by Dr. M. Hamidullah

An excerpt from The Muslim Conduct of State by Dr. M Hamidullah
published by Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 4th ed. Lahore © 1961

(a) In Another Muslim State

(697) In classical times, not much importance was attached to the origin of a Muslim. The mere intention of stay for a couple of weeks rendered him a local citizen, forfeiting all concession in devotional services, etc., recognized for one [who] travels.

(698) Ibn Jubair, the famous traveller, however, mentions that he saw in Cairo that Sultan Salahuddin had appointed a monitor from among the Maghribis to adjudicate between his compatriots residing in Egypt.

(699) In our present time, political nationality has come into play, largely due to the fact that nonMuslim States of Europe and others, even if they concede it to Israel and Jews, would not tolerate that their Muslim subjects should be considered in Muslim States anything except citizens of their political denomination. Even the Orthodox Saudian Kingdom has passed laws of nationality applicable to Muslim pilgrims and immigrants wishing domicile and naturalization.

(b) Muslims in Non Muslim Lands

(700) In classical times, Muslims have enjoyed extra-territorial privileges in many lands. The story begins with Muslim refugees in Abyssinia of the time of the Prophet, and repeats itself in China, in Turkistan, in Malabar (India) and in many other countries.

(701) I have contributed a special monograph 21 on the subject to the Urdu section of the Osmania Magazine (Osmania University), 1943, and I need not give details here. Briefly, however, in those days there was no established legal notion to concede extra-territorial privileges, but the treatment varied with the whims and interest of individual monarchs of non Muslim lands. Muslims have alike seen favours and hardships. A curious story is told by Masudiy that in a certain Caspian region, the local non Muslim ruler had employed Muslims in his bodyguard 22 and had instituted a most elaborate judicial system. Since his subjects consisted of peoples of many communities, there were many “communal courts” with seven communal judges. Whenever there was some difficulty in solving difficult problems, the matter was referred to the Muslim section and they abided by what Muslim law provided for the case. 23 I [would suppose] that inter-communal matters were also one of those difficult matters referred to the Muslim judges for adjudicating and this for their impartiality and learnedness.


 (702) Thus it will be seen that the question of conflict of laws according to Muslim jurists is a very rich field yet quite an untrodden path promising very interesting discoveries for patient researchers.

 (703) I conclude with the last remark that a work called Ahkam Ahl adh-Dhimmah by the erudite savan Ibn al-Qaiyim has been discovered in MS. Form in Hyderabad. Its first volume consists of more than six hundred pages. It is incomplete and refers to the succeeding volume or volumes which, however, are unfortunately missing. This single volume has now been ably edited at Damascus by Professor Subhi as-Salih. The work is very rich in material bearing on our subject. If any of my readers happen to know of the missing volumes and kindly take the trouble of informing me it will be gratefully acknowledged.


21. Also in English “Extra-terriitorrial Capitulations in Favour of Muslims in Classical Times;” The Islamic Review, Vol. XXX VII, January 1950, pp.32-36, Cf, also supra, 218ff.
22. Similar was the practice of General Franco, in Spain, before the evacuation of the “Spanish Zone” of Morocco.
23. Cf. Muruj-udh-Dhahab (ed. Europe). II 10-12.