The Debate about Daarul Aman and Daarul Harb and the Question of Hijrah

By Syed Sharfuddin

Often a discussion about Islam in the West draws a blank on the point that Muslims living in non-Muslim countries do not consider these countries as Daarul Aman (abode for peace and obedience to God) but instead, as Daarul Harb (a place of war against Islam), implying that their loyalty to their country of residence is questionable. When faced with this argument, an ordinary Muslim is taken aback because a quick search of the Google will indeed give you definitions of Daarul Aman and Daarul Harb precisely as the questioner put it to them. This short essay is aimed at exposing the ignorance of many, and occasionally, the malafide intent of some, behind this question and exploring what are the different types of Daars (places of abode) and how a Muslim is required by Islam to conduct himself/herself in the given circumstances based on where s/he has established permanent residence.

The discussion about freedom to practice one’s religion is as old as the first Bill of Rights of 1215 AD (Magna Carta) but in Islam it goes as far back as 622 AD when Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and preserve him, migrated to the city of Madina due to persecution by the powerful tribes of Makkah where he was born and spent 52 years of his life as a trustworthy and honoured citizen. In the years that followed the Hijrah, the new reverts of Makkah were advised by the Prophet to leave their city and migrate to Madina in order to practice their faith freely and without any fear of persecution. In that context, Makkah came to be known as Daarul Kufr and Daarul Harb, while Madina became Daarul Islam and Daarul Aman. This description of Makkah was void after 08 AH when the inhabitants of Makkah embraced Islam, but the principle that established the basis of migration in Islam (Hijrah) remained and was further reinforced by the Holy Quran in Surah Al-Nisa: 89 and 97-98 and Surah Al-Anfaal: 72.

What is Daar?

Daar in Arabic is a place of abode, such as a house, a city or a country where people live and have the authority to enact laws, dispense justice, have their own government or conduct their affairs without external pressure. In this essay, Daar means an independent and sovereign state or an autonomous region or city protected by law. In the holy Quran Daar has been used in both meanings [Surah Al Asra: 5 and Surah Al Baqarah: 243].

Types of Daar.

According to the books of Fiqh there are three main types of Daar – Daarul Islam; Daarul Kufr and Daarul Harb. However, some scholars have provided more classifications as is explained below:

1) Daarul Islam. Also called Daarul Aman. It is used for a country where majority of the population is Muslim, its leaders are Muslim and its constitution or laws are based on the principles of Islamic law or elements of Islamic law.

2) Daarul Fisq. Same as Daarul Islam but its constitution or law is either not based on the principles of Islamic law or not followed in practice, especially with regards to Islamic obligations and prohibitions.

3) Daarul Murakkabah. Same as Daarul Fisq but its leaders are repressive and secular. They use Islam as a means to hold power. In such Daar, the Muslim majority can observe principles of Islamic law, especially with regards to Islamic obligations and prohibitions, but this can be wound up anytime, depending upon the opportunistic policies of leaders at the top.

4) Daarul Kufr: Where the majority of the population is non-Muslim, including its leaders, but its constitution or laws allow freedom of religion to minorities, and Muslims living in these countries can practice Islam freely and express it fully without any fear. Daarul Kufr may be as peaceful as Daarul Aman but the main difference is its laws are not Islamic and the majority population is non-Muslim.

5) Daarul Harb: Where the majority of the population is non-Muslim, including its leaders, and Muslim minority living in these countries is either persecuted on discriminated against, or has restrictions imposed on practicing its faith. The term Daarul Harb has also been used for a country or enclave where Muslims and non-Muslims are engaged in a conflict to establish ascendency over the other to acquire political power and control.

6) Daarul Sulh: Where there is a truce between Muslims and Non-Muslims in a country, as in the form of an agreement of peace or a no war pact.

7) Daarul Bagha: Where some breakaway rebel Muslims have moved to wage a war against Daarul Islam.

