Notes on the concept of Dar al-Harb

In colonial India a fatwa was issued on the subject of riba (usury). The fatwa reasoned that India should be considered a “dar al-harb” (house of war/enemy land), and on this basis cited certain positions allowing otherwise prohibited commercial transactions. In the numerous refutations that followed one of the points refuted was the incorrect understanding of the term “dar al-harb”. A sample is given below.


As for the fatwa's claim that India is an enemy land (dar al-harb), it is not in its generality true. Because areas where Muslims reside and there is a remnant of Islam's rules—even if this is limited to marriages and what pertains to them, for example—are considered Muslim lands. A Muslim land does not become an enemy land except under three conditions:

  • that the security of Muslims through their leader no longer exists and the security of non-Muslims has taken its place;
  • that they have been surrounded on all sides such that it is impossible for the aid of Muslims to reach them;
  • and that not a single one of Islam's rules remains therein (n: which effectively means that none of the lands that Islam has spread to and in which something of it remains can be considered an enemy land. As for other countries, enemy lands (dar al-harb, lit, “abode of war”) consist of those with whom the Muslim countries (dar al-Islam) are at a state of war) (n: in the light of which, it is clear that there is virtually no country on the face of the earth where a Muslim has an excuse to behave differently than he would in an Islamic country, whether in his commercial or other dealings).

(Rudud 'ala abatil wa rasa'il al-Shaykh Muhammad al-Hamid (y44), 2.267-79)

Additionally, a question was posed to Imam Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti from a Muslim living in Europe and whether it was considered dar al-harb or not. The question and the reply from the Imam is below.


I’ve been here in Germany for some time in order to study computer sciences. In reality, life here is not that easy because it’s a different and society and culture, and a lot of Muslims here believe that what they’re doing is correct – such as stealing from the native people of this country because they’re not Muslims, and other similar things – and I believe this is a big mistake and I need your opinion. Another thing, for which I need your advice, is regarding food, for I always try to look at the ingredients of food to make sure they don’t contain anything unlawful (ḥarām) but I can’t always be certain. Sometimes, I discover later on that there was some unlawful ingredient and I don’t know what to do.


First of all, the texts that show that it is unlawful to transgress against the property of others are general (ʿāmmah) and include both Muslims and others, the exception being when there is a war (ḥarb) between Muslims and disbelievers, and that’s because war has exceptional rulings that are exclusive to it. Therefore, whoever says that it’s permissible, for himself or others, to steal the property of Europeans in the current circumstances of peace is a dajjāl [1] and liar against the religion of Allah, Mighty and Majestic. Through his lying and falsehood he seeks to soil the reputation of Islam with that which it is innocent of and which will make outsiders hate it.

As for meat in Germany, you should be able to get some from Turkish Muslims, as there are many of them there and they have their own slaughterhouses, shops and restaurants.

[Translated from the Imam’s book Mashūrāt Ijtimāʿiyyah (Damascus: Dār al-Fikr, 1424/2003), p.194-195]

[1] (tn): this (dajjāl) is the same word used to describe the False Messiah (or Antichrist) but linguistically means swindler, cheat, imposter, quack or charlatan. The point here is that those who lie about religious matters are similar to the False Messiah. [Source of this fatwa] [Alternate link]

Some additional reading on this topic has been given below.

The Abodes of the Earth