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Muslims Living In Non-Muslim Lands

Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah

Excepts15 from The Shaykh's Insights on the Muslims' Condition and Responsibilities in America, part 21

Edited by OmarKN2

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"We also have to recognize that there are other things that are not particular to us but rather general to the human condition that we can partake in…"[n2]

  1. Relationship Between Muslims & Non-Muslims
  2. The Right To Teach Islam
  3. Non-aggression and honesty
  4. Moderation: Avoiding Extremes
  5. Footnotes

1. Relationship b. Muslims & Non-Muslims

[In face of a growing antipathy[4] to Muslims in some places on the one hand, and of strange, unsubstantiated policies and methods by the uninformed youth on the other hand, has the issue of the relationship between Muslims and Non - Muslims become a priority to be dealt with. We have @Livingislam.org published quite a few texts to improve this situation[3] and to help rectify (islāh ) those issues which are of utmost concern to the Muslim Ummah.

What follows is an excerpt from a speech, held by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, on his visit to the US in 1999. So this was before 9/11 2001 and its latest ensuing wars on Muslim lands[4]. His advice to the Muslims is today even more important than it was then. And the dīn is nasīha].[5]

1.1 In The Abode of Treaty ( A Covenant )

Most people think that the world is divided into two abodes, the abode of peace and the abode of war. The abode of peace is the land of the Muslims, dār al-Islam, and the abode of war is everywhere else … [This is wrong] There are three abodes: there is the abode of peace, the abode of war, and then there is the abode of treaty where there is a contractual agreement between two abodes…

We have to understand that the relationship between the Muslims living in this land and the dominant authorities in this land is a relationship of peace and contractual agreement - of a treaty. This is a relationship of dialogue and a relationship of giving and taking.”[6]

[Furthermore, in a situation where one part or country of the Ummah is at war with an enemy, this does not mean all parts or countries are at war with this enemy, as is seen from Islamic law and history.[7]

1.2 A State of Peace

In general - [as the default][17]- the Muslims are in a state of peace with their neighbours, as expressed by the erudite Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti who wrote in his fatwa:

“In sum, we are not in a perpetual state of war with non-Muslims. On the contrary, the original legal status (al-asl ) is a state of peace, and the decision to change this status belongs only to a Muslim authority who will in the Next World answer for their ijtihād and decision.”[8]

2. The Right To Teach Islam

In this country [- in the US and most other countries on the planet], the ruling people [the government, the authorities] are allowing you to call people to Islam, and this is exactly what the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, was asking that they allow him to do in Makkah. …

2.1 Prove Moral Excellence

This idea here should be understood, and the verse from the Quran that we should take as the overriding verse in our relationship with these people is where Allah subhaana wa ta'aala says concerning those who neither fight you because of your religion nor remove you from your homes that He does not prohibit you from showing them birr[n1]: righteousness. "Birr" in the Arabic language is the highest degree of ihsān[10] - it is the 'aala daraja of ihsān. Allah does not prevent you from showing them excellence - moral excellence - in your transactions with them nor from sharing with them a portion of your wealth. (ch2.2)

{ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَـآنُ قَوْمٍ أَن صَدُّوكُمْ عَنِ ٱلمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ أَن تَعْتَدُوا }

{ وَتَعَاوَنُوا۟ عَلَى ٱلْبِرِّ وَٱلتَّقْوَىٰ }

{ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا۟ عَلَى ٱلإِثْمِ وَٱلْعُدْوَانِ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللهَ إِنَّ ٱللهَ شَدِيدُ ٱلْعِقَابِ ‎ }

{And let not your hatred of a folk/ their hatred towards you (from earlier occasions)/ who (once) stopped your going to the inviolable place of worship / to the Masjid al-haram lead you/ seduce you to transgress…}

{but cooperate/ help each other unto righteousness (birr) and pious duty/ piety (taqwa).}

{Help not one another unto sin and transgression, but keep your duty to Allah. Indeed, Allah is severe in punishment.} Sura Al-Mā'idah, 5-2[11]

2.2 Give Gifts (Even) To Non-Believers

Qadi Abu-Bakr, Ibn 'Atiyah, and others have also said that this is what { wa tuqsiṭū 'ilayhim }[16] means. You give non-Muslims qistan: a portion of your wealth. In the early period of Islam, this is ta'lif al-qulūb: one of the things that they used to do to bring people close. They would give monetary gifts to people whom they saw had inclinations toward Islam to draw their hearts. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said,

"Give gifts to each other and love one another."

So, the act of giving something naturally inclines the one who is receiving the gift to have feelings of love towards the person who is giving them. The reason for doing these things - for treating these people with respect, showing this good character, and having this good courtesy - is that you will get from amongst them those who respond and will enter into Islam. This is how we should see our relationship. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, not only gave gifts to some of the mushrikeen in Makkah, but he also received gifts from them because his goal was that they become Muslim. He did not want to fight them - that was the last resort. The goal was that they [get a substantial understanding of the religion, so that - by the will of God - they may] become Muslim, that they enter into Islam.

