Home / Current Affairs / Opinion / Reflections & Responses / Best place for Muslims to live? Let’s find out.

Where's the most livable city for Muslims? Is it somewhere in the Middle East? Despite all the negative sentiments of late, could it be in Europe? Or is it home to of one of the many thriving communities in America? The answer is not readily apparent, but certainly worth looking into.

Best place for Muslims to live? Let’s find out.

MM is pleased to announce that Youssef Chouhoud is joining us as an Associate Writer. Youssef is from Brooklyn, New York by way of Alexandria, Egypt.  An aspiring writer, he's currently finishing up an MA in Political Science before heading off for an extended stay in Egypt. Please welcome Youssef on board! World QMark

During a recent flight to Egypt, while leafing through my complimentary issue of the Financial Times, I came across an opinion piece discussing Monocle magazine's annual index of the world's most livable cities.  After weighing about a dozen different factors ranging from school performance to the prevalence of independent retail stores and restaurants (what the magazine dubs the “Zara/Starbucks” quotient), Monocle's top ten sites with the “best quality of life” were decisively mid-sized and European.

Though thought-provoking, the article noticeably lacked any meaningful critique of the list's methodology or ultimate results (not entirely surprising given that Tyler Brule, Monocle's founder, authored the Op-Ed).  As fate would have it, however, on my return trip to the States I stumbled upon another FT article, written by Michael Skapinker, that took to task Monocle's preconceptions and conclusions – and offered an alternate, equally valid perspective on what makes a city worth living in.

Skapinker pointedly noted a common theme throughout Monocle's list of supposedly livable cities: Not that many people live in them.  He suggested that, rather than discounting the numerous benefits of larger locales, it was possible to combine a “reasonable” quality of life (one likely absent of “pristine cycle paths and spotless metro stations”) with urban dynamism and arrive at a different, perhaps more intuitive ranking of the world's metropolises.  Researchers at AT Kearney, for example, compiled their own index factoring in, among other things, a city's business activity, how many news bureaus it had, and its percentage of residents with degrees – ultimately placing New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo, respectively, in the one to four slots.

Both Brule and Skapinker offer convincing arguments and, in weighing their opposing views, I couldn't help but wonder:

What would a Muslim Livability Index look like?

What universal factors would you gauge?  What Muslim-specific indicators would you take into account?  Admittedly, I didn't much advance this line of thought at the time (I tend to vegetate an hour into intercontinental flights).  However, after Merve Kavakci's recent essay quickly made its way around the Muslim blogosphere, I decided to revisit these questions.

What struck me most about Kavakci's Op-Ed in the Christian Science Monitor is her certitude – beginning with the title of her piece: “Best place for Muslims to live? America.”  Kavakci's central premise is that the United States is more conducive to an Islamic lifestyle than any country in Europe (due to the continent's numerous enclaves of Islamophobia) or predominantly Muslim lands (where “expression of religion is often perceived as a threat to the secular state”).  She therefore places herself in a still burgeoning conversation among practicing Muslims that lauds the religious freedom – not merely the economic opportunity – of life in America.  Yet, if, as the argument goes, Orientalists are at fault for envisioning a monolithic Muslim World, it follows that a country as large as America similarly requires disaggregation.  Of course, with greater nuance comes greater intricacy.

Moving from a discussion of countries to one of cities clearly and dramatically widens the scope of the debate.  Moreover, a ranking of the top cities for Muslims to live in promises to be contentious on several fronts; besides the typically controversial secular criteria, the consideration of religious sensibilities adds an analytical dimension tailor-made for criticism.  Indeed, as insightful as this list may be, it will likely be a very complicated endeavor.

Undoubtedly, deciding on which metrics to use and how to measure them will be the project's most arduous task.  In terms of universal factors, the choice is at least pretty straight forward: Do you side more with Brule or Skapinker?  Once that decision is made, it's fairly easy to extrapolate what aspects of city life to analyze.  Not surprisingly, the more difficult charge will be selecting the religious criteria.  Accounting for the number and size of mosques and Islamic schools is all but a given.  But what of access to Islamic financial products; the frequency of Islamic events, such as conventions and weekend seminars; or, less objectively, the prevalence of fitna (that is, the degree and abundance of prohibited sights and activities)?  The choices made in this respect will require much thought and consideration, and likely even some scholarly input from both secular and religious arenas.

Beyond deciding on the criteria, two core issues immediately come to mind:

  1. Would the analysis include the cities of Mecca, Madīnah, and Jerusalem?  Instinctively, exclusion seems the more prudent path given Islam's high regard for these sites.  After all, arguing against living in the three locations most beloved to the Prophet Muḥammad (SAWS) is at best precarious and would surely lead to unproductive disputes.
  2. Will Muslim-majority cities be judged alongside Muslim-minority ones?  On the one hand, putting all candidates on the same plane provides for a more organic comparison.  Then again, segregating the two groups allows for the selective weighing of strengths and weaknesses; that is, religious tolerance and access to Islamic institutions can count for more in the Western context while quality of life factors can command more scrutiny in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

Ultimately, given the complexity and scale of the research needed to complete this project, I suspect we won't be seeing a Muslim Livability Index for some time.  If done right, however, this undertaking would likely be a watershed moment in global Muslim culture.  It could, for instance, help clear up many misconceptions about living Islamically in the West.  Conversely, the data could shine an optimistic light on Muslim-majority societies that are largely written off in this discourse.  Although I imagine that the intrepid Muslim publication or think tank that does commit to this project is in for plenty of trial and error, their efforts will reveal much about how Muslims interact with and react to a globalized world.  And in the end, I wouldn't be surprised if Dr. Kavakci is proven right after all.

mecca medina muhammad

About Youssef Chouhoud

Youssef is from Brooklyn, New York by way of Alexandria, Egypt. Currently, he is a doctoral student at the University of Southern California studying Political Science and International Relations. A student of Islam, history, and politics, his recent extended stay in Cairo placed him squarely at the nexus of these disciplines. Follow him on Twitter (@TheAlexandrian) as he tries to make sense of all that's happening in Tahrir and beyond.

