A Muslim can take a public office in non-Muslim country if it will help achieve public benefit providing that the work itself is permissible and it won’t cause any harms to Muslims. And he should run it with wisdom.   

Taking up Public Office in non-Muslim Coutries

Similar Questions

  • Taking up public office from a non-Muslim;

  • Assuming public office under a non-Muslim authority;

  • Appointment as a judge in a non-Muslim country.

The Issue

A Muslim may be chosen for public office in a country where Muslims are in a minority and the government is non-Muslim. Such public offices may include membership of parliament or a municipal council, being mayor of a town, etc.


There is no harm in a Muslim assuming public office in a non-Muslim country if he hopes to achieve public benefit and reduce whatever he can of evil and harm, working to establish justice in whatever way is available to him, which he should keep in mind at all times. He will therefore consider himself a supporter of anyone suffering injustice, so as to remove or reduce such injustice. He should not allow himself to support the person or the authority inflicting injustice. In all this the controls of participation which are outlined under the previous question, ‘Participation in Politics’, should be observed.

This view is endorsed by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (Decision 1-4). Shaikh Khalid Abd al-Qadir also expresses the same view, but in addition he places the following conditions:[1]

  1. The work involved must be permissible in itself;

  2. It does not involve helping unbelievers in what may cause harm to Muslims;

  3. It does not lead to Muslims submitting to unbelievers; and

  4. The person who assumes such an office should have a strong character, be trustworthy and be able to discharge the duties of his office with wisdom.


The Prophet Joseph took up a ministerial post in a country of unbelievers.

He said to the King:

‘Give me charge of the store-houses of the land. I am able to look after them with wisdom.’

(12: 55)

The majority of scholars maintain that the laws given in earlier divine messages are applicable to Muslims unless they have been abrogated. There is nothing to show that this was abrogated.

Al-Baydawi said: ‘This verse gives evidence that it is permissible to seek public office and to show that one is ready to assume it and to take it up from an unbeliever if one knows that this is the only way to establish truth and maintain justice.’[2]

Al-Alusi said: ‘This verse provides evidence that it is permissible to apply for public office if the one who seeks it is able to maintain justice and implement the rules of divine law, even though he has to request it from an unjust ruler or one who is an unbeliever. It may be his duty to seek office if his assuming it ensures the fulfilment of a duty and he is appointed to do it.’[3]

All this comes under proper policy and taking up what brings benefit and prevents harm. Islamic law aims at ensuring and complementing benefit, on the one hand, and preventing or reducing harm, on the other. If it is confirmed that assuming a particular office ensures more benefit than harm, it is perfectly permissible to take it up. Otherwise, it is not.


  • Decisions by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America.

  • Sulaiman Muhammad Topoliyak, Al-Ahkam al-Siyasiyyah lil Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah fi al-Fiqh al-Islami.

  • Khalid Abd al-Qadir, Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah.

  • Al-Baydawi, Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Ta'wil.

  • Al-Alusi, Ruh al-Ma'ani fi Tafsir al-Qur’an al-'Azim wal Sab' al-Mathani.


  1. K. Abd al-Qadir, Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah, p. 615.
  2. Al-Baydawi, Anwar al-Tanzil, vol. 3, p. 168.
  3. Al-Alusi, Ruh al-Ma[ani, vol. 7, p. 7.