Abstract This article is a re-examination of the concept of ‘land of Islam’ in the fiqh (understanding) of the classic schools of the Islamic jurisprudence. The objective is to understand the criteria that jurists use for rendering a certain land to be a ‘Land of Islam’. The study reveals that neither Muslims being a majority, nor the application of the corporal part of the Islamic criminal law (ḥudud), is a valid criterion. The study also reveals that the fundamental criteria used in the Islamic jurisprudence have to do with security (al-amn), freedom to practice the Islamic acts of worship (sha˒a’ir al-islam), and justice (al-˒adl).

Thus, although a comprehensive and realistic survey/index is required, a rough assessment of how European countries in general fare on the surveyed criteria gives them a relatively high score on the ‘Land of Islam’ scale. Introduction One of the main concepts that shape Muslim minorities’ worldview is the concept of ‘Muslim countries’, or in other expressions, the ‘Islamic World’, or the ‘Land of Islam’. This concept has a strong impact on the ‘contextualisation’ of Muslims in the west in general and Europe in particular. First, because some Muslims perceive that they live in a ‘non-Muslim’ or ‘disbelieving’ land, they give themselves a special status of an exceptional case, in which they think that the principles of justice and honesty do not apply to their dealings in this land. Some other Muslims, including some who are European to the roots and to the core, always yearn to live in the ‘Land of Islam’. A few of them venture to immigrate or ‘move back’ to that land, only to face an unexpected and sometimes shocking reality. Moreover, and quite unfortunately, a few but loud groups of Muslims take the view that because they do not live in the ‘Land of Islam’, therefore they live in the ‘Land of War’. Bad politics and clash-of-civilizations advocates, also quite unfortunately, give these groups additional justifications to commit crimes –in the name of Islam– against the land they live in and their fellow citizens, and thus, add fuel to an already vicious cycle. Last but not least, a feeling that a European Muslim does not live in his or her ‘natural’ and ‘default’ Land of Islam goes against their other feelings of belonging and identification. This conflict has serious implications on a number of issues, from politics and education to community participation and citizenship. This article is examining the concept of ‘land of Islam’ in various Islamic classic schools of law. The objective is to understand whether this concept is an absolute concept that is defined via certain geographical borders, or it is, rather, a concept that is relative to certain values and conditions. Thus, this article is asking two questions: 1. What are the criteria for judging a certain geographical area to be a ‘Land of Islam’, in the Classic Islamic Jurisprudence sense? In this regard, reference is made to popular classic sources, in addition to modern interpretations of them. 2. Based on these criteria, how can we assess a certain geographical/political area as being close to the ideal ‘Land of Islam’? Sharī˒ah versus Fiqh Before discussing definitions of ‘dar al-Islam’ (land of Islam), one must note that this whole discussion does not fall in the area of sharī˒ah (the constant Islamic divine way). It falls rather in the area of fiqh (which is the human understanding of this divine way). The word fiqh is used in the Qur’an and hadith in various forms to refer to the process of understanding, comprehension, and gaining knowledge of the religion in general. Eventually, and since the end of the era of the imams of the Islamic schools of law/thought around the third Islamic century, the word fiqh has been typically defined as, ‘knowledge of practical revealed rulings extracted from detailed evidences’. ‘Detailed evidences’ are verses from the Qur’an and narrations of prophetic hadith. On the other hand, the term ‘sharī˒ah law’ has negative connotations in the English language, because it is normally used to refer to various corporal punishments used in some countries. Statistically speaking, these punishments have been applied predominantly on the weak and marginalised in these societies. This partial application raises serious questions about the political motives behind applying these punishments, regardless of the juridical/theological debates over them. Nevertheless, the word sharī˒ah is used in the Qur’an to mean a ‘revealed way of life,’ for example, the word ‘shir˒ah’ in Surat al-Ma’idah, {To each of you We prescribed a law and a way} (5:48), and the word sharī˒ah in Surat al-Jathiyah. {Then We put you, [O Muúammad], on an ordained way concerning the matter [of religion]; so follow it and do not follow the inclinations of those who do not know} (45:18). Yusuf Ali translated them as ‘Law’ and ‘Way,’ respectively. Picktall translated them as ‘divine law’ and ‘road.’ Irving translated them as ‘code of law’ and ‘highroad.’ My translation of the word sharī˒ah to mean ‘a way of life’ is similar to Ramadan’s. However, in the First Encyclopaedia of Islam, Schacht defines shari˒ah as a ‘canon law’ that is sometimes ‘synonymous’ with fiqh. He wrote: SHARI`A (A) also SHAR` (originally infinitive), the road to the watering place, the clear path to be followed the path which the believer has to tread, the religion of Islam, as a technical term, the canon law of Islam, the totality of Allah’s commandments … Fikh (along with the sciences of tafsir and hadith and the ancillary sciences) is the science of the shari`a or the shar’I` (c.f. FIKH) and sometimes be used as synonymous with it, and the `usūl al-fikh are also called usūl al-shar`. Nevertheless, it is important to differentiate fiqh from sharī˒ah. First, the two terms refer to two different meanings; fiqh represents the ‘human’ part of the Islamic law, while sharī˒ah, by definition, represents the ‘heavenly’ part of this law, for the believers. Thus, the term faqīh is used for people with ‘understanding’ (fahm), ‘perception’ (taṣawwur), and ‘cognition’ (idrāk), and is not to be used for God. This is because, for the believers, fiqh is an attribute of deficiency, rather than an attribute of perfection. On the other hand, the term Al-Shāri˒ (‘The Legislator’) refers to God himself, and could not be used for humans, except for the Prophet, when he ‘conveys a message from God’. This differentiation entails the following two consequences, which have a direct impact on the concepts of ‘land of Islam’ and ‘land of war’: 1. Fiqh could not claim to be ‘infallible’ or ‘perfect’, and a faqih could possibly be right or wrong on any opinion. Scholars (Fuqaha) correct each other via juridical debating (munazarah). Sharī˒ah, for the believers, cannot be wrong, because the Qur’an and the prophetic sayings, when the Prophet conveys a message from God, are truths in their own right. 2. Fiqh is changeable, and in fact must change with the change of place and time (except for the ritual acts of worship). Sharī˒ah, for the believers, does not change with the change of space and time. Thus, blurring the line between fiqh and sharī˒ah does not allow the changeable parts of the law to ‘evolve’ with the change of time and place. Moreover, it gives way to claims of ‘divinity’ and ‘sanctity’ in human juridical ijtihād/opinions. Historically, these claims have resulted in two serious phenomena, namely, mutual accusations of heresy and resistance of renewal in the Islamic law. The above analysis applies directly to the fiqhi concepts/constructs of ‘dar al-Islam’ and ‘dar al- Ḥarb’, both of which are mentioned nowhere in the Islamic scripts of Quran and hadith, to start with. In other words, the concept of a ‘dar’ is not ‘revealed sharī˒ah’, contrary to some current opinions. It is merely a fiqhi interpretation of the sharī˒ah that had its historical context. It could be valid, but is not ‘infallible’ and is indeed ‘changeable’. Classic Definitions of Dar al-Islam For the sake of this article, a survey was carried out on the concept of the ‘Land of Islam’ (dar al-islam) in the main classic sources of the Islamic law known today, which includes various Sunni, Shia, and Ibadi Schools of Law, and related contemporary studies. The results of the survey reveal some interesting facts and popular misconceptions. First, the two current popular criteria that define whether or not a country is ‘Islamic’ or part of the ‘Land of Islam’ are not supported by any school of the Islamic law. 1. The first criteria is having some sort of a 50% +1 majority of Muslims, regardless of whether the constitution states that it is a ‘secular country’, such as in Turkey, whether the constitution does not define any specific religion for that country, such as in Nigeria or Indonesia, whether the head of state is non-Muslim, such as in Lebanon, or whether the Islamic rituals and acts of worship are not generally practiced, such as in a number of former Soviet Union States. In fact, a number of classic judicial sources from various schools clearly state that the issue of Muslims being a majority or a minority in a certain country is irrelevant to a land being a ‘Land of Islam’. 