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Obeying the law in non-muslim countries

July 15, 2013

Passport Covenant of Security

By Abu Amina Elias for FaithinAllah.org

Question:

Should a Muslim obey the law of a non-Muslim country?

Answer:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Muslims who live in a non-Muslim country as citizens or who enter a non-Muslim country with a visa are obligated to fulfill this covenant of security which necessitates obeying the law. Even if a Muslim were to enter a country illegally, one cannot be excused for violating another person’s rights. It is a religious obligation for a Muslim to keep his promises, behave truthfully, and respect people’s natural rights.

Allah said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَوْفُوا بِالْعُقُودِ

O you who believe, fulfill all contracts.

Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:1

And Allah said:

وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ إِذَا عَاهَدتُّمْ وَلَا تَنقُضُوا الْأَيْمَانَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا وَقَدْ جَعَلْتُمُ اللَّهَ عَلَيْكُمْ كَفِيلًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ

Fulfill the covenant of Allah when you have taken it, and do not break oaths after their confirmation while you have made Allah a witness over you. Verily, Allah knows what you do.

Surah An-Nahl 16:91

It is forbidden for a Muslim to betray anyone to whom he has given a pledge of security or a promise. Treachery is an enormous sin which results in severe punishment and humiliation in the Hereafter.

Ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِذَا جَمَعَ اللَّهُ الأَوَّلِينَ وَالآخِرِينَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يُرْفَعُ لِكُلِّ غَادِرٍ لِوَاءٌ فَقِيلَ هَذِهِ غَدْرَةُ فُلاَنِ بْنِ فُلاَنٍ

When Allah gathers the earlier and later generations on the Day of Resurrection, he will raise a banner for every treacherous person and it will be announced that this is the treachery of this person, the son of this person.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5823, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

The general rule is that a Muslim should obey those in authority as long as they do not command us to commit sins.

Ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

السَّمْعُ وَالطَّاعَةُ حَقٌّ مَا لَمْ يُؤْمَرْ بِالْمَعْصِيَةِ فَإِذَا أُمِرَ بِمَعْصِيَةٍ فَلَا سَمْعَ وَلَا طَاعَةَ

Listening to and obeying the leader is an obligation as long as he does not command disobedience to Allah. If he commands disobedience, then there is no listening to him or obedience.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 2796, Grade: Sahih

In some cases, a Muslim may be required to participate in something controversial in Islam, such as purchasing mandatory insurance. In this case, according to the principle of choosing the lesser of two harms, a Muslim should follow the law according to the minimum requirements if the consequences of breaking the law would be worse for him and his community.

Sheikh Salman Al-Oadah writes:

Muslims living in non-Muslim countries have to comply with laws and regulations of the country they have been entrusted though valid visas to enter. At the same time, they have to avoid whatever contradicts Islamic teachings. In case they are obliged by law to uphold something contrary to Islamic teachings, they have to adhere to the minimum that the law requires of them.

One of the best approaches for a Muslim living in these countries is patience. As long as he agrees to live in a non-Muslim country, he is never to rebel against the inhabitants of his choice of residence, even it seems too hard for him to endure.

Source: Islamtoday.net

Therefore, we should obey the law of the land in which we live as a matter of upholding our citizenship or visa contract. We should not lie, betray, or defraud anyone, nor can we justify violating anyone’s rights because they are not Muslims.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.