Al-Uthaymeen responds to the question: Is it permissable to take the nationality of America or a European country?

Religious Authority: 
Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen
Fatwa Question or Essay Title: 
Some people who have already taken their nationality or are in the process argue that they are persecuted in their Muslim homelands, imprisoned unfairly, their wealth is seized, and all this forces them to adopt the nationality of non-Muslim countries. Some other Muslims say that when our own Muslim countries do not implement the Islamic punishments (hudud) or Islamic sharia, then what difference is there between an Muslim and a non-Muslim country? Both are equal in not implementing Islamic laws. On the contrary, when we take the nationality of a non-Muslim country, it preserves our right to live, own wealth, and honor. Moreover, they are safer than Muslim countries. We do not fear imprisonment without a due cause, whereas in a Muslim country we always fear imprisonment.
Websites and Institutions: 
Islam Tomorrow

Taking permanent residence in a non-Muslim country, adopting their nationality, and making it one's country of residence as its citizen is a matter whose ruling (hukm) differs with those who seek citizenship, their motivations, and intentions. For instance:

    (1) If a Muslim is persecuted in his home country without any crime, imprisoned for no due reason, his wealth seized unjustly and he has no way of protecting himself from these injustices except taking residence in a non-Muslim country, then in this case it is permissible for him to take its citizenship without any dislike (kiraha) given he makes sure that he will be able to practice his deen (religion) in daily life and is able to guard against the promiscuity and evil widespread over there. The evidence for this is the following: the Companions migrated to Abyssinia after being persecuted by the people of Mecca. Abyssinia at the time was led by the unbelievers. And they stayed there, some Companions did not cease to reside after the migration of Allah’s Mesenger to Madina. Abu Musa al-‘Ashari did not return till the expedition of Khaibar, that is in the seventh year after the Hijra. Moreover, it is the right of one’s self (nafs) on a person that he protects it from all forms of injustice (zulm). If a person can not find protection for himself except in the land of the unbelievers, then there is no obstacle in migrating to it as long as he safeguards his religious obligations and stays away from forbidden abominations.

    (2) Similarly a person faced by financial hardships who can not find sufficient means of support without which he can not do and he does not find them except in such lands, then it is permissible for him with the conditions mentioned. This is because earning a livelihood is a duty (faridah) after other obligations which the Sharia has not restricted to any one place. Allah says: "He it is, Who has made the earth subservient to you, so walk in the path thereof and eat of His provisions, and to Him will be the Resurrection" (Quran 67:15).

    (3) Similarly, if a person becomes a citizen of a a country to invite its people to Islam or to teach the rulings of the Sharia to the Muslims living in it, then not only is it permissible, but he will be rewarded for it. Many companions and tabieen (followers) took residence in the land of the unbelievers for this praiseworthy purpose, and this is counted among their merits.

    (4) If a person has sufficient financial means at his disposal in his Muslim homeland such that he can spend his life according to the standard of life of other people in his town, but he migrates to the land of the unbelievers to raise his standard of living and to be able to live in luxury, then such is not devoid of dislike (kiraha). He has exposed himself to the evil spread over there without any wordily or religious need sanctioning it. Experience testifies that the religious zeal of those who adopt citizenship for the sake of a luxurious life weakens and they melt in front of the glitter of unbelievers. Abu Daud reports on the authority of Samura ibn Jundub that the Prophet said, "Whoever joins a mushrik (a person who does not recognize the unity of God) and lives with him is like him." (Abu Daud, at-Tirmidhi) Jabir relates the Prophet said, "I am free of every Muslim who lives among the musrikeen." We asked, "Why is that, O Messenger of Allah?" He replied, "Their fires should not be visible to one another." (Abu Daud) Imam al-Khattabi writes: "Different scholars have interpreted this hadith in different ways. One is that they are not equal in their hukm (‘ruling’; meaning they both have different rulings pertaining to them). Others say this hadith means Allah has differentiated between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Kufr, hence it is not allowed for a Muslim to live in the land of the unbelievers since when they will lit their fire, he will be seen to belong to them. It also an evidence that it is disliked (makruh) for a Muslim to go to dar al-harb for trade and to stay there for more than four days." (Mu’alim us-Sunnan by al-Khattabi. Kitab al-Jihad) Abu Daud reports in his Marasil from Makhool from the Prophet, "Do not leave your children among the polythiests." This is why some jurists (fuqaha) have mentioned that Muslims living in Dar al-Kufr and increasing their numbers for the sake of making money takes away a person’s ‘adala (uprightness), (Takmila Radd al-Mukhtar I:101).

    (5) Taking citizenship of foreign lands to earn respect and honor, or to prefer their citizenship over that of Muslim countries, or to resemble them in daily life is absolutely haram (forbidden). This does not even require any evidence!

    / *There are different opinions on this site on this question of Muslim minorities and politics. See for example Jurisprudence of Minorities explained by Tala Al Awani or Yusuf Al Qaradawi.*