2. The other popular criteria, which was recently applied to a rural region of tribal Pakistan in an attempt to get it out of the ‘Land of War’ zone (!), is the application of the Islamic criminal law (especially the corporal part known as ḥudud). However, we also did not find any explicit mention in any classic school of Islamic law that relates the ‘Islamicity’ of a land or a state specifically to the application of ḥudud. To answer the question ‘what are the classic criteria for a Land of Islam’, the results of the survey carried out for the sake of this study could be summarised in the following five criteria. 1. A land where Islamic rules (aḥkam al-islam) apply. 2. A land where a Muslim ruler has control (isteela’) over its affairs. 3. A land of security (al-amn). 4. A land where the practicing of public acts of worship (sha˒a’ir al-islam) is allowed. 5. A ‘Land of Justice’ (dar al-˒adl). The following is a brief analysis of each of these concepts and their implications. The ‘Land of Islamic Rulings’ A popular definition of the Land of Islam in classic sources is, ‘the land where the Islamic rulings are applied’. The question is: What are these ‘Islamic rulings’? There is a popular (mis-)conception that the application of the Islamic rulings in a society is synonymous with the codification of the Islamic law in its legal system. However, the very concept of law, in the qanun (legal system) sense, was not known in Muslim-majority countries until late nineteenth century. It is indeed a concept that has a ‘post-colonial’ context, the analysis of which is beyond the scope of this article. Nevertheless, it is safe to assume that the ‘application of the Sharī˒ah in the legal system’, or ‘Sharī˒ah-compliant laws’, were definitely not part of the ‘Land of Islam’ classic interpretation. I had an interesting conversation with a Muslim convert from London, U.K., which is quite relevant to this research. He insisted that every law in the Europe is ‘non-Islamic’, and when I asked him to explain why, he said: Because the legislators are not Muslims. I asked: The laws that criminalise theft, killing, monopoly, bribery, abuse, and so on, aren’t these ‘Islamic laws’. He said: No, because the people proposed them are not Muslim. I replied: But that is irrelevant, isn’t it? He replied: No, because they did not have the right ‘intention’ (niyyah) when they proposed them. I asked: What do you think their intent was? He said: The intent behind these laws is the achievement of justice. I exclaimed: Isn’t justice an ‘Islamic’ intent for the law? He replied: No, because they applied justice because it best served the material well-being of the people, not because it is ordained by God. I replied: But the well-being of the people is exactly the purpose of God’s order to establish justice, isn’t it? He disagreed. The conversation outlined above show the general (mis-)perception of the ‘non-Islamic’ versus ‘Islamic’ dichotomy in the ‘application of the Islamic rulings’ in a society. In the classic texts, however, the ‘Islamic ruling’ (aḥkam al-islam) were explained in several other senses, which the rest of this article will attempt to investigate. The ‘Land of a Muslim Ruler’ To have a Muslim ruler in ‘control’ (isteela’) over the affairs of a certain land is a criterion that some classic and contemporary scholars used for judging that a certain land is indeed a ‘Land of Islam’. Al-Mawardi, for example, explicitly mentions that ‘when Muslims reside in and control a certain land, it becomes a Land of Islam’. However, this criterion is subject to a number of conditions to be valid, prime of which is the ability of Muslims to practice their religious obligations, a public feeling of security, and the application of justice. A Muslim ruler who fails to observe or work towards these obligations jeopardises the status of ‘Land of Islam’ of his jurisdiction. Sheikh Rashid Reda summarizes