The Official Website of the Office of His Eminence Al-Sayyid Ali Al-Husseini Al-Sistani

Question & Answer » Migration to non-Muslim Countries

1 Question: Is it permissible for a person to reside in non-Muslim countries with all its temptations that confronts the person on the street, the school, the television and other media while he has the ability to migrate to a Muslim country although that transfer would cause difficulty in residence, loss of material wealth and comfort, and constrain the worldly aspects of his life? If it is not permissible to remain in such a country, would his efforts in propagation among the Muslims (reminding them of their obligations and encouraging them to refrain from haram) change the rule for him and allow him to remain in that country?
Answer: It is not haram to stay in that country, if it does not create hurdles for him and his family in fulfilling their religious obligations presently as well as in future; otherwise, it would not be permissible even if he is engaged in some kind of propagation activities. And Allah knows the best.
2 Question: Is it permissible for a person to buy a passport [i.e., to illegally obtain a passport] or change the picture in the passport so that he may be able to enter a country, and then he would let the immigration officials of that country know the truth about his identity?
Answer: We do not allow it.
3 Question: a person has the ability to propagate Islam to non-Muslims or to disseminate religious knowledge among Muslims in non-Muslim countries without any danger of losing his own faith, is it wajib on such a person to do propagation (tabligh)?
Answer: Yes, it is wajib kifa'i upon him and all the others who have the ability to propagate [Islam].
4 Question: If it is possible for a Muslim to reside in a Muslim country with some financial difficulty compared to his present situation, then is it wajib on him to travel to that Muslim country and leave leave his residence in Western countries?
Answer: It is not wajib [to leave the Western country] except if he has no confidence in himself, in that he may lose his faith -as explained earlier- while residing in the foreign country.
5 Question: Is it wajib on the immigrants in Europe and America (and other similar countries) to strive for teaching their children Arabic, and that ignorance of Arabic may lead in the future to ignorance of the main Islamic body of knowledge, and that will naturally lead to less familiarity with religious teachings and loss of faith?
Answer: To teach them Arabic is wajib only to the extent which is necessary for performing their religious duties that have to be done in Arabic (e.g., recitation of the Opening chapter of the Qur'an, a second chapter, and other wajib recitations in salat). Teaching more than that is not wajib as long as it is possible to provide them with religious knowledge in a foreign language.
Of course, it is recommended to teach them the holy Qur'an [in Arabic]; rather it is important to teach them Arabic in a precise form so that they may benefit from the basic sources of Islamic teachings, especially, and foremost among them, after the holy Qur'an, is the Prophetic sunna and the sayings of the Ahlul Bayt (peace be with them all).
6 Question: If a religious preacher who is mindful of his faith starts facing more situations where he commits haram deeds because of the social environment (e.g., nudity and indecent exposures), is it haram for him to stay in those countries; that is, should he stop propagation (tabligh) and return to his own country?
Answer: If he indulges in some minor sins occasionally, then it is not haram for him to stay in that country, provided that he is confident that he would not be tempted to commit more serious sins.
7 Question: At-ta'arrub ba'd al-hijra has been described as "migrating to a country in which the religious knowledge of the immigrant will decrease, thus becoming more alienated from his faith." Does this mean that a Muslim in such countries is duty bound to be extra vigilant lest he should become alienated from his faith?
Answer: The extra care becomes wajib when not being mindful leads to loss of faith as described in other related answers.
8 Question: Sometimes a Muslim residing in Europe and America (and other similar places) indulges in haram activities that he would not have done, if he remained in his Muslim country. The manifestations of temptation in non-Muslim societies may attract a Muslim to committing haram deeds even if he is not inclined towards them. Does this come under the banner of "loss of faith" that makes it haram for him to stay in that country?
Answer: Yes; unless the sins he sometimes indulges in, and without insisting upon them, they are of the minor category.
9 Question: A believer residing in Europe, America and other similar countries feels estranged from the religious environment in which he was born and raised. Neither does he hear the voice of the Qur'an [recited from mosques] nor the sound of the adhan coming [from the minarets]; and there are no holy shrines, and their spiritual atmosphere, that he can visit. Is leaving such an Islamic environment of his country and its positive aspects considered "loss of faith"?
Answer: This is not the loss of faith that would make residing in a non-Muslim country haram for that person. However, staying away from such a religious environment may, with the passage of time, weaken the religious resolve of the immigrant to an extent that he may consider negligence of wajib deeds and committing of sins as insignificant. If a person has this fear that he might lose the faith in this manner, then it is not permissible for him to take residence in that country.
10 Question: What is the meaning of at-ta'arrub ba'd al-hijra which is one of the major sins?
Answer: Some jurists have said that during our time, it applies to residing in countries that may cause the loss of faith. It means the migration of a person from a country -where it is possible for him to learn the obligatory religious teachings and laws, and where it is possible for him to fulfill his obligations and refrain from what is forbidden- to a country where this possibility does not exist fully or partially.
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