1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Muslims Under Mongol Rule: Ibn Taymiyya
  4. Emigrants from the Holy Land: Ibn Qudāma
  5. Loyalty to the Madhhab: Ibn Mufliḥ
  6. Conclusion

Muslim scholars writing about the legal situation of Muslims living under non-Muslim rule during the seventh/thirteenth and eighth/fourteenth centuries were primarily concerned with whether Muslims should be allowed to live under non-Muslim rule or whether they should emigrate (or go on hijra) from it. Two Ḥanbalī legists, Ibn Qudāma (d. 620/1223) and Ibn Mufliḥ (d. 763/1362), both of whom lived and wrote in Damascus (Ayyūbid and Mamlūk, respectively), address this issue in their legal works (fiqh). Their scholarship, when compared with that of the Ḥanbalī scholar Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328), is instructive, particularly when one considers differences between these scholars’ experiences of non-Muslim rule. A guiding question is how experience may shape (or fail to shape) a jurist's position on hijra, since the events of the time (the Crusades and, later, the Mongol invasions) forced Muslims living under non-Muslim control to decide whether they must leave such lands. Loyalty to one's school (taqlīd) appears to have influenced the jurists most in their thinking, but experience shaped how they justified their positions on whether a Muslim must emigrate from lands under non-Muslim control.

In his University of Manchester dissertation, Aboobaker M. Asmal laments that if a scholar wants to look for material about Muslims living under non-Muslim rule in legal works (fiqh), he or she will be hard-pressed to find much on the topic.

Muslims under non-Muslim rule, as a specific issue, does not seem to be dealt with by Fiqh works. Even a detailed look at the sections which usually deal with matters covered by today's “international law” like jihād, hijra, amān or siyar revealed very little. On the contrary, one gets the impression on reading through such works that such a scenario was hardly contemplated or catered for. It is almost as if the jurists never anticipated Muslims living under non-Muslim rule once the Islamic state or dār al-Islām had come into existence. 1

What concerned the jurists, Asmal continues, was whether Muslims should be allowed to live under non-Muslim rule, or whether they must emigrate from non-Muslim lands. In his important article on emigration (hijra) from non-Muslim lands, Khaled Abou El-Fadl identifies the various positions taken by Sunnī jurists on the matter. Among the classical jurists, he observes, al-Shāfiʿī (d. 206/820) demonstrated the most accommodating spirit, arguing that if Muslims could practice Islam openly, without fear of conversion, they should feel no obligation to emigrate. By contrast, Mālik b. Anas (d. 179/795) advised Muslims not to live in non-Muslim lands because they would be forced to submit to non-Muslim law; he went so far as to discourage Muslims from even traveling in those lands. 2

The Crusader invasion of Palestine and Syria at the end of the fifth/eleventh century (and later, the Mongol invasion of Iran and Iraq in the seventh/thirteenth century) lent practical urgency to this question. 3 Three notable Syrian jurists from the Ḥanbalī law school (madhhab) addressed this issue: Taqī al-Dīn Aḥmad b. Taymiyya (d. 728/1328), Muwaffaq b. Qudāma (541–620/1147–1223) and Muḥammad b. Mufliḥ al-Qāqūnī (710–763/1310–1362). These scholars are particularly interesting to compare because two of them, Ibn Qudāma and Ibn Taymiyya, had direct experience of non-Muslim rule, whereas Ibn Mufliḥ did not. As Yahya Michot has extensively analyzed the writings of Ibn Taymiyya on the subject of hijra, this article will not give as much attention to him but will give more space to two lesser-known jurists. 4

Muslims Under Mongol Rule: Ibn Taymiyya

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Muslims Under Mongol Rule: Ibn Taymiyya
  4. Emigrants from the Holy Land: Ibn Qudāma
  5. Loyalty to the Madhhab: Ibn Mufliḥ
  6. Conclusion

Ibn Taymiyya was born in Ḥarrān in what is today Turkey. In 667/1269, at the age of six, he fled to Damascus with his family as the Mongol armies of Abaqa Khan were advancing on Ḥarrān, thereby making a kind of hijra. Ibn Taymiyya spent a significant part of his life in Damascus (by then under Mamlūk control), where he studied and taught at the Sukkariyya madrasa or law school and then later at the Ḥanbaliyya madrasa, the oldest in Damascus. After Baghdad surrendered to the Mongols in 656/1258, Damascus replaced Baghdad in prominence as a place of learning. 5 Ibn Taymiyya's reputation there made him a notable scholar throughout the Mamlūk empire.

When Ibn Taymiyya considered whether Muslims must emigrate from non-Muslim lands, he did so in the context of the Mongol conquests. He was asked to give a fatwā (opinion) as to whether Muslims should emigrate to Mamlūk lands from the Mongol city of Mardin, located on the edge of the Mongol Īlkhānate. Is land conquered by the Mongols considered the land of war (balad al-ḥarb), his questioners asked, or is it a land of peace (balad al-silm)? Are Muslims in the Mongol realms free to assist the Mamlūks in their wars against the Mongols, or do they sin by doing so?