127 comments

  1. Salaams,

    Interesting article, I will have to throw my hat in the ring and say, undoubtedly London is one of the best cities to live in the world as Muslim (not considering the holy cities.)
    My rationale… alhamdulillah we have many masaajid, that cater for the many flavours of Islam that we now have. Additionally halal food is not a problem whatsoever. We have some of the most learned people of ilm in and around London. There are great universities here that you dont have to pay an arm and a leg for and ofcourse the NHS :)
    London is also ethnically rich and thus to put it in a nutshell, it has whatever you are looking for.

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    • Salam akhi,

      Actually, I stopped by London for the first time during the trip I mention in the beginning of the article. I must admit I was impressed – which is saying a lot, coming from a jaded New Yorker :) To the list of “pros” that you mentioned, I would add that the city is full of history and culture on an elite scale. Also, from an Islamic perspective, it’s one of most progressive Western countries in terms of Islamic financial products (I was actually thinking of London when I mentioned that criteria in the piece).

      One big “con” though is the Orwellian atmosphere of the city. I mean, it seems like there’s one camera for every handful of people. Plus, it seems that the government is overtly suspicious of Muslims these days. I myself was stopped for a “random” search as I toured the sites around town. So that would definitely be something to take into account.

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    • As-salaam alaikum all, @ Umer S, what do you mean by different flavours of islam please?

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  2. New York, DC-MD-VA Metro areas, Chicago, LA , Dallas, and Detroit metro areas are the most populated areas with Muslims in the US. I’m guessing those would be in the Top 50 of the world.

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    • In America, I don’t think one can beat Houston… NO WAY… having lived in Houston and New Jersey area… Houston is by far the best town for Muslims (if you can accept the weather).

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      • I agree with you 100%

        Especially the University of Houston MSA is without a doubt an amazing organization in terms of young brothers and sisters organizing several Dawah events and projects. Go Coogs!

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      • Houston weather is good, better than digging your car out of snow every day.

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      • another white brother

        If you absolutely must live in America, Minneapolis.

        If you absolutely must live in “western countries”, then probably Bradford or Birmingham UK.

        Otherwise, I’m looking at the pros/cons of Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur: tech jobs on the rise and, most importantly, number of muslims.

        I have heard good things about the IT job market in Algiers as well.

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    • I’ve lived in Detroit, Mi for over 30 yrs, in La for 4 yrs and visited NY for one day (it was too long). Last week I just got a call from my niece, who still lives in Detroit, who said tht her car was the fourth car burned up out of six cars that night (no they weren’t Muslim), We left La to gangs fighting in the streets, and in overcrowded NY I had to give the evil eye to a guy that looked like he was deciding if he wanted to rob me and my small children. When my husband came back from a restaurant he had been in, he told me how he had laid his bag down turned his head and his bag was gone. I’ve also spent a few days in the cold windy city of Chicago where I wouldn’t choose as a place to feel safe in either. All of these places have plenty of Muslims but pls be sure to also rate the crime in those cities. One major concern that I feel should also be rated is how these countries treat their women. Are they allowed to drive (not in Saudi Arabia- I was there too for Hajj); are the women allowed to work, vote, go out on the street alone? Are there women on their juries for court, or in the government? This is important because if they don’t treat their women justly then it’s not a place I’d want to raise my daughter not to mention be there myself – likewise they probably wouldn’t want me there either.

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      • Female members of the Jury? – http://www.islam-qa.com/en/ref/71338
        Wallahu’alam :>

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        • From the link:

          “The majority of scholars are of the view that it is not permissible for a woman to be appointed as a judge, and if she is appointed, the one who appointed her is sinning, and her appointment is invalid, and her judgements [sic] carry no weight, no matter what ruling she passes.”

          And yet in Islam you are supposed to listen to your mother… wow. So if you and your sibling fight, your mother is sinning by trying to mediate between you two.

          I can’t believe people actually believe the nonsense that is on that Islamqa page.

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          • Salaam,

            That website has Quran and Ahaadeth on it so they must be non sense too right. Anything that goes against our intellect and desires doesnt have to be wrong and non sensical.

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          • Rashad Ibn Abdul-Azeem

            Greetings of Peace Asalamu Alaikum,

            May Allah be our witness in representing the truth, certainly Allah does not like that evil and discontent be spread among believers

            I was reading this above and wondering how a muslim can say taking a woman as judge is sinning. Did God or our Prophet say such things or even hint at them being a sin? I believe it more a sin to say what you are saying without a serious reference from God, because what you are saying is very deconstructive. It is true our desires will not succeed, nor will words such as these, nor will arrogance and superficiality. If what you say is true then why did our Prophet ever consult his wives? I know you would not dare say our beloved Prophet was sinning. In fact he imparted invaluable wisdom in doing so. Khadeejah (ra) consoled and advised him many times, and supported him with all her wealth.

            And also Umm Salama during Hudayibah, a stressful time for the whole ummah:

            When the peace treaty had been concluded, the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam ordered his Companions to slaughter their sacrificial animals, but they were too depressed to do that. The Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam gave instructions in this regard three times but with negative response. He told his wife Umm Salamah about this attitude of his Companions. She advised that he himself take the initiative, slaughter his animal and have his head shaved. Seeing that, the Muslims, with rended hearts, started to slaughter their animals and shave their heads. They even almost killed one another because of their distress.

