We have explored migrations from the view points of both the Holy Qur’an and that of the narrations. So what have the scholars, both classic and modern, deduced from these to Divine sources with respect to the obligation of a Muslim?

To view the table of contents, please visit the Migration page.

Commentary by Scholars

Sheikh Al-Tusi (d. 1067)

Sheikh Al-Tusi says there are three kinds of people in this matter:

  1. Those who are recommended, but obligatory to migrate.
  2. Those for whom it is neither recommended nor obligatory.
  3. Those who are obligated to migrate.

The first group are those able to migrate and propagate the religion of Islam, are those who became Muslim from amongst a nation of polytheists and able to be protected by their own family and clan, being certain of themselves in protecting their faith, and able to be Muslim without hiding it.  Al-Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib, a paternal uncle and companion of the Prophet], is an example of such a person.

The second group are those who are weak and unable to migrate, and so should build themselves until they can.

And finally, the third, are those who are able to migrate, and is not certain of themselves in being able to protect their religion whilst among non-believers.

Sheikh Al-Tousi then mentions Ayahs 4:97-99.[1]

Alaama Al-Hilli (d. 1325)

Alaama Al-Hilli in his book, Al-Muntaha, also divides people in to three regarding migration.

  1. one of them are those whose migration is upon them an obligation: The one who is a Muslim in a  polytheistic nation and is weak amongst them not able to show their religion and has no excuse such as disease or the like…mentioning Ayah 4:97.
  2. Those for whom it is not obligatory but recommended to migrate are those who have become a Muslim in a polytheistic nation and has a family that will protect him, able to practice, and is sure of themselves in terms of protecting their faith.
  3. From whom it is neither recommended nor obligatory – who is not able to migrate due to the enemy preventing them from doing so, an illness or the like.[2]

Alaama Mohammad Baqer Al-Majlisi (d. 1699)

Alaama Al-Majlisi includes in his Bihar Al-Anwar  what has been narrated to have been said by Imam Ali@, there are six people that cannot be the Imams of congregational prayers – one born of adultery, an apostate, the “aa’raabi” after migration, consumer of intoxicating alcohol…

Al-Majlisi then commentates on this issue saying “…Attaa’rub after migration is of the Greater Sins as noted in multiple narrations.…” but concludes that the definition of it in the modern age is difficult to ascertain[3],[4].  In an earlier volume, Alaama Al-Majlisi commentates in the footnotes that “In our current to time, it (attaa’-rub) is one that pursues knowledge then leaves it, becoming a foreigner to it”.[5]

Muhammad Hasan al-Najafi (d. 1849)

Muhammad Hasan al-Najafi known as the author of Al-Jawahir said “it becomes obligatory to migrate from a nation of polytheism on the one who is weak to the point that they are unable to show their Islamic rituals from the call to prayer, and the prayer itself and fasting and suchlike.   They are called rituals because they are signs upon the individual, or like a symbol that is a clothing upon the body, borrowed from the regulations relating to the religion”.[6]

Syed Muhsin Al-Hakim (d.1970)

Syed Muhsin Al-Hakim says “Al-Aarabi, even if it may be explained as the one who lives in the deserts, except that it actually means the one that takes up their religious behaviours based on leniency even if it is not that sins are being committed.”[7]

Syed Abu al-Qasim Khoei (d. 1992)

Syed Al-Khoei explains that “Attaa’rub after migration” is to leave the Islamic lands after migrating to them and moving to polytheistic nations.”[8]

He also mentions a narration he considers to be correct through the trustworthy Zurarah that Imam BaqirS said Imam Ali@ has said “…the aa’rabi should not lead the migrators in prayers…”,[9] but concludes that this limitation is not only to not lead migrators but anyone using another correct narration by the trustworthy Abi Baseer:  Five groups of people are not to lead people in congregation in all cases, and includes the “aa’rabi”.[10],[11]

Syed Muḥammad Ḥosayn Ḥosayni Tehrani (d. 1995)

In his book “Ma’refat Alme’aad”[12], or “Eschatology” – where theology is concerned with death and the final destination of the soul, Syed Tehrani, otherwise known as Alaama Tehrani, touches on this issue in Volume 2 of his book when discussion the Ayahs in Surah Al-Nissa and the term “Al-Mustadhafeen”[13] and what it means in the Holy Qur’an.