Ibn Taymiyya responded that if Muslims are unable to freely observe their religion, they must emigrate. He adds that anyone who departs from Islamic law (sharīʿa) must not be assisted by a Muslim. However, he states that the status of Mardin is composite (murakkab) — although inhabited by believing Muslims, the government was not sufficiently Islamic. 6 Clearly, Ibn Taymiyya felt that the juristic division of the world into the abode of war and the abode of Islam no longer sufficed to describe the situation of Muslims living under Mongol rule.

Yahya Michot has pointed out that it is difficult to know exactly what was happening at the time Ibn Taymiyya was writing this fatwā. 7 He no doubt was writing after the conversion to Islam of the Mongol ruler Ghāzān in 694/1295. But one must remember that this conversion did not mean that Mongol government officials had all converted to Islam. Based on her analysis of the names of Mongol officers preceding the rule of Ghāzān, Judith Pfeiffer concluded that during Ghāzān's reign, 21 percent of these had Perso-Muslim names, a number that actually represented a decline from the number of Muslim officers under his non-Muslim predecessor. Even by the end of Ghāzān's rule, many, if not most, Mongol leaders had still not embraced Islam. 8 Ibn Taymiyya, then, was right to distinguish between the non-Muslim government and the Muslim subjects who lived under Mongol rule. When he writes that “every land whose inhabitants are believers who fear [God] is a domain of the friends of God at that time,” 9 he is saying that if Muslims might live in obedience to Islam in Mardin, then it was not necessary to emigrate from the city. Much depended on the willingness of Mardin's Mongol rulers to allow the public practice of Islam and to refrain from imposing laws that would compromise that practice.

One other noteworthy item of interest in this fatwā is that Ibn Taymiyya says little about the subject of jihād in it, even though he was engaged in jihād against the Crusaders and the Mongols at various times in his life. 10 Michot draws out this point when he quotes the Lebanese shaykh Saʿd al-Dīn al-Kibbī as giving the opinion that “if fighting had been an [unconditional] obligation” for Ibn Taymiyya, “it would have been made obligatory or preferable for the weak, and not emigration.” 11 Indeed, Michot places great significance on the relative unimportance of jihād to Ibn Taymiyya in this fatwā, since the jurist is often quoted for support by Muslims enjaged in jihād. He writes:

“Any wolf eager to pounce on Mardin will certainly have been disappointed by Ibn Taymiyya's fatwā … the Damascene shaykh refuses to accord to it the status of domain of war. … His fatwā is thus quite the opposite of a green light to the unleashing of general hostilities.” 12

Emigrants from the Holy Land: Ibn Qudāma

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Muslims Under Mongol Rule: Ibn Taymiyya
  4. Emigrants from the Holy Land: Ibn Qudāma
  5. Loyalty to the Madhhab: Ibn Mufliḥ
  6. Conclusion

Unlike Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Qudāma (d. 620/1223) wrote about hijra in the context of Crusader Palestine. He was born in the town of Jamāʿīl, less than ten miles southwest of Nablus. When Ibn Qudāma was nine years old, his father, a local shaykh named Aḥmad, left on hijra for Damascus, reportedly because the Franks “were harming and imprisoning them, and were taking from them things like the jizya (poll tax).” Aḥmad was unsurprisingly “not pleased with his residence under the rule of the unbelievers, [and he resolved to go to Damascus, fearing for his life] and his inability to display his religion.13 Ibn Qudāma emigrated from Palestine one year after his father. Although born in Palestine, he spent most of his life in Damascus as a jurist and theologian.

Ibn Qudāma figures prominently in the history of the Ḥanbalī madhhab as a man of extraordinary piety, religion, and scholarship. He wrote in numerous areas of study: Qur'anic exegesis (tafsīr), the science of ḥadīth, fiqh, uṣūl al-fiqh, Arabic grammar, arithmetic, astronomy, and virtue. Distinguished scholars in the Ḥanbalī school attended Ibn Qudāma's lectures. According to the shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Maʿālī b. Ghanīma, no-one reached a level of ijtihād as high as that of Ibn Qudāma, who is especially known for his works of law: al-Mughnī, al-ʿUmda, and Rawḍat al-Nāzir. 14

In his al-Mughnī Ibn Qudāma discusses whether Muslims must emigrate from non-Muslim lands in his chapter on jihād (he also addresses the subject briefly in his chapter on ḥajj). 15 He begins by asking whether hijra is still relevant to Muslims. He presents the textual basis for emigrating from non-Muslim lands by quoting Qur'ān 4 (al-Nisā'):97–100, which suggest that some regimes on the earth are so evil that Muslims must emigrate from them:

97. When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls, they say, ‘In what plight were ye?’ They reply: ‘Weak and oppressed were we in the earth’. They say: ‘Was not the earth of Allāh spacious enough for you to move (tuhājirū) yourselves away (from evil)?’ Such men will find their abode in Hell—what an evil Refuge! 98. Except those who are (really) weak and oppressed—men, women, and children who have no means in their power, nor a (guide post) to direct their way. 99. For these, there is hope that Allāh will forgive, for Allāh doth blot out (sins) and forgive again and again. 100. He who forsakes (yuhājir) his home in the cause of Allāh, finds in the earth many a refuge wide and spacious. Should he die as a refugee (muhājir) from home for Allāh and His Messenger, his reward becomes due and sure with Allāh, and Allāh is oft-forgiving, most merciful. 16

Ibn Qudāma then cites part of a ḥadīth from Muḥammad: 17 “I am absolved [of obligations] to every Muslim who takes up residence among the polytheists. One should not [be so close as] to see their fire.” Ibn Qudāma offers his interpretation: “Its meaning is that he [viz., the Muslim] does not see the place of their fire [viz. the polytheists’ fire], but they see his fire when the fire is lit.” In other words, Muḥammad seems to be warning Muslims to stay far away from unbelievers, like viewing a campfire from afar, and motivating them to go on hijra. It seems clear that Ibn Qudāma includes the ḥadīth to emphasize that Muḥammad put a premium on keeping his distance from unbelievers and that Muslims should follow his example.

