Some clerics convince gullible Muslim youth that martyrdom in the path of Allah is same as migration or Hijrat in Islam and so the rewards that are promised for martyrs are also promised for them.


Recently, I came across a written Friday sermon (Khutba-e-Juma’) issued by the All India Imams Council on the occasion of the Islamic month of Muharram. This Islamic sermon seems to have been circulated to all mosques which come under this council across the country. Titled as “Muharram and Hijrat”, the Friday sermon begins with this verse from the Quran: “Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous [who fear Him]” (9:36).

Then the sermon details the rewards for migration (Hijrat) for a just Islamic cause, but at the same time, it subtly tries to link the migration and martyrdom in the path of Allah. Thus, the sermon shows how some clerics convince gullible Muslim youth that martyrdom in the path of Allah is same as migration or Hijrat in Islam and so the rewards that are promised for martyrs are also promised for them. But in reality, they are violating the essential message of the Quran that clearly says: “And do not confound the truth with vanity, and do not conceal the truth wittingly” (Al Baqarah: 42).


In fact, the main point of Hijrat in Islam in the early Prophetic era was the fact that Muslims were not allowed to profess and practise their religion in Makkah. But the Constitution of India guarantees the enjoyment of full freedom to profess and practise any religion and propagate it. Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India.

After the conquest of Makkah, in the eighth year after the Hijrah, most people in the Arabian Peninsula embraced Islam. It was around this time that Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There is no more Hijrat (migration) after the conquest [of Makkah]” (Sahih al-Bukhari: 2912). Today, this hadith should be viewed as one of the Islamic exhortations of why Muslims in democratic countries like India do not need Hijrat at all.

This Prophetic saying encouraged most Muslims, since then on, to stay where they were and worship the Almighty. Freedom to worship the Almighty and practise Islam, was the main reason of hijrat in the early period of Islam and when the necessity was met, migration was prohibited. It is for this reason that migration [hijrat] from India to elsewhere is not legally binding for anyone, as India constitutionally ensures freedom to worship and practise Islam. The similar point can also be deduced in the explanation of the following verse of the Quran: “And to Allah belongs the East and the West. So wherever you [might] turn, there is Allah’s Entity. Indeed, Allah is All-Encompassing and the All-Knowing” (2:115).


No Islamic scholar denies the significance of Hijrat (migration) in the early period of Islamic history. But to some clerics, Hijrat is mandatory (wajib) even today for Muslims living in democratic countries. For liberal democracy is akin to Kufr in their view.

Such toxic notions of the Hijrat are actually political tools which the extremist outfits use to further their political ends. Highlighting “Muslim marginalisation” in countries like India, the extremist preachers indoctrinate gullible Muslim youth, mostly belonging to poor families, who can be trained to serve their political agendas. In fact, the extremist theological justification for Hijrat emanates from the view that non-Muslim majority countries like India are “Darul Kufr” (land of disbelief), which is completely erroneous and untenable. Twisting the early Islamic terminologies which the medieval ulema coined in the backdrop of political situations, the present-day extremists misperceive them and consider every country where the Islamic Shariah is not enforced as Darul Kufr or Darul Harb (land of war). Nearly all Islamist extremists believe that the people of these countries may be fought by an Islamic expedition (ghazwa) in order to conquer their territories.

But this jihadist argument is rebutted by the theological classification of territories made by early Islamic jurists, which was not intended to justify Hijrat against the non-Muslim lands. Rather, it served as a legal basis upon which certain jurisprudential (fiqhi) rulings were implemented on Muslims.

The 6th century renowned Hanafi Islamic jurist, Imam al-Kasani—who authored one of the most authentic reference works on the Hanafi law, al-Bada’e al-Sana’e—writes in this book which is taught in the Dars-e-Nizami curriculum: “What is meant by designating the word ‘dar’ (abode) with Islam and Kufr (disbelief) is not Islam and disbelief per se, but the state of security or insecurity. Moreover, the relative juristic rulings are not based on Islam itself or Kufr (in this case), but on the security or insecurity.”

