Is the west Darul-Harb for Muslims?

Published: April 13, 2011

There is a perception amongst some Muslims that the countries other than the ones with Muslim majority populations, especially those whose rulers are non-Muslims, are Darul Harb — countries at war with Muslims — and Muslims should therefore consider themselves in a state of belligerence with them.

The idea has come from the understanding of Fiqh (the formal legal understanding expressed by the earlier jurists) which basis its opinion on the perception that Islamic faith has come to dominate the entire globe. That understanding is based on a peculiar interpretation of a few Qur’anic verses and the attitude of the first-generation Muslims who went ahead to present the message of Islam by asking the rulers of non-Muslim populations to accept Islam, forfeit their right to rule in favour of the conquering army, or face them in the battlefield. Those who are promoting the idea are perfectly convinced that their faith requires them to continue to seek to invade the non-Muslim territories, in case they have the requisite military strength.

The world we are living in can never be a peaceful place so long as this ideology continues to influence a good number of devoted believers who are convinced that peace cannot come to this world until the entire world comes under the political rule of a Muslim Khalifa. So long as that ideal is not achieved, they believe, this world should be in a constant state of war, with Muslims fighting against non-Muslims.

One of the verses often referred to ‘prove’ this ideology runs like this: “It is He Who has sent His messenger with guidance and the religion of truth so that He dominates it over all other religions, even though the polytheists may dislike it” (Qur’an; 61:9)   If seen in the context of the entire Qur’anic message, this verse is mentioning the fact that God sent His message to prophet Muhammad (PBUH), just as He sent it to the earlier messengers so that His message dominated over all rival religious ideologies of the territory of Arabian Peninsula.   In truth the message of the verse is not directing Muslims to ensure that God’s message should forcibly dominate all regions of the world; instead it is informing the reader that such a transformation is going to come about by God’s will. In other words, the verse is not giving a directive which was binding to be followed by Muslims of all times to come.  Instead, it was prophesying an event that was to happen and was actualised not long after the verse was revealed.

The message of Islam thus dominated the Arabian Peninsula during the last part of the prophet’s life. The companions of the messenger, God’s mercy be on him, went ahead to implement God’s will on the neighbouring territories after his demise, the way it was done by him during his lifetime in the immediate territory. The nations living in the areas surrounding the Peninsula knew that the awaited messenger had already arrived and that the accompanying revolution promised in the earlier scriptures had been actualised. Muslim armies went to all the territories whose rulers were sent messages by the Prophet himself.

In other words, their act of taking over the political reigns of the surrounding territories was an extension of the prophet’s mission assigned to him by the Almighty. That strategy was not meant to be replicated by Muslims of the later times. If that process was to continue until every part of the globe came under the Muslim rule, then Islam, the message of peace, would practically be the message of war and bloodshed, which would contradict the very claim of it being the mercy for the entire mankind.

There is only one logical explanation for the verses talking about the political domination of the message of Islam: The verses are mentioning God’s policy of ensuring that His messengers would dominate their adversaries: “Allah has made it binding on Himself that He will dominate: He and His messengers; indeed Allah is strong, dominating.” Such verses were, by the style of their mention and the context of their placement in the text, specific in their application to the era of the messenger.

For all other times, non-Muslim countries are not Darul Harb (countries at war) but Darul Dawah (countries whose inhabitants need to be invited to the message of Islam). Muslims living as minority citizens are expected to be law-abiding, discharging diligently their obligations to the countries of their residence. Instead of considering the fellow citizens of their country of residence their enemies, they should see them as their friends who need to be positively influenced by their good behaviour so that the way is paved for some of them to come close to the message of Islam.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, April 10th,  2011.

Reader Comments (29)

  • Apr 13, 2011 - 3:43PM

    //Muslims living as minority citizens are expected to be law-abiding, discharging diligently their obligations to the countries of their residence.// – Exactly what the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community preaches. Recommend

  • Srinath
    Apr 13, 2011 - 3:51PM

    A point to ponder, particularly in Pakistan. Can Islamic nations accept aid/ loans/ grants and material support from countries considered to be Dar-ul-Harb or Dar-ul-Dawah?Recommend

  • hassan
    Apr 13, 2011 - 4:02PM

    @Amtul Aala:

    Exactly what the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community preaches.