Ibn Qudāma relates a ḥadīth from Muḥammad that appears to question the relevance of hijra to the legist's time: “There is no emigration after the conquests … Emigration came to an end, but jihād and intention (niyya) have not [come to an end].” He quotes the tradition without attribution, referring only to the “people of knowledge” (ahl al-ʿilm), though the ḥadīth is reported by al-Bukhārī. 18 He then relates another tradition as further evidence for this position:

It is related that Ṣafwān b. Umayya, after he became a Muslim, was told: “He has no religion who does not emigrate.” He came to Madīna, and the Prophet (may God pray for him and give him peace) said to him: “What brought you [here], Abū Wahb?” He said: “It was said: ‘He has no religion who does not emigrate’.” [The Prophet said:] “Return, Abū Wahb, to the valleys of Mecca, settle [your people] in your dwellings, for indeed emigration has come to an end, but there is jihād and niyya.” 19

Ibn Qudāma later explains that emigration has come to an end from Mecca in particular “because emigration is the leaving of the land of the unbelievers, and when it [viz., Mecca] was conquered, it did not remain as the land of the unbelievers. In this way, in every land that is conquered, [the concept of] emigration is no longer relevant.

Returning to the argument that hijra is still relevant to Muslims after the conquest of Mecca, Ibn Qudāma cites various ḥadīths including one well known on the authority of Muʿāwiya: “Emigration will not come to an end until repentance comes to an end, and repentance will not come to an end until the sun rises in the West.” 20 He finishes this section by quoting another ḥadīth, which presents the view that emigration does not come to an end as long as there is jihād. Ibn Qudāma appears to be juxtaposing this last ḥadīth with the one reported by al-Bukhārī, which suggests rather that hijra remains significant to Muslims along with jihād and niyya following the conquest of Mecca.

At the end of his section on hijra, Ibn Qudāma relates a ḥadīth that details the story of Nuʿaym al-Naḥḥām's hijra to Madīna. 21 Nuʿaym wishes to emigrate, but his people, the Banū ʿAdiyy, come to him and plead with him to stay, reminding him how much he had helped the community by looking after widows and orphans. Nuʿaym decides to emigrate anyway. When Muḥammad encounters Nuʿaym in Madīna, he remarks that “your people were better to you than my people were to me [because] they [viz., the Meccans] expelled me and wanted to kill me, but your people protect you and guard you.” Muḥammad seems to wonder why Nuʿaym would emigrate when he was treated so well. Nuʿaym responds that “your people expelled you into obedience to God [and] jihād [against] His enemy. My people prevented me from emigrating and obeying God.” Ibn Qudāma appears to give Nuʿaym the final word: hijra is a matter of obedience to God.

Ibn Qudāma also discusses hijra in his Kitāb al-Ḥajj. 22 He begins by quoting the eponym of his school, Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal (d. 241/855), who in turn relates a hadīth from al-Tirmidhī in which Muḥammad reflects on his “beloved” Mecca, saying that he would not have left it, except that he was expelled from it, and that there is no harm in Muslims living in Mecca if they were not part of the original emigration to Madīna. Next, Ibn Qudāma quotes Ibn ʿUmar (d. 73/693): “Residing in Madīna is more beloved to me than staying in Mecca, for those who have the ability to do it.” 23 Ibn Qudāma ends with a ḥadīth in which Muḥammad assures Muslims,” No-one shall endure its hardships [i.e. the hardships of hijra] and its adversity, except that I will be for him an intercessor on the Day of Resurrection.” 24 Ibn Qudāma then comforts his reader by saying that Muḥammad himself will advocate for the emigrant on Judgment Day as his or her reward for emigrating.

What does Ibn Qudāma's choice of traditions and transmitters say about his position on hijra? By quoting sound (ṣaḥīḥ) traditions in support of hijra from Muslim, Abū Dā'ūd, al-Tirmidhī, al-Nasā'ī, and, especially, Ibn Ḥanbal, he appears to declare his support for the position that Muslims may continue to emigrate from non-Muslim lands. He cites sound traditions to the contrary, but he curiously neglects to attribute the ḥadīth to al-Bukharī, 25 possibly because he wishes to weaken the position that hijra has come to an end (though it is equally possible he simply assumes the reader will recognize the well known ḥadīth from al-Bukharī's collection). Ibn Qudāma also does not appear to accept pronouncements like those given to Ṣafwān b. Umayya as applying to all Muslims in all lands. Rather he acknowledges that if the land was conquered, as Mecca was, “it is no longer the land of the unbelievers” and hijra is no longer relevant. This implies that this is not the case in lands where unbelief reigns. Hijra continues to be relevant to Muslims living in lands where Islam is not dominant. In short, Ibn Qudāma appears to be affirming that hijra from non-Muslim lands to Muslim lands is always desirable, if not obligatory.