            And now today can we say that taking judgement from a woman is sinning? This type of speech is devisive for our brothers and sisters, no matter how sincere it may be. I pray that we find solid footing in our religion always and not be doors opening unto any evil. Ma Salaam

            O Ye who believe! Put not yourselves forward before Allah and His Messenger. but fear Allah. For Allah is He Who hears and knows all things. – Quran – 49:1

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          •  mashallah,  i was having this discussion with my husband.  he’s born in jordan, i’m born in kcmo, usa.  i grew up very conscious of politics, etc., involved with debate and student congress as well as mock trial.  he said he didn’t believe women should be a judge and i was SHOCKED.  i felt he was squashing my secret dream of becoming supreme court judge (i never really had this dream, but i felt i should be able to if i wanted).  however, the more i learned about islam, the more i contemplated the role of women and equality among sexes vs. sameness.  equality is not sameness.  i agree now with my husband.  though a woman (especially a mother) MUST be respected for her mind, Allah made women more sensitive and i have to agree that there are certain times when a woman cannot be objective in her rulings.  my husband brought up a good point that a man should never be a judge when he is hungry, tired, etc…  However, we both agree that women can and should participate in their local politics.  the politics of a region cannot appropriately represent it’s constituents without the feminine voices.

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      • When you take Islam Sharia law (according to Quran and Sunnah), women holding a place in juries, court houses, government offices, etc. wouldn’t cross your mind the least bit. The reason being is because women do have 100% full rights in Islam but they have no business being in these places. In Islam, men and women are treated equally but their roles in life are not equal. Men don’t give birth to children for a reason. The same way as women don’t have muscles the way men do. Their duties are different. I would suggest to learn and teach your kids the rulings of Islam when you take these things into consideration. Unless you’re voting for a government that is abding by the laws Allah SWT had set for us, sharia laws, we have no business in voting- whether the kuffar gives us that right or not. Insha’Allah, my comments won’t open a door for arguments here because in the end Islam is what will win and dominate. I have many hadiths and Quran verses to back up my statements. Jazaku Allah khairan.

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        • BTW, Prophet Muhammad SAWS did consult his wives but not because he had, but because he wanted to. In the end it was always his decision to make. In Islam, it is always the man who is the head of the household that has the final say. He doesn’t have to ask his wife nor have her agreement on anything he decides to do- not even when he’s to get a second wife. In Islam, the reason why women can’t hold these positions is because their verdicts are half of men, hence which is also why they get half of the inheritance. When they are to testify, there is to be two women witnesses as one does not count. Prophet Muhammad SAWS also said that when a women is a leader, the society will be corrupt. He SAWS also said that women are the best of teachers. There is a place for each of us. Allah SWT made us equal indeed but He gave each and every one of us our position in society and Allah knows Best why He does what He does.

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  3. No research is needed…. Toronto is by far the best :D

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  4. Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

    Assalaamu Ê¿alaykum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh

    Jazaak Allaahu khayran, akhee, for the well-written, insightful, & thought-provoking article! My wife directed me here and, even though I’m at work, I couldn’t stop reading until the end because the topic is very important to us. Not finding a conclusion reached yet (though I saw at least one suggestion prior to my commenting here), I figured I’d post my own thoughts, which I’m sure will be as unique as every subsequent commenter’s.

    I have my heart set on Alexandria, Egypt (I am *not* trying to coddle favor with the author!). It is the city my father’s family calls home, and I have spent a long bit of time there over the bit-more-than two-and-a-half decades of my life. I’ve even seen some positive changes over the past decade, especially amongst the youth, but even amongst the middle-aged and the elders.

    The stories of being accosted by the police just for praying fajr “while being young” in the masjid are not the same. The police themselves are there, praying alongside of you (interpret that how you will). I take it positively, as I found they were not interfering with the people’s worship at all, so why wouldn’t you want them so also worship Allaah?

    Although Egypt is the last place one would call free from bidÊ¿ah, it’s like any place – if you’re looking for fitnah or misguidance, you will surely find it. But if you’re also looking for a place to practice your deen and be around other people intent on the same, you’ll find it.

    Although Alexandria is a big city by most standards, it’s doesn’t have the suffocation of Cairo, which many argue may have more religious heritage (Al-Azhar, more masaajid, etc.). I cannot speak for Cairo, so I will leave further comparisons out. However, walking to many destinations is not out of the question, as long as the idea of a 20 minute walk doesn’t disturb you.

    Alexandria is a coastal city. It’s weather is rarely harsh. It gets warm, but “hot” is rarely used to describe the majority of the days there. It’s an open-window city nearly year-round. The air is always fresh and breezy, especially by the coast.

    If you are looking for haraam, you’ll have to look for it. It’s not very much out in the open…anymore. There was a time, not long ago, where a Westerner, like myself, was ashamed at the manners & dress of the youth. Now, nearly a decade on, the youth have a newfound love of shyness, especially amongst the young women. You’ll be hard-pressed to find ladies that don’t cover, and those that you do, are likely foreigners or non-Muslim (e.g., Christian/Copts).

    For the young men, there are similar improvements. They are dressed modestly, and some even donning more traditional clothing themselves. Beards are back in style (in Egypt!) and you might have trouble squeezing into some masaajid during dhuhr & Ê¿asr, and even fajr sometimes.

