Question 7: The ruling on working and studying in the lands of disbelief
“Is residing in the lands of disbelief for work and study from the exceptions to this?”
With regards to working and gathering money, the discussion about the danger of the Muslim staying in the land of disbelief has already preceded, so it is upon the Muslim to strive to save himself, and protect his deen and guard himself against the tribulations, for that, by Allaah, is better than the dunyaa and what is in it.
Also, it is upon the Muslim to strive to remain in the lands of Islaam, even if the income there is small. Rather, it is upon him to rely on Allaah, and think good of Allaah, and ask Allaah to bless that which He provides him, for indeed blessing is from Allaah. How many people, their incomes are limited, however, they are at ease, and in a state of peacefulness, and happiness and blessing, while on the contrary, how many people have gone to the lands of disbelief to gather money and to compete with the people of the dunyaa in their dunyaa, then you find them in a state of loss and need, even if they possess millions, and build buildings, and buy fancy cars. You find them in a state of misery and unhappiness. This is the norm for the one who strives to compete for dunyaa, that he (will) be in a state of grief, and sorrow, and fatigue, and misery and distress.
Ibn Maajah has transmitted the hadeeth of Zaid Ibn Thaabit on the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam):
“Whoever has the dunyaa be his main concern, Allaah will make his affair fall apart, and He will put poverty before his eyes, and only that which has been written for him from the dunyaa will come to him, and whoever has the next life as his determination, Allaah will put together for him his affair, and He will put wealth in his heart, and the dunyaa will be forced to come to him.”
The hadeeth is saheeh, and we benefit from this hadeeth that Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala) punishes he who strives to obtain dunyaa and gather it even if it costs him his deen. Allaah makes his affair fall apart, and puts Him in disarray and in fear of want and poverty despite the fact that he works morning and evening, and toils night and day. Some of them neglect the rights of his wife and children, rather, he is also negligent in his forms of worship and religious obligations, and at the same time, the only provision from the dunyaa that will come to him is that which Allaah has decreed for him, not what he himself wants.
Allaah (‘Azza Wa Jall) says:
مَّن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعَاجِلَةَ عَجَّلْنَا لَهُ فِيهَا مَا نَشَاءُ لِمَن نُّرِيدُ ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَا لَهُ جَهَنَّمَ يَصْلَاهَا مَذْمُومًا مَّدْحُورًا
“Whoever wishes for the quick-passing (transitory enjoyment of this world), We readily grant him what We will for whom We like. Then, afterwards, We have appointed for him Hell, he will burn therein disgraced and rejected, (far away from Allaah’s Mercy).” – Al-Israa (17):18
So he will only get from the dunyaa, that which Allaah wants and wills for him, not what that person wants, and decides, and desires and wishes for. So it is upon the slave to strive to obey Allaah and His Messenger, and stay away from the tribulations, and occupy himself with worship, and exert himself wholeheartedly for Allaah, for verily if he does that, then Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala) will bless him in his provision, and He will put satisfaction in his heart, and if not, if he does contrary to that, then let him expect the opposite of that.
Al-Haakim has transmitted with a saheeh chain on Ma’qil Ibn Yasaar on the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) that he said,
“Your Lord (Tabarak Wa Ta’ala) says: ‘O son of Adam, devote yourself to worshipping Me, I will fill your heart with wealth (satisfaction), and I will fill your hands with provision. O son of Adam, don’t move away from Me, (if you do so) I will fill your heart with poverty, and I will fill your hands with work.’”
So every Muslim must beware of subjecting his deen to tribulation because of some limited amount of money that he gathers. A group of the people of knowledge has mentioned that remaining in the lands of the disbelievers for the purpose of working is from those things which are forbidden.
As for going to the lands of disbelief to study, it has preceded that from the conditions for the one residing over there is that he is able to perform his deen, and openly perform it, and also that he feel safe for his deen and for himself, and this, in reality, is not being fulfilled with most of the students.
In studying with them there is great danger for the deen and character of the students, while most of the students are negligent when it comes to learning their deen, and they have weakness in differentiating between good and bad, and between that which is beneficial and that which is harmful, and between right and wrong, and between misguidance and guidance and between that which is meager and that which is stout, so over there they are prey for the enemies of Islaam because they are under the supervision of the disbelievers, and under the instruction and education of the disbelievers, so what do we expect after that?
Also, in most cases the student looks up to his teacher and respects him, and his heart leans toward him, and when that happens he copies his ideas and follows him in his character and his behavior, thus he does not return to his country except that he has abandoned his deen. It is rare that the student over there escapes sins, and disobedient acts, and the different types of abominations and sins and disobedience.
This is a very important point that the Muslims must be aware of, and those who want to go over there must beware of. Is it perceivable that there exists education in those lands far free from having acts forbidden by the Islamic legislation like intermingling (of men and women) and other things?
So due to this, it is upon the Muslim to strive to study in the land of Islaam so he can feel safe in the lands of Islaam for his deen and his character. Also, there exists in the lands of Islaam different types of studies which suffices having to go to the lands of the disbelievers, although we point out that the places of education that contain acts forbidden by the Islamic legislation, like intermingling and other things, it is not permissible to enroll in them, whether they are in the land of disbelief or in the land of Islaam.
If someone were to say, “What if the field of study is something that is needed, and it does not exist in the lands of Islaam, is it permissible to go to the lands of disbelief?”
The answer: this is not permissible, going to their lands, even if the type of knowledge is something needed and it does not exist in the lands of the Muslims because in that there is danger for the students as you have heard, and also, if we were to refrain from studying this matter that the Muslims need, is straying from the truth going to occur because of that? Or is the worst that will occur is deprivation and some extra effort, contrary to the Muslims need for knowledge of the Islamic legislation and the beneficial knowledge, for verily if they were to leave that, straying from the truth would befall them as the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) has informed of as is mentioned in the two Saheehs from the hadeeth of ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr:
“Verily, Allaah does not seize the knowledge by snatching it from the breasts of men, rather He seizes the knowledge by the death of the Scholars, then when He doesn’t let a Scholar remain, the people will take ignorant people as their leaders, so they will be asked, and they will give legal verdicts without knowledge, so they will go astray and they will lead others astray.”
Thus if the knowledge of the legislation does not exist, then straying and misguidance occurs in the Muslim societies. As for the knowledge of worldly affairs, the worst that could happen to them is some extra effort, although, as we have mentioned, the types of knowledge which the Muslims need exist in the lands of Islaam.
Also, look at the evil consequences that have occurred in the ranks of the Muslims because of them sending their children to go study with the disbelievers, and that could be because of a legal opinion of some of the people of knowledge, however, look at the tremendous evils. What have the Muslims benefited from their children going to the lands of disbelief? If we were to look at the evil consequences we would find them to be many and tremendous.