إِلَّا الْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَاءِ وَالْوِلْدَانِ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ حِيلَةً وَلَا يَهْتَدُونَ سَبِيلًا٩٨ فَأُولَئِكَ عَسَى اللَّهُ أَنْ يَعْفُوَ عَنْهُمْ  وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَفُوًّا غَفُورًا٩٩

Except the men, women, and children who, being abased, can devise nothing and are not guided to a way; haply them God will yet pardon, for God is All-pardoning, All-forgiving. (An Nissa 4:98-99)

He says “…the “abased” are those who truly do not have real intellectual power.  And so are unable to be guided or are unable to escape or leave the control of their father and mother, nor are they able to learn without a teacher, nor able to oppose the surrounding environment they are in and the current state of affairs. Or those women and children who submit to the control of the husbands and those who teach them what ever it is they may want to teach them – directing them however they please.  So they have no intellect, nor any knowledge, so that they may be able to differentiate between wrong and right, and are unable to save themselves from wrongful imitation because they are the ones who are unable to comprehend the possibility of error so that they may be able to correct their ways.”

He then explains the term “Al-Mustadhafeen”[14], translated by Arberry as “abased”. 

“Some claim to be of the abased people according to the logic of the Holy Qur’an, so that hopefully Allahﷻ forgives them and forgoes their sins that do not conflict with intellect or of the ones that are of the oppressive type that oppresses the rights of others and betrays them.

“The abased are those who do not own the ability to identify the rightful religion, whom benefit nothing, nor do they benefit from studying truthful books, just as they do not meet with real scholars and mystics who have a clear, vigilant conscience who truly stay away from their whims and desires….”

“However those who own that ability and willingness to obtain knowledge of the Straight Path and to meet those scholars and divine teachers, and have the ability to research and comprehend the Holy Qur’an and the Traditions of the Propheta and the ImamsD, who are able to escape the obedience and submission to the oppressors of their time, and to be able to break the blind following of others while able to learn from and imitate divine and righteous scholars, except that they instead been distanced from the world of spirituality by their desires, neglect and confused desires and material wants – taking them to the path of misguidance.

“So they are not of the abased, but rather, they are from the oppressors and of the people of Hell.   They will be taken and punished for their false beliefs, their vice attributes, and their oppressive actions that are not accepted.  The angels will never accept any excuse as to not to seize their souls no matter how hard they try to describe themselves as those people who are abased.  They will escort them to Hell in groups.”

Alaama Teharni then goes to Ayah 100 of the same Surah:

وَمَنْ يُهَاجِرْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ يَجِدْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُرَاغَمًا كَثِيرًا وَسَعَةً  وَمَنْ يَخْرُجْ مِنْ بَيْتِهِ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ يُدْرِكْهُ الْمَوْتُ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ أَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ  وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا١٠٠

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. (An Nissa 4:100).

He says this Ayah is there so as to remove excuses. 

“And then Allahﷻ says in the next Ayah (4:100) so that there is no one who can say “But I can not migrate because I was born and raised there, or that there is where my people and family and friends and work and house and garden and business and farm and wife and children are and the rest of my lifeSo, my life is settled there.”  Whereas there is where evil and vile acts are committed, malicious propaganda is spread, oppressive and unfair laws are enforced and seen as a necessary law, and so for the individual, who says “the matter is outside of my control and I am not responsible for not having Divine laws enforced.”

“This logic is a fallacy because a person who is committed and who accepts responsibility, who is aware and conscious, who sees happiness in the perfection of the soul and the ascension to the highest levels of humanity, is obligated to withstand the problems and difficulties that are met at the start of the path that is well established and the will power that is not shaky.  One must choose an appropriate place for themselves to secure the journey of the soul and to reach the spiritual perfection.  To protect and guard themselves and their relations and children from corruption and from getting lost.  And finally, to not be concerned about the fear and apprehension that may stand in the way and prevent one from reaching the intended destination.

“And if a resolve such as this (ie to migrate) inside one is determined, certainly, Allahﷻ will guide them to places that will suite them and will save them from their waver.  And if we were to assume that they do not make it to their goal, they will suffice to have left their home migrating towards Allahﷻ, and that they have taken the steps to be striving on the path and direction of learning….”.

