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The Treatment of Immigrants in Islam

A recently published Canadian study reveals that working-age immigrants are struggling to find employment compared to non-immigrants despite the fact that immigrants are more likely to be educated. The treatment of immigrants today in the Muslim world is the same if not worse. The example of RasulAllah (saw) in establishing a harmonious society between the Ansar and the Muhajireen and between the Muslims and non-Muslims should be our reference. Only through the resumption of the Islamic way of life, by re-establishing the Khilafah Rashidah in the Muslim lands will we be able to achieve such an enlightened societal structure once again Insha-Allah.

A new study by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities concluded that recent working-age immigrants are struggling in their new place of residence. The research found that immigrants to Canada are twice as likely to have a degree as non-immigrants. However, they are four times more likely to be unemployed. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for immigrants with university degrees is only slightly better than the unemployment rate for all immigrants in Canada.The situation in Canada is not unique. The current treatment of immigrants in Muslim countries is similar, if not worse:

Saudi Arabia: Despite the fact that there are individuals who have lived in Saudi Arabia their entire lives and have settled down, the possibility of them attaining citizenship is unlikely. As a result of such strict and difficult requirements, foreigners are forced to leave the country when their work or study visas expire.

Jordan, Lebanon & Syria: Muslims and Christian Palestinians displaced by the creation of Israel were sent to refugee camps in surrounding countries including Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Rather than being accepted and integrated into society, these refugees, to this day, have no status of citizenship, no access to state education or healthcare, and cannot move freely or buy land.

Abu Dhabi: Migrants, mainly from South Asia make up approximately 95% of the workforce. They are not provided citizenship and upon retirement they must return to their country of origin. Over the years, there has been discontentment amongst the workers regarding their treatment by their employers. For example, in July 2008, 3000 Indian workers were detained because some of them protested against poor working conditions and unpaid salaries.

Morocco: Every year thousands of Africans seeking a better life travel to Spain from Morocco illegally. Rather than assisting the African migrants by encouraging them to stay in Morocco and integrating them into its society, the Moroccan authorities have been accused of putting the migrants on buses and abandoning them in the middle of the dessert.Are these examples reflective of how Muslim rulers should accept and treat immigrants? What does Islam say about citizenship and immigration?

Al-Muhajireen: The First Migrants in Islam

The Hijrah to Madinah by the Prophet (saw) and the Sahabah was a turning point in Islam. After migration, the commands and prohibitions of Allah (swt) would be the sole means to regulate the relationships in society – including those between the immigrants and the “native” inhabitants. When the Prophet (saw) arrived in Madinah he paired each Muhajir (Emigrant) with one of the Ansar (Muslims of Madinah) and made them brothers. In stark contrast to the Muslim rulers of today, the Ansar were more than willing to share everything they had, including their:
Business – Abu Hurayrah said,

"The Ansar said [to the Prophet (saw)], ‘Distribute our date-palms between us and our emigrant brothers.' He replied, ‘No.’ The Ansar said (to the emigrants), ‘Look tend to the trees and share the fruits with us.' The emigrants said, ‘We hear and obey.''' [Ahmad]Inheritance – Once the Prophet (saw) established a brotherhood between the Muhajireen and the Ansar, the Ansar made their inheritance such that the Muhajireen would receive all assets over their own families!

This practice was stopped when Allah (swt) revealed:

وَالَّذِينَ عَقَدَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ فَآَتُوهُمْ نَصِيبَهُمْ
“To those also with whom you have made a pledge (brotherhood), give them their due portion.” [TMQ 4:33]

The Ansar gave so much to the Muhajireen that the Muhajireen were getting concerned and asked “O Allah's Messenger! We have never met people like those whom we emigrated to; comforting us in times of scarcity and giving us with a good heart in times of abundance. They have sufficed for us and shared their wealth with us so much so, that we feared that they might earn the whole reward instead of us.”
The Prophet (saw) said,
“No they won't, as long you thanked them for what they did and invoked Allah for them.

''Allah (swt) revealed about the Ansar:

وَالَّذِينَ تَبَوَّءُوا الدَّارَ وَالْإِيمَانَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ يُحِبُّونَ مَنْ هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَا يَجِدُونَ فِي صُدُورِهِمْ حَاجَةً مِمَّا أُوتُوا وَيُؤْثِرُونَ عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌ وَمَنْ يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
“And (it is also for) those who, before them, had homes (in Al-Madinah) and had adopted the Faith, love those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their hearts for that which they have been given, and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves, even though they were in need of that. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful.”[TMQ 59:9]

Immigration to the Islamic State

Citizenship in Islam is based on someone permanently living within the lands of the Khilafah regardless of his or her ethnicity, creed or religion. It is not a requirement for someone to become Muslim and adopt the values of Islam in order to become a citizen of the state. Non-Muslims permanently living within the Islamic State benefit from the rights of citizenship whereas Muslims living outside the Islamic State do not enjoy these same rights.

