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In a Nutshell:
The Prophet (saw) used the terms in a number of authentic traditions, one famously stating "The centre of Dar al-Islam is in Sham" (Ibn Sa'd). It is also cited in early documented correspondence demonstrating these terms were in circulation among the early prophetic companions, such as Khalid bin al-Walid, and commonly cited by early Hanafi jurists like Abu Yusuf and al-Shaybani.


Contemporary opponents of these terms are quick to dismiss them as areligious seventh-century inventions of legalists as opposed to being rooted in Islamic sources.

Perpetual hostilities between Muslims and non-Muslims, in the early centuries of Islam they claim gave birth to the terms Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb. Therefore, to define the political reality of their time, classical jurists adopted these as part of their juristic terms. The classification of the world in two or three abodes is allegedly not found in the shari'a but an accommodation of Islamic laws to later warring environment to secure the safety of Muslims.

Examples of such claimants would include: Farhad Malekian in his The Concept of Islamic International Criminal Law (p. 7); Mohammad Talaat Al-Ghunaimi inThe Muslim Conception of International Law and the Western Approach (pp. 183–184); and Faysal Mawlawi in Al-Ussus al-Shar'iyyah lil-'Ilaqat Bayn al-Muslimin wa Ghayr al-Muslimin (The Legal Foundation for the Relationship Between Muslims and Non-Muslims) (p. 99). Even Wikipedia's page on the subject contained such a claim - "Divisions of the world in Islam" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divisions_of_the_world_in_Islam).

Some went further even identifying non-Islamic influences that contributed to this alleged process, citing examples of similar worldviews from the Romans and Greeks, who distanced themselves from their barbarian neighbours. The possibility of a casual resemblance as an alternative explanation was not considered.

All such claims are mistaken.


A careful review of the primary sources of Islamic law reveals the Prophet (saw) did in fact use the terms Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb to refer to Islamic and non-Islamic territories.

It is recorded by Ibn Sa'd in an authentic chain (isnad) on the authority of Salamah bin Nufayl al-Hadrami who narrates from Jubayr bin Nufayr, who narrates from al-Walid bin Abd al Rahman al-Jarashi, who narrates from Muhammad bin Muhajir al-Ansari, who narrates from of al-Walid bin Muslim, that the Prophet (saw) said:

"The centre of Dar al-Islam is in Sham." (Ibn Sa'd, al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 7, pp. 427–428)

Al-Mawardi in his al-Hawi al-kabir, cites the following narration which he considered authentic:

قَالَ النَّبِيُّ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم َ – مَنَعَتْ دَارُ الْإِسْلَامِ مَا فِيهَا، وَأَبَاحَتْ دَارُ الشرك ما فيها

Dar al-Islam and what is within it is prohibited (to take from – i.e. by force), whereas whatever is within dar al-shirk is permitted (to take from)

Tabarani in his al-Mu'jam al-Kabir narrated:

أَلاَ إِنَّ عُقْرَ دَارِ الإسلام الشَّامُ

"The worthiest of the believers' abode is al-Sham"

Al-Sham is the Levant region incorporating Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

In another narration Ibn Buraidah narrated his father said:

كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا أَمَّرَ رَجُلاً عَلَى سَرِيَّةٍ أَوْصَاهُ فِي خَاصَّةِ نَفْسِهِ بِتَقْوَى اللَّهِ وَمَنْ مَعَهُ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ خَيْرًا فَقَالَ ‏ "‏ اغْزُوا بِاسْمِ اللَّهِ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ .. ثمّ ادعهم إلى الإسلامِ، فإنْ أجابوك، فاقبلْ منهم، وكُفَّ عنهم، ثمّ ادعهم إلى التّحوّل مِن دارهم إلى دار المهاجرين...

Whenever he appointed a man to lead a military detachment, the Messenger of Allah (saw) would advise him especially to fear Allah and treat the Muslims with him well. He (saw) said: 'Fight in the Name of Allah and in the cause of Allah…Then invite them to leave their land and move to the land of the emigrants (i.e. land of Islam). (Musnad Abu Hanifah, 566; Ibn Majah, 24:2967)

In another version narrated by Muhamad ibn al-Hasan he said:

وادعوهم إلى التحول إلى دار الإسلام

Then invite them to move to dar al-Islam (abode of Islam)

The letter of Khalid bin Walid mentions

"...as long as he lives in the Dar al-Hijrah and Dar al-Islam. If they leave the dar of the Muhajirs, the Dar al-Islam, then the Muslims are not obliged to maintain his family." (Abu Ubaid, "Kitaab al-Amwaal", p. 98; Abu Yusuf, "Kitaab al-Kharaaj", pp. 155-156)

The scholar Wahba al-Zuhayli argues there are some ahadith where the Prophet (saw) called Mecca ante-migration Dar al-Harb and Medina Dar al-Islam. (Wahba al-Zuhayli, p. 170.)

