:21]
‘Fifth, leaving unhealthy cities from fear of illness to go to a healthy land. He, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, permitted the ʿAraniyyīn, who found Madīna bad for their health, to leave and go to pasture-land.
‘Sixth, leaving from fear of financial harm, since the sanctity of a Muslim’s wealth is the same as the sanctity of his blood.’
What is Dar Al-Islam?
‘According to what the Imams of the Four Madhabs have agreed upon, it is the country or land in which the power of the Muslims and their leadership has entered, such that they are able to manifest their Islam and keep away from their enemies, whether this is accomplished by conquest and fighting or peace and conciliation, or something of that nature.
‘In terms of defining Dar Al-Islam, the expressions of the fuqahāʾ have differed, but these differences are only in wording. All of these definitions agree that [Dar al-Islam] is when the Muslims are able to have their own rule over that land, such that each one of them is able to make the rulings of Islam and its outward rites superior therein.
‘This Islamic rule over some land is what makes it Dar al-Islam, and this is regardless of whether the population are Muslims or not, such as a country that the Muslims have conquered and its people are settled therein by paying the jizya or something of that nature.’
After discussing the rulings of Dar Al-Islam, Sheikh al-Būṭī goes on to say:
‘Through knowing these rulings one will notice that the implementation of the rulings of the Islamic Revealed Law is not a condition for considering the abode Dar Al-Islam. Rather, it is from the rights of Dar Al-Islam and it is the responsibility of the Muslims. If the Muslims fall short in carrying out the various rulings of Islam in the Islamic abode that Allah has caused them to inherit, then this does not stop that abode from being Dar Al-Islam, but those who are falling short are sinful and bear the burden for their sin.’
What is Dar Al-Ḥarb?
In his book Fiqh As-Sīrah, Sheikh Al-Būṭī says:
‘The “abode of war” is, by extension, any place in which it is not possible for a Muslim to perform his religiously prescribed duties, such as prayer, fasting, meeting for communal worship, issuing the public call to prayer, and any other outward rites associated with Islam.’
Where does Dar Al-Islam come from?
Another contemporary Shāfiʿī scholar, Sheikh Wahba Az-Zuḥaylī, states:
‘The Prophetic emigration to Al-Madīna Al-Munawwara (Yathrib), and the two treaties of ‘Aqaba that preceded it, are the foundation for establishing or forming the Islamic state, or Dar Al-Islam in the terminology of our fuqahāʾ. With it the identity of the Muslims was distinguished from that of the idol-worshippers and in Al-Madina the first pillars of security and stability were firmly established and the Prophet’s political authority was manifested. This authority is now considered the essential element in forming a state.’
What does this mean now?
Sheikh Wahba Az-Zuḥaylī was asked:
‘Is it permissible in the Revealed Law to acquire the citizenship of a foreign, non-Muslim country or to reside in that foreign country, or is it impermissible?’
‘Our ʿulamāʾ, such as Ibn Al-‘Arabī in Aḥkām Al-Qurʿān and An-Nawawī in Al-Arbaʿīn An-Nawawiyyah (p.9-10), have affirmed that Hijra, or leaving Dar Al-Ḥarb for Dar Al-Islam, is a ruling that remains in place until the Day of Resurrection. It is not permissible for a Muslim to reside in Dar Al-Kufr, especially if he fears tribulation for his religion, because in residing amongst them their multitude is increased, except in the case of, as Al-Māwardī has stated: ‘If it comes to be that he, and his family and people, are able to manifest their religion therein, it is not permissible for them to emigrate because the place in which he is in may become Dar Al-Islam.’ This is the short answer.
As for the detailed answer: residing in non-Islamic lands in order to seek knowledge or spread the Islamic call, or to strengthen the Muslims, or to earn and work, or due to an excuse such as treatment for an illness, or because of captivity, or being prevented from residing in an Islamic country, is permissible in the Revealed Law. In this there is an Islamic benefit for the Muslims, which is that it is preferred for such a person to stay and remain rather than leave [the Muslims living there]. In other than these situations, residence is not allowed.
‘As for citizenship, the foundation is that it is impermissible, because it is allegiance to a flag or a set of philosophical commitments that have not originated in Islam, and because it leads to strengthening the enemy, as is what happens with the emigration of professional people. This is also the case because citizenship results in one being bound to certain requirements that may contradict the principles of Islam and its rulings, such as taking part in fighting Muslims or non-Muslims, and adhering to certain legal responsibilities that Islam has not affirmed. It is also because residing amongst non-Muslims leads to loving their customs or being influenced by their customs and approving them, especially in the minds of children. This is why the Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon, said: ‘I am free of every Muslim who resides amongst the idol-worshippers.’ They said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, why?’ He said: ‘You should not be able to see each other’s fireplaces.’’
Imam al-Būṭī adds, in his book Fiqh as-Sīrah:
‘Second, as we have mentioned above, it is not permissible for a Muslim to reside in Dar al-Kufr or Dar al-Ḥarb if it is not possible for him to manifest his religion, and even if it is possible for him to manifest his religion it is still disliked (makrūh).’
What about ‘Fiqh of Minorities’?
Sheikh Ramaḍān Al-Būtī has already dealt with this issue. Please see the following articles:
[This article is now available from the English Naseem ash-Sham site, where it can also be downloaded as a PDF]
For the Ḥanbalī discussion on these matters, please click here.
For the Mālikī discussion on these matters, please click here.
 Translator’s note (tn): (468-543 AH/1076-1148 AD). Referred to loosely as the Qāḍī of the Mālikīs, he was a famous student of Imam Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī, may Allah have mercy on him. He was born in today’s Spain and is considered one of their greatest scholars. His commentary on the Qurʾān as well as different hadith collections are held to be amongst the many pearls and jewels of Islam. He is buried in Fes, Morocco.
