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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Masters in Education from Nottingham University, qualified teacher in the UK. Has studied Masters in Islamic Studies also Islamic Banking and Finance. Interests in Politics/History/Philosophy.
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In a Nutshell:
Dar al-Islam refers to territory where security is available for Muslims and shari'ah is implemented; absence of either would revert it to 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 definitions or clarification of the requirements for each

The absence of any clear political definitions or qualifications 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.

Dar al-Islam

The Hanafi 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-Mabsuţ, Vol. 10, p. 23)
Hanafi jurists like al-Kasani in Badā'i' al-Sanā'i (Vol. 9, p.515), Malikis like al-Dasuqi in Hāshiyah Al-Dasūqī (Vol. 2, p. 188) and Hanbalis like Ibn Muflih in Al-Ādāb 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 Shāfi'ī jurists had a similar understnding albeit appending additional historical realities into the defintion. Al-Bujayrimi for instance in Sharh al-Bujayrimī (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 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, Qadāyā Fiqhiyyah Mu'āsarah, p. 182).

Responding to such claims, the contemporary scholar Fattani in his book Ikhtilāf al-Dārayn wa Atharuhū fī Ahkām al-Munākahāt wa al-Mu'āmalāt 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'ā'ir al-ta'abudiyyah) manifests in a country due to the kindness of the non-Muslim authority for that country to become Dār al-Islām. (p. 33)
View all notes
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 zakāh 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 dissention 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'ānah, 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.


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.


Abu Zahrah, Al-Ilāqāt al-Dawliyyah fī al-Islām (International Relations in Islam)

Al-Buti, Qadāyā Fiqhiyyah Mu'āsarah

Al-Dasuqi, Hāshiyah

Al-Kasani, Badā'i' al-Sanā'i

Al-Tariqi, Al-Isti'anah

Ibn Muflih, Al-Adab al-Shar'iyyah

Ibn Qayyim, Ahkām Ahl al-Dhimmah

Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Reliance of the Traveller

Zaydan, Ahkām al-Dhimmiyyīn wa al-Musta'manīn fī Dār al-Islām (Rules Regarding Non-Muslim Subjects and Visitors in Muslim Territories

Al-Zuhayli, Āthār al-Harb

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