Muslim disputes should be settled through Islamic law. In case of necessity in non-Muslim countries, they can put their disputes to civil courts but it is forbidden to take something that is not rightfully.  

Putting Disputes to non-Islamic Courts

Similar Questions

  • Seeking judgement through the civil judicial system;
  • Making pleas before civil courts;
  • Putting disputes to courts of non-Muslim countries.

The Issue

Outside Muslim countries, when disputes arise between Muslims, or between them and non-Muslims, such disputes are put before courts that administer man-made laws.


The basic principle is that disputes should be put before a legal system that implements Islamic law. Seeking judgement under any other law is unlawful except where there is no approved alternative that is able to remove injustice and give people their rights. In this case, the disputant should believe that such courts are non-Islamic and if their judgement gives him something that is not rightfully his, it is forbidden for him to take it. It is a duty of Muslim communities to endeavour to settle their disputes within Islamic law. They should seek through the legal channels to persuade the governments of the countries they live in to enable them to put their own disputes to tribunals that administer Islamic law, particularly in questions relating to personal and family law.

This ruling is expressed in Decision 8-5 of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America and Decision 91-8/9 of the International Islamic  Fiqh Academy. It is also the ruling of the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa and was endorsed by the late Shaikh Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen, the late Shaikh Abd al-Razzaq Afeefi and several other scholars.


Dispute settlement must be through the Islamic judicial system, as made clear in many religious texts such as the Qur’anic verses:

‘But no, by your Lord! They do not really believe unless they make you judge in all disputes between them, and then find in their hearts no bar to an acceptance of your decisions and give themselves up in total submission.’ (4: 65)

(4: 65)

‘Believers, obey God and obey the Messenger and those from among you who have been entrusted with authority. If you are in dispute over anything, refer it to God and the Messenger if you truly believe in God and the Last Day. This is the best [for you], and most suitable for final determination.’

(4: 59)

All evidence regarding relaxing prohibitions to remove harm and address necessity indicate that putting disputes to courts administering man-made laws is permissible only in case of necessity when there are no courts to judge according to Islamic law. Necessity is limited to what is needful and may not be expanded or taken beyond its limits.

Putting disputes to civil courts in a case of necessity is similar to putting one’s grievance to the police in order to obtain one’s rights.


  • Decisions by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America.
  • Decisions of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy.
  • Fatawa by The Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa.
  • Fatawa al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah, by a group of scholars.
  • Fatawa and essays by Shaikh Abd al-Razzaq Afeefi.
  • Mut’ib al-Qahtani (ed.), Is'af al-Mughtaribin bi Fatawa al-'Ulama’ al-Rabbaniyyin.
  • Khalid Abd al-Qadir, Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah.
  • ‘International Arbitration and Dispute Settlement from the Islamic Perspective’: paper submitted to the ninth session of the European Council for Fatwa and Research held in Paris, France.
  • Salah Abd al-Razzaq, Al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah fi al-Gharb: Qadaya Fiqhiyyah wa Humum Thaqafiyyah.
  • Waleed al-Mineesi, ‘The Permissible and the Forbidden in Judicial Work in non-Muslim Countries’: a paper presented to the fifth annual convention of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, held in Manama, Bahrain.