So far in the previous three articles, we introduced the topic of migration and defined the terms “Migration” and “Taa’rub.” To view the contents please visit the migration page. In this article, a Quranic view point is explored.

The Holy Qur’an

Based on the discussion above, a Muslim that prevents themselves from gaining awareness of religious duties and obligations, distancing themselves from Islamic societies and civilisations, where one can gain awareness and understand jurisprudential obligations, in reality, are “mutaarib” – or a Bedouin within the context portrayed in the Holy Qur’an.  That vilification which is found in the Holy Quran targets such people even though they live within towns and cities (and not in deserts)[1].

Was not God’s earth wide enough?

It is noted in history that a group of people from the Muslim community, that apparently would say there is no God but Allah, such as Qais bin Al-Kaffa, Qias bin Al-Waleed and such people, did not migrate from Mecca to Medina even though they were able to do so.  These so-called Muslims, that apparently declared their submission to Islam, did not migrate upon the order of the prophet] to Medina, for the love of the land and the love of their wealth and instead remained in Makkah. And when the leaders of Quraish came to the battle of Badr, and those “Muslims” had to fight alongside Quraish, otherwise the leaders of Quraish threatened anyone who refused to do so by destroying their homes and taking away their wealth.   

When they entered the battle and saw the number of Muslims that were ready to fight, commonly thought of as being 313 Muslims, as opposed to the 1000 or so fighters from the enemy side, doubt entered their hearts and they were killed by the swords of the Muslims while fighting for the disbelievers. –  the following Ayahs were revealed[2]:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَنفُسِهِمْ قَالُوا فِيمَ كُنتُمْ ۖ قَالُوا كُنَّا مُسْتَضْعَفِينَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ قَالُوا أَلَمْ تَكُنْ أَرْضُ اللَّـهِ وَاسِعَةً فَتُهَاجِرُوا فِيهَا ۚ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا

And those the angels take, while still they are wronging themselves — the angels will say, ‘In what circumstances were you?’ They will say, ‘We were abased in the earth.’ The angels will say, ‘But was not God’s earth wide, so that you might have emigrated in it?‘ Such men, their refuge shall be Gehenna — an evil homecoming! (4:97)

in Tafsir Al-Mizan[3], Syed Tabatabai mentions Ayah 16:28 alongside the aforementioned Ayah in its exegesis:

الَّذِينَ تَتَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَنفُسِهِمْ ۖ فَأَلْقَوُا السَّلَمَ مَا كُنَّا نَعْمَلُ مِن سُوءٍ ۚ بَلَىٰ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

whom the angels take while still they are wronging themselves.’ Then they will offer surrender: ‘We were doing nothing evil. ‘Nay; but surety God has knowledge of the things you did.(16:28)

And he explains that the meaning of “wronging themselves” is, as reinforced by 4:97, is wronging oneself by deviating from the religion of Allahﷻ, leaving the rituals due to being with in a polytheistic society and being amongst non-believers.   Being in such an environment means that the strength is with the non-religious of polytheist, and that leaves those who seek such teachings to be the weaker population.  This results in one being unable to seek guidance to learn religious teachings or perform their religious obligations.  This leads to the question and the answer: ‘In what circumstances were you?’ They will say, ‘We were abased in the earth.’[4].

Syed Tabatabai then goes on to say that the rebuke by the Angels – “But was not God’s earth wide, so that you might have emigrated in it?” belies the response of those people in question, those who claim to have not been able to perform their duties or learn their religion.  For, unless the entire world was commanded by polytheists and non-believers, they would have been able to make the choice to migrate.  But they chose not to.  They chose to stay.  And an ill choice it was.

A discussion on the meaning of “abased”[5] then follows and is for the reader to follow up.[6]

In another Ayah where the vastness of the world is mentioned…:

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ ۚ لِلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُوا فِي هَٰذِهِ الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةٌ ۗ وَأَرْضُ اللَّهِ وَاسِعَةٌ ۗ إِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى الصَّابِرُونَ أَجْرَهُمْ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

Say: ‘My servants who believe, fear your Lord. For those who do good in this world good, and God’s earth is wide. Surely the patient will be paid their wages in full without reckoning.’ (39:10)

…after indicating that a believer must have  “taqwa” of the LordW and that piety and good, pious deeds in this world in their spoken words, actions and thoughts will have their rewards in the hereafter, the Ayah then indicates that the earth that AllahW has created is indeed wide! 

According to Sheikh Naser Makarem Shirazi in his Exegesis Al-Amthal,[7] this portion of the Ayah is a response to those claim weakness and find excuses who say that they are unable to perform their duties because of the environment and governments in which they live in. 

In the case of this Ayah, it was for those who lived in Mecca where it was governed by polytheists, and the answer to them is that if Mecca is not suitable, then Madina is and that you should migrate there.  Indeed, not only Medina, but the entire earth is available for you to migrate to another place where you can practice your obligations.

