Please note: The answers on constitute friendly advice rather than fatwas. Where relevant, we translate the opinions and fatwas of respected scholars and present them in our answers.

The Problem with the Website

I'm going to study in university abroad and found on islamQA that we muslims are not allowed to live in non muslim countries. Please let me know, as I've applied already but I still haven't left.

The website follows the Wahhabi ideology of the Saudi government. It might be the wealthiest Islamic website on the Internet thanks to Saudi funding, and because of their wealth they have been able to dominate both the Arabic-speaking and English-speaking Internet when it comes to questions about Islam.

In Wahhabism, the Bedouin creed is above the Quran and the Prophet’s teachings and determines the framework within which they follow Islam. For more on Wahhabism see my essay: The Difference Between “Salafism” and “Wahhabism” and Why I Belong to Neither Group. On mainstream Islam’s views and how extremely different they are from Wahhabism and other authoritarian versions of Islam see my essay Consensual Communities and the Sanctity of Human Life.

Wahhabis believe that out of 1.8 billion Muslims only they and no one else really and truly believes in God, that somehow, miraculously, only they and no other group of Muslim possesses the real truth, and that by the virtue of being the only possessors of the truth, they have the right wipe out all other versions of Islam and to become the unchallenged and unquestioned rulers of the Islamic world, telling everyone else what to think.

In the early Islamic period, as is described in Sheikh Umar F. Abd-Allah’s Mālik and Medina: Islamic Legal Reasoning in the Formative Period, it was quite normal for Muslims to disagree with one another on most things and continue to live peacefully together and respect one another. Each scholar had the right of independent reasoning and the right of challenging the opinions of others. Wahhabis pretend that, thanks to possessing the real truth, they have the right to abolish all free thought among Muslims so that they do the thinking for everyone else. Since they define the Wahhabi tribe in terms of agreeing with Wahhabism, anyone who disagrees with it is outside the tribe, which means they are not really humans, which means their opinions do not count. In this way they ignore the opinions of almost every major scholar of Islamic history. They also attack and demonize with the most vicious hatred every respected living scholar of today who does not submit to their tribalist version of Islam. is a Wahhabi mouthpiece. When it comes to matters of jurisprudence (things like performing ablution), they often give sensible and balanced answers based on the opinions of the Ḥanbalī school. Scholars like Ibn Bāz, al-Albānī and Ibn ʿUthaymīn who are revered and often quoted by the Wahhabis are also highly respected by other Muslims. So on these issues they can sound quite normal, since they largely follow traditional Islam when it comes to the parts of Islam that have to do with day to day life among Muslims. But when it comes to issues having to do with interactions between Wahhabis and non-Wahhabis, that is where their creepy tribalism comes out. Since to them non-Wahhabis are not humans but something more like demons or animals, Wahhabis are not allowed to befriend them, treat them like humans, have sympathy for them, live alongside them, or follow any of the Quran’s ethics in relation to them. In their highly twisted interpretation of Islam, everything the Quran says about being kind, forgiving and just toward others only applies to tribe members, i.e. fellow Wahhabis. When it comes to outsiders, they are treated not according to the Islamic creed, but according to the Bedouin creed. Since the Bedouin creed requires that all humans outside the tribe should be treated as non-humans and should be enslaved or killed unless there is something to be gained by not doing these things to them, that is exactly how they think the normal Muslim relationship to those around them should be. Here I am speaking of the thinking of Saudi-taught Wahhabi ideologues, not necessarily the scholars they claim to respect and quote.

As for your question regarding living in a non-Muslim country, you can get sensible answers from almost any mainstream scholar coming from any of the schools of Islamic thought outside the Wahhabi tribalist insanity. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the world’s most renowned mainstream scholars, says Muslims may live in non-Muslim lands if they are allowed to practice Islam there within reasonable criteria. Wahbah al-Zuhayli (d. 2015), a Syrian scholar and professor, has the same opinion.1 This is also the opinion of Dr. Shawki Allam, Egypt’s Grand Mufti.2

According to the Mauritanian Mālikī scholar Abdallah Bin Bayyah (professor of Islamic studies at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah), the Shāfiʿī, Ḥanbalī and Ḥanafī all permit residing in non-Muslim countries (with some internal disagreement among their scholars). Imam Mālik (founder of the Mālikī school which professor Bin Bayyah follows) was of the opinion that Muslims are not permitted to live in non-Muslim countries. But Abdallah Bin Bayyah, himself a Mālikī, has a softer Mālikī position and says that if a Muslim suffers injustice in the Muslim lands then he/she has the right of living in non-Muslim lands provided that they can practice Islam freely and bring up their children according to Islamic principles.3

The sensible answer is that there is no issue with living in a non-Muslim-majority country. Regardless of where we live, the country will be involved with certain unethical things. There is no such thing as a perfectly or even entirely Islamic government or legal system, and there is no conclusive evidence that we cannot live in a country that guarantees our rights and religious freedoms in return for obeying its constitution. I would much rather live in a Western country whose constitution guarantees my life and freedom rather than a “Muslim” country ruled by tyrants, war criminals and princes who think they have the right to imprison and kill anyone who gets in their way. A Western country that respects human rights and religious freedom can be argued to be far more Islamic in spirit than a “Muslim” country that has no respect for the lives and freedoms of its citizens.


  1. Archived link to an Arabic source that mentions the opinions of these two scholars.
  2. Archived link.
  3. Archived screenshot of Arabic source.
And God knows best.

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