The first three types of Daars are countries commonly known as the Islamic world. The fourth type, as the name suggests, is the architype of a non-Muslim, democratic and secular country such as those in Europe, the Commonwealth and the wider Anglo-Saxon world. Daarul Harb is a far-right, repressive, occupying and totalitarian country opposed to Islam and Muslims.

It must be borne in mind that it is very hard these days to slap any of the above classifications on a country because of the complex, democratic and pluralistic nature of societies and their political systems. Besides, not every Daarul Islam is Daarul Fisq or Daarul Sulh and not every Daarul Kufr is Daarul Harb or Daarul Bagha.


Hijrah is irreversible. A Muslim cannot go back to a place where there are more sins and greater disobedience of God compared to where he is already living. If he does so, it is not Islamic Hijrah; it is economic migration.


Requirement of Hijrah

Hijrah literally means in Arabic to leave. But in the Islamic context, it means to migrate from one place of abode to another (whether country or city) in order to practice Islam freely, without any fear of persecution. Scholars make a distinction between worship and expression of Islam. Islamic worship comprises prayers, fasting, paying alms and pilgrimage. Islamic expression refers to worship, as well as, Islamic food, dress, festivals, marriage, education, awareness, culture and interest-free banking.

Hijrah is undertaken exclusively for the sake of Allah. It is not for earning a livelihood or making a better future for one’s family. It can only be undertaken to migrate from a place where it is hard to follow faith to a place where it is easy to do so. Once undertaken, Hijrah is irreversible. A Muslim cannot go back to a place where there are more sins and greater disobedience of God compared to where he is already living. If he does so, it is not Islamic Hijrah; it is economic migration.

Hijrah does not imply that a Muslim does not love the place where s/he is immigrating to another place. It is only for preserving and practicing his/her faith. In that sense, this is a personal sacrifice rendered for the sake of Allah. In Surah Al-Nahl: 41, Allah says, for such people, not only life will be better for them in this world but also in the hereafter.

Application of Hijrah

Daarul Islam. A Muslim is already in a place where s/he can practice and exhibit Islam freely in a Muslim society. Hijrah does not apply here.

Daarul Fisq: Hijrah also does not apply in Daarul Fisq because both the Muslim population and its leadership claim to be Muslims (even though they may not follow Islam in their lives) and no restrictions are placed on Muslims to practice their faith freely. In fact, by practicing Islam in Daarul Fisq, a Muslim can have a positive influence on other non-practicing Muslims to persuade them to put their faith in practice.

Daarul Murakkabah: Although the secular political leadership in such Daar may be using Islam as a means to cling to power while adapting to non-Islamic ways and allowing prohibitions forbidden in Islam, the majority population of such Daar is Muslim and can continue to practice and express Islam publicly. In this situation, Hijrah is suspended, meaning that it can become due only when certain conditions are met. These are: when the leaders impose restrictions on certain Islamic practices which are ordained by Quran and Sunnah; when a Muslim believes that his/her migration to a less corrupt Islamic country will result in more blessings and honour for him/her in practicing Deen; that s/he will be able to live under Islamic laws imposed by a just and Muslim ruler ; when his/her faith is eclipsed by non-Muslim values and there is a danger that s/he might become faithless like the leaders themselves (Surah Al Maida: 51 and Surah Tauba:65).

A group of scholars recommends that in Daarul Murakkabah where there may be pockets of disobedience in that country, a Muslim should migrate from one municipality or city to another to relocate in the neighbourhood of practicing Muslims.

Daarul Kufr: If Muslims who are settled in these countries have full constitutional protection to practice and express their faith freely without any fear of persecution or discrimination on grounds of religion, there is no requirement for them to undertake Hijrah. However, some scholars have stated that in such societies their faith is always exposed to the Haram dress codes, food and drink and social practices of the non-Muslim majority and there is a danger that over a period of time and after a few generations, they may stop practicing their faith and become murtids. These scholars, such as Ibn Taimiyyah, argue that while Hijrah is not wajib (due) in current circumstances, it is mustahib (preferred) because a Muslim should not live under the shadow of kufr when there is a choice available to him/her to migrate to Daarul Islam instead of residing in Daarul Kufr.

