Where Should Muslims Live?

earth-11015_1920

Assalamu alaikum

Let’s assume you could move to any country in the world. Where would you go?

This is a tough question to answer. A lot of people answer this based on a cool picture they saw of a mosque in a certain country, or the alleged attractiveness of people of the opposite gender there, or something like that. In actuality, this question requires a more systematic approach.

In this blog post, I’ve looked at 5 factors, in no particular order. First is the ability to get citizenship or permanent legal status. If you can only live in a country as a temporary worker or student, then it doesn’t make sense to settle down there, because you could be kicked out any time.

The second factor is access to good healthcare and education systems. Third is the ability to practice Islam – and I have included the sociopolitical aspects of Islam as part of this. Speaking out against injustice can be said to be part of practicing Islam, for example, so if the country limits your ability to do so, it might not be ideal to live there.

Fourth is the ease of earning an income and finding a decent place to live. Some young people glorify nomadic, miserly lifestyles, which is perhaps fine for single folks, but once you get married and have kids, the expenses will add up no matter what. If you’re a man, you need to have a decent job and provide for your family.

The fifth factor is the possibility of retreating from society if there are tribulations. The Prophet (SAW) said, “A time will soon come when the best property of a Muslim will be sheep which he will take on the top of mountains and the places of rainfall (valleys) so as to flee with his religion from afflictions.” Whether this time is already here, or will come in the future, Allah knows best. But one day, you might be forced to make the decision to get a cottage in a rural area and busy yourself with gardening and pastoralism. The world was radically different when my parents were my age. Considering the accelerating rate of change, who knows what might happen in society.

Anyway, I’ve just listed the countries below, and a few brief comments on each of the five factors. Note that I┬áhave not cited any references for this information. It’s a combination of stuff I read online here and there, looked up for the purpose of this post, or heard anecdotally from people I know. If you want to verify the information or learn more, Google is your best friend.


 

USA

  1. Citizenship: Yes, if a family member or employer sponsors. Has become difficult in recent years.
  2. Health and Education: Not really. Expensive universities and awful healthcare system.
  3. Practice Islam: Yes, in the cities
  4. Jobs and Housing: For the educated
  5. Retreat: Not quite, maybe in some areas

UK

  1. Citizenship: Yes, if a family member or employer sponsors, or if you move from the EU (pre-Brexit).
  2. Health and Education: Yes
  3. Practice Islam: Yes
  4. Jobs and Housing: Not sure. On paper, economy isn’t as strong as the US.
  5. Retreat: Not really, it’s an island nation and land is scarce

Canada

  1. Citizenship: Yes, if a family member or employer sponsors, or if you get a visa using their “points” system.
  2. Health and Education: Yes, though admissions to good universities are competitive.
  3. Practice Islam: Yes
  4. Jobs and Housing: Not as strong as the US. Housing is very expensive in the cities. Rural areas are run-down or remote.
  5. Retreat: Yes, if you’re willing to face the weather

Europe

  1. Citizenship: Yes, similar to UK
  2. Health and Education Yes
  3. Practice Islam: Starting to become restricted
  4. Jobs and Housing: Not very good prospects
  5. Retreat: No

Muslim Democracies: Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia

  1. Citizenship: Difficult but possible. To actually move there, you usually need a residency permit, which is possible to obtain if you’re willing to jump through a few hoops. To get citizenship, you need to live there for a period of time, and learn the local language.
  2. Health and Education: subpar, but acceptable. You might need to go into debt and travel to the West for rare, complicated procedures.
  3. Practice Islam: Yes
  4. Jobs and Housing: Not as good as the West
  5. Retreat: Yes, and some villagers still live traditionally

Gulf Arab Monarchies

  1. Citizenship: Nope. Need a visa sponsor to even live there, and no path to permanent residence or citizenship.
  2. Health and Education: Not bad
  3. Practice Islam: Only in a restricted and non-political way
  4. Jobs and Housing: Tough
  5. Retreat: No, except maybe Madinah

Pakistan

  1. Citizenship: No, unless you’re a lady who marries a Pakistani man, or a Commonwealth citizen who pays $40,000ish
  2. Health and Education: Not really, unless Imran Khan turns things around
  3. Practice Islam: Yes
  4. Jobs and Housing: Very difficult situation
  5. Retreat: Yes, in some areas

North Africa

  1. Citizenship: No
  2. Health and Education: Not really
  3. Practice Islam: No, lots of political restrictions
  4. Jobs and Housing: Very difficult situation
  5. Retreat: Yes, in some areas

 

Overall Judgement

The number one thing to keep in mind is that this dunya is not our home. We won’t find happiness here. We’re here to worship Allah, to be tested, and to hopefully set ourselves up for salvation in the Hereafter.

My overall judgement is that Canada is the best choice, followed by the US and UK which are tied. The Muslim Democracies are after that. Then Europe, then Pakistan, then Gulf Arab monarchies. North Africa is after that. Any country not mentioned here, for example Russia or China, would be at the end of the list.

These are my preliminary thoughts and I could very well be wrong. If you disagree, please let me know! I’d love to be corrected or engage in a discussion about which area or country is truly best.

Finally, I’ll finish with an ayah from the Qur’an, surah Nur ayah 55.

Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession [to authority] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their religion which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security, [for] they worship Me, not associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that – then those are the defiantly disobedient.

Salaam,

Yousuf

25 September 2018

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s