Is it haram to receive and give interest in dar al-harb? Is interest permissible in non-Muslim countries?

Details of the Question
We live in the Netherlands and we bought a house. We received a loan from the bank and paid interest monthly. What is the religious decree about it?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

According to Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad, it is not permissible for a Muslim to steal or grab the goods of other Muslims by deceiving them in a non-Muslim country; similarly, it is not permissible for a Muslim to steal or grab the goods of non-Muslims, either. Islam is a religion of tolerance and virtue; therefore, it prohibits treason, deceiving, immoral and bad things everywhere.

However, it is permissible for a Muslim living in the land of non-Muslims to receive interest from non-Muslims because receiving interest is not regarded as treason by them; it is normal. (al-Fiqhu alal-Madhahibil Arba'a, I/340. Fathu'l-Wahhab II/355)

According to the other madhhabs and Abu Yusuf, interest is forbidden everywhere. It is not permissible to receive it in dar al-Islam or dar al-harb. It is necessary for a Muslim to treat non-Muslims in the same way as he treats Muslims. (al-Fatawal-Kubra, II/238, Badayi as-Sanayi', IX/4378)

If somebody goes to a foreign land, for instance, to Europe, and finds something belonging to the state or to a person, he has to give it to its owner. (Hidaya, II/66)

The statement of Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad "It is permissible to receive interest from non-Muslims in dar al-harb"is more preferable. When a Muslims deposits his money, say, in a German bank (which is not appropriate), they will use his money earn money from it and if the depositor does not get the interest, he will not receive anything and what is more, he will be mocked by non-Muslims. (Halil Günenç, Günümüz Meselelerine Fetvalar, 1/243-244)

Note :The view of Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad that itis permissible for a Muslim living in dar al-harb to receive interest from non-Muslims is based on the following hadith:  

“There is no interest between a Muslim and a non-Muslim in dar al-harb." (Zaylai, Nasb ar-Raya, IV/44; Ibn Humam, VII/39)

Our citizens living abroad act upon this hadith and the view of Hanafi madhhab; therefore, what they do is permissible.

Turkey is dar al-Islam; it is not permissible to receive and give interest here.


Dar al-harb: country of war, country of unbelief, area of war; regions that are outside the political authority of Islam and whose administration regime and current laws are not Islamic. In Islamic law, the term dar al-harb is generally used to describe the land that is under the sovereignty of the administrators that are unbelievers and enemies of Islam. This term is not mentioned in the Quran but it is mentioned in hadiths. It is stated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, "Hadd penalties are not applied in dar al-harb." This statement is not present in Bukhari, Muslim and Sunan books. Hanafis accept this hadith as evidence but the other madhhabs do not. Az-Zaylai, who is a leading Hanafi fiqh scholar, says it is a gharib hadith. (Nasb ar-Raya, III, 343).

Islamic fiqh scholars classified countries based on the issue whether Islamic decrees are applied or not. Those who live in dar al-harb are generally called harbi.  If harbis do not make an agreement with the administration of dar al-Islam, their blood and wealth are regarded as permissible. It is necessary for an unbeliever to become a Muslim or to make an agreement with the Islamic state if he wants his life and wealth to be protected. When a harbi enters dar al-Islam secretly and without asking for security, his blood and wealth are regarded as permissible if he is caught. When the region where a person who became a Muslim in dar al-harb used to live before he migrated is conquered, his possessions belong to him but his real estate is regarded as booty. (Mawardi, al-Ahkamu's-Sultaniyya, Translated by: Ali Şafak, İstanbul 1976, 57 ff; W.W.Hunder, İA, Dârü'l-Harb item.).

The Muslims who lived in dar al-harb and did not come to the Islamic land were regarded as individuals living in the Islamic land. When he wanted to migrate to dar al-Islam, he would not be protected. According to Abu Hanifa, he was not regarded as protected only by becoming a Muslim; he would put his life and wealth under security when he entered under the authority of the Islamic state. A Muslim is not punished due to a crime he committed in dar al-harb. For, the authority of the Islamic state is not valid there. He is not given hadd punishment in the world but the punishment of those crimes is up to Allah. (Abdulqadir Udah, İslam Ceza Hukuku ve Beşeri Hukuk, Translated by A. Nuri, İstanbul 1976, I, 520) However, there are various ijtihads regarding the issue. For instance, According to Imam Shafii, "What is halal in dar al-Islam is halal in dar al-harb, too. What is haram in dar al-Islam is haram in dar al-harb, too. If a crime is committed in dar al-harb, its penalty is not annulled." (as-Sarakhsi, al-Mabsut, IX, 100; Imam Shafii, al-Umm, VII, 322).

