I will be leaving for Australia in another 10 days. So I wanted your advice on how to live as a good Muslim abroad.
Shaikh Muhammad Al ‘Uthaimïn (d.1421/2001), one of the two greatest scholars in Arabia in his time explains many of the things that would be relevant to you and many others, lucidly. Here is my translation and interpretation of his words:
Spatial Hijrah: It is the migration (Hijrah) of a person from a place abounding in sin and wickedness, usually a Käfir country, to a place free of such evils.
The most rewarding of such Hijrahs is migration from a Käfir country to an Islämic land. If a person is unable to profess and practice his Dïn in public in a Käfir country, then according to scholars, it is compulsory for him to migrate to an Islämic land.
But if he is able to declare his Dïn openly and he is not opposed when he pronounces the emblems of Isläm in public, then Hijrah is not compulsory for him. This also indicates that traveling to a Käfir country is worse and more severe than staying there for a person born there. To recap, if a person is unable to establish the practices of his Dïn in his birthplace, the Käfir country, then leaving it and emigrating from it becomes incumbent.
Conversely, if a person is a Muslim in an Islämic land, it is not permissible for him to travel to a Käfir land. The land is sure to endanger his Faith and corrupt his moral values. It also involves wasting one’s money and strengthening the Käfirs’ economy, whereas we have been commanded to enrage the Käfirs in any manner possible. Alläh the Glorious and Sublime says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ يَلُونَكُمْ مِنَ الْكُفَّارِ وَلْيَجِدُوا فِيكُمْ غِلْظَةً وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ. (التوبة: ١٢٣)
O Believers! Fight the Käfirs close to you and let them find you severe. Know well that Alläh is with the God-fearing.
وَلا يَطَأُونَ مَوْطِئاً يَغِيظُ الْكُفَّارَ وَلا يَنَالُونَ مِنْ عَدُوٍّ نَيْلاً إِلَّا كُتِبَ لَهُمْ بِهِ عَمَلٌ صَالِحٌ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ. (التوبة: ١٢٠)
Whenever the Believers step into a place which infuriates the infidels, and whenever they make a gain from an enemy, a virtuous deed is credited to their account. Surely Alläh does not nullify the award of the virtuous.
A Käfir – no matter who he is: Christian, Jew or Atheist, and no matter whether he calls himself a Muslim or not – remains the enemy of Alläh, His Book, His Prophet, and all Believers. He remains an enemy however hard he may try to camouflage himself and confuse others!
(Musarhad: If the above words appear a bit strange and if these ideas sound unheard-of, it is not the speaker’s fault, nor lack of knowledge on his part. Even the pro-US Saudi royals acknowledged his erudition and services by awarding him with King Faisal International Prize in 1994.
We have wandered far away from Isläm. The Isläm as we know today is only a fragment of the larger whole. We must understand this and accept this even if we can’t practice this, and even if it is not possible for scholars in India to declare such things openly in Friday sermons.)
Therefore, only when the following three prerequisites are met will it be permissible for a Muslim to travel to a Käfir land:
(Musarhad: Though Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaimïn mentions these conditions for travelers from an Islämic land, it applies to our case too. Indians traveling to the US and sister countries leave a land of piety and ‘Ilm, Madrasahs and ‘Ulamä, Masjids and Azän to reach a land where Isläm is a mere curiosity and Dïn a mere oddity.)
1. KNOWLEDGE: The migrant must have enough knowledge to counter the objections cast upon Isläm. The Käfirs will object to Islämic ideals and values, conduct and manners, and whenever such an objection comes up, the ignorant Muslim becomes confused and bewildered. (At times, he is upset, at others he bows to the all-pervading power of Kufr around him, and accepts the supremacy of Kufr over Isläm, to some extent, in some aspects; gradually, in many fields; and finally, in all aspects.)
It must be understood that if a person has doubts regarding matters where firm belief is compulsory, he has failed in a Wäjib, an obligation. For example, it is compulsory to have firm belief in Alläh, His angels, His books, His prophets, the Last Day, the Taqdïr of the good and the bad. It is essential that a person’s belief in these things be firm and unwavering. If he harbors any doubt regarding these, he is a Käfir.
