Preferred Country to Live In and Ribaa

QDear Mr. Ayub Sahib, Can you please help me by replying to the following questions as brief as

1. Is a Muslim allowed to immigrate permanently to a non-Muslim country for money related reasons and for better prospectus?

2. Is a Muslim allowed to immigrate permanently to a non-Muslim country when the situation of the Muslim country he is residing is not good religiously,socially, politically, financially?

3. Is it allowed to take ‘loan with interest’ from a Bank for buying a House in a non-Muslim country? … Some Muslims in Canada say that If the Muslims will not take loan for buying house and pay rents instead, for ever, this will not allow Muslim Community to grow in Canada. They say that a FATWA has been issued for allowing Muslim to take Loans from Bank for buying home (topay mortgage instead of rent). Can you please confirm this FATWA?

Thanks and Allah Hafiz

AMany questions that arise about matters of our life can be easily answered from Islamic perspective if we keep in view the objectives Islam is designed to achieve. Those objectives have been discussed in detail on this forum. We know if we want to attain ultimate success and salvation of being entered into Jannah and moved away from fire, we must please Allaah by striving for excellence in our personal attitude, behaviour, morals, ethics and dealings and for making human society just, fair, peaceful, caring and loving for all human beings.

The decisions we make in our life must be from the perspective of these objectives. We must choose the options that help us in attaining these goals of excellence in both individual and collective dimensions of life. The questions of our residence should be decided in the same manner. Had there been an Islamic state in existence, the nature of the decision would have been different. As there is no such state, every person has to evaluate for himself where are the best chances to succeed in this goal of attaining excellence. Choosing between the available countries of residence must be done from that perspective, not from economic perspective. We are not in this world to attain a certain standard of living, but to attain a certain standard of excellence in our conduct. The country that offers the best opportunity from that perspective should be selected as the place of our residence.

What about those people who do not have choice or who already have made a choice and are settled in a country? They should not worry about where they are living, but rather should concentrate upon how they are living. If each of us concentrates upon doing our best for the Islamic goals of excellence, regardless of where we are, Allaah SWT will be pleased with us and grant us success and salvation.

In working for the goals of excellence, a few points need to be remembered. As far as personal excellence is concerned, it is the same everywhere: sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness, honesty, kindness, generosity, grace, giving, caring, fairness, etc. all with faith and Taqwa of Allaah SWT. But the nature of the collective work may have different emphasis depending on where you are living.

Those living in a Muslim majority country have an obligation to work hard to increase the quality of Muslims, to reform their conduct and to revive their faith and to take active part in the peaceful political process so that people with Taqwa are elected who will transform the country from a Muslim country to an Islamic country.

Those living as minorities have an obligation to share Islam with people around them. Their objective is to work not only on improving the quality of existing Muslim, but also on increasing the quantity of Muslims. They have to get out of their shells and present Islam to people around them. If we do a good job of proudly presenting Islam to people in an honest and straightforward manner, the noble souls of the society will be attracted to Islam and will adopt it. We just have to reach out to them.

So, in summary, the real issue for us to consider is that wherever we are, we must strive consistently and regularly on attaining personal excellence as well as on improving the quality and quantity of Muslims so that an ideal Islamic society can come into existence through a democratic process and the whole humanity can benefit from the beautiful fruits of Islam.

Some people may not like my using the term democratic process, but let me be frank. Islam is for people and it brings change only through winning the hearts and minds of people. Give it whatever name you like. For me the democratic process is good enough to describe the peaceful process of bringing change through people.

On the issue of interest, if we go back to objectives we will see that it cannot fit in an Islamic society. Islamic view is that interest based economy is totally counter to the kind of society Islam wants to create. If interest is charged on lending money to those who are going through hardships, it is against the spirit of caring, sharing and generosity that Islam promotes. Lending money on interest so that people can acquire the things of luxury that they really have no means to buy otherwise is also counter to Islamic philosophy. It develops the mentality of living beyond the means which often lands people in mental hardships (anxiety, stress, worry) and financial hardships. It also makes the things costlier for people than they should have been. For business loans, it violates the principles of fairness and justice. If times are good for business, the lender does not get a fair reward, which he could have earned as equity investor. In bad times, the businessman is left with all the risk but very little or no reward, while lender can call his loan even imposing bankruptcy on the borrower. This is just a brief overview. The point is that for considerations such as these Allaah SWT has strongly prohibited interest based system in an Islamic society. It rather wants us to set up our economic system on the principles of Zakaah.

Thus, Muslims living in a Muslim majority country cannot engage in any interest based transactions. They must change their systems so that it is established according to Islamic principles. Until the change happens, they must not participate in interest based transactions because the participation makes the system more firmly established. On the other hand, if majority of the Muslims in the country decide, the system can be changed. Hence, Muslims living in Muslim countries have no excuse and must avoid interest based transactions.

However, change in the system is not possible for those living in non-Muslim countries. In those countries, even if Muslims do not participate, the system will still remain established. That is why some scholars suggest that for basic needs such as housing, they can work with the system. The danger in this approach is that Muslims may just accept interest based transactions as normal. So, even those Muslims who decide to follow their fatwa must remember that it is haraam to participate in an interest based transaction unless there is no alternative to avoid it. They must also try to develop alternative ways of fulfilling their needs. They also must spend significant efforts in doing Da‘wah so that the number of Muslims is increased in their societies. If they involve in an interest based transaction only as an exception and only when unavoidable, and spend their energies to increase the number of Muslims in their societies, Allaah may accept their excuse and forgive them for participating in such a transaction.

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0 #1 2010-11-15 12:34
Assalam O' Alaikum!
Brother Ayub, your article and answers to the 3 questions are really appreciated and match with what I had in my mind.
The only confusion I get is in the last paragraph; that "if not avoidable" means what to us in general.
Does it mean that if we're bound to buy house on mortgae or it means that if we cannot get some place to live on rental basis?
So my question is this that even Govt. supports the residents and do not force them to buy a house, except it's just a personal feeling and choice. So still are Muslims allow to buy house on Mortgae or not; knowingly they can still adfford to pay rents.
Jazak Allah Khair.

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