Syed Mohammed Saeed Al-Hakeem

Current marja’ and one of the most senior jurists of Najaf, Iraq, answers a question on this issue by a questioner who has converted to Islam in a non-Muslim country in the English section of his official website:

Question : Many Sunni scholars insist that hijra – immigration is a necessity. I am a convert born in a non-Muslim country, and if I were to leave it would most probably entail losing custody of my children. What is the Shia opinion of hijra?

Answer : It is not mandatory to immigrate to Islamic countries. A Muslim must live in any place where he/she can observe the religion to find happiness in this life and the hereafter. There might be a non Islamic country with more suitable circumstance for Muslims to guard their religion than in an Islamic one.[15]

And in the Arabic section, the following question was answered:

Question: What is the meaning of the term “Atta’rub after migration” that has come in narrations listing Greater Sins?

Answer: The meaning of this term is to travel to a country in which a Muslim cannot protect their religion or is unable to perform what is obligated upon them Islamically in that country.[16]

Syed Ali Khamanei

Syed Ali Khamanei, the successor to Imam Khomeini’s Islamic Republic of Iran, has the following questions answered on his English[17], Arabic[18] and Farsi pages of his official website:


Q1375. What is the view on seeking political asylum in foreign countries? And is it permissible to fabricate a story to achieve that goal?

A: In itself, there is no objection to seeking political asylum in non-Muslim countries provided that it does not lead to bad effects. However, it is not permissible to resort to lying and fabrication

to achieve that end.

Q1376. Is it permissible for a Muslim to immigrate to a non-Muslim country?

A: There is no objection to it provided that it does not involve fear of detesting and deviating from one’s own religion. Having preserved his faith and observed caution, it is incumbent on the immigrant, to the best of his ability, to defend Islam and Muslims.

Q1377. Is it obligatory on women who embraced Islam in the land of infidels to immigrate to the Islamic land because they cannot declare their Islam for fear of reprisal by their families and society?

A: They are not required to immigrate to the abode of Islam, should this prove unbearable. However, it is obligatory on them to keep up prayer, fast, and other obligations to the best of their ability.

Q1378. What is the ruling in living in countries in which facilities for sinful acts, like nudity and listening to bad music cassettes are commonly available? What is the duty of those individuals who recently entered the age of ritual maturity there?

A: In itself, their residing and living there is no problem. However, they should avoid those acts considered ḥarām by Islamic law. If they fail to do that, immigration to Islamic countries for them becomes obligatory.


[1] Al-Mabsoot, Sheikh Al-Tusi V2:P4

[2] Muntaha Al-Matlab – Alaama Hilli P898

[3] Bihar Al-Anwar V85:P60

[4] Syed Khoei considers this to be a weak narration, but another two as correct.  See Syed Khoei’s commentary.

[5] Bihar Al-Anwar V75:p267

[6] Jawahir Al-Kalam V21:P34

[7] Mustamsik Al-A’rwa V7:P331

[8] Sharh Al-Urwatulwithqa – Kitab Al-Salat P377

[9] صحيحة زرارة عن أبي جعفر (عليه السلام) ـ في حديث ـ قال «قال أميرالمؤمنين (عليه السلام) : لا يصلّينّ أحدكم خلف المجذوم والأبرص والمجنون والمحدود وولد الزنا  والأعرابي لا يؤم المهاجري

 ( Wasa’il Al Shia وسائل الشيعة‎ ) V8 P325

[10] U.S Site of Syed Al-Khoei, https://www.al-khoei.us/books/?id=2577cited 28/03/2019.

[11] صحيحت أبي بصير قال (عليه السلام): «خمسة لا يؤمّون الناس على كلّ حال : المجذوم والأبرص والمجنون وولد الزنا والأعرابي»
 ( Wasa’il Al Shia وسائل الشيعة‎ ) V8 P325

[12] (معرفة المعاد) V2 P18

[13] المستضعفين

[14] المستضعفين

[15] Official site of Syed Al-Hakeem, http://www.alhakeem.com/en/questions/674, cited 28/03/2019.

[16] Official site of Syed Al-Hakeem, http://www.alhakeem.com/ar/question/1464/%D9%87%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A9, cited 28/03/2019.

[17] Official site of Syed Ali Khamanei, http://www.leader.ir/en/book/32/Practical-Laws-of-Islam?sn=5728, cited 28/03/2019.

[18] Official site of Syed Ali Khamanei, http://www.leader.ir/ar/book/14/اجوبة-الإستفتاءات?sn=5487, cited 28/03/2019.