3. Non-aggression and honesty

3.1 Respect For The People

Also, we must show respect for these people. Islam prohibits us from showing aggression towards people who do not show aggression towards us. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said,

"Do not enter the houses of the Christians nor eat anything of their fruits except with their permission."

Islam prohibits theft; it prohibits fraud; it prohibits cheating, and it prohibits these things concerning Muslims and (also) in relation to non-Muslims. The things that you cannot do to a Muslim, you also cannot do to a non-Muslim. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, also said,

لَا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لِأَخِيهِ مَا يُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِهِ

"None of you truly believes until he wants for his brother what he wants for himself."

3.2 A Broader Brotherhood Of Man Since Adam (pbuh)

Imam Shabrakhiti ibn Rajul al-Hambali and others mentioned that "brother" here (in the hadith above "none of you truly believes") not only means your brother Muslim because this is a close brotherhood of Islam that others are not in, but it refers to the greater and broader brotherhood of our Adamic nature.[12] It is a brotherhood in the sense that we are all from Adam, that Adam is the father of all of us. Understanding this should cause us to realize that we have distant relations with all of these people out there, and all of them are potential Muslims. We should see them as potential Muslims.[9]

Allah, subhaana wa ta'aala, for that reason says,

{ ‏ٱدْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِٱلْحِكْمَةِ وَٱلْمَوْعِظَةِ ٱلْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُم بِٱلَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ}
{ Call to your Lord with wisdom and with a beautiful admonition,[20] and dispute them in the most excellent of ways.[21] }
Sura 16-125

In other words, debate and dialogue with them in the most beautiful of ways. Don't be argumentative; don't be cruel; don't be mean; don't humiliate them. Do it ways in which they can listen to the truth, respect the truth, and come to the truth. For this reason, we have to be du'ahtis salaam: people who are callers to peace.

3.3 Be Excellent Citizens, Be Engaged!

We also have to be good citizens because an excellent Muslim is also an excellent citizen in the society that he lives in. This does not mean that we lose our distinction,[13] that we become completely immersed in the dominant society to where we no longer have our own identity - that is not what I'm calling to.

We have to maintain those things that are particular to us as a community, but we also have to recognize that other things are not particular to us but rather general to the human condition that we can partake in, and these things are not things that we should be ignorant and neglectful of, but things that we should be engaged in. We have to maintain our roots. We have deep roots in our faith, but at the same time, we have to be open allowing others to come into that deep-rootedness.

3.4 Divine Wisdom of Differentiation

In addition, we have to recognize that creation itself is a creation of diversity. It is a creation in which you see a variation of colours [and forms]. Allah did not make all the trees one, and He did not make all the animals one. He diversified the creation. He diversified even our colours and our languages, and He did all this with wisdom. Not only that, Allah subhaana wa ta'aala made us on different religions and different paths, and He did that intentionally because He said in the Quran,

{ وَلَوْ شَآءَ رَبُّكَ لَجَعَلَ ٱلنَّاسَ أُمَّةً وَحِدَةً وَلَا يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ }

{ ‏إِلَّا مَن رَّحِمَ رَبُّكَ }

{ And if your Sustainer/ Lord had (so) willed/ decided, He could surely have made all mankind one single community/ nation }

{ Yet[18] they will not cease differing[19] except those whom your Lord has shown His mercy to, and for that reason He created them. } Sura 11-118/9

So, Allah subhaana wa ta'aala is saying that He created us so that we differ - that there is a …divine wisdom in the differences that we have. He created us to show mercy to us as well. So, we have to rise to this challenge. This is a high challenge, and we as Muslims have to rise to this challenge.

4. Moderation: Avoiding Extremes

Another thing that is very important for us to remember is the moderation of Islam. This is a deen of wasatiyyah: it is a deen of moderation. We are a moderate community. We are between the two extremes of excess and deficiency. We are in the middle. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said,

"Those people who go into matters too deeply will be destroyed."

(The shaykh is an expert in the Arabic language, and he said, "those people" are people involved in "tatarruf" or extremism. That is what "tanata`u'" is.)[14] The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, also said,

"The extremists are destroyed," and he said, "Beware of extremism in the deen."

[This proves that the Holy] Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, warned against extremism, and he did not like it. Notice that one of the things that extremism does is that it causes you to lose your rational component so that you are not able to weigh things rationally. Once you have gone to an extreme, you can no longer see things in any balanced way. You have lost that balance of the middle way. This makes you think that what you are doing is right even though it is wrong to others.