There is also another group of scholars, especially those from the Shaafi school who give the counter argument that a long as a Muslim living in Daarul Kufr does not endorse or engage in any acts of disobedience which are forbidden in Islam or are aimed to harm Muslims, Hijrah is not required. On the contrary, they argue that the presence of such Muslims can have a positive impact in portraying the correct image of Islam to the non-Muslim population who may have preconceived ideas about Islam and may not have any opportunity to observe the practice and exhibition of Islam so closely as the presence of Muslims in Western countries offers them.

There is practically no country in the world which openly refuses freedom of religion to its citizens guaranteed by the constitution and international human rights instruments

There is weight in the argument of Shaafi scholars that practicing Islam in Daarul Kufr helps to promote dawa through good deeds (amal-e-swaleh). Historically, Muslims who lived in the then Daarul Kufr, namely Spain, Turkey and India were successful in portraying the true image of Islam to their host populations resulting in large scale acceptance of Islam.

Daarul Harb: The situation in regard to Daarul Harb is, however, different. Hijrah becomes wajib (due) on the Muslims of that country where they are persecuted for their faith and it is no longer possible for them to practice Islam freely. They cannot abandon practicing Islam on the grounds that they were oppressed in the land where they lived and that circumstances did not permit them to perform their obligations or abstain from prohibitions. In Surah Al Nisa: 97, such Muslims are advised to migrate to another place, for Allah’s earth is vast to accommodate them elsewhere.

In a closely integrated and interdependent world a discussion on the relevance of Daarul Islam and Daarul Harb is academic, not practical

In Daarul Harab where a Muslim faces persecution, there can be four possibilities

1) S/he cannot practice Islam but can undertake Hijrah;
2) S/he cannot practice Islam but for reasons of health or finances cannot undertake Hijrah;
3) S/he enjoys a status or has an opportunity to practice Islam but despite intention cannot undertake Hijrah;
4) S/he enjoys a status or has an opportunity to practice Islam and also has the means to undertake Hijrah;

The position in respect of each of these conditions is as follows:

Conditon 1:
The Maliki, Hambali and Shaafi schools say that provided a Muslim has the means to migrate from Daarul Harb, s/he should not delay it. Their argument is that living in such a situation a Muslim is brought face to face with oppression without any opportunity to practice his/her own faith. Muslims living in Daarul Harb are exposed to anti-Islam propaganda; they frequently see and hear things, which are Haram and their children are exposed to influences which rapidly erode their own belief system. In Surah Al-Anaam: 68 Allah says do not sit with the oppressors, for their beliefs and values are not the way of Islam and the Prophet.

It can be argued that on paper there is hardly any country, which meets the definition of Daarul Harab. Every country which is a member of the UN is obliged to provide constitutional protection to its citizens in respect of fundamental freedoms, including the freedom to practice one’s religion. While the reality on the ground may be different, especially in conflict situations or during periods of political and economic instability and turmoil, the universal principle of freedom of religion is not in dispute. However, religious minorities, irrespective of whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim are victims of hate and religious persecution in a conflict situation, as documented daily by international human rights bodies which bring these incidents to the attention of their governments for redress. Where such a situation develops the recommendation is to emigrate.

Condition 2:
A Muslim who is unable to practice his/her faith freely in Daarul Harb and is also unable to emigrate is exempted from the requirement of Hijrah. Mostly the poor, women, children and old persons fall in this category who have no means to leave Daarul Harb. Allah says in Surah Al Nahl: 106 whoever accepts Islam but indulges in kufr (not shirk) with a heavy heart except that he even joined it with his will, for him there is chastisement from Allah and great punishment.

Condition 3:
Although a Muslim in this situation is exempted from Hijrah, Scholars say recommended that s/he should emigrate whenever circumstances permit.

Condition 4:
Although Hanafi scholars recommend that in this condition a Muslim should emigrate, Shaafi scholars say that subject to his life being safe, s/he should not move because s/he is able to practice faith and encourage other Muslims to do the same and not renounce Islam. Their logic is that such people can do Dawa and are a source of strength for those who have no means to emigrate.