    A masjid I went to while I was there had the most outstanding imaam, who, despite my poor Arabic, took me in as a student after Maghrib once a week and started teaching me Qurʾaan. Egyptian’s don’t care if you don’t speak Arabic (some would argue, neither do they!), but they care if you are decent and treat them well. They’ll reciprocate what you give them (even if they’re rough at first, they warm quickly).

    Having said all of that, I imagine that you could take the words “Egypt” and “Alexandria” and replace them with a few other places or cities, and get an accurate description of elsewhere. In fact, I hope that is the case. But for the time being, this is my personal story, recommendation, and dream – to live in Alexandria, Egypt.

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    • Jazaak Allahu khayran for writing your thoughts! I’m in Cairo and I really like it here alhamdulillah. Egypt is nothing like I expected. I learned here is that when you seek what is good, you see what is good. SubhanAllah, I heard so many bad things about this country before coming. Yes it is pretty suffocating but you get used to it. Madinat Nasr is not as crowded and crazy as the downtown Cairo area. My friends in Alex tell me how nice it is, inshaAllah I hope to visit with my family soon. I preferred to move to Alexandria over Cairo but my brother overpowered me :) wa lillahil hamd.

      Welcome to MM brother Youssef, looking forward to reading more of your writings inshaAllah. May Allah ta’ala grant you tawfeeq in all of your endeavors.

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    • I have to say “eshta 3alek ya Basil :)”, Alex is nice. Cairo wins though :)

      SubhanAllah, it pains me the state of these Muslim cities. Yes alhamdolela there is tremendous improvement in terms of the deen among the people – thanks to decades of Dawah by scholars that is really bearing fruit today. But we need to translate that to material progress sooner than later – by which I mean in our lifetime inshaAllah.

      I have come to believe that by far, the most effective method of Da’wah, is being respected and looked up to. No matter how much some random Muslim might hate much about the West, he also respects it immensely for its progress.

      We all love the story of how Islam got to Indonesia, it was because the Muslim traders were respected and looked up to, as members of a superior culture – back in a time when we were deserving of such a status.

      The biggest obstacle to Islam spreading in the West today is its image, supported by the facts on the ground in the Muslim world. If we fix that … I am sure we would truly understand the meaning of Surat Al’Asr

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      • Subhana Allah, my eyes are tearing now as I read the posts about Egypt and as I type this. Not only that but literally I just heard 3 gun shots somewhere in my lovely neighborhood in Miami, FL.

        I loved Egypt since the first day my feet stepped on its soil. I love Egyptians. I married my Egyptian husband in Cairo. I love Cairo and Alexandria. I yearn to live there one day. I have been seeing the transition that Egypt and Egyptians have been going through since 2004 and I have a very positive outlook on the way it will turn out with the mess that these fake, so called opposition people are trying to take with Egypt. I know that even the one with the least Iman has the greatest Iman at heart. Right now it’s not safe to live there because of all what’s going on but my heart tells me otherwise.

        I have 4 toddler girls who are starting school next August and I can’t stop biting my nails thinking they have to be raised in America. This is my land because I was born and raised in NYC. But this is not the land today that I was raised in. It’s changed drastically and it’s no longer safe- not even within the walls of schools! People are getting more naked day by day. My son who goes to public school looks and sound more like a hoodlum day by day. I see him falling apart in front of my eyes and yet his strong opposing personality won’t let me through to him.

        Now, we are looking into moving. Although we had our hearts on Egypt, my husband is there now and he doesn’t want us there just yet. The problem is that it’s not easy to just pick up and go when we are foreigners because of the immigration laws, etc. So now, we’re stuck.

        All what I want for us and our kids is to be around a Muslim community where we can learn and live our deen. A community that is safe or for the most part safe.

        May Allah SWT make it easy on our Ummah so that we may live a life that will please Him. May Allah SWT protect us where ever we are in dunya and akhira.

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    • Walaikum alsalam warahmatullah!

      Outstanding analysis akhi! I could really tell you’ve thought about this long and hard. SubhanAllah, your sincerity really showed. And despite your intentions, you’ve certainly managed to curry my favor :D

      Alexandria is also close to my heart (no big surprise). But, the fact remains, I’ve always had the mentality of a “visitor” when I’ve been there. This coming year will inshAllah allow me to better gauge how manageable life is there (and in Cairo) on a day to day. EVERYONE (especially Egyptians) have warned me against this move. At this point, my expectations are so low that I can ONLY be pleasantly surprised. And, as Sr. Amatullah keenly pointed out, if you seek good, inshAllah you will find it. Alhamdulilah the youth of Egypt seem to be taking that sentiment to heart.

      Sr. Amatullah – I’m glad your stay in Masr has been beneficial and I look forward to reading the tales of your time there. Let us know what you think of Alex too!

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    • Yus from the Nati

      I would like a comparison to Malaysia akhi!!!

      PS When I was in Egypt this past summer. Alhamdulillah it was amazing. People were amazing as well. But as they say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. It’s what you’re looking for, or open too. I think also all the “horror” stories skewed my view as well…so that when I was there I was like “man this is straight….”

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    • Sounds like a beautiful place mashallah.

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  5. If you are a survivor, love food, no place like Lahore. Yes, hasn’t been the safest place on earth recently, but there is a greater chance of dying in a traffic accident in your own home town than dying in one of the terrorist attacks. Ok, there is also the problem of gas and power outages… but as I said, you gotta be a survivor ;)

    I would also say Qatar and Abu Dhabi are great places to live in for Muslims. Of course that means no political participation and minimal civic participation, but other than that, no place more safe and secure, masajids all around, with all the amenities of life, great for raising children… what else could you ask for??!

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  6. Oh and welcome Br. Youssef to the MM team.. may Allah make your contributions as interesting as this everytime and make your participation a source of benefit and reward for you, MM, and for all the readers.

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  7. The San Francisco Bay Area is by far the best place for a Muslim to live!

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  8. Seattle is not so good, but you gotta love the coffee! Alot of Muslims (kind of), no cohesion. Different ethnicities of Muslims, living in different enclaves of the state. The state is very beautiful, Maashallah. May Allah unite the Muslims up here, I hope to travel to these cities that are being championed on this post Inshallah.

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  9. I think a more productive discussion is how to make Muslim cities more livable, instead of being some of the poorest, most ghettoized, polluted and corrupt on the planet –> Which leads to a fitna to the average nonMuslim: “Why should I even consider the religion of these backward medieval zealots who live in garbage dumps?”

    What we have is mostly a “sort-of-Islamic” atmosphere with backwardness materially, and a couple of “not entirely Islamic” atmosphere with some of the most wastefully extravagant structures (cough Dubai)

    We complain about the media –but you know what, despite the slanting and biased reporting, they are often telling a truth, our Muslim world today is a far cry from the advanced glory it once had.

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    • Salam ya Man (based on your “ishta” reference, I’m hoping you’ll get a chuckle out of that, heh)

      Your points are well taken. It’s certainly disheartening to see the backwardness and decadence that exists in many Muslim lands. Still, perhaps the situation is not so clearcut. That’s partly the reason why I proposed this project. It would force whoever carries out the research to really go in depth and not rely on the perceptions that we’re all accustomed to. Perhaps life really as bad as it appears to be; different, certainly, but likely not the unliveable picture that we take for granted. Indeed, Br. Basil’s experience is not unique and I think if someone were to systematically ask the right questions then we would get on the road to the right answers.

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  10. I’ve lived in both modern secular cities and muslim majority ones and believe that though modern settings have many modern conveniences & the absence of “certain” oppressive policies which most muslim countries impose on their citizens, one thing is missing. “ISLAM”

    As the majority of scholars in the past have agreed, it is most fitting for muslims to live where the muslims are. Yes people travel for business, for da’wah, for education or to escape certain hardships, but the majority of muslims in non-muslim countries end up practicing a watered down version of Islam because of the ease with which they can practice an unislamic lifestyle.

    What better way to start ones day that with the Athaan echoeing through the entire city, calling all it’s inhabitants to worship their creator.

    How easy to stay away from vices like alcohol and fornication when alcohol is largely forbidden and seducing women on the streets and in clubs and pubs are forbidden.

    Dear brothers and sister, some hardship can be a true benefit to your deen. It is clear that the majority of muslims living in unIslamic settings, including their Imams inevitably end up compromising their deen and start to live Islam in a way which is preferable to the lack of Islam around them.

    We should be yearning to be amougst the majority of our brothers and sisters in deen, not preferring to be living it up in the lands of kufr.

    I highly encourage muslims living in secular modern cities to travel and see the condition of the ummah, see how they practice Islam and how their scholars teach it and live it, see how they manage their affairs and how Islam pervades their culture.

    Don’t be caught believing that US or European style of practicing Islam is better or more refined, or more educated. In many cases it is not.

    May Allah guide us & grant us all that which will benefit our Ahkira and not just those things which benefit are pleasing in the dunya exclusively.

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    • Masha’Allah ya Abu Imaan

      I am often very disappointed when I read people’s thoughts on Muslim-majority nations and how often they are trashed by people who rarely know more about them than some stories they heard or someone else’s jaded experience. Barak Allahu feek for your excellent and wise words. As someone who lived his whole life away from the Muslim lands, just having the chance to be there for a few days and responding to the athaan and being free from the fitan I am always exposed to on the streets elsewhere is enough to send my Imaan skyward. When you add the opportunity to benefit from the shuyookh or the Qur’an teachers, then to me there really is no contest. May Allah guide our perspectives on these lands and honor us to be among their inhabitants – ameen.

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    • I also agree 100% with Brother abu-imaan. My thoughts seem to have been put into words.
      Jazak Allahu khair for your comment, brother.

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    • One word – Amazing!!

      I am glad I read this before trying to convey a similar message .. I’d have failed to summarize it all like you did.

      Jazakallah Khayrum.

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      • @Ali Shehata, @Sadaf & @mystrugglewithin. Shukran for your replies, I was worried I might get dragged over the coals for that comment. I live in a country where outside of a more Islamic setting it’s probably the easiest to practice Islam.

        There are many Masaajid, and walking in the street wearing a thobe or even a women in niqab is not uncommon for a muslim minority setting. Even so, the majority of the population around us are not muslim, and to please the secular status quo many muslims have loosened their practice of deen and have even become arrogant enough to reject certain rules which don’t suite their non-muslim counterparts. This is one of the main dangers of living as a Muslim minority.

        As Muhammad(saw) has told us that the Jews and Christians will never be satisfied with us until we follow their form of religion. He(saw) has also warned of the fitan when a man will wake up as a believer and go to sleep as a disbeliever. Many of the warnings of the last days are appearing around us and if we are not living amougst our brothers and sisters in deen we are even weaker and more prone to be caught by the coming fitan.

        May Allah protect us and guide us and enter us in Jannah that we may meet with each other and enjoy each other’s company for eternity.

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        • Ameen.
          I’m reading this now in October but I don’t think much has changed in this short amount of time. Shukran and jazakAllah khyr for sharing this because I know what you mean about being “dragged over the coals”, sadly, this is the reality of speaking against what is hard on the nafs of many.

          Can I ask where you reside? I know so many Muslims born in America, including myself, who are looking for somewhere else to reside and safe guard our deen. The problem is when you get to this point, it is difficult finding that place.

          May Allah guide us and keep us upon the path of those seeking His face, ameen.

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  11. IMO, there’s compromise on both sides. In the West, the religion is compromised; in Muslim countries, life is compromised. The west is stronger as a civil society and better governed may be than Muslim countries. While in Muslim countries, you feel you’re at home, part of a family. Islam is in the air, it’s the blood supply of the society. One of the biggest -ve is that there’s no way you could permanently settle in a good Muslim country (Middle East). You can’t own anything and there’s no pension etc.

    Living in a Muslim country (KSA) alhamdulillah, I would be ungrateful to Allah if I said my life was compromised. yes there are issues… but the blessings are too many for one to be focused on the negatives. But I do hope that Allah makes things much more easier for Muslim migrants in these countries.

    In fact, for a Muslim who has no Muslim state to live in i.e. he’s not a citizen of a predominantly Muslim country, currently there isn’t any ideal place to live in. I fall in that category :(
    Because you are not welcome to settle. And if you cannot settle, you are only a temporary visitor. Allahul-Musta’aan

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    • I hear you and feel it the same. Remember though, the outer aspects of the laws which govern what you own and how long you stay, even the ownership of th eland and who controls is are in Allah’s hands. Whether you are officially a citizen of a “muslim country” or not, Allah is the one who controls how long you will stay, what you will own and when and where you/we will die.

      The outer illusions are there, but the inner intentions should be towards Allah and Allah alone. What condition from a worldy level were the companions of Rasullulah(saw) in, but their condition with regard to Allah was much better because they clung to deen and not to dunya.

      May Allah make us like them.

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      • I agree, and maybe this is a blessing from Allah. None of us should get too settled and feel to at home anywhere on this earth. This is a temporary abode and maybe it is better to be reminded of this through this reality of feeling like a visitor, because we are.

        This life isn’t for us, it is for those who have no hopes of the next life. This is among the trials we are faced with, the trials of wealth. Prophet Muhammad, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, expressed his worry and concern for his ummah in regards to this trail.

        May Allah keep us amongst those who will remind us of Him, ameen.

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  12. Perhaps you should have two criteria lists (one secular and one “muslim”).

    And second, perhaps you should have two cities lists i.e. Best muslim-majority city to live in., and best muslim-minority city to live in. That would be a useful comparison.

    I think the Muslim livability index would be almost identical to a regular livability index. Muslims are like anyone else, they too want to live in peace and harmony with everyone else.

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  13. Islamabad,pakistan is the bestest and most beautiful city for muslims to live in…with Faisal Masjid being its crowning glory!masha’Allah!:)

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    • Pakistan is a great place to live in as a Muslim!

      I am a die-hard Karachi dweller. But you are so right – Islamabad is beautiful and serene, peaceful and well-planned (despite recent bombings around the area).

      May Allah make it easy for Muslims to live here. May Allah save us from tribulations, strife and corruption. Ameen.

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  14. asalaam alaikum warahmat ALLAH wabarakatu:
    as an american muslimah living in saudi and having travelled to egypt several times- Allah has taught me one very important lesson. this life is a struggle no matter where we are appointed on earth, and even in the holiest cities. if Allah opens up a door for hijrah in a more islamic environment (and i didn’t say Jannah- cuz that doesn’t happen down here!) and one chooses not to struggle there in fear of losing out on their comfort zone or lose grasps of the glitters of this donia..then one should really question their intention for hijrah in the first place. the more sincere the intentions are for a hijrah the easier it is to be granted sakinah in one’s heart, the easier it is to trust in Allah in planning the best and the easier it is to see the blessings in a place which Allah preserves. when a hijrah is done- its not the end- it continues so long as one is not in their homeland so intentions need to keep being renewed.
    Allah Knows Best..may Allah guide us all. ameen.

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  15. Assalamu alaikum. Jazaka Allahu kharyan for the thought provoking article. For us in the US Midwest without huge Muslim populations it’s more about making the home the best it can be. The home is really the sanctuary. The outside world is always going to be full of trouble if you ask me. ;-)

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    • Wa iyyak akhi

      May Allah make it easy for you bro. I know it must be tough not having that jama’a around you, but alhamdulilah you seem to have a great attitude & are making the best of it :)

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  16. TheAlexandrian's Little Sister :)

    Just want to say that I am so proud of you!
    The article is amazing. It’s interesting, intelligent, and very well-structured.
    Wish I could acquire your writing skills someday :)

    Keep up the good work Big Bro. I’ll be waiting for your next piece isA!

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  17. As-salamu-alaikum,

    I have lived in three countries Saudi Arabia, anonymous third world country & US, apart from that I have spent extended summer vacations in rest of the Gulf countries, UK & Canada.

    If I had to choose a city in the western world then it would be either London or Toronto. They mite not be Muslim cities but they do have a Muslim vibe to it. I would not pick any city in US, not even Houston. I would pick the non-muslim third world country than US, my experience with Muslim in America has been quite negative… most want to water down the deen and seem to value patriotism more than the Ummah.

    Saudi Arabia is my favourite as Islam was all around me, prayed 5 times in the masjid, halaal food everywhere. Fitnah exists but is limited and one has to go out of their way to indulge in sins. One can’t take part in politics but it’s not like I take part in politics here in the west and I have never seen any +ve outcome coming from political participation in the west but that’s topic for another day & that’s my personal political philosophy. Critics say Saudi doesn’t have freedom, I would add to that & say Saudi doesn’t have freedom to commit to sins. It’s not a perfect country but no one comes close either. Within Saudi, it’s either Dammam (a major city but small in size, kinda like Boston) or Madina.. it has a sense of serenity beyond words!

    Rest of the Gulf countries are good but not worth the haraam around!

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    • I guess what you consider sin. I live in Saudi Arabia, and life is pretty bummed. Many Saudis hate Saudi Arabia because life is generally unbearable. I mean most people just either do three things: shop, go to a restaurant, go to mosque and work. There is very few things to blow off steam: maybe play soccer or go smoke sisha. But what about going to an amusement park, or the cinema, or a water park, or the beach, or playing sports. Jeddah has more things to do for westerners and foreign compounds have some relief if you know someone to go there. Anyway, life just can’t all be about mosque, work and shopping. That is not a life.

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  18. Personally, I think Dallas is the best city in the West for Muslims to live in! The Muslim population is large (i think there are more muslims in the Dallas-Metroplex than Houston) and the communities are dynamic. Ask Br Nouman too – he chose to move to Dallas out of all the cities in the US :)

    Actually a major reason why I love Dallas is because of my work. I work at Texas Instruments (headquartered in Dallas) and it has to be by far the BEST Company for Muslims to work in! We have a “Muslim Employee Association” (kind of like MSA) under TI’s Diversity Initiative. We have elections and elect officers each every. There is a musallah in TI’s every building. In our building for example we have 2 musallahs with a proper wudhu area! We pray the salahs in jamat and it usually gets packed. We even have our own resident unofficial imams (I believe there are quite a few huffaz in my building.)

    If that’s not enough, TI encourages us to hold “Round Tables” on a regular basis where we inform our fellow employees about Islam. The round table usually consists of a 30 min presentation on Islam (covers a lot of topics from Aqeedah to Jihad) followed up with a 30 min Q&A session. If employees want a quran, then the company pays for it too. Every 2 years, we hold the same presentation for the top management.

    Finally there’s an unofficial rule that there should be no meetings during jumah ! After Eid, we usually have a Eid party for our Muslim employees too! Alhumdullilah I love the work environment so much and feel that I’m able to grow professionally as well as be true to my deen!

    I grew up in the Middle East and despite its shortcomings love it too but I doubt I’d find the work environment there that I find here.

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  19. great post! I have always said I’d like to visit Egypt….live

    hmmmm after Mexico, I have a taste of what it’s like to live outside the US. I must say I love it here. Islam is compromised no matter where you live. People have others who ridicule and judge you no matter where you live.
    I have friends in “Muslim countries” who get teased for not plucking their eyebrows or men who get teased for wearing a t shirt in the pool, all because they are religious. Muslims who get work and not paid or paid properly, bad work ethics, poverty, I could go on and on…..

    In the Us you get harassed by all sides, non Muslims and different than you Muslims….. Either way, I’ d love to visit Egypt and London, but all we can do is put or faith and trust in Allah, the struggle will remain.

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    • Assalamu Alaykum,

      @ brother abu-imaan:
      That was a terrific post outlining some extremely important issues.

      @other participants:
      One limitation of this discussion so far has been “regionalism”, if I may call it that. Evidently none of you consider the non-Western kafir world anything worth living in or worth indexing in your Livability Indices. That may be due to what I have called “regionalism” above.

      Also, evidently none of you are Saudi, Omani or Iranian (Shia Muslims). That may explain why some of you raised the issue of no immigration to Saudi Arabia. You should not forget that many “Muslims” from third-world countries go for Hajj and stay illegally in Saudi Arabia. Also, Saudi Arabia is a “royal dictatorship” aligned with the Western world and against the establishment of Muslim unity under Islamic laws.

      If under these circumstances, certain Muslim majority countries have achieved much, Muslims have things to be proud of. Likewise, Oman, Iran also provide Shariah compliant jurisdictions for the most part, for their own citizens of course. In both cases, though, certain restrictions are there.

      However, the restrictions in non-Muslim countries are manifold worse than in Muslim countries, particularly when compared to Shariah compliant countries. If you actually analyze why the so-called Muslim world imposes so many constraints on Muslims, most of them can be traced back to the West. As such, once again it would be quite farcical to uphold the Western world as a bastion of Islam or the most liveable places for Muslims as the Turkish professor wrongly argued.

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  20. Salam-

    A quick point of clarifcation.

    I’m not necessarily advocating one location over another or even one general “land” (ie, Muslim vs. non-Muslim). I’m simply calling for debate – but one based on analysis rather than prejudice. We’ve become too accustomed to broad brush strokes, I think. It’s either Muslim lands are corrupt and dictatorial, or hijrah to them will solve all your problems. It’s either Western lands are full of fasad and will break down your iman, or they’re the only place where you can practice your Islam freely. These perceptions prevail even in the face of evidence to the contrary. It’s clear, for example, that hijrah is no panacea and that, conversely, one can practice an un-watered down Islam in many cities across America, Canada, etc. Put simply, there is no ONE right answer.

    Therein lies the value of a multi-factor index – one can weigh one measure over another based on their personal preference. Yes, in the end, a “top city” is crowned, but along the way you’re exposed to a wealth of information that you may not have otherwise known. Just from reading the comments above someone might be inclined to visit Toronto (in the Summer, of course :P ) or see if Basil’s praise of Alexandria was warranted. The point is, we shouldn’t limit ourselves.

    A line in Abu-Imaan’s comment goes right to the heart of the matter:

    it is most fitting for muslims to live where the muslims are

    That’s the thing: Muslims are EVERYWHERE. This is a reality that I think at times we neglect to acknowledge.

