Obeying the laws of the land

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad

Q. What are the evidences for those who say that it is obligatory to obey the laws of the land ? In England for example it is against the law to drive without car insurance, yet some people hold this to be an action that is haram, some otherwise. If suddenly it became unlawful in a particular country for Muslim women to wear hijab, would they still be bound by ‘the law of the land’ ?

A. Under life-threatening circumstances or those of extreme duress such as harassment, torture, threat to livelihood, or even threat to one’s reputation which is likely to lead to any of the above, the haram becomes permissible. However, when it is possible to show and practice one’s religion safely, then the ruling of permissibility no longer applies. The principle at work is called taklif ma la yutaq or “holding responsible for what is unbearable”, which Allah precluded with the verse: la yukallifu Allahu nafsan illa wus`aha — Allah does not place upon a soul a burden except that it can bear. Allah knows best.

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