With Islamic parties taking power in Egypt and Tunisia concerns have been raised over the future of the tourist industry which brings in billions of dollars in revenue each year. Western tourists, for example flock to the sandy beaches of Sharm al-Sheikh where alcohol and free mixing between men and bikini clad women takes place.
Saad al-Husseini, a member of Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party executive bureau said in a recent interview, that Tourism is very important for Egypt and stressed that drinking and selling alcohol are forbidden in Islam. However, he then added, “Yet Islamic laws also prohibit spying on private places and this applies to beaches as well…I wish 50 million tourists would travel to Egypt even if they come nude.”
There are two points to consider when addressing the Islamic viewpoint towards tourism.
Firstly, as Muslims we must submit to all the laws of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. The sharia has not remained silent on ruling and economy. It contains detailed rules on what government revenues are permitted in an Islamic State including the imposing of temporary taxes if there was a budget shortfall. We must not try and circumvent these rules to achieve some material benefit. Our position is “we hear and we obey” not “we hear and we disobey”.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
لَا تَرْتَكِبوُا مَا ارْتَكَبَتِ الْيَهُودُ فَتَسْتَحِلُّوا مَحَارِمَ اللهِ بِأَدْنَى الْحِيَل
“Do not repeat what the yahud committed, and violate Allah’s prohibitions using deceitful tricks.” [Tafsir ibn Kathir]
The Qur’an contains many stories of the previous generations that we may take a lesson and reminder from. One such story is the fisherman of Bani Israel who circumvented the ruling on the Sabbath for material benefit and suffered a severe punishment.
وَاسْأَلْهُمْ عَنِ الْقَرْيَةِ الَّتِي كَانَتْ حَاضِرَةَ الْبَحْرِ إِذْ يَعْدُونَ فِي السَّبْتِ إِذْ تَأْتِيهِمْ حِيتَانُهُمْ يَوْمَ سَبْتِهِمْ شُرَّعًا وَيَوْمَ لَا يَسْبِتُونَ ۙ لَا تَأْتِيهِمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَبْلُوهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ
وَإِذْ قَالَتْ أُمَّةٌ مِنْهُمْ لِمَ تَعِظُونَ قَوْمًا ۙ اللَّهُ مُهْلِكُهُمْ أَوْ مُعَذِّبُهُمْ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا ۖ قَالُوا مَعْذِرَةً إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ
فَلَمَّا نَسُوا مَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ أَنْجَيْنَا الَّذِينَ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ السُّوءِ وَأَخَذْنَا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا بِعَذَابٍ بَئِيسٍ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ
فَلَمَّا عَتَوْا عَنْ مَا نُهُوا عَنْهُ قُلْنَا لَهُمْ كُونُوا قِرَدَةً خَاسِئِينَ
Ask them about the town which was by the sea when they broke the Sabbath – when their fish came to them near the surface on their Sabbath day but did not come on the days which were not their Sabbath. In this way We put them to the test because they were deviators. When a group of them said, ‘Why do you rebuke a people whom Allah is going to destroy or severely punish?’ they said, ‘So that we have an excuse to present to your Lord, and so that hopefully they will gain taqwa.’ Then when they forgot what they had been reminded of, We rescued those who had forbidden the evil and seized those who did wrong with a harsh punishment because they were deviators. When they were insolent about what they had been forbidden to do, We said to them, ‘Be apes, despised, cast out!’
Secondly, we do not change Islam to fit the reality, rather we change the reality to fit Islam. The economies of Egypt, Tunisia and most Muslim countries are suffering under decades of mismanagement, and corruption with policies aimed at benefiting western colonialists. The tourist industry and the resulting munkar it brings is just one aspect of an interest-based economy, with severe poverty and no manufacturing base. When faced with such a reality Islam obliges us to radically transform such an economy to an Islamic economy which will bring prosperity for the entire Muslim Ummah and not simply the corrupt rulers and their western backers.
Will there be tourism in the Khilafah?
Tourists visiting the Khilafah is permitted but is controlled by the sharia rules related to foreign policy.
Article 183 of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s draft constitution states:
“Conveying the Islamic da’wah is the core around which the foreign policy revolves, and upon which relations between the State and other states are built.”
Tourism would be in line with this objective where people entering the Khilafah would see the practical implementation of Islam, and this is a dawah for them.
The citizens of other nations who wish to enter the state fall under various categories as outlined in Article 184 of the draft constitution.
The state’s relations with other states are built upon four considerations. These are:
- States in the current Islamic world are considered to belong to one state and, therefore, they are not included within the sphere of foreign affairs. Relations with these countries are not considered to be in the realm of foreign policy and every effort should be expended to unify all these countries into one state.
- States who have economic, commercial, friendly or cultural treaties with our State are to be treated according to the terms of the treaties. If the treaty states so, their subjects have the right to enter the State with an identity card without the need for a passport provided our subjects are treated in a like manner. The economic and commercial relations with such states must be restricted to specific items and specific characters which are deemed necessary and which, at the same time, do not lead to the strengthening of these states.
- States with whom we do not have treaties, the actual imperialist states, like Britain, America and France and those states that have designs on the State, like Russia are considered to be potentially belligerent states. All precautions must be taken towards them and it would be wrong to establish diplomatic relations with them. Their subjects may enter the Islamic State only with a passport and a visa specific to every individual and for every visit, unless it became a real belligerent country
- With states that are actually belligerent states, like Israel, a state of war must be taken as the basis for all dispositions with them. They must be dealt with as if a real war existed between us – whether an armistice exists or not – and all their subjects are prevented from entering the State.
Non-Muslims legitimately entering the Islamic State are called Mu’ahid (covenanted person) who are protected by the state and no harm can be done to them.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The one who kills a covenanted person during the period of his covenant he will not smell the fragrance of jannah, though its fragrance can be smelled from a distance of five hundred years march.” [Reported by Ibn Hibbaan in his Sahih]
Muslims travelling outside the Khilafah will also be subjected to the sharia rules related to foreign policy. Although their journey maybe for a variety of reasons, primarily they are dawah carriers who are ambassadors for Islam wherever they travel. Historically, Muslim traders travelled throughout the world and many people accepted Islam from them.
Unlike non-Muslims the objective in life for Muslims is to worship Allah سبحانه وتعالى which means sacrificing many material pleasures for the ultimate, everlasting pleasure in jannah. Therefore, Muslims in the Khilafah who want to travel and see the world will do so by joining the armed forces and opening new lands to Islam, rather than spending two weeks by the pool in a 5-star hotel.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The siyaahah (tourism) of my ummah is jihad for the sake of Allah.” [Abu Dawood]