in category Fiqh (Jurisprudence)

What is meant by Dar al-Islam and Dar al-harb?

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Are these ideas mentioned in the revelation or were they made up later?
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In a Nutshell: Dar al-Islam refers to territory where security is controlled by Muslims and shari'ah is implemented; absence of either usually meant it was dar al-Harb.


The Prophet (saw) is narrated as having used the terms dar al-Islam and dar al-harb to describe Muslim and non-Muslim territories. However, he did not provide any explicit definitions or clarification of the requirements for each which meant jurists had to determine the conditions of membership from analysing the sources.

They differed on the peripheral aspects but concurred on the core themes and conditions.


The scholars agreed a territory is termed dar al-Islam (home of Islam) where control and sovereignty belongs to Muslims and the shari'a was implemented. Peripheral conditions were disputed and differed upon. These core conditions mean it is irrelevant if its inhabitants are mainly Muslims or not, or whether Muslims are allowed to perform aspects of Islam with the permission of disbelievers who hold power. Hanafi jurists like al-Kasani in Bada'i al-Sana'i (Vol. 9, p.515), Malikis like al-Dasuqi in Hashiyah Al-Dasuqi (Vol. 2, p. 188) and Hanbalis like Ibn Muflih in Al-Adab al-Shar'iyyah (Vol. 1, pp. 211-212) stipulate the political manifestation of Islamic law (Shari'ah) and the authority to be with Muslims. The Shafi'i jurists had a similar understanding albeit appending additional historical realities into the definition. Al-Bujayrimi for instance in Sharh al-Bujayrimi (Vol. 4, pp.331-332) argued it was where Muslims resided, even if dhimmis lived there, or land Muslims had conquered but maintained it under non-Muslims or they resided there but were later dispelled by non-Muslims.

The Hanafi school developed the greatest expertise in this area, their members involved at the highest levels of state for centuries.

The jurist al-Sarakhsi defined dar al-Islam as:

"A place which is under the authority or ownership of Muslims and the proof of this is that Muslims are safe therein." (al-Sarakhsi, al-Mabsut, Vol. 10, p. 23)

Other scholars who discussed the issue in detail include Qadi Abu Ya'la, Ibn Muflih, al-Rafi'i, Quhustani, Shihab al-Bazzazi and al-Bujayrami et al held similar views with minor peripheral differences, including the fourteenth century Hanbali jurist Ibn Qayyim who notes:

قال الجمهــور: دار الإسـلام هى التي نزلها المسلمــون وجــرت عليـها أحكــام الإسلام، وما لم تجر عليه أحكام الإسلام لم يكن دار إسلام وإن لاصقها، فهذه الطائف قريبة إلى مكة جداً ولم تصر دار إسلام بفتح مكة

The jumhur of the ullama say dar al-Islam is where the Muslims go and reside and the Islamic rules are dominant. If people (the Muslims) reside in one place and Islam becomes dominant that is dar al-Islam. If however, Islam does not become dominant it is not (considered) dar al-Islam even if it is in close proximity to the state. Taa'if was so close to Makkah (at the time when Makkah was dar al-Islam) but it did not become part of dar al-Islam until it was conquered. (Kitab Ahkam ahl al-Dhimmah, Vol. 1, p. 366)

Qadi Abu Ya'la said:

كل دار كانـت الغلبة فيها لأحكام الكفر دون أحكام الإسلام فهى دار الكفر

Any country where the law is Kufr (disbelief) instead of Islam is dar al-Kufr. (Al-Mu'tamad fi Usul al-Din, p. 276)

Ibn Muflih said:

فكل دار غلب عليها أحكام المسلمين فدار الإسلام، وإن غلب عليها أحكام الكفر فدار الكفر، ولا دار لغيرهما

There are only two, dar al-Islam and dar al-Kufr. Any dar (domain) where Islamic law is dominant is dar al-Islam, and any domain where Kufr law is dominant is dar al-Kufr, there are only these two camps. (Al-Adab al-Shar'yah, Vol. 1, p. 213)

The Shafi'i scholar Al-Rafi'i argued:

دار الإسلام ثلاثة أقسام : قسم يسكنه المسلمون ، وقسم فتحوه وأقروا أهله عليه بجزية ملكوه أو لا ، وقسم كانوا يسكنونه ثم غلب عليه الكفار.
قال الرافعي وعدهم القسم الثاني يبين أنه يكفي في كونها دار إسلام كونها تحت استيلاء الإمام وإن لم يكن فيها مسلم قال : وأما عدهم الثالث فقد يوجد في كلامهم ما يشعر بأن الاستيلاء القديم يكفي لاستمرار الحكم ، ورأيت لبعض المتأخرين أن محله إذا لم يمنعوا المسلمين منها وإلا فهي دار كفر انتهى.