Abu Hanifa acted upon the hadith "Hadd penalties are not applied in dar al-harb." According to Abu Hanifa, if a soldier commits a crime that necessitates hadd punishment in dar al-harb, the commander does not have the authority to apply hadd punishment there but when they return to dar al-Islam, the decree to be given by the ruler of the country or the judge is valid.  According to Imam Malik and Imam Shafii, hadd penalties can be applied there. (Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni, IV, 46).

If a Muslim finds a treasure in dar al-harb, it belongs to him. However, if a delegation or military unit that enters dar al-harb on behalf of the Islamic state finds a treasure, one-fifth of it belongs to Bayt al-Mal (the Treasury). (Ömer Nasuhi Bilmen, Hukuk-ı İslâmiyye Kamusu, IV, 103)

If Islamic decrees are fixed by definite nass (verses or hadiths), there is no disagreement about them. According to the majority of the fiqh scholars, it is haram for Muslims to buy and sell things on interest with harbis or other Muslims in dar al-harb. Interest was rendered haram by definite nass. Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad differ from the majority and regard interest transactions between Muslims and harbis permissible. According to them, Muslims can receive interest but it is haram to give interest to harbis. (Ibn Abidin, Bulaq 1272, IV, 188) Despite this ijtihad, it is better for Muslims to act in accordance with taqwa and avoid interest. The majority does not accept the hadith "There is no interest between a Muslim and harbi in dar al-harb" as evidence. They say it is not possible to act based on a hadith that is at the level of mursal* and gharib*. The wealth of harbi becomes halal through getting it as booty not through business. (Ibn Qudama, IV, 46).

Allah states the following:

"O ye who believe! When there come to you believing women refugees, examine (and test) them: Allah knows best as to their Faith: if ye ascertain that they are Believers, then send them not back to the Unbelievers. They are not lawful (wives) for the Unbelievers, nor are the (Unbelievers) lawful (husbands) for them..." (al-Mumtahina, 60/10). It is understood from the verse that the reason why the marriage is invalid is not difference of the country but the difference of the religion. According to Hanafis, if one of the spouses migrates from dar al-harb to dar al-Islam as a Muslim or dhimmi, their marriage becomes invalid.

Regarding the Friday prayer, which is an indispensible principle of Islam, Hanafi fiqh scholars say, "The Friday prayer is based on the permission of ulul-amr (authority). If there is no ulul-amr, the Friday prayer is not fard. The view of the other madhhabs is, "The Friday prayer cannot be abandoned by any means." For, it is fixed by Quranic nass. On the other hand, Hanafis say Muslims can appoint a person among themselves and perform the Friday prayer if there is no ulul-amr. (Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır, Hak Dini Kur'an Dili, VII, 4983 ff)

Allah states the following: "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 Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (from evil)?" Such men will find their abode in Hell―what an evil refuge!―. " (an-Nisa, 4/97) According to what is understood from the verse, the real place of the Muslim is dar al-Islam, where Islam is practiced and Allah's decrees are dominant. It is fard for a Muslim to migrate from dar al-harb if he leads a troubled life under the oppression and tortures of unbelief, he cannot fulfill the orders of his religion, he or his descendants are forced to  become unbelievers and he fears that he or his descendants will be forced to  become unbelievers: According to this general decree, Hanafis hold the view that it is fard for a Muslim to migrate to dar al-Islam from dar al-harb in any case; Shafiis state that a Muslim needs to stay in dar al-harb if he can practice his religion openly and convey the message of Islam. (Said Havva, İslâm, I, 309)

