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O My servants who believe! truly, spacious is My Earth: therefore serve ye Me – (and Me alone)!

(Surely My earth is vast. So, Me alone you
worship – 29:56). Allah Ta’ala has made it clear that His land is very vast
and no one should have the excuse that he could not observe the Oneness
of Allah, and could not worship Him because in a certain city or country
the infidels were in power. It is made clear in these verses that the
Muslims should leave the land for the sake of Allah where they are forced
to get involved in infidelity and sin, and should try to find out a place for
living where they could abide by the commands of Allah Ta’ala, and
persuade others also to follow the same. This is what hijrah is all about.

During the course of migration one is likely to encounter, as a rule,
two types of risks, which may hold him back from migration. The first risk
is to his life in that the infidels and his adversaries would come in his
way, and in order to obstruct his move might take up arms to finish him.
In addition, there could be a possibility of his being caught by adversaries
on his way out. Hence, there is yet another risk to his life. The answer to
this problem is given in the next verse: (Every person has
to taste death – 29:57) that is, no one has any escape from death anywhere
in any situation. Therefore, it should not be the trait of a Muslim to be
afraid of death, because despite all possible defences one may arrange for
himself, death will overcome him. And it is also part of a believer’s faith
that death cannot come before the time Allah has determined. Therefore,
fear of death should not be an impediment in one’s decision about his
staying at a certain place or leaving it. If death comes during the course
of following a command from Allah Ta’ala, it would bring eternal
blessings and comforts, which one will get in the Hereafter, as stated in the next two verses: (And those who believe and do righteous deeds, We shall
accommodate them in mansions of the Paradise beneath which rivers
flow, where they will live for ever – 29:58).

The other risk involved in hijrah (migration) is about the
arrangement of sustenance in the strange land. One does manage the
sustenance at one’s own place through employment, trade, cultivation, or
inherited land, but on migration all that is left behind. So, how would he
manage the sustenance in the new environment? Answer to this
apprehension is given in the next three verses by saying that you regard
the mundane possessions and arrangements as the cause of your
sustenance, but who has given you all this? It is your mistake to consider
that you have arranged it all on your own. Without the help and will of
Allah nothing could be procured. If He wills, one gets unlimited
sustenance without any visible means, and if He does not, then despite all
sorts of visible means, one does not get any thing. For elaborating this point first it is said: (And how many an
animal there is that does not carry its provision. Allah gives provision to it
as well as to you, – 29:60), that is, You should ponder over the fact that
there are innumerable animals on earth who do not collect and store their
sustenance, nor do they worry about its collection. But Allah Ta’ala
provides them their sustenance daily by His grace’. This applies to almost all animals, except a few. For instance, ants and rats are two such animals that store their food. Ants do not come out of their holes in
winter; hence store the food during the summer season. Among the birds
crow is the only one that collects food in its nest, but then forgets it. Thus,
all the countless animals living on earth are those who neither collect
their food for the next day, nor do they have means to do so. It is stated in
a hadith that all the birds set off from their nests at dawn in a state of
hunger, and return in the evening satiated. They all get their sustenance
daily from the bounty of Allah Ta’ala, and the practice goes on
throughout their life-time.

When does Hijrah become obligatory?

When the Holy Prophet (S) migrated from Makkah under instructions
from Allah Ta’ala, and in turn instructed all the Muslims to do the same,
provided they had the means, at that time, it was obligatory for all
Muslims to migrate. No man or woman was exempt from this rule. The
only exemption was given to those who did not have the means to
migrate.

At that time migration was not just compulsory but was also regarded
as a sign of being Muslim. One who did not migrate, despite having the
means for it, was not considered a Muslim, and was treated like an infidel.
This point has been elaborated in Sarah An-Nisa’ verse 89 (unless they migrate in the way of Allah – 4:89). In those days the position of hijrah was like professing the kalimah. As one is
accepted in Islam only after recitation of this kalimah (that is after
testifying that he had accepted Islam as his faith), the same way it was
regarded necessary to migrate to be a Muslim if one had the means.
Similarly, as those were exempt from recitation of the kalimah who
could not speak, those were also exempt from migration who did not have
the means for it. This is also mentioned in verse 98 of Surah An-Nisa’ (Except the oppressed – 4:98). As for those who stayed on in Makkah, despite having the means to migrate, they were warned very a strongly of jahannam in verse 97 of Siirah An-Nisa’ (Those whom the angels take while they had wronged
themselves, (to them) the angels said, “What were you (involved) in?”
They said, “We were oppressed in the earth.” They said, “Was not the
earth of Allah wide enough that you might have sought refuge in it?” As
for such, their shelter is Jahannam. And it is an evil place to return. –
4:97).

After the victory of Makkah, the obligatory command for hijrah was
withdrawn, because Makkah itself turned into a house of Islam. The Holy
Prophet (S) issued the following order: that is, after the
victory of Makkah there is no need to migrate from there. The Divine
command to migrate from Makkah and later its withdrawal is established
from categorical statements of the Qur’an and Sunnah. The religious
jurists have deduced the following rulings from this incident:

Ruling

If someone is not free to hold on to Islam in a city or in a country, and
is constrained to act against its teachings or follow the infidel rites, then it
becomes obligatory on him to migrate to a place or country where he can
follow and practice rites and teachings of Islam, provided he has the
means to do so. However, if one does not have the means to travel or
there is no place available to him where he could practice the religious
obligations, then he is ‘excused’ in the religious term.

Ruling

If there is freedom of action to follow one’s religion in a non-Muslim
country, migration from there is still preferable, though not compulsory or
obligatory. For undertaking migration it is not necessary that the country
is of non-Muslims, rather it becomes obligatory from a country where the
commandments of Allah are flouted openly, no matter even if it is caIled
Islamic on the basis of its Muslim rulers.

Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari has adopted this ruling, and it is not
in conflict with the principles of Hanafiyyah. A narration quoted in
Musnad of Ahmad on the authority of Sayyidna Abu Yahya Maula-Az
Zubair Ibn Al-‘Awwam (RA) also endorses this view. The hadith narrates
that the Holy Prophet (S) said:

‘All cities belong to Allah, and all the people are His servants.
Therefore, wherever you find goodness you live there’

Ibn Jarir has reported with his own chain of narrators that Sayyidna
Sa’id Ibn Jubair (RA) had said ‘leave that city where sins and
obscenity are common’. And the Imam of Tafsir, ‘Ata (RA), had said
that ‘run away from the city where you are forced to commit sins’.

References:

Shafi, Muhammad (2008). Maariful Quran. (Vol .6 surah 29 verse 56)English-MaarifulQuran-MuftiShafiUsmaniRA-Vol-6.pdf (islamicweblibrary.com)

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