Immigration and Refugee Law

In today’s world, movement of people across national borders is highly regulated and controlled by strict visa policies of each country according to its capacity and requirements. You cannot expect all the practicing Muslims in a Daarul Kufr to pack up their bags and move to a Daarul Islam. Neither can a government discriminate against its civilians and vulnerable citizens who profess a different faith and push them out of its borders, or still worse shoot them . The bloody partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 is a testimony to this reality.

The call of some politicians in the West who tell their religious minorities to “go back home” is racist and totally unacceptable

There are international protocols, which spell out detailed arrangements for the protection of refugees by host countries but ultimately they have to return to their countries of origin when peace is restored. There are also exceptions where people have voluntarily migrated to countries where they had work visas or previous connection on the basis of family, birth or naturalisation but certainly it cannot be cited as a trend or even a possibility for Hijrah. Moreover, nearly all the Daarul Islam counties have immigration laws, which discourage overseas Muslims to take residence in their countries.

This discussion becomes totally irrelevant for the 2nd or 3rd or in certain cases many generations of Muslims living in Daarul Kufr where they are born and bred and for all practical purposes they have no other home except where they live today. Migrating to another Daarul Kufr or Daarul Fisq is pointless because in certain situations their residence in Daarul Kufr may have far better chances to practice one’s religion than in any other Daarul Kufr or Daarul Fisq. In some of these countries the social values and norms may have close parallels with Islamic manners, ethics and morality. Assuming that at some point some of the Daarul Kufr countries become Daarul Harb countries for the local Muslims, the requirement of Hijra will be exempted for them under condition 3 above. The whole argument about Hijrah and different Daars becomes irrelevant today except when it is applied in a limited sense within the internal boundaries of a country where Muslims are living alongside citizens of other religions. The Google definition or Wikipedia notes about Daarul Aman and Daarul Herb are therefore more for academic discussion than any practical relevance.

1. There are two views among scholars on the validity of the requirement to migrate from a place of shirk and sin to a place of peace and obedience to Allah for preserving the faith (called Hijrah). The first view, held by some Hanafi scholars, is that the rule was valid only until the conquest of Makkah. The second view, held by the majority of scholars including Ahnaaf, and including Ibn Jahr, Ibn Qadama, Ibn Al Arabi, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Al Qaiyem, Shokani, Mohammad bin Ibraheem and Ibn Baaz is that the rule is still valid for every Muslim who lives in Daarul Harb having the same characteristics as the pre-Islamic Makkah. The prevalent view today is that Hijrah may become necessary if circumstances prevent a Muslim from practicing his/her faith freely in a country where he/she presently lives to a country where these restrictions no longer apply.

2. Daar is singular noun. The plural of Daar in Arabic is Adyaar. When the conjunction ul (English meaning, of) is added as suffix to the word Daar, it means ‘the house of’.

3. In certain schools of thought in Islam, the requirement of a just and honest ruler is so fundamental that the congregational 2-rakat prayers replacing the Zohar Salat on Fridays is suspended until this condition is satisfied in a Muslim society.

4. Myanmar has attempted to flout the universal principle of fundamental freedoms for all citizens by denying citizenship rights to the Rohingyas in the Arakan. The Rohingyas are predominantly Muslims and have been persecuted in Myanmar on the basis of their faith and ethnicity.

5. The largest genocide after Holocaust on the basis of religion was that of Bosnian Muslims during 1991-1995 in which more than 100,000 persons, mostly men aged between 25-35 were mercilessly killed by the Serbian military. Since then the UN Peace Keeping Operations have undergone major change and big powers are obliged to act under the principle of Responsibility to Act. This was successfully demonstrated in the Kosovo war in 1997-1998.






One response to “The Debate about Daarul Aman and Daarul Harb and the Question of Hijrah”

  1. […] The Debate about Daarul Aman and Daarul Harb and the Question of Hijrah July 17, 2019 […]

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