For more on the topic of extremism, see footnote 3.

"In any case, what Westerners call civilization, the others would call barbarity, because it is precisely lacking in the essential, that is to say, a principle of a higher order."
René Guénon, East And West, 1924

صلّى الله على سيّدنا محمّد و على آله و صحبه و سلّم

The blessings and peace of Allah on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions, ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) .



Related texts
link-in Muslims-Living-in-Non-Muslim-Lands-Bin-Bayyah (whole text)
link-in What is JIHAD?
link-in Vertical integration of Muslim agency AHM

  1. - expired link (before 2022-09-20) sunnah.org: Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, 1999. This text is from the 2nd. part of his speech, and has only been slightly edited, including some sub-titles. Due to its importance for the Muslims, it was left almost as it was. For the 1st. part go to - expired link (before 2022-09-20) sunnah.org, where he speaks about fiqh al-khilāf (jurisprudence of disagreeing), the relationship between the Muslims as a brotherhood and their responsibilities in the new lands.

  2. Square brackets are interpolations by the editor, and Allah knows best and most.

  3. For example:
    link-inNotes On Islamic Awakening Between Rejection and Extremism
    Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (Although we don’t agree on everything from the Shaykh, this text is a good introduction to the means of how to reject extremism from the point of view of traditional Islam.)
    link-in Clarification Extremism
    link-in Links Extremism

  4. Muslims call upon the neo-imperialist powers in this world to stop interfering in Muslim countries by open or by covert means, to pull out their military, end their surreptitious meddling in Muslim lands, and most of all to leave the Muslim and other people live in peace according to their way of life and religion! If democracy (the right to vote for one’s representantive) and human rights have any meaning, they have to be applied universally!

  5. livingislam.org: Religion Is Sincerity, Nasiha Is Giving Good Counsel And Advice: The Messenger of Allah ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) said, “Religion (dīn) is sincerity (nasiha) (corrective advice, good counsel and sincere conduct). The dīn is nasiha. The dīn is nasiha.”

  6. - expired link (before 2022-09-20) sunnah.org

  7. Fatwa Against The Targeting Of Civilians, Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti, livingislam.org: This paragraph and the last (until the word “decision”) are from the cited source, Fatwa Against…

  8. Fatwa Against The Targeting Of Civilians, Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti, livingislam.org

  9. Go deeper:
    link-in The Meaning Of Universal Brotherhood Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti

  10. ihsān: spiritual excellence; to worship Allah as if you see Him, and although you don’t see Him, He sees you!

  11. Slight variations in translations:

    { And let neither their hatred towards you (from earlier occasions) nor your differentiating between them and yourself (because of you being distinct in ways of your dīn) hinder you from dealing with them justly and without hostility. }

    Instead { help one another in virtue (or righteousness, piety)! }

    { And let not hatred of a people … incite you to exceed the limits (to transgress), and help one another in goodness (birr ) and piety (taqwa ), and do not help one another in sin and aggression; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in requiting (evil). }
    Sura Al-Mā'idah 5-2

  12. Although some restrict this hadith to only the Muslim brother.

  13. This distinction is not mainly through outward appearances, not even principally through our words and calling, but through our (akhlāq & adāb ), that is how we are as Muslims in character.

  14. This was probably added by the transcriber of the speech, Sh Hamza Yusuf.

  15. The whole text is also here:

  16. { لَّا يَنْهَىٰكُمُ ٱللَّهُ عَنِ ٱلَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِى ٱلدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوٓا۟ إِلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُقْسِطِينَ }
    Sura 60-8
    { Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. }

  17. [text] - Square brackets are used to indicate an addition by the editor or otherwise a change to a quote that wasn’t originally there.

  18. "Since He has made man a free agent in the choice of his career." Daryabadi/ i.e. has given man/ woman a 'free will'.

  19. "…and deviating from the right path." Daryabadi

  20. { with wisdom }: i.e. with arguments appealing to their intellect. Daryabadi/ With firm and truthful words, avoiding obscure language. Zamakhshari* / By means of conclusive proofs that bring intellectual certitude. al-Rāzi*

    {and with a beautiful admonition/ goodly exhortation }: methods of persuation, i.e. with appeal to the emotional side of their nature. Daryabadi* / It can also mean exhortation that is done sincerely and purely for the benefit of people. Zamakhshari* / or exhortation offered without coarseness, in a manner that would soften hearts. Ibn al-Hasan al-Tibrisi*

  21. { dispute/ discuss (jdl) them in the most excellent of ways/ with what is best. }: NB In the context of daʿwa the difference between disputation and discussion is that the latter keeps the respect of the other, different opinion or viewpoint. To 'dispute' … by using logical argumentation based on sound and mutually agreed-upon principles. Al-Rāzi* -without rudeness or harassment.


* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *