Quora Answer: Does the Qur’an Say We Have to Obey the Laws of the Land?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is my answer to a Quora question: “Does the Qur’an Say we have to obey the laws of the land?

The problem with tafsir, exegesis, is that anybody could cite this or that verse, and claim either position.  The application of verses of the Qur’an is known as fiqh, jurisprudence.  Within the context of jurisprudence, which is the interpretation of the Divine Intent, and prophetic intent, it is unanimous, an ijma’, that a Muslim should obey the law of the land.  This may be seen in the behaviour of the Prophet (s.a.w.), and his example.

For example, when the Prophet (s.a.w.) first migrated to Madina, he made a covenant with the non-Muslims there, both the polytheists, and the Jews, and adhered to them.  He made a peace treaty with the Quraysh, and he adhered to that as well.  In all cases, the other parties violated the treaty, never the Prophet (s.a.w.).  When a Muslim pledges allegiance to a state, that is his word, and it is to be adhered to as well.

The only condition where a Muslim may disobey the law of the land is when it violates his right to practice his religion.  An example would be when they ban Islam, or ban the prayers, or overt signs of faith.  In such a condition, he should avail himself to the legal process, and dialogue.  If he is unable, then he should hijrah, migrate, like the first Muslims, to a place that allows him religious freedom.  And when even that is insufficient, then he may fight to the extent that his rights are established, and cease hostilities once that is achieved.  This is the clear example of the Prophet (s.a.w.), from the earliest days of the Call, to the hijrah, to the battles with the enemies of Islam.  And once the Quraysh were defeated, he announced clemency, and gave generous terms.


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