    And that’s why they are said to be Non-muslims !Recommend

  • Ali
    Apr 13, 2011 - 4:17PM

    I think Muslims should stop debating and just get on with development like the rest of the world, these debates is what continues to keep people back… our minds should be occupied with helping our fellow man, stopping poverty, increasing education and human rights… Recommend

  • Shakil
    Apr 13, 2011 - 6:02PM

    Its the Allah’s prerogative to declare anyone as Muslim and or non-Muslim. Its not the job of any parliament or individual to dub anyone Kafir or out of the palm of Islam Recommend

  • Mohamed Anwar Sadat
    Apr 13, 2011 - 6:14PM

    Dear sir

    All lands are eligible for dawah. Prejudice against a ethnic group is forbidden in Islam. Also, remember the USA is the largest export market for most of the Muslim republics today. Infact, we trade with the USA more than we trade between ourselves.

    So, please do not give platform to such half-baked propaganda. Else, you become guilty of abetting a crime.Recommend

  • usman
    Apr 13, 2011 - 6:17PM

    @hassan: don’t think you have the right to label anyone a non-muslim. you could just as easily be labeled the same by some ignorant fool. think about it please.Recommend

  • Humanity
    Apr 13, 2011 - 8:18PM

    To live and let live is a simple, price less principle. We all need to learn to mind our own business when it comes to relationship with our Creator. Relationship with fellow humans requires tolerance, compassion, and forgiveness.

    The Holy Quran teaches us to choose peace over war, harmony over conflict. It is high time, we start to fix the issues within and practice what we preach.Recommend

  • M M Malik
    Apr 13, 2011 - 8:19PM

    ” ….the entire world comes under the political rule of a Muslim Khalifa.”

    Where and how will a ‘Muslim Khalifa’ come into being?Recommend

  • Cherish Raj
    Apr 13, 2011 - 8:58PM

    Muslims should understand that the non Muslim world is not ready to accept the dhimmi status and be second class citizens. Unless the Muslims come to terms with this fact, the world will move towards more and more bloodshed. The non Muslims have to defend their human rights.Recommend

  • bvindh
    Apr 13, 2011 - 9:55PM

    There’s not one muslim country that’s respected in the contemporary global political landscape and here we see muslims rating countries according to their medieval standards!! It’s as meaningful as hamsters rating humans. Recommend

  • maynotmatter
    Apr 13, 2011 - 10:38PM

    Not to demean any religion nor to disrespect them I would like to mention that most of our holy books were written in feudal times. Human life situations and understanding were far different from current human life situations and understanding. Human perception is a relative term. Even two people in our generation can perceive same message in different ways and can strongly disagree with each other just plainly on basis of perception. What makes us human is the basic moral understanding of very few basic knowledge of preserving and enhancing or progressing human quality of life. So any perception which triggers violence is a WRONG perception. If God created us all and we all are children of GOD then no GOD / ALLAH or BHAGWAN in that matter can say their one child to kill other just because the other does not believe in HIM. This emotions and sentiments are human emotions. I can not accept any supreme being will have such a lowly human emotion. Since Humans have realized the importance of “POWER” they have always devised ways to provoke common citizens in a way that they can be controlled as ever they want. And religion became the single most dangerous weapon. Nuclear missiles, bombs, aircrafts are just devices but if controlled by religious fanatics will surely result in complete obliteration of human race. It is hence important for people to get educated and stop blindly following what religious text says or what the religious leaders preach. We have three important things to help us think rationally, heart, mind and soul. So please let us start using them and learn to live in peace. Revenge is easy to forgive is always tough. And every holly book has said “those who show mercy and forgiveness will always be in MY company” ( well i just put it in crude way, but you guys are smart to get what I mean to say ). :)
    Peace to my Indian and Pakistani people.Recommend

  • maynotmatter
    Apr 13, 2011 - 10:40PM

    @Khalid Zaheer
    Nice article dude. Really glad to read it.Recommend

  • Dr Mishra
    Apr 14, 2011 - 1:27AM

    Here in the west, most Christians consider Jehovah’s witnesses to be extremely irritating because of ‘in your face’ proseletysation- desire to convert.