This position was reinforced by Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, revered as an important Imam in the Sunni Islamic tradition. He clearly stated in support of the above traditional Islamic position: “This is the opinion held by the majority of scholars [ulema]. It is crystal clear that Muslims jurists made their opinions according to Fiqh al-Ma’alat (the Islamic law which takes into consideration the outcomes of actions) [Ibn Qayyem Al-Jawziyyah, Ahkam Ahl Al-Dhimmah 2/873].

Thus, the medieval Islamic terms of Dar ul-Islam, Dar ul-Kufr and Dar ul-Harb are null and void today. They are abrogated by the new world order, Constitution, international covenants, peace treaties and international relations. They might have been relevant during the third and fourth Islamic centuries, but not in the 21st century.

The origin of the term Dar-ul-Harb is related to the situation when non-Muslim states on the border of Muslim-majority states interfered with the religious freedom of Muslims, which gave them an excuse for migration (Hijrat) or intervention by neighbouring Muslim states to defend their rights or to support migration or rebellion by the Muslims. It was on these grounds that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and other Indian ulema had declared the British India Dar ul Harab, arguing that the British rulers interfered with the religious freedom and security. Therefore, they had also provided justification for Hijrat.

But post-Independence India is neither Darul Kufr nor Dar-ul-Harb, as it provides a strong Constitution and by and large a peaceful environment for all its citizens to exercise their religious rights freely.

Since security and peace are fully guaranteed in the Constitution of India, the rulings of Darul Islam or Darul Kufr are no longer of any theological application here. The authentic Islamic jurisprudential position is that if Muslims peacefully coexist with other people enjoying safety of life and security of religious freedom anywhere in the world, any such territory cannot be termed as Darul Harb. Therefore, independent India is declared as Darul Mua’ahda (abode of peace treaty) or Darul Sulah (abode of reconciliation) in Islamic jurisprudential (fiqhi) terms. Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani, an established Islamic cleric who popularised the concept of Darul Mua’ahda for India, motivated Muslims towards territorial nationalism rather than creating a nation based on religious considerations. In 1937, Maulana addressed a political meeting in Delhi and made this clear statement: “Today a nation is made on the basis of the country. If there are different religions in the country, the nation does not become different.”

Now after 71 years of Independence, the same issue is being raised among the many old graves which are dug up. One of the considered questions that the extremist elements often raise to draw out the Indian Muslim community is whether India continues to be Darul Amn (land of peace) or Darul Mua’ahda or it turns Darul Harb again. Basically, their argument is that no longer does India guarantee religious freedom and security. What happens when most Muslims start feeling insecure on grounds of religion, they ask. It’s important to respond to all such arguments and other related questions that may arise.

One of the erstwhile Muslim politicians of modern India, Syed Shahabuddin had articulated a well-considered answer in his piece for Mainstream Weekly. I reproduce some excerpts: “The Indian state is governed by a Constitution which grants religious freedom not only to profess a religion but also practise and propagate it. There may be local or occasional interference here and there but the state is fully committed to religious freedom in every sense of the term. Such a state simply cannot be ‘Dar-ul-Harb’.

“Moreover, today international relationships are bound by international law. All states are bound by the UN Charter. Differences among states have to be resolved through prescribed procedure and not by force. Neither can any state act unilaterally. Therefore, no foreign state, which claims to be Muslim or defender of Islam, can intervene in the internal affairs of another state on the plea that religious freedom of Muslims is being curbed. You’ve the option to raise the matter within UN.

“Muslim Indians enjoy equal political and legal rights. They have the freedom to place their grievances before the legislature and the executive or take recourse to the judiciary. So far from being ‘Dar-ul-Harb’, India is a ‘Dar-ul-Aman’ (land of peace) and a ‘Dar-ul-Muwahida’ (land of compact).”

Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a scholar of Classical Islamic Studies and researcher in Media Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia. He is known for his work as an Arabic-Urdu author and translator. Email:

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