The Käfirs create doubts in the Muslim minds regarding these Islämic fundamentals. One of their leaders has explicitly stated: Don’t try to bring a Muslim out of his Dïn into Christianity. It would be sufficient if you are able to create doubts in his mind regarding his Dïn. Once you create doubts, you deprive him of his Dïn and that is enough for us. You have succeeded in expelling him from his sanctuary that promises him domination, honor and awe. And your job is done! But if you try to force him into Christianity which is based on misguidance and stupidities, rest assured it won’t be possible.
The reason being that it is obvious that the Christians are misguided as is specified in a Hadïth of the holy Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ. Though Hazrat Masïh’s عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ Dïn was the True Dïn, it was so only in its time, before it was canceled and abrogated by the Prophet’s صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ message. Now, the Truth and the Right Path is what the Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ has brought.
2. PIETY: He must be sufficiently pious to keep him away from lusts. When a person who is not blessed with enough of piety and Alläh’s fear is nudged with doubts regarding Isläm’s restrictions, he easily falls into the trap of lust and sinful desires. In the land of Kufr, he sees the seductions of the worldly life, and the free availability of means to gratify lusts like wine, sexual licentiousness and homosexuality, and all other diseases present in those lands. A traveler to such a land is highly likely to sink into such morasses unless he has enough piety to protect him.
3. NEED: He should be in real need of such a travel. For example, he is sick and needs to visit a Käfir country for treatment, or he needs some specialized knowledge which is not available in the Islämic land, or he needs to carry out some business transactions, then he may go, finish up his business and return.
The point to note is that there must be a valid need. Therefore, the people who visit Käfir lands merely for pleasure are, in my opinion, sinners, and every penny that they spend in such an excursion is a prohibited expense and waste of wealth. On the Day of Judgment, they will be called to account for these expenses, when they won’t have a place to relax or entertain themselves, when they will have no wealth but their deeds.
These people are wasting their times, squandering their wealth, and corrupting their character, especially when they travel with their families. It defies reason that they love traveling to a place where one cannot hear an Azän-caller’s voice, nor an Alläh-rememberer’s remembrance. What they do hear instead are the trumpets of Jews and the bells of Christians. They spend their time there with their wives, sons and daughters earning sin and learning evils. We ask Alläh for safety and protection from these depravities!
(Sharh Riyäzus Sälihïn by Muhammad ibn Sälih ibn Muhammad Al ‘Uthaimïn d. 1421, pp. 1/21)
Be a Muslim, not a Hyderabadi or Australian
Away from your old land, the land with which your happy memories of childhood and adolescence are associated, the land where you have learnt everything, where you became what you are; it’s natural that it will keep revisiting you. Its magnetic pull will cast its spell upon you. You will feel a nostalgia for Hyderabad, and above all, pride on being an Indian. And what’s wrong in any of these? Doesn’t the Hadïth say: حُبُّ الْوَطَنِ مِنَ الإِيمَانِ (Love for birth-place is a part of Ïmän.)
It is surprising how people who have scant regard for the Prophet’s صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ teachings in their day-to-day life, the spiritual children of Lord Macaulay who have a difficult time answering simple questions about the Prophet’s life, are quite fluent in presenting such fabrications. (See my email dated 26 Oct 2013 or the attachment for details.)
Mullä ‘Alï Qärï, ‘Allämah ‘Ajlünï, Suyütï, ‘Allämah Tähir Pattanï, and many other Hadïth-scholars call this report fabricated, but these enlightened well-wishers of the Ummah and profound thinkers for our well-being disagree. Perhaps, because the only Islämic things they, their teachers, teachers’ teachers, and above have learnt is a bunch of such fabrications.
What the holy Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ did say was:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ، أَلَا إِنَّ رَبَّكُمْ وَاحِدٌ، وَإِنَّ أَبَاكُمْ وَاحِدٌ، أَلَا لَا فَضْلَ لِعَرَبِيٍّ عَلَى عَجَمِيٍّ، وَلَا لِعَجَمِيٍّ عَلَى عَرَبِيٍّ، وَلَا أَحْمَرَ عَلَى أَسْوَدَ، وَلَا أَسْوَدَ عَلَى أَحْمَرَ، إِلَّا بِالتَّقْوَى. (أحمد: ٢٣٤٨٩)
O People! Your Lord is One, your father is one! No ‘Arab is superior over a non-‘Arab, nor is a non-‘Arab superior over an ‘Arab. No red-complexioned is superior to a dark person nor is a dark-complexioned superior to a red person. The only differentiator is piety.