Dar al-Islam comprises three kinds: the first kind where the Muslims live, the second kind where the land was conquered and given to its people on payment of the jizya tribune, and the third kind where Muslims used to live before it was conquered by non-Muslims. The second kind explains that it is sufficient for it to be dar al-Islam based on it being under the conquest (seizure) of the Imam (Caliph) even if there were no Muslims in it. Furthermore, it is found in the third kind it is felt the historic (old) conquest of Islam is sufficient for the continuation of the rule..." (Dr Salim, Ahkam al-ahwal al-shaksiyyah li al-muslimeen fi al-gharb, p.31)

Sulayman bin Mohammed al-Bujayrimi states:

هي كلّ أرض تظهر فيها أحكام الإسلام - ويراد بظهور أحكام الإسلام: كلّ حكم من أحكامه، أو يسكنها المسلمون وإن كان معهم فيها أهل ذمّة، أو فتحها المسلمون، وأقرّوها بيد الكفّار، أو كانوا يسكنونها، ثمّ أجلاهم الكفّار

"Dar al-Islam is the entire land where the Islamic laws (ahkam al-Islam) appear and it is intended by the phrase "appearance of the Islamic laws" every law from its laws, or Muslims live there even if there were with them ahl al-dhimma (those protected by Muslim Rulers), or it was opened up by Muslims, or it was given to govern by the hand of non-Muslims or they were living there and were expelled by the kuffar from it."and it is intended by the phrase "appearance of the Islamic laws" every law from its laws, or Muslims live there even if there were with them ahl al-dhimma (those protected by Muslim Rulers), or it was opened up by Muslims, or it was given to govern by the hand of non-Muslims or they were living there and were expelled by the kuffar from it." (Nihaya al-Muhtaj)

Dar al-Islam

The classical doctrine of all four schools clearly include "manifestation of Islamic rule", referring to the political implementation of the Islamic ruling system. However, some contemporary scholars exploit this term and try to redefine "Islamic rule" via crude means such as prayers or call to prayers (e.g., Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Reliance of the Traveller, p. 947; Al-Buti, Qadaya Fiqhiyyah Mu'asarah, p. 182).

Responding to such claims, the contemporary scholar Fattani in his book Ikhtilaf al-Darayn wa Atharuhu fi Ahkam al-Munakahat wa al-Mu'amalat condemns such views arguing:

It is a known fact that the rules of Islam cannot manifest except when Muslims have authority [ … ]. The authority of non-Muslims is not enough because they do not defend the rules of Islam. Hence, it is for this reason that the rules of Islam cannot manifest except that amount which the [non-Muslim] authority permits. As for criminal law, it is not hidden that the rules of non-Muslims is predominant. Therefore it is not sufficient that some aspects of spiritual-Islamic-law [like prayer] (al-shi'a'ir al-ta'abudiyyah) manifests in a country due to the kindness of the non-Muslim authority for that country to become Dar al-Islam. (p. 33)

Fattani clarifies "Islamic rule" by detailing three key components which the classical scholars had agreed upon for a land to be deemed dar al-Islam - all three arise from Qur'anic verses:

"Those when given authority on earth establish the prayer, render the zakah and enjoin what is good and forbid what is bad …" (Qur'an 22:41);

"Allah has promised to make those of you who believe and do righteous deeds leaders on earth as He has made those before them, and will establish their faith which He has chosen for them and change their fear into security. They will serve Me and not associate any one with Me." (Qur'an 24:55)

The three components comprise:

1. The authority, in terms of leadership and military, belongs to Muslims who serve Allah alone and uphold Islam;

2. Security for Muslims

3. Implementing the shari'ah and its insignias, which are defined as:

  • establishing prayers;
  • paying and collecting zakah;
  • enjoining good and forbidding vice (understood as undertaking jihad, observing the lawful/avoiding the unlawful and implementation of shari'ah).