these conditions as follows: Indeed, many countries that are governed by Muslim leaders are countries where one is forced against practicing his/her religion and cannot reveal everything he/she believes in or fulfils his/her practical Islamic obligations, especially enjoying good, forbidden evil, and the ability to criticise rulings that go against the Divine Law. This land, according to some scholars, is a ‘Land of War’. Thus, the existence of enough security and freedom to allow Muslims to practice religion is, juridically speaking, more essential than the religion of the ruler. The ‘Land of Security’ In fact, a number of Imams stated that security is the purpose (maqṣud) of the Land of Islam versus Land of War classification, to start with, and not ‘Islam’ versus ‘non-Islam’ per se. For example, Imam Abu Hanifa states: The purpose (maqṣud) of calling a certain land a ‘Land of Islam’ or a ‘land of disbelief (kufr)’ is not Islam versus kufr. It is security versus insecurity. Mecca itself – according to Imam al-Bayhaqi for example – became a ‘Land of Islam’ after its ‘conquest’ only because of its newly found sense of security. He writes: Mecca became a ‘Land of Islam’ and ‘land of security’ after its conquest because no one there was forced against his/her religion. Any other land is likewise if it acquires the same kind of security. It is clear from the classic definitions too that security itself is means to the end of freedom to practice the Islamic ‘public acts of worship’ (Arabic: sha˒a’ir al-islam). Several scholars mentioned that a Muslims who have enough security and freedom to practice sha˒a’ir al-islam actually live in a ‘Land of Islam’, even if they were minority. Al-Qummi Al-Naisaburi explains: Muslims, even a minority, are prevailing over non-Muslims, even if they were a majority, if they are not prevented from practicing the public Islamic acts of worship (sha˒a’ir al-islam). The next section elaborates on these Islamic public acts of worship, which appear to form a rather basic criterion for judging a land to be a ‘Land of Islam’. The ‘Land of Freedom to practice Islam’ The majority of scholars and schools of Islamic law find this criterion to be the ‘true sign that a certain land is a Land of Islam’. Many of them refer to certain prophetic traditions during the times of war and interpret them to mean that certain acts, such as group prayers in the mosque, the call for prayer (adhan), pilgrimage, the celebration of ˒Eid, and so on, identify the ‘land of Islam’. Al-Mawardi, for example, writes: The public acts of worship (sha˒a’ir) of Islam such as group prayers in mosques and call for prayers are the criteria by which the Prophet, peace be upon him, differentiated between the Land of Islam and the Land of Disbelief. Perhaps it is useful here to reiterate that Al-Mawardi’s ‘land of Islam’ and ‘land of disbelief’ expressions are not expressions that appeared in the text of the narrations. They are his own ‘fiqh’ or understanding of them. This understanding, however, is shared by a large number of jurists. Al-Razi, for example, writes: If the Islamic acts of worship are evident in streets and public places, this certainly entails that Islam is dominant. Ibn Taymiyah writes: The public acts of worship (sha˒a’ir) of Islam are the true signs that a certain land is a Land of Islam. These ‘public acts of worship’ (sha˒a’ir) include a variety of Islamic rituals, which include one or more of the following, according to the various schools of law that were included in the survey: 1. The daily five prayers. 2. The Call (azan) for the prayers. 3. Friday prayers. 4. Fasting in Ramaḍan. 5. Giving the annual (zakah) charity. 6. Pilgrimage (Hajj). 7. Ablution (Wudu). 8. Festival (˒eid) prayers. 9. Recitation the Qur’an. 10. Circumcision (of boys). 11. Sacrificing animals (to feed the poor). 12. Building mosques, and especially minarets. 13. Greeting people with ‘peace be upon you’. 