Sheikh Naser Makarem Shirazi then states that migration is a significant issue that has important roles at all times – on one side one must migrate in order to be able to practice their faith, and on another, to be able to spread the faith.

And with regards to 4:97, he emphasises that a believer who is capable of migrating in the way of AllahW and does not will in fact have no excuse when facing AllahW on the Day of Judgement.[8]

Migration is not easy

Towards the end of this Ayah (39:10), there is an acknowledgement of the difficulty that is to be faced when migrating – Surely the patient will be paid their wages in full without reckoning!

Migrating is not an easy task.  It takes a significant amount of psychological motivation and the struggle involves the exhaustion of a significant portion of wealth in order to successfully migrate from one land to another.  Patience is required.  Perseverance is required, and a strong will is required.

When one decides to migrate to another country, especially when one is migrating from “western civilisation” to an “eastern civilisation”, many friends and family members will exert their utmost effort to stop the migrator from doing so.  Expressing huge concerns, showing different statistics, and instilling fear as to the children’s futures, your own futures, loss of wealth, the inability to return and other concerns that they may have. 

However, the duty of the individual is to their own self and their own family:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ عَلَيْهَا مَلَائِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ شِدَادٌ لَّا يَعْصُونَ اللَّـهَ مَا أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ

Believers, guard yourselves and your families against a Fire whose fuel is men and stones, and over which are harsh, terrible angels who disobey not God in what He commands them and do what they are commanded. (66:6)

Of those who do not migrate?

And as for those who believe but have decided to remain behind, there is no obligation of “wiliyah” to them as described in the following Ayah:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَهَاجَرُوا وَجَاهَدُوا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ وَالَّذِينَ آوَوا وَّنَصَرُوا أُولَـٰئِكَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يُهَاجِرُوا مَا لَكُم مِّن وَلَايَتِهِم مِّن شَيْءٍ حَتَّىٰ يُهَاجِرُوا ۚ وَإِنِ اسْتَنصَرُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ فَعَلَيْكُمُ النَّصْرُ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُم مِّيثَاقٌ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

Those who believe, and have emigrated and struggled with their possessions and their selves in the way of God, and those who have given refuge and help — those are friends one of another. And those who believe, but have not emigrated — you have no duty of friendship towards them till they emigrate; yet if they ask you for help, for religion’s sake, it is your duty to help them, except against a people between whom and you there is a compact; and God sees the things you do. (8:72)

This Ayah and Ayah 75 describes the interactions between four groups of believers:

  1. Those who are believers and migrated (in this case from Mecca to Medina.)
  2. Those who are believers accepting those migrating to them (in this case dwellers of Yathrib which then became Medina after the migration).
  3. Those who believed but did not migrate (That is, remained in Mecca).
  4. And those who believed thereafter and migrated.

The first two groups have a loyalty towards each other and an obligation to each other.  The third group, however, there is no loyalty or “wiliyah” prescribed towards them unless they migrate themselves, or they need assistance when attacked.  However, if attacked by an enemy in which the migrators have a contract with – the contract takes priority!![9]

The fourth group is referred to in Ayah 75 of the same Surah:

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِن بَعْدُ وَهَاجَرُوا وَجَاهَدُوا مَعَكُمْ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ مِنكُمْ ۚ وَأُولُو الْأَرْحَامِ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلَىٰ بِبَعْضٍ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّـهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

And those who have believed afterwards and emigrated, and struggled with you — they belong to you; but those related by blood are nearer to one another in the Book of God; surely God has knowledge of everything. (8:75)

This opens the doors to those who embrace Islam later on and migrate and struggle for the cause.  Yes, those who were the first to do so have a special place, but Islam does not close its doors after those who initiate those actions, but continues to open its doors to all those who do so in the future.[10]

Obligation to Migrate?

The jurists have used the following Ayahs to deduce that migration is obligatory[11]:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَنفُسِهِمْ قَالُوا فِيمَ كُنتُمْ ۖ قَالُوا كُنَّا مُسْتَضْعَفِينَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ قَالُوا أَلَمْ تَكُنْ أَرْضُ اللَّـهِ وَاسِعَةً فَتُهَاجِرُوا فِيهَا ۚ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا ٩٧ إِلَّا الْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَاءِ وَالْوِلْدَانِ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ حِيلَةً وَلَا يَهْتَدُونَ سَبِيلًا ٩٨

And those the angels take, while still they are wronging themselves — the angels will say, ‘In what circumstances were you?’ They will say, ‘We were abased in the earth.’ The angels will say, ‘But was not God’s earth wide, so that you might have emigrated in it?’ Such men, their refuge shall be Gehenna — an evil homecoming! –except the men, women, and children who, being abased, can devise nothing and are not guided to a way; (4:96-97)

These Ayahs have already been mentioned and discussed.


يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ أَرْضِي وَاسِعَةٌ فَإِيَّايَ فَاعْبُدُونِ

O My servants who believe, surely My earth is wide; therefore Me do you serve! (29:56)

This Ayah comes after Ayahs that describes the challenges and pressures of living as a minority group of Muslims amongst non-believers.  And this Ayah is self-evidently not limited to the believers of Mecca, but rather, a general statement to those who have their freedoms of practicing their religion stripped away from them anywhere, anytime.  And to stay there would be nothing less than to live in humiliation, and far from us are those who humiliate[12], and loss and adversity.  This environment leads to the lack of ability to practice ones faith and so to migrate away becomes a necessity to a free place where there is relative or absolute freedom to practice ones faith and rituals.[13]

After all, if the primary goal for mankind is worship[14], then where is the point in living if one cannot reach that goal? Where that goal becomes a distant and unreachable target.  In reaching such goals, one must be a slave of nationalism and patriotism of the land, nor loyalty and love of their family and friends.  These all have their rightful places and Islam has clear guidelines on them, but not at the expense of attaining the ultimate goal of worship and serving the Al-MightyW, where migration may be the only option.[15]


وَمَن يُهَاجِرْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ يَجِدْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُرَاغَمًا كَثِيرًا وَسَعَةً ۚ وَمَن يَخْرُجْ مِن بَيْتِهِ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ يُدْرِكْهُ الْمَوْتُ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ أَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

Whoso emigrates in the way of God will find in the earth many refuges and plenty; whoso goes forth from his house an emigrant to God and His Messenger, and then death overtakes him, his wage shall have fallen on God; surely God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. (4:100)

This Ayah has already been discussed.


وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ ثُمَّ قُتِلُوا أَوْ مَاتُوا لَيَرْزُقَنَّهُمُ اللَّـهُ رِزْقًا حَسَنًا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَهُوَ خَيْرُ الرَّازِقِينَ

And those who emigrated in God’s way and were slain, or died, God shall provide them with a fair provision; and surely God is the best of providers. (22:58)

This is an indication that to perish in the way of AllahW when migrating, be it by natural death or being killed, is tantamount to becoming a martyr, being provided for with certainty a provision that is the best of provisions.[16]


 وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُوا فِي اللَّـهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا ظُلِمُوا لَنُبَوِّئَنَّهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً ۖ وَلَأَجْرُ الْآخِرَةِ أَكْبَرُ ۚ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٤١﴾ الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ ﴿٤٢﴾

And those that emigrated in God’s cause after they were wronged — We shall surely lodge them in this world in a goodly lodging, and the wage of the world to come is greater, did they but know; even such men as are patient, and put their trust in their Lord. (16:41-42)

Migration in this Ayah means to leave your homes and country and family to protect your religion from those who are oppressive[17], and away from non-believers[18] in the way of the Prophet] and in the way of AllahW.

The points that can be taken from these Ayahs are that, firstly, those who either migrate because they wish to spread their religion or due to the need to protect their religion will be rewarded.

Secondly, if one is unable to resist the oppression and pressures of the enemy governing the state, one has no right to remain.

That migration, patience, and trust in AllahW are the three secrets in defeating the enemy, and that it is the trust in AllahW that will lead to the ultimate victory, not any outside forces.

And finally, the fifth point is that this test of migration will the difficulties that one faces, with which without, comfort and ease cannot be obtained.[19]

[1] (التعرب بعد الهجرة – العتبةالعلوية المقدسة)

[2] (Al-Amthal: Ayotallah Makarim Shirazi)

[3] (Tafsir Al-Mizan by Syed Tabatabai) V5 P50

[4] 4:97

[5] المستضعف

[6] (Tafsir Al-Mizan by Syed Tabatabai) V5 p53

[7] (Al-Amthal: Ayotallah Makarim Shirazi) V11 P377

[8] (Al-Amthal: Ayotallah Makarim Shirazi) V11 P478

[9] (Al-Amthal: Ayotallah Makarim Shirazi) V5 P127

[10] (Al-Amthal: Ayotallah Makarim Shirazi)V5 P127

[11] (التعرب بعد الهجرة – العتبةالعلوية المقدسة)

[12] هیهات من الذله – Far from us are those who humiliate  – Imam Husseinu

[13] (Al-Amthal: Ayotallah Makarim Shirazi) V12 P438

[14] See Ayah 51:56: I have not created jinn and mankind except to serve Me.

[15] (Al-Amthal: Ayotallah Makarim Shirazi) V12 P438.

[16] (Tafseer Noor – Sheikh Mohsen Gharaati ) V6 P62

[17] (Majmaul Bayan Fi Tafsir Al-Quran مجمع البیان فی تفسیر القرآن ) V6 P557

[18] (Al Burhan – البرهان فى تفسير القرآن‏) V3 P422

[19] (Tafseer Noor – Sheikh Mohsen Gharaati ) V4 P524