In summary, jurists focused on security and the implementation of shari'ah in any territory for it to qualify as dar al-Islam.

Dar al-Harb

There is little if any dissension regarding the definition of dar al-harb, although jurists have phrased it in different ways.

The Hanafi jurists al-Shaybani (d. 189 AH/805) and Abu Yusuf (d. 182 AH/798) for instance defined dar al-harb as:

"A country in which non-Muslim law is manifest." (Al-Tariqi, Al-Isti'anah, p. 173)

Dar al-harb revolves around the absence of Muslim law and the dominance of non-Muslim law (along with its authority) in any given country.

If dar al-Islam is a country which implements shari'ah through authority and provides security for Muslims, then dar al-harb does not.

It is quite easy to justify the conclusion that the West is not dar al-Islam, but rather dar al-harb.

According to Shariah terminology, Dar al-Islam is defined as the land which is governed by the laws of Islam and whose security (Aman) is maintained by the security of Islam, i.e. by the authority and protection of Muslims inside and outside the land, even if the majority of its inhabitants are non-Muslims.

Dar al-Kufr is the land which is governed by the laws of Kufr, and whose security is not maintained by the security (Aman) of Islam, i.e. by other than the authority and security of Muslims, even if the majority of its inhabitants are Muslims.

So what matters in determining whether the land is Dar al-Islam or Dar al-Kufr is neither the land itself nor its inhabitants, rather it is the laws and the security. So if its laws are Islamic and its security is maintained by Muslims then it is Dar al-Islam. When its laws are the laws of Kufr (disbelief) and its security is not maintained by Muslims then it is Dar al-Kufr. The term Dar al-Harb (land of war) is synonymous with Dar al-Kufr as in origin the aim of Islam is to spread to all lands until the Islamic state encompasses the whole globe.


In summary, jurists focused on security and the implementation of shari'ah in any territory for it to qualify as dar al-Islam; absence of either would revert it to dar al-Harb.

The scholar Sheikh Taqi ud-deen an-Nabhani (died 1977 CE) said:

“The truth is that in considering the land as Dar al-Islam or Dar al-Kufr, two matters must be looked into: firstly, the rule by Islam and secondly the security by the security of Muslims i.e. by their authority (sultan). If the land augments these two elements i.e. it rules by Islam and the security is by the security of Muslims i.e. by their authority, then it becomes a Dar al-Islam and changes from a Dar al-Kufr to a Dar al-Islam. Whereas if it loses one of the two, it does not become a Dar al-Islam. Similarly if Dar al-Islam does not rule by the rule of Islam then it is Dar al-Kufr. The same if it rules by Islam but its security is not by the security of Muslims i.e. their authority, then it also becomes Dar al-Kufr. Hence all the lands of Muslims today are Dar al-Kufr because they do not rule by Islam.” (Shaksiyyah Islamiyya, Vol. 2, p. 249)

Today it is clear that the whole world is Dar al-Kufr as no country including every single Muslim country implements Islam. We see the laws of Allah (swt) abandoned as if they were worth nothing, the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) betrayed and the example of the Sahaba ignored by the rulers of our countries.

It is as Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal said:

“The Fitna (mischief and tribulations) occurs when there is no Imaam established over the affairs of the people.”


Abu Zahrah, Al-Ilaqat al-Dawliyyah fi al-Islam (International Relations in Islam)
Al-Buti, Qadaya Fiqhiyyah Mu'asarah
Al-Dasuqi, Hashiyah
Al-Kasani, Bada'i al-Sana'i
Al-Tariqi, Al-Isti'anah
Ibn Muflih, Al-Adab al-Shar'iyyah
Ibn Qayyim, Ahkam Ahl al-Dhimmah
Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Reliance of the Traveller
Zaydan, Ahkam al-Dhimmiyyin wa al-Musta'manin fi Dar al-Islam (Rules Regarding Non-Muslim Subjects and Visitors in Muslim Territories
Al-Zuhayli, Athar al-Harb

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