Furthermore, documented correspondence also proves that these terms were in use among the early prophetic companions, such as Khalid bin al-Walid (d. 21 AH/642).

There are variations of the above narrations, albeit phrased slightly differently, but with a similar meaning.

... ثُمَّ ادْعُهُمْ إِلَى التَّحَوُّلِ مِنْ دَارِهِمْ إِلَى دَارِ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, "…Then invite them to move from their territory to that of the emigrants (Muhajireen)" (Muslim)

وَأَحَلُّوا قَوْمَهُمْ دَارَ الْبَوَارِ

"Have you not considered those who exchanged the favour of Allah for disbelief and settled their people [in] the home of ruin?" (Qur'an 14:28)

الَّذِي أَحَلَّنَا دَارَ الْمُقَامَةِ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ

"He who has settled us in the home of duration out of His bounty." (Qur'an 35:35)

رَحِمَ اللَّهُ أَبَا بَكْرٍ زَوَّجَنِيَ ابْنَتَهُ وَحَمَلَنِي إِلَى دَارِ الْهِجْرَةِ

Imam Ali is reported to have said, "May Allah have mercy upon Abu Bakr, he married his daughter to me and carried me to the land (abode) of migration (Dar al-Hijrah)" (Ibn Asakir with a Hasan Sahih chain, Tirmidhi)

إِذَا خَرَجَ العَبْدُ مِنْ دَارِ الشِّرْكِ قَبْلَ سَيِّدِهِ فَهُوَ حُرٌ، وَإِذَا خَرَجَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ رُدَّ إِلَيْهِ. وَإِذَا خَرَجَتِ المَرْأَةُ مِنْ دَارِ الشِّرْكِ قَبْلَ زَوْجِهَا تَزَوَّجَتْ مَنْ شَاءَتْ، وَإِذَا خَرَجَتْ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ رُدَّتْ إِلَيْهِ"

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "If the slave leaves the abode of Shirk (Dar-Al-Shirk) before his master, then he is free, and if he leaves after him, then he is returned to him, and if a woman leaves the abode of Shirk before her husband, she can marry whom she pleases, and if she leaves after him, then she is returned to him." (Daraqutni)

Whilst Tabari narrates:

Umar b. al-Khattab assembled the people and asked them, "From what day shall we begin our dating?" Ali said, "From the day on which the Messenger of God emigrated and abandoned the land of polytheism (dar al-shirk)." 'Umar followed this advice. (Tarikh al-Tabari)

Amongst the earliest documented scholars who wrote in detail on this territorial division appears to be the Hanafi jurists Qadhi Abu Yusuf (d. 798) and Muhammad al-Shaybani (d. 805), both students of Imam Abu Hanifa (d. 767).

Al-Shaybani in his al-Siyaar al-Kabir, a legal treatise on international relations, frequently refers to the terms dar al-Islam and dar al-harb as part of his systematic treatment of the subject of political relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. Qadhi Abu Yusuf also uses the terms in his Kitab al-Kharaj, which addresses administration of territories coming under Muslim governance, and in his comments on al-Awza'i's (d. 774) book Kitab al-Radd ala Siyar al-Awza'i, covering the law of warfare.

This adds weight that the notion was in early circulation, growing in usage over time, appearing in titles of chapters and sections in hadith compilations of al-Bukhari (d. 870) and al-Darim (d. 869) a hundred years later.


The Prophet (saw) used the terms in a number of authentic traditions, stating "The centre of Dar al-Islam is in Sham." It is also cited in early documented correspondence demonstrating these terms were in circulation among the early prophetic companions, such as Khalid bin al-Walid, and commonly cited by early Hanafi jurists like Abu Yusuf and al-Shaybani.


Ibn Sa'd, Al-Tabqat al Kubra (The Grand Stratum), Vol. 7
Wahba al-Zuhayli, Athar al-Harb fi al-Fiqh al-Islami Dirasah Muqaranah (The Effects of Warfare in Islamic Jurisprudence: A Comparative Study)
Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj
Al-Shaybani, al-Siyaar al-Kabir

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