The Prophet (saw) said to the dispatching armies:
“Call them to Islam, and if they agree accept from them and refrain from fighting against them, then call them to move from their land to the land of the Muhajireen, and tell them if they do so, then they will have the rights which the Muhajireen enjoy and they will have duties like the duties upon the Muhajireen.”[Muslim]

This hadith meant that not moving to the land of the Muhajireen (the Islamic State) would mean not enjoying what the Muhajireen enjoyed - the rights of those who were living in the land of Islam. So this hadith clearly shows the difference between those who move to the Islamic State and those who do not.Islamic history is full of situations in which Muslims and non-Muslims moved within the borders of the Khilafah and fully integrated into society. During the Khilafah of Beyazid Ath-Thani, he sent a navy to Spain in order to save the Muslims and non-Muslims from the massacre by the Christians, namely the Spanish Inquisition.

Khaleefah Beyazid Ath-Thani ridiculed King Ferdinand who was responsible for killing and expelling the Muslims and non-Muslims in Spain by saying, “You venture to call Ferdinand a wise ruler, he who has impoverished his own country and enriched mine!” He ordered his Wulaa (governors) to accept the Spanish Muslims and non-Muslims with a friendly reception. Finally, he ordered the death of anyone who killed the non-Muslim refugees and refused entry into the Khilafah if they abused them. The Muslims and Jews of Spain contributed much to the rising power of the Uthmani Khilafah. For example, the first Gutenberg press in Istanbul was established by the Jews (who fled Spain) in 1493.

Non-Muslim Citizens in the Islamic State

It may be asked as to how the non-Muslims were treated in the Islamic State? What privileges were they afforded under Islam?At the time of his arrival in Madinah, the Prophet (saw) established a charter with the Jewish tribes and non-Muslims residing in the Islamic State. They were fully integrated into society by being allowed to practise their religion, conduct their business dealings (in accordance with Islamic Law) and issue complaints if they had been wronged. Beyond the treatment of the non-Muslims living under the justice of the Prophet (saw), there are many ahadith ordering good treatment of the dhimmi (non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic State) and not abusing them.

The Prophet (saw) said:

"Whosoever persecuted a dhimmi or usurps his right or took work from him beyond his capacity, or took something from him with evil intentions, I shall be a complainant against him on the Day of Resurrection."[Abu Dawood]

“He who hurts a dhimmi hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys Allah.” [Tabarani]

"Whosoever killed a dhimmi, he will not even smell the fragrance of paradise although its fragrance will be smelt from the distance of forty years journey." [Bukhari & Ahmad]

The classical scholars of Islam also detailed the rights of the Muslims towards the dhimmi. For example, the famous Maliki jurist, Shaha al-Deen al-Qarafi stated:“The covenant of protection imposes upon us certain obligations toward the ahl al-dhimmah. They are our neighbours, under our shelter and protection upon the guarantee of Allah, His Messenger (saw), and the religion of Islam.

Whoever violates these obligations against any one of them by so much as an abusive word, by slandering his reputation, or by doing him some injury or assisting in it, has breached the guarantee of Allah, His Messenger (saw), and the religion of Islam.”Indeed the Islamic State nurtured such loyalty from the non-Muslims that the Crusaders found themselves having to fight the Christians of ash-Sham who had come out to defend their state - the Khilafah.

Today, the fact that there are many non-Muslims who originate from Muslim lands, and that non-Muslim places of worship such as churches and synagogues still exist are a testimony that non-Muslims have co-existed with the Muslims in the Islamic State since its inception.

The Issue at Heart

It may be asked: why do we not see the Islamic rulings pertaining to citizenship and immigration being applied in the Muslim countries as revealed to us by the actions and sayings of RasulAllah (saw)? The problem lies in the Muslim rulers who refuse to implement the hukm sharai’ comprehensively. Rather than giving obedience to Allah (swt), they appease the West by implementing man-made laws.

By Allah (swt)’s leave, it is only through the re-establishment of the Khilafah Rashidah in the Muslim lands that we will be able to achieve the atmosphere in which all citizens, irrespective of race, religion or school of thought share in the rights granted by Allah (swt).May Allah (swt) allow us to work hard for His Deen, to attain His pleasure and escape His wrath.

وَالسَّابِقُونَ الْأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالْأَنْصَارِ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي تَحْتَهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ذَلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
“And the foremost to embrace Islam of the Muhajireen and the Ansar and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” [TMQ 9:100]


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