 (tn): Al-Bukhārī and Muslim. The wording in Muslim is: ‘On the authority of Ibn ʿAbbās, who said, ‘The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said on the Day of the Fatḥ [conquest] of Makka: “There is no more Hijra, but rather jihād and intention, and if you are summoned to fight go out and fight.”’’ In Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim bi Sharḥ An-Nawawī, the Imam states: ‘The ʿulamāʾ have stated that Hijra from Dar Al-Ḥarb to Dar Al-Islam remains in place until the Day of Resurrection. As for the interpretation of the ḥadīth [quoted above], there are two opinions regarding it. The first is that there is no Hijra after the Fatḥ [of Makka] from Makka because it has become Dar Al-Islam, and Hijra can only be made from Dar Al-Ḥarb. This comprises the miracle of The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, that it would remain Dar Al-Islam and emigrating from it is inconceivable. The second opinion, regarding the meaning of ‘there is no more Hijra’, is that the virtue of emigrating after the Fatḥ of Makka is not like the virtue of having emigrated before it, as Allah the Exalted has said: “Those of you who gave and fought before the Fatḥ are not the same…”’ [Translated from Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim bi Sharḥ An-Nawawī (Beirut: Dar Al-Kutub Al-ʿIlmiyyah, 2003) v.9 p.104-105, in The Book of Ḥajj] The full quotation from the āya is: “Those of you who gave and fought before the Fatḥ are not the same as those who fought and gave afterwards. They are higher in rank.” [Al-Ḥadīd 57:10] In Al-Majmūʿ Sharḥ Al-Muhadhdhib (v.19 p.264), which is the ultimate reference work for the Shāfiʿī school, Imam an-Nawawī states the same thing, i.e. he quotes Imam Ibn Al-ʿArabī again and states that Hijra from Dar al-Ḥarb to Dar Al-Islam was obligatory in the time of the Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and that this obligation remains in place after the Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, for whoever fears for themselves. What came to an end after the Fatḥ of Makka was emigrating to wherever the Prophet was, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him.
 (tn): I.e. the first three generations of Islam, based on the ḥadīth in Al-Bukhārī and Muslim: “The best generation is my generation, then those who come next, then those who come next.” The wording in the former is "The best of my Ummah is my generation..."
 (tn): i.e. a tribe bearing this name
 (tn): Based on Al-Hajj Abdassamad Clarke’s translation entitled The Complete Forty Hadith (London: Taha Publishers, 1998) p.10-11. Please see pages 9 and 10, i.e. the commentary on the first ḥadīth, of any Arabic edition.
 See Tuḥfa Al-Muḥtāj 9/269, Al-Mughnī by Ibn Qudāma 9/247 and 248, the Ḥāshiya of Ibn ʿĀbidīn 3/260, and Mughnī Al-Muḥtāj 4/339. (tn): The first book, Tuḥfa Al-Muḥtāj, is Imam Ibn Ḥajar Al-Haytamī’s, another muʿtamad source in the Shāfiʿī school, commentary on Imam An-Nawawī’s Minhāj At-Ṭālibīn, a muʿtamad curriculum text in that school. The second book, Al-Mughnī, is written by Imam Muwaffaq u-Dīn Ibn Qudāma, the muʿtamad source for the Ḥanbalī school. The third book is written by Ibn ʿAbidīn, the muʿtamad source for the Ḥanafī school.
 (tn): ‘The minimum non-Muslim poll tax is one dinar (n: 4.235 grams of gold) per person (A: per year). The maximum is whatever both sides agree upon. It is collected with leniency and politeness, as are all debts, and is not levied on women, children or the insane.’ (Reliance of The Traveller (Beltsville: Amana Publications,1994), section o11.4, p.608.) As of 23/03/2011, 18:53 GMT, one gram of gold is worth £28.47, so the tax would be £120.57, or £10.05 per month. This is the only tax that non-believers have to pay.
 Tuḥfa Al-Muḥtāj 9/269
 (tn):This section is translated from the Sheikh’s book Al-Jihād fī Al-Islām (Damascus: Dar Al-Fikr, 1992) p.80. Dar Al-Kufr, therefore, is the opposite of Dar Al-Islam.
 (tn): Ibid, p.81. It is worth noting that on the same page and the one that follows, Sheikh al-Būṭī refutes those Islamists who claim that implementation of the Revealed Law in its entirety is a condition for a land being Dar Al-Islam, which goes against what the ʿulamāʾ of Islam have agreed upon. These people claim that if the Revealed Law is not being implemented in its entirety it therefore becomes Dar al-Ḥarb, which would mean that Muslims living in most of, if not all, the Muslim-majority countries would have to leave, but where to? Oddly enough, many of them choose to emigrate to Europe or America. As the Sheikh rightly says, these people are only following their inclinations and desires and they have veiled their intellects from understanding the religion with thick veils of straying, emotional disturbance.
 (tn): Fiqh As-Sīrah (The Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography) as translated by Nancy Roberts and revised by Anas Ar-Rifāʿī (Damascus: Dar Al-Fikr, 2008), p.230. Please see p.130 of the Arabic edition (Damascus: Dar Al-Fikr, 2003)
 (tn): One can also have a look at Reliance of The Traveller, section w43.5, p.946-947 (Beltsville: Amana Publications, 1994)
 (tn): Translated from Al-Fiqh Al-Islāmī wa Adilatuhu (Damascus: Dar Al-Fikr, 1997) v.8 p.6303
 (tn): This is what has been quoted above.
 Al-Fatāwa Al-Ḥadīthiyyah by Imam ibn Ḥajar Al-Haytamī: p.209