It is in Ibn Qudāma's Kitāb al-Jihād that one finds his direct advice for those Muslims who wish to remain under non-Muslim rule. Muslims unable to practice Islam in a non-Muslim land must emigrate, Ibn Qudāma writes, citing as support for this ruling Qur'ān 4:97, which rebukes Muslims for not emigrating from an evil plight. Islamic law assumes that five “universal” human interests (maṣālīḥ) must be protected for Muslims to remain in a particular location: the ability to observe one's religion, the sanctity of life, the preservation of lineage, the protection of property, and the safeguarding of rationality. 26 The inability to practice Islam violates one of these fundamental interests, giving Muslims a legitimate reason to emigrate.

However, Ibn Qudāma affirms that Muslims may have good reasons not to emigrate. Those incapable of travel or escape (including the ill, women, and children) may be excused from hijra, as Qur'ān 4:98–9 gives them permission to stay. Then he adds another reason for not going on hijra:

But he [who] has the ability to [publicly] show his religion may stay in the land of the unbelievers. This is preferable for him [that he stay in the land so] that he may have the capability of waging jihād against them [viz., the unbelievers], and [aiding] the increase of the Muslims, supporting them, and that he will be able to free them from the increase of the unbelievers and mingling with them and seeing what is [ethically] objectionable among them. It is not incumbent upon him [to emigrate] if it is possible for him to perform his religious duties. 27

With this, Ibn Qudāma at first appears to agree with the Shāfiʿīs in allowing Muslims to stay in non-Muslim lands. However, Ibn Qudāma clarifies this point in a way that seems to undermine any kind of harmonious relationship between Muslims and their non-Muslim rulers. He appears particularly concerned that Muslims not mix with non-Muslims, for fear that they might be exposed to people or experiences that would compromise them, and he argues that a large Muslim community would insulate members from compromising encounters with non-Muslims.

Why does Ibn Qudāma mention jihād as a primary rationale for Muslims remaining in non-Muslim lands? Although Ibn Qudāma does not elaborate on this point, his mention of jihād is not surprising, as this discussion takes place within his Kitāb al-Jihād. Moreover, the traditions observed earlier mention jihād in the context of hijra — of particular significance is Nuʿaym's point that in migrating to Madīna, Muḥammad was thereby able to engage in jihād against the enemy.

Ibn Qudāma's biography also sheds some light on this matter. He joined the Kurdish sulṭān Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn in his campaigns against the Crusaders. On the evening before the decisive battle at the Horns of Hattin in 583/1187, Ibn Qudāma read aloud Ibn Baṭṭa's “Profession of Faith” 28 to encourage the soldiers in their jihād. The following day, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn destroyed the bulk of the Crusader army, and over the next few years went on to capture (or liberate) most of the cities and fortresses of Palestine, including the town of Jamāʿīl. 29 While the Crusaders were later able to make temporary contracts with Muslim rulers, for a time controlling even Jerusalem itself, they were never able to recapture the majority of the territory they lost to Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn.

Ibn Qudāma appreciated that Muslims living under Crusader rule could be of assistance to Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn by staying in Palestine and not leaving, as his father had done. When Ibn Qudāma's family emigrated from Palestine, they encountered Muslims along the way to Damascus who, emboldened by their arrival, refused to pay their taxes to the Franks, and killed the ruler of the town. (The rebellion was short-lived.) 30 Carole Hillenbrand argues that such rebellions did not occur often, but the possibility of aid from subject Muslim populations must have been considered by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn and Ibn Qudāma as they campaigned together against the Franks.

Why did Ibn Qudāma choose to discuss hijra in his Kitāb al-Ḥajj? Daoud Casewit has pointed out that the ziyāra to Muḥammad's tomb at Madīna is a kind of “temporary” hijra that seeks to “reaffirm and deepen” Muslims’ love for Muḥammad. This in turn strengthens the resolve of Muslims to “live according to Islamic norms and prescriptions.” 31 It is perhaps for these reasons that Ibn Qudāma encourages Muslims to emigrate from non-Muslim lands, even if they are not encountering persecution there. As Ibn Qudāma hints, there is eternal merit in enduring the hardships involved in emigration (as there was with the hijra to Madīna). In addition, hijra to Muslim lands, while not obligatory, is always recommended because a Muslim will be more likely to live according to the sharīʿa if he or she is surrounded by Muslims who are doing the same. One cannot err by emigrating, whereas it is possible to be corrupted by one's non-Muslim ruler and neighbor. Ibn Qudāma's justifications for staying in non-Muslim lands, when viewed in this light, would appear to be more concessionary (and in the case of jihād, intended to undermine the non-Muslim ruler) and less an encouragement to harmonious co-existence.