(Musarhad: “Red-complexioned” means people like us, Indians with wheatish skins.)
Isläm came to eradicate all the isms: nationalism, patriotism, communalism, communism, imperialism, atheism, liberalism, hedonism, and the like. All the loves and hatreds that are based on anything other than Isläm is Evil, and Ignorance. Isläm came to unite all the Believers in Alläh and His Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ into an association far stronger than the bond between the right and the left hand.
True, we have been schooled and brainwashed during the most formative years of our lives, in Macaulay’s schools, into the supremacy of many of these isms, yet it is never too late to cast off the Satanic yoke of isms. We need to come out of the darkness of isms into the brightness of Isläm. We need to see all humans as offspring of Ädam, and Ädam as born of earth.
So, be a Muslim, not an Australian, nor an Indian, not even an ‘Arab or Makkan – the land of Abü Jahl and Abü Lahab, as also of Hazrat Ismä’ïl عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ and Muhammad the Chosen One صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ. Know that Alläh created the land for you, not the other way round. You were not created to love or live for or die for the senseless, speechless, powerless, formless idol of land.
Seek the company of the pious
Choose the right company and you will In Shä Alläh be on the right track. The holy Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم explains its importance in the following hadith:
مَثَلُ الجَلِيسِ الصَّالِحِ وَالجَلِيسِ السَّوْءِ، كَمَثَلِ صَاحِبِ المِسْكِ وَكِيرِ الحَدَّادِ، لاَ يَعْدَمُكَ مِنْ صَاحِبِ المِسْكِ إِمَّا تَشْتَرِيهِ، أَوْ تَجِدُ رِيحَهُ، وَكِيرُ الحَدَّادِ يُحْرِقُ بَدَنَكَ، أَوْ ثَوْبَكَ، أَوْ تَجِدُ مِنْهُ رِيحًا خَبِيثَةً.
Allah’s Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said, “The example of a good companion in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk-seller and the blacksmith, and his furnace. From the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell, while the furnace would either burn your body or your clothes, or you get a bad nasty smell.”
The company can make or break a person’s life here and in the Hereafter. A Hadïth underlining the importance of congregational prayers and by extension, association with pious Muslims says:
عَنْ أَبِي الدَّرْدَاءِ، قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ: «مَا مِنْ ثَلَاثَةٍ فِي قَرْيَةٍ وَلَا بَدْوٍ لَا تُقَامُ فِيهِمُ الصَّلَاةُ إِلَّا قَدِ اسْتَحْوَذَ عَلَيْهِمُ الشَّيْطَانُ، فَعَلَيْكَ بِالْجَمَاعَةِ فَإِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُ الذِّئْبُ الْقَاصِيَةَ» (سنن أبي داود: ١٥٤٠٣)
Alläh’s Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said: If there are three men in a village or in the desert among whom prayer is not offered (in congregation), the devil has overpowered them. So observe (prayer) in congregation, for the wolf eats only the straggling animal.
A wolf won’t usually attack a sheep walking as part of the contiguous herd. Only the foolhardy sheep who likes to explore the wide world and lags behind the main body of the herd falls prey to the wolf. Similarly, the Devil keeps a lookout for a Muslim getting separated from the Jamä’ah, to pounce upon him. The loner becomes an easy prey.
In this regard, I would suggest associating with the work of Da’wah and Tablïgh wherever you are. By Alläh’s grace, the work goes on in almost every part of the world where a significant number of Muslims live, from the dictatorial and oppressive land of the pro-US Saudis to the Chinese land of tyrannical Communists. It is so at least for now. So, benefit from it before we are deprived of this great blessing!
And of course, love your Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ without which you can never gain Alläh’s Pleasure. And you can never love a person unless you are familiar with him, so try to read about him. Have respect for the Righteous ‘Ulamä: they are the sole carriers of the heritage of the Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ and the Sahäbah, and so all the weapons of the enemy are pointed towards them. And beware of the Satan-guided enemy-serving scholars whose knowledge of Isläm would awe the greatest of ‘Ulamä, but they live only to serve the Satan.
Alläh alone guides to the right!