in category Fiqh (Jurisprudence)

What was the earliest scholarly usage of the terms dar al-Islam and dar al-harb?

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In a Nutshell:
The earliest jurists' works showing these terms is from the Hanafi school of thought by the jurists al-Shaybani in his al-Siyaar al-Kabir and Abu Yusuf in his Kitab al-Kharaj.


Contemporary opponents of these terms (Malekian, Al-Ghunaimi, Mawlawi etc.) dismiss them as areligious seventh-century inventions of legalists, claiming they do not appear in Islamic sources.

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 by Muslim jurists, probably the Hanafi school and al-Awza'i.

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.

All of their claims are mistaken however they are frequently repeated in the academic literature by their successors.


A careful review of the primary sources of Islamic law reveals the Prophet (saw) used 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, 1997, Vol. 7, pp. 427–428)

This answer provides further elaboration.

Juristic Usage

The notion of lands of Islam and those of disbelievers appeared to be in use by earlier scholars. Malik b. Anas (d. 796), the founder of the Maliki school, for instance, in his Muwatta who like Awza'i and others often used the terms "lands of the Muslims"" (ard al-muslimeen) and "the land of the enemy" (ard al-aduww). The specific terms dar al-Islam and dar al-harb in Maliki texts first appear in his student Abd al-Rahman al-Utaqi's (d. 806) the Mudawwana, where Sahnun al-Tanukhi (d. 854) added them as chapter headings.

The earliest documented scholars who wrote in detail on territorial division using these specific terms appears to be the Hanafi school of thought, probably Abu Hanifah (d. 767), as both his students frequently refer to his opinions when discussing both notions. One of the first texts on jihad was the book Kitab al-Jihad by Abd Allah b. al-Mubarak (d. 797). The writings of two of his leading students however have been preserved, those of Qadhi Abu Yusuf (d. 798) and Muhammad al-Shaybani (d. 805).

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) views covering the law of warfare. This suggests the notion was in earlier usage and grew in usage, 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." The earliest jurists' works showing these terms is from the Hanafi school of thought by the jurists Muhammad al-Shaybani and Qadhi Abu Yusuf.


Anas bin Malik, MuwattaAl-Shaybani, al-Siyaar al-Kabir

Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj

Abu Yusuf, al-Radd ala Siyar al-Awza'i

Abd Allah b. al-Mubarak, Kitab al-Jihad

Ibn Sa'd, Al-Tabqat al Kubra, 1997, Vol. 7

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