    Sadly, most of the world also gets irritated by the desire to convert all of us to Islam as evidenced by the statement above- ‘ Darul Dawah (countries whose inhabitants need to be invited to the message of Islam) ‘.

    Sorry, in this day and age, stupid meaningless discussions like this mean that Pakistan has lost the plot- ARE YOU GUYS AWARE THAT INFANT MORTALITY IN PAKISTAN IS NOW HIGHER THAN LOWLY BANGLADESH.

    Darul this, and Darul that, give me a break.Recommend

  • Shahzad
    Apr 14, 2011 - 2:01AM

    Even the idea that Islam will one day dominate the entire world as a prophecy from God is enough to ensure that the many lunatics among the Musalmans will continue to wage Jihad against Non-Islamic lands. A vast majority of Musalmans do not read the Koran themselves but rely on what they hear from the Mullah, and these spreaders of fitna only choose verses selectively and out of context to suit their own concept of what Islam should be and since the clerics are not about to change their minds about it any time soon, the Dar ul Harb problem is here to stay forever. As long as the Musalmans believe it is God’s prophecy for Islam to dominate the world, many will consider it their duty and obligation to ‘help’ God in completing His Grand Design of world conquest. A reinterpretation of Islam is essential to salvage us from it’s present day stagnation of ideas but with so many ready to kill at the mere hint of a dialogue which might steer away from the blindly held beliefs of old, this does not seem likely at all.Recommend

  • Id
    Apr 14, 2011 - 5:07AM

    I think what you have said is still flawed.

    “….so that the way is paved for some of them to come close to the message of Islam.”

    You still have one thing in your mind, Convert others to Islam. You should be a good person irrespective of how other people get influenced by you not with the intention of influencing them.Recommend

  • Sumair
    Apr 14, 2011 - 10:39AM

    What Ahmadis got to do in this article? Its’ just about the general perception of Muslims and Islam. Allah k aakhari Rasool (SAWW) pe yakeen rakho to tum bhi musalman ho!Recommend

  • Realist
    Apr 14, 2011 - 11:04AM

    On what evidence Mr. Khalid Zaheer are you deducing that the message was meant to be implemented only in the early stages of Islam and not later on as well? That can at best be considered only as your personal interpretation and that is it.

    Stick to politics. Leave interpreting religious texts to qualified persons or become qualified in religious studies yourself before bringing forth such half baked logics.Recommend

  • Zeus
    Apr 14, 2011 - 11:50AM

    Pakistan is going to go no where until you give human rights to all people.
    The gay community in pakistan deserve the right to live, marry , adopt and above all to be acepted.
    And Hassan who are you to call anyone a non Muslim?
    I don’t think this country is going to progress soon. Discrimination against Christians and Ahmadi’s. These are the things that are going to tear this country apart.Recommend

  • Manoj
    Apr 14, 2011 - 12:17PM

    “Vashudhiab Kuktumbkam” a sanskrit Shloka says meaning whole world is one family. “Mazhab Nahi shikhata aapas main bair Rakhna” great poet Ikbal says.

    We all the inhabitant of planet earth leave on one eath, God has not given any boundry on the earth, breath same air, drink same water, give birth to a child by the same method, Death also come to us in a similar way.

    Every thing given by God is common, then how can human being be different to each other.

    We all have liberty to find our ways to pray almighty God, and if I am failing in praying God, this matter will decide between me and my God. why one person or group of person should direct / persuade to other person or group of person to follow a particular method of prayer and if not obeyed declare them as enemy. Such approach is insult to God.

    for me best religion is to ” live and let live”Recommend

  • Apr 14, 2011 - 3:13PM

    In General Muslim predominated countries with Plural societies never rise with Darul Harb idealism but Muslims unite with other communities and experiences with thier common interests. (Eg Egypt people revolution)

    Some time Darul Harb need to be proclaimed by Muslim country when Bush was claiming IRAQ war is another Crusade …. When BUSH doctrine is proclaiming against Islamic country then Darul Harb is the only option to unionize all muslims together in the name of God and religion.