Loyalty to the Madhhab: Ibn Mufliḥ

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Muslims Under Mongol Rule: Ibn Taymiyya
  4. Emigrants from the Holy Land: Ibn Qudāma
  5. Loyalty to the Madhhab: Ibn Mufliḥ
  6. Conclusion

The much less well-known but nevertheless important Ḥanbalī jurist Muḥammad b. Mufliḥ al-Qāqūnī (d. 763/1362) presents an interesting point of comparison to Ibn Qudāma and Ibn Taymiyya. Unlike the other two jurists, Ibn Mufliḥ did not live under the threat of Mongol or Crusader attack; like Ibn Taymiyya, he enjoyed the prosperity of Mamlūk rule. Over the course of his lifetime, he witnessed the breakup of the Mongol Ilkhānate into smaller states, effectively ending Mongol rivalry with the Mamlūks. Other long-time enemies were weakened as well. The Crusaders from Cyprus could at best make raids only along the coast, and in 696/1297, the Christian kingdom of Cilician Armenia, which lay just to the north of Syria, and which had allied itself with the Mongols during its assaults on Damascus in the seventh/thirteenth century, was reduced to paying a tribute of 500,000 dirhams each year to the Mamlūk sulṭān. This figure was doubled in 715/1315. 32

Little is known about Ibn Mufliḥ's life. Like Ibn Qudāma, he was born in Palestine (in Jerusalem), then moved to Damascus, where he served as a judge under the chief judge (qāḍī al-quḍāt) and gave formal legal opinions according to the Ḥanbalī madhhab. His loyalty to the school was such that he insisted that he be buried in the same graveyard as Ibn Qudāma, in the district of Ṣāliḥiyya, where Ibn Qudāma had lived and worked. 33 In Damascus, Ibn Mufliḥ was a student of Ibn Taymiyya's — reportedly his best student in jurisprudence. His four-volume Kitāb al-Furūʿ has become an important treatise in Ḥanbalī law.

Ibn Mufliḥ discusses hijra in his chapter on jihād in his Kitāb al-Furūʿ. 34 Like Ibn Qudāma, he raises the question of whether or not hijra has come to an end. He begins with the view that it has come to an end, citing a tradition related by Ibn Hubayra (d. 560/1165), an ʿAbbāsid wazīr and scholar of Ḥanbalī fiqh. 35 In this ḥadīth, the Companion Ibn Masʿūd 36 gives an oath to go on hijra to Madīna. Muḥammad declares, “There is no emigration after Mecca was conquered, but I make a covenant with him on Islam and the faith and jihād.” Ibn Mufliḥ then quotes from two traditions found in the collections of al-Bukharī and Muslim respectively: “Hijra came to an end for her people,” and, “Indeed emigration came to an end for her people, but Islam and jihād and [what is] good [remain].” Ibn Mufliḥ seems to be repeating versions of ḥadīths seen before.

Ibn Mufliḥ goes on to explain by way of a ḥadīth transmitted by Ibn Hubayra why hijra had to come to an end. He states that hijra was made to Madīna so that “God can be worshipped in peace.” He takes an approach not taken by either Ibn Qudāma or Ibn Taymiyya: “Had space been made after the conquest of Mecca for hijra to the cramped [situation] in Madīna, the lands of its inhabitants [viz. Mecca's inhabitants] would empty.” Here Ibn Mufliḥ is putting forward a practical reason for why hijra is no longer necessary, i.e. that too many people would be living in Madīna when they could be living elsewhere.

Interestingly, he does not follow this up with the opposing viewpoint that hijra has not come to an end. Instead, Ibn Mufliḥ narrates a ḥadīth transmitted by Saʿīd b. Jubayr (d. 95/712) 37 on the authority of Ibn ʿAbbās (d. 68/687–8) 38 — citing Qur'ān 29:56 as support: “Emigration is not obligatory from among the people of the sinners/rebels.” Ibn Mufliḥ's explanation of this tradition is confusing; he says that if “sins [are] being committed in the land,” then Muslims must leave it. By this, he seems to insist against the force of the tradition by saying that people should leave such lands, even if leaving is not obligatory. He admits that this tradition goes against the teaching of Muḥammad: “He who sees from among you something reprehensible, let him change it by his hand.” While Ibn Mufliḥ does not clarify what he means by this statement, the context would seem to indicate that Muḥammad intended Muslims to address sins where they find them rather than running from the situation. Ibn Mufliḥ, however, holds that emigration is preferable to staying in the land.

How is one to make sense of Ibn Mufliḥ's use of ḥadīths, and what do these choices, if anything, say about him? He seems to support Muslims who wish to emigrate, but his ḥadīths focus on why emigration has come to an end, and they declare that Muslims need not emigrate. Fortunately, Ibn Mufliḥ clarifies his thinking about hijra from lands of unbelief. Like Ibn Qudāma and Ibn Taymiyya before him, Ibn Mufliḥ holds that if a Muslim “is incapable of observing his religion in the abode of war in which the rule of the unbelievers prevails,” and he is able to emigrate, it is incumbent upon him to do so. Curiously, he mentions that “some of them” (presumably other scholars) liken “a land of immorality or innovation such as [that of] the Refusers [Shīʿīs] 39 and the Muʿtazila” to the land of unbelievers. By including these groups, Ibn Mufliḥ implies that Muslims may be unable to practice Islam even inside dār al-Islām, in which case they still have the obligation to emigrate to a part of the dār al-Islām where Islam is rightly practiced.