14. Charitable endowments (awaqaf). Thus, if Muslims are allowed to practice the above acts of worship in a given land, this land becomes a ‘Land of Freedom to practice Islam’; an expression that is synonymous with the ‘Land of Islam’ according to many sources. But if we objectively assess various countries, provinces, regions, or cities around the world based on Muslims’ freedom to practice the above specific Islamic acts of worship, and create some sort of ‘index’ for them, we will quickly realise that many European countries and regions would easily score a full score, more or less. This imaginary ‘index’ would directly suggest changing or re-interpreting the definition of the ‘land of Islam’ to include these countries and cities in it. The ‘Land of Justice’ (Dar al-˒adl) This criterion, the achievement of justice, is so central in the Islamic concept of ‘Land of Islam’ to the extent that the ‘land of justice’ term interchangeably with the ‘Land of Islam’ term in numerous sources. Justice is the basis of all of the above criteria, according to many Islamic jurists, and hence more fundamental in the Islamic principles and purposes. Thus, an ‘Islamic leadership’ that is not based on justice and is based on ‘ethnic solidarity’ (˒aṣabiyyah) does not constitute a valid condition for the ‘Land of Islam’. Rashid Reḍa, for example, explains: The land of justice, which is the Land of Islam, is a land that has a true leader who establishes justice. This is contrary to the ‘land of injustice and aggression’, in which governorship is based on some ‘ethnic solidarity’ (˒aṣabiyyah), practiced by some Muslims, regardless of the establishment of the Islamic rulings. Al-Mawardi also stresses the importance of ‘competence’ and a ‘good character’ of the leader in the ‘Land of Justice’. He writes: People who are qualified to make decisions in the Land of Justice should choose a leader who possesses a good character and competency. Ibn Taymiyah holds the ‘achievement of justice’ in a state as most fundamental and deserving of God’s support, even for a ‘nation of disbelievers’. He writes: In this life, people prevail when justice prevails in their society even if they fall into various kinds of sins. However, people will not prevail when injustice and lack of rights prevail in their society. That is why the saying goes: God upholds a state established on justice, even if it were a nation of disbelievers, and would not uphold a state established on injustice, even if it were a nation of Muslims. The other saying goes: This world lives with justice and disbelief, and does not live with injustice and Islam. The Prophet, peace be upon him, had said: ‘No sin has a faster Divine punishment than the sin of injustice …’. Thus, people of injustice fail in this life, even if they were to be forgiven in the hereafter. This is because justice is the universal law of things. Discussion Popular Islamic juridical investigations tend to think in terms of ‘opposing tendencies’ that, in my view, constitute false dichotomies. Thus, ideas are always expressed in terms of contradictions, such as, abrogating versus abrogated (nāsikh/mansūkh), exact versus illusionary (munḍabiṭ/mawhūm), subjective versus objective (shakhsi/mawdu˒I), and land of Islam versus land of war (dar al-Islam/dar al-Ḥarb). This way of thinking limited the ability of the Islamic law to take into consideration cases in the ‘grey area’ between these extreme positions and stances. If we imagine a human vision that is confined to a false binary choice between black and white, we will wind up losing an infinite number of grey levels in a picture, let alone missing on its colours. Similarly, the ‘Land of Islam’ versus the ‘Land of War or Disbelief’, ‘good ruler’ versus ‘evil ruler’, ‘security’ versus ‘insecurity’, ‘freedom in practicing Islam’ versus ‘no freedom in practicing Islam’, and ‘justice’ versus ‘injustice’, are all false dichotomies. There is no land anywhere that has any of the above features in absolute terms. In other words, the achievement of the criteria presented in this article, especially the three most fundamental (security, freedom, and justice) is relative, whether in a Muslim-majority or a Muslim-minority society. Thus, and perhaps contrary to popular (mis-)perceptions, a country that is juridically worthy of being a ‘Land of Islam’, ‘Land of Security’, or ‘Land of Justice’ is a country that achieves a relatively high score on the criteria that are detailed above. Building an ‘index’ for that score obviously requires a comprehensive and realistic survey of various countries in order to create a measurable ranking of some sort. However, a rough but reasonable assessment of how European countries meet all of the above criteria gives them a relatively high score on the ‘Land of Islam’ scale.