    Otherwise proclaiming Darul Harb on Plural community against thier own countrymen is FasisimRecommend

  • rk singh
    Apr 14, 2011 - 6:40PM

    what pathetic theology. Muslims enjoy better living conditions in the west. better money, health care, better governance etc. They take various benefits (at the cost of western taxpayers) and start plotting against western governments. These very people have migrated to west from miserable living conditions at home and are now creating trouble in those peaceful countries.

    These kind of behaviour has a name – NAMAK HARAM. Hope muslims recognise this term.

    Pakistan is 97% muslim, mostly sunnis. Are we going to see any decent living conditions for its people? Nope. We see murders, death, destruction, poverty, disease, corruption, rape, minority killings, drug running. Muslins are kiling muslims. I hope to write a list of better things. But sorry, could nit find them. They should realise that religion is not everything. All religions are formed for the ulterior motive of some long long tme ago. Seperation of state and religion is a must.

    So the whole world will be ruled with people of this kind of mentality. How do u imagine this world will look like ????Recommend

  • Cautious
    Apr 15, 2011 - 2:03AM

    How about treating people the same as you want them to treat you – pretty easy – and you don’t have to read ancient books or get into long intellectual discussions. Being a decent human being comes natural to most – takes yrs of training to make someone into a religious zealot.Recommend

  • S.N.Shah
    Apr 16, 2011 - 8:15PM

    The exact meaning of the verse that all non muslim countries are Darul harb for us.Recommend

  • Apr 22, 2011 - 4:37PM

    Suppose non-muslim countries use a similar sort of terminolgy what will be the reacion.Recommend

  • Hira
    Apr 24, 2011 - 9:15AM

    I agree with “Realist.” As a former student of Khalid Zaheer, I can say convincingly that he is no scholar of Islam. He can’t even read Arabic texts and supposedly has a pseudo-PhD from some third-rate UK university. His entire group interprets Islamic texts to suit the whims and fancies of Pakistan’s corrupt elites. It’s a shame that a person who was rejected by students and professors in academia is now being cited in popular media.Recommend

  • observer
    Apr 27, 2011 - 1:50PM

    Islam is constant till the resurrection. You can’t interpret text on the basis of your own philosophies, rather every Hukm is general, if it doesn’t have reason for being particular for Prophet. In this case its not.
    Regarding Dar-al-Harb, its “any” land which is ruled by something other than the Islam like democracy(legislator=few men) or dictatorship(legislator=one man), as they both contradict with Islamic Aqeedah which is “legislation is for Allah”. This hukm is regardless of majority or minority of Muslim natives. Dar-al-Islam is the land where protection & legislation is from the text of Allah.
    Islam is a peaceful religion, and the peace comes when you implement its laws, its systems. It brings tranquility and peace to lands when they are conquered and ruled by Islam. This religion isn’t to subjugate rather it is to prevail. Don’t twist Islam for your whims and desiresRecommend

  • Nobody
    May 4, 2011 - 11:57AM

    @rk singh:
    Please clarify the “they” you repeatedly refer to, or are you really silly enough to group over 1.5 billion people into one category? Recommend

  • Nobody
    May 4, 2011 - 12:07PM

    @observer:
    Tragically, I think that’s too idealistic for today’s world. Yes, Islam was (and still is) set up to create a peaceful existence, with guidelines for individuals to follow in order to acheive a productive and structured life, but there is not one single interpretation of Islam, never has been, never will be, therein lies the problem. Whose interpretation should the laws be based on? And as we see today, generally speaking, countries that separate chruch and state (or mosque and state) tend to do better, they’re far from perfect, but better. Personally, I think religion is a more personal matter and if people live by a ‘live and let live’ motto, things can improve. We each answer to our God (whether muslim or not) for only our own actions. You can live anywhere in the world, be it the east or the west, and be a good Muslim (or Christian, Jew, Hindu, Bhuddist, etc), not because state rules, but because you believe from within. Same way you can live in a society that has no separation of religion and state, and NOT be a good muslim (or follower of another religion). Recommend

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