To his argument that Muslims unable to practice Islam must emigrate, Ibn Mufliḥ adds that even if he “has no riding animal, and is not in a state of muḥram (purity) [viz. iḥrām],” he nevertheless must still flee. On the other hand, if a Muslim is able to practice Islam openly in this land of “unbelief,” hijra may be made only if the emigrant is in a state of purity, as in the ḥajj. 40 Compared to Ibn Qudāma, Ibn Mufliḥ shows more concern that Muslims undertaking hijra take care not to break Islamic law in the process of emigration, unless their plight is truly desperate. His discussion of hijra appears to be theoretical, since by his day, neither the Crusaders nor the Mongols posed much of a threat to Damascus. Yet Ibn Mufliḥ felt compelled to address the subject of hijra because he was writing in a tradition, and taqlīd, or loyalty to his madhhab, meant that he should imitate his predecessors, regardless of the subject's direct relevance to the writer's life.

What Ibn Mufliḥ chose not to discuss in his fiqh is also instructive. Even though he follows juristic tradition and locates his discussion of hijra within his Kitāb al-Jihād, Ibn Mufliḥ does not trouble, as Ibn Qudāma did, to list jihād as one of the valid reasons a Muslim may claim for emigrating from a non-Muslim land. (Indeed, he gives few reasons at all for emigrating, mentioning only the customary point that a Muslim must leave if he or she cannot observe his or her religion.) For Ibn Mufliḥ, hijra was more a matter of theory than it was one of practice, and there was no need to go into detail on an issue that few Muslims would have been concerned about at the time.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Muslims Under Mongol Rule: Ibn Taymiyya
  4. Emigrants from the Holy Land: Ibn Qudāma
  5. Loyalty to the Madhhab: Ibn Mufliḥ
  6. Conclusion

Of the three jurists studied here, Ibn Qudāma and Ibn Taymiyya had either personal experience of non-Muslim rule or lived during a time when fellow Muslims lived under non-Muslim rulers. Neither of these jurists appears to have diverged from his school's position on hijra. Ibn Taymiyya wrestled with concrete problems of Muslims living under non-Muslim rule in a way that neither Ibn Qudāma nor Ibn Mufliḥ did, but he still followed the majority positions in his school. This demonstrates the power of taqlīd over adherents of the schools — even a scholar as dynamic as Ibn Taymiyya.

Personal experience played a significant role in how jurists articulated their ideas within the confines of the madhhab. Recall Ibn Qudāma's inclusion of jihād in his reasons for remaining in a non-Muslim land. The fact that Ibn Qudāma rode in battle alongside Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn assuredly played a part in his articulation of jihād as one reason for remaining under non-Muslim rule. By contrast, Ibn Mufliḥ has no obvious connection with jihād, and does not write about it. Rather, he turned his attention to troublemakers (as perceived by Ḥanbalīs) within Islam, namely the Shīʿīs and Muʿtazilīs. This is not to say that such experience was determinative; while Ibn Taymiyya neglected jihād in his fatwā about Mardin, he engaged in jihād against the Mongols and Crusaders at other times in his life. Yet while practical experience of non-Muslim rule did not determine the position on hijra adopted by the jurists studied here, its influence should nevertheless not be underestimated. It always had the potential of influencing one's fiqh, despite any pressure the jurist might feel from his school to conform to its majority opinion.

  1. 1

    Aboobaker M. Asmal, “Muslims Under Non-Muslim Rule: the fiqhi (legal) views of Ibn Nujaym and al-Wansharisi” (PhD diss., University of Manchester, 1998), 11.

  2. 2

    Khaled Abou El Fadl, “Islamic Law and Muslim Minorities: The Juristic Discourse on Muslim Minorities from the Second/Eighth to the Eleventh/Seventeenth Centuries,” Islamic Law and Society 1/2 (1994), 146147.

  3. 3

    The Reconquista of al-Andalus, which accelerated after the Christian conquest of Toledo in 478/1085, also brought this question to the fore.

  4. 4

    Yahya Michot, Muslims Under Non-Muslim Rule (Oxford: Interface, 2006).

  5. 5

    Abdul Hakim I. al-Matroudi, The Ḥanbalī School of Law and Ibn Taymiyya: Conflict or Conciliation (London: Routledge, 2006), 50.

  6. 6

    Ibn Taymiyya. Majmūʿ al-Fatāwā, ed. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Muḥammad b. Qāsim , 37 vols. (al-Riyāḍ: Dār ʿĀlam al-Kutub, 1991), 28: 240241 ; see also Michot, Muslims Under Non-Muslim Rule, 2425, 65.

  7. 7

    Michot, Muslims Under Non-Muslim Rule, 8.

  8. 8

    Judith Pfeiffer, “Reflections on a ‘Double Rapprochement’: Conversion to Islam among the Mongol Elite during the Early Ilkhānate,” in Beyond the Legacy of Genghis Khan, ed. Linda Komaroff (Leiden: Brill, 2006), 374.

