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Question

To what extent do Muslims have to obey the governments of the non-Muslim countries in which they live? To what extent can they disobey or resist those governments?

Answered by

Sheikh Salman al-Oadah
The Muslims living a non-Muslim country, even if they originally entered that country by means of forged documents, are considered to be living in their adopted country under a covenant. They must, therefore, comply with the laws of their country of residence without, at the same time, disobeying Islamic Law.

Allah says: “Oh you who believe! Fulfill (your) obligations.” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 1]

He also says: “And fulfill (every) covenant. Verily! The covenant will be questioned about.” [Sûrah al-Isrâ': 34]

He says: “And fulfill the Covenant to Allah when you have covenanted, and break not the oaths after you have confirmed them.” [Sûrah al-Nahl: 91]

A Muslim is not to break or violate oaths or promises. He will not be a true faithful Muslim if he does so. Allah Said: “It is not the case that every time they make a covenant, some party among them throws it aside. Nay! The truth is most of them believe not.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 100]

Among the characteristics of a hypocrite is that he: “…acts treacherously toward covenants (pledges), and when entrusted he betrays.”

Scholars have stated that those who enter non-Muslim countries have to adhere to their respective laws and regulations even if they entered those countries illegally, and they have no excuse for breaking those laws, since they were entrusted to abide by those laws upon entry into those countries.

The eminent Hanafî jurist, Mohammad b. Hasan Al-Shaybânî writes [Biographies (2/6)]:
If it happens that a company of Muslims pass through the enemy’s front lines by deceptively pretended to be messengers of the Muslim’s Caliph carrying official documents – or if they were just allowed to pass through the enemy lines – they are not allowed to engage in any hostilities with the enemy troops. Neither are they entitled to seize any of their money or properties as long as they are in their area of authority. This also applies in case of being truly trusted by the other party.
Accordingly, we conclude the following:

Muslims living in non-Muslim countries have to comply with laws and regulations of the country they have been entrusted though valid visas to enter. At the same time, they have to avoid whatever contradicts Islamic teachings. In case they are obliged by law to uphold something contrary to Islamic teachings, they have to adhere to the minimum that the law requires of them.

One of the best approaches for a Muslim living in these countries is patience. As long as he agrees to live in a non-Muslim country, he is never to rebel against the inhabitants of his choice of residence, even it seems to hard for him to endure.