However, if there is no dar al-Islam on earth that Muslims living in the countries of unbelief can migrate to or even if there is but the caliph does not regard it necessary for them to migrate and wants them to stay there, it will be their duty to try to do their best in order to practice Islam where they live. The order of the Prophet was decisive in the migration to Abyssinia, the country of the Negus, or Madinah. This is an instructive sunnah regarding migration of the Muslims from a dar al-harb to another dar al-harb where they can practice Islam more easily than the place where they live. We can show how a country is dar al-harb by determining some decisive qualities from the verses of the Quran. If the cruel administrators of the country pressurize and oppress the downtrodden people, if the non-Muslims crush the Muslims whenever they can, if the Muslims are expelled due to their faith and if they cannot live securely in any place except dar al-Islam, they have to migrate. (an-Nisa, 4/75, 91, 92)

That is, as Islamic fiqh scholars state, it is necessary for the Muslims living in dar al-harb to stay there and to try to make that land dar al-Islam. However, in that case, the unbelieving administrators will torture and oppress the Muslims and martyr them, inflicting upon them more oppression; therefore, migration is regarded more appropriate. This is understood from verses, hadiths and historical incidents.

The term dar al-harb is used for a country that is in a state of war against Muslims; the countries of war are given this name because they are dependent on an authority other than Allah and obey this wrong authority and because they are always in a state of war against Muslims. Contrary to the wrong opinion that Islam is always based on war, if they want peace, they can make an agreement with them based on certain conditions. Then, such countries are called dar al-ahd (agreement)*; they become subject to a different law from dar al-harb countries. There is no compulsion in Islam but there is jihad until the religion belongs only to Allah. If the unbelievers ask for security, their land is included in dar al-Islam in return for jizyah and they are given their rights and freedoms. The Islamic state makes jihad its basic policy in order to eliminate mischief from the earth but it does not harm those who want peace as long as they obey the terms of peace.

Imam Qasani states the following: "What is meant by dar used together with Islam and unbelief is not the nature of Islam and unbelief. What is meant is security and fear. If security belongs definitely to the believers and fear to the unbelievers, that land is dar al-Islam. If fear definitely belongs to the believers, that land is dar al-kufr. The decree is related to security and fear." (Imam Qasani, al-Badaius-Sanayi, Beirut 1974, VII. 131).

The issue of the transformation of dar al-Islam into dar al-harb was first discussed theoretically by mujtahids but when the Crusaders invaded Palestine and when Moguls invaded other Islamic countries, Islamic fiqh scholars dealt with the issue in detail. Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad said if non-Islamic decrees and rules became dominant in an Islamic country, it would be dar al-harb. Abu Hanifa said three conditions were necessary for an Islamic land to be transformed into dar al-harb. They are as follows: 1) The implementation of non-Islamic laws openly in the country. 2) The country becoming adjacent to dar al-harb without any Islamic country between them. 3) The Muslim and dhimmis lacking security of life.

When the Islamic countries were demolished by the barbarous attacks from the East, the imams stated the following: "All of the countries grabbed by the unbelievers today are Islamic countries. Even if the administrators are unbelievers, it is permissible to perform Friday and eid prayers there. As long as some part of the reason is present, the decree dependent on it remains. Everyone is performing prayers openly; fatwas are being issued. There is no basis/reason for calling these countries dar al-harb or dar al-kufr. As long as worshipping like calling adhan and performing prayers in congregation continues, such a country is dar al-Islam..." Acting upon analogy, Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad say "If dar al-harb becomes an Islamic country with the implementation of Islamic laws, an Islamic country needs to become dar al-harb with the domination of unbelief and laws of unbelief." The mujtahids who support Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad say even if the Muslims are safe, this does not prevent that country from being dar al-harb and that between sovereignty and security, the priority needs to be given to sovereignty.

Abu Hanifa wanted to say that when a decree was based on a reason, the decree would exist as long as some part of the reason existed. The fiqh scholars who adopted his view used the hadith "Islam is superior; nothing is superior to it," (Bukhari, Janaiz 79) as evidence and interpreted sovereignty in a relative way. According to them, there may be some Muslims and dhimmis who have the security of wealth and life in an invaded dar al-Islam and in that case, that land does not become dar al-harb.


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