  9. 9

    Ibn Taymiyya, Majmūʿ al-Fatāwā, 18:282 ; see also Michot, Muslims Under Non-Muslim Rule, 7374.

  10. 10

    Carole Hillenbrand has commented that the Mamlūk period was one of “greater fanaticism,” and that Ibn Taymiyya led the way as a religious leader for Sunnīs more generally (not just Ḥanbalīs) in waging war against Islam's enemies (Christians and Mongols) and against those who allegedly allied with them, such as the Shī'ī of the Lebanese mountains. Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspective (New York: Routledge, 2000), 241243.

  11. 11

    Michot, Muslims Under Non-Muslim Rule, 45, 122.

  12. 12

    Ibid., 26.

  13. 13

    This account was related by the Ḥanbalī qāḍī and ḥāfiẓ Ḍiyā' al-Dīn (d. 642/1245). Diyā’ al-Dīn writes that Aḥmad was preaching to large gatherings and that Ibn Barzān became angry with this public display of Islam because it was “distracting the peasants from their work.” See Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. Ṭulūn, Al-Qalā'id al-Jawharīya fī Tārīkh al-Ṣāliḥiya, ed. Muḥammad Aḥmad Duhmān (Damascus: 1949), 2627 . See also Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2000), 359361.

  14. 14

    See ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Aḥmad b. Rajab (d. 795/1393), Kitāb al-Dhayl ʿalā Ṭabaqāt al-Hanābila, 2 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Maʿrifa, 1980), 2:133149. Ibn Qudāma's entry is listed as number 272.

  15. 15

    Muwaffaq al-Dīn ʿAbd Allāh b. Aḥmad b. Qudāma, al-Mughnī, ed. ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-Turkī and ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Muḥammad al-Ḥulw , 15 vols. (Cairo: Hajr, 1990), 13:149152.

  16. 16

    The Meaning of the Holy Qur'ān, ed. Abd Allāh Yūsuf ʿAlī , (Beltsville, Maryland: Amana: 1997).

  17. 17

    See Abū Dā'ūd, Kitāb al-Sunan, ed. Muḥammad ʿAwwāma , 6 vols. (Beirut: al-Rayyān Publishing, 2004), 6:284 ; al-Nasā'ī, al-Mujtabā, 9 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Bashā'ir al-Islāmiyya, 1994), 8:36 ; and al-Tirmidhī, al-Jāmiʿ al-Kabīr, ed. Bashshār Awwad , 6 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al-Islamī, 1998), 3:252 . The North African Mālikī jurist al-Wansharīsī (d. 914/1508) related this ḥadīth in full. See al-Wansharīsī, al-Miʿyār, 13 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Maghrib al-Islāmī, 1981), 2:125 , and Asmal, 159, for his translation. The ḥadīth cited by Ibn Qudāma is a tradition in which Muḥammad sends out a military unit to fight the polytheistic Arab tribe of Khathʿam in southern Arabia. When the polytheists saw the Muslim soldiers, “they sought refuge in prostration, but the killing was too fast,” and Muḥammad ordered that only half of the blood-money needed to be paid. Al-Wansharīsī then relates the part of the tradition cited by Ibn Qudāma: “I am absolved [of obligations] to every Muslim who takes up residence among the polytheists.” In context, the implications of the ḥadīth are easier to see than it is in Ibn Qudāmaʿs clipped citation. Ibn Qudāma probably presented the ḥadīth in clipped form because he was not principally concerned with whether or not hijra had come to an end; rather, he was considering the conditions under which Muslims might not need to emigrate. By contrast, al-Wansharīsī had good motive for presenting the full ḥadīth, which supports his categorical position that Muslims should not reside among non-Muslims.

  18. 18

    See al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ, ed. Rā'id b. Sabrī b. Abī ʿAlfa , 2 vols. (Riyad: Maktabat al-Rushd, 2005), 1:285.

  19. 19

    The ḥadīth goes on to say that Ṣafwān returned to Mecca and resided there until he died. The ḥadīth may be found in al-Nisā'ī's Mujtabā, 7/131. For more information on Ṣafwān b. Umayya, see Yūsuf b. al-Zakī ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Mizzī (d. 741/1341), Tahdhīb al-Kamāl fī Asmā' al-Rijāl, 35 vols. (Beirut: Mu'assasat al-Risāla, 1994), 13: 180183.

  20. 20

    See Abū Dā'ūd, Sunan, Kitāb 2/3. Ibn Ḥanbal also includes this ḥadīth in his Musnad 4/99.

  21. 21

    Yūsuf b. ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istiʿab fī maʿrifāt al-aṣḥāb, 2 vols. (Beirut: Dār al Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, n.d.), 1:476. Nuʿaym al-Naḥḥām was a companion of Muḥammad and an early convert who hid his Islam due to the religious persecution of Muslims in the Meccan period. He died in the year 13/634.

  22. 22

    Ibn Qudāma, al-Mughnī, 15 vols., ed. ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-Turkī and ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Muḥammad al-Ḥulw (Cairo: Hajr, 1990), 5:464465.

  23. 23

    Ibn ʿUmar, son of the second caliph, is regarded as “the most scrupulous in neither adding to nor omitting anything from the ḥadīths narrated by him.” See EI2, s.v. ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (L. Veccia Vaglieri).

  24. 24

    See Muslim, al-Ṣaḥīḥ, 8 vols. (Cairo: Dār al-Taḥrīr, 1964), 4:118 ; al-Tirmidhī al-Jāmiʿ al-Kabīr, ed., Bashshār Awwad , 6 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al-Islamī, 1998), 6:203 , 7; Ibn Ḥanbal, Musnad, ed. Shuʿayb al-Arnaʿūt , 50 vols. (Beirut: Mu'assasat al-Risāla, 1999), 10:159.

  25. 25

    al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ, ed. Rā'id b. Sabrī b. Abī ʿAlfa , 2 vols. (Riyad: Maktabat al-Rushd, 2005), 1:285.

  26. 26

    See Bernard Weiss, The Spirit of Islamic Law (Atlanta: University of Georgia Press, 1998), 78. The principle of human interests (maṣāliḥ) as a basis for law was formalized by al-Shāṭibī (d. 790/1388), a Mālikī scholar from Naṣrid Granada who undoubtedly would have been familiar with the situation of Muslims living under Castilian and Aragonese rule. He accepted not only maṣāliḥ that had a textual basis in the Qur'ān or ḥadīth, but also those that did not. In this he demonstrated flexibility in his approach to law. See EI2, s.v. al-Shāṭibī (Maribel Fierro).

  27. 27

    Ibn Qudāma, al-Mughnī, 0: 151.

  28. 28

    Ibn Baṭṭa (d. 387/997) was a Ḥanbalī theologian and jurist trained in Baghdad and Mecca. He lived during the Shīʿī Buyid takeover of Baghdad, and became a critic of Shīʿism, and to a lesser extent of Muʿtazilism and philosophy (falsafa). Two centuries later, ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Maqdisī and Ibn Qudāma revived interest in Ibn Baṭṭa among the Ḥanbalīs. See EI2, s.v. Ibn Baṭṭa (H. Laoust).

  29. 29

    See C. Hillenbrand, The Crusades, 179 , and EI2, s.v. Ibn Qudāma al-Maqdisī (G. Makdisi).

  30. 30

    Ibn Ṭulūn, al-Qalā'id al-Jawharīya fī Tārīkh al-Ṣāliḥiya, 29.

  31. 31

    Daoud S. Casewit, “Hijra as History and Metaphor: A Survey of Qur'anic and Hadith Sources,” The Muslim World, 88, 2 (1998), 127128.

  32. 32

    Robert Irwin, The Middle East in the Middle Ages: The Early Mamluk Sultanate, 1250–1382 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1986), 120.

  33. 33

    For a short biography of Ibn Mufliḥ, see ʿUmar Riḍā al-Kaḥḥāla, Muʿjam al-Mu'allifīn: tarājim muṣannifī al-kutub al-ʿArabiyya (Beirut: Maktabat al-Muthannā; Dār Iḥyā' al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1983), 44. On Ibn Mufliḥ's relationship with his teacher Ibn Taymiyya, see al-Matroudi, The Ḥanbalī School of Law and Ibn Taymiyya: Conflict or Conciliation, 136141.

  34. 34

    Muḥammad b. Mufliḥ al-Qāqūnī, Kitāb al-Furūʿ, 6 vols. (Beirut: ʿĀlam al-Kutub, 1981), 6:197198.

  35. 35

    See EI2, s.v. Ibn Hubayra (George Makdisi).

  36. 36

    Ibn Masʿūd, one of the earliest converts to Islam, took part in the hijras to both Abyssinia and Madīna. He is said to have received the Qur'ān directly from the mouth of Muḥammad. See EI2, s.v. Ibn Masʿūd (Jean Claude Vadet).

  37. 37

    Saʿīd b. Jubayr was a Kūfan scholar accomplished in Qur'ānic exegesis, jurisprudence and ḥadīth. He took part in a revolt in Kūfa against al-Ḥajjāj, the Umayyad governor of Iraq. When that failed, he fled to Mecca, where he taught for several years. He later was apprehended by the governor of Mecca, and handed over to al-Ḥajjāj for execution. See EI2, s.v. Saʿīd b. Jubayr (Harald Motzki).

  38. 38

    Ibn ʿAbbās is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the first generation of Muslims. Born ten years before the hijra to Madīna, he acquired a reputation as a teacher of Qur'ānic exegesis, juridical issues, Muḥammad's expeditions, pre-Islamic history, and ancient poetry. See EI2, s.v. ʿAbd Allāh b. al-ʿAbbās (Laura Veccia Vaglieri).

  39. 39

    The term rāfiḍa, pl. rawāfiḍ (refusers) is a pejorative name that Sunnīs used for the Shīʿīs, who refused to recognise the first three caliphs Abū Bakr, ʿUmar, and ʿUthmān. A contemporary of Ibn Mufliḥ, the Moroccan traveller Ibn Baṭṭūṭa (d. 770/1369), in his Riḥla repeatedly refers to the Shīʿīs as rawāfiḍ. See H.A.R. Gibb's comments on this subject in Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, Travels in Asia and Africa, trans. H.A.R. Gibb (London: Routledge, 1929), 3940.

  40. 40

    Ibn Mufliḥ, Kitāb al-Furū, 197.