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  21. walaikum salaam That’s exactly right

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  22. The best cities are where the best sheiukh are residing:
    North york: Sheikh Saed Rageah
    Houston: Sheikh Yasir Qadhi
    Saudi Arabia: Sheikh Muhammad Al arefe
    ……….
    etc…

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  23. i heard in ksa they dont really get along with black people is this true?….this one african american brother told me so many horror stories of prejudice it almost made me wanna cry real talk! lol

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    • unfortunately that is somewhat true…Not only with black people, but with people from the sub-continent and even Arabs. Basically anyone who isn’t Saudi or white. This is a sad reality in some Muslim countries but don’t let it stop you from visiting. Every land requires some kind of patience.

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    • You will find racists everywhere in the world, there are tons of religious poeple in Saudi so these people are obviousl not racist, not everyone is racist, infact, the pakistani brother from Jiddah during “syuul JiddaH” the floods, who saved fifteen poeple and died after that, all saudi’s supported his family and organisations supposrted his family finacially also, they made episodes on tv on how heroic he is… but generally speaking arabs can be racist, but so are americans and so are canadians and so on…anyone can be racist….

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      • yes alhamdulillah there are a lot of religious people in Saudi and a lot of good yet you cannot deny the injustice that is committed in some places. I’ve lived in Canada, US and now in Egypt and I’ve never experienced racism like I have in Saudi.
        A close friend of mine teaches at a school in Ta’if and teachers there, doing the exact same job, get different wages solely based on their country of origin. She is Canadian so she gets double what the Filipino teacher gets and the a White non-Muslim gets more than both of them –even though they are doing the exact same thing. If that isn’t dhulm, I don’t know what is. May Allah remove this ignorance from us.

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        • ya I guess you’re right, they do express their racism a bit more and I did hear that in dubai as well that is the case.. whites get everything they want…I think the gulf countries in general have this matter of saudis are most deserving then whites then american(or any western nationanitly) arab, then other arabs, etc…

          but there are many black saudis anyway…

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          • yea…..this bit of “different wages for different origins” is a lil common in the gulf(especially in schools).

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        • I absolutely have seen racism in the muslim community so I agree in general with what you’re saying.

          But there is this sense that I get from what you said, and what is almost “common knowledge” in the muslim community that white muslims are having this idyllic experience.

          I don’t know about wages in Saudi, and I’m not sure how many white muslims that applies to but you know the like maybe 20 tops other white converts who are regular attendees at the masajid I’ve frequented in 4 other states and 3 countries are not treated like royalty as far as I can tell.

          Just so everyone can feel better, many of us feel like we’re treated like crap as well.

          – can’t talk or seen as loudmouths or spoiled whiners (whites have everything anyway, so they should just “shut up”)
          – white converts openly called weird, etc.
          – viewed and treated as spies: 20 yrs ago if white americans said anything nice about jews they were government agents and traitors; now if they say anything negative about the ADL they’re agent provocateurs
          – white women are openly insulted about their virtue (so much for getting any good will points for being the forerunners of those converting amongst white folks in america). This has been going on for the almost 20 yrs I’ve been muslim: Latest comment I heard a few months ago delivered in a tone of indignant horror “White women come to the masjid looking for husbands!” Yeah, what sluts.
          – common reasons openly cited why anyone wants to marry white women — green card, cheap mahr, they’re gullible (new converts described as blank slate men can manipulate and treat like crap to levels which the “back home” women would not accept), they have no families here or “back home” to stick up for them, to lighten the skin of their husbands families
          – if white folks (like the 2 white dudes in a masjid of thousands) hang out together they are trying to “take over” because their colonialist, white privilege, inherent badness. There are lots of race / ethnic style masjids that everyone accepts — pakistani masjids, AA masjids, arab masjids, somali masjids. Are there white majority masjids in a country that is predominantly white?
          – huge failure in retaining white converts. But you know, who cares. They have the world on their plate right. Maybe the white muslims in saudi get extra money as dawah (i.e. zakah for those recently reconciled to the deen). It’s a long shot I know because why in the hell does anyone want to bring and retain white folks in the deen?

          So don’t feel bad anyone. Whites too feel hated. (yeah, I know, I’m whining, so I’ll just shut up now)

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          • Salaam aleykum um noor

            Oh it sounds horrendous sister. Nobody should be treated that way, and neither should anyone accept such treatments. But some muslims will discriminate second cousin against a first cousin, let alone other races. This never ends. It is truly jaahilliyya trait.

            Few points:
            Most masjid ( i think) dont set out to be one nationality congregation, it just happens to be that way. But once the board of the masjid become one nationality, the people are just drawn to that particular masjid. In the UK, (maybe someone can correct me), the masjids I have been to in London, there is no one single nationality in any one masjid, and I pray about 5 or 6 different ones.

            With the issue of whites being treated differently in Arab countries because they are being welcomed into the deen, I wish it was the case for the convert black sisters or brothers.

            We are in dire state. May Allah help us.

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        • Important to mention here, based on the contracting practices I heard of while there: apart from like benefits for housing, etc, salaries were offered to match (to a degree) whatever the applicant was already making in their contracting country/country of return. So, yes, the salaries varied.

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  24. If we are talking about best place for a Muslim to live in the west, then London, Toronto and Chicago are tops :)

    Ask Shaykh Yaser Birjas :P

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  25. salam ‘alikum
    Of course I’m being biased here, but I gotta say there’s no place like the Bay Area, CA.
    There is just so much diversity here (Asians, Latinos, whites, African Americans, you name it) that the Muslim community is able to adjust as other minorities have adjusted while learning from their experiences.
    There are so many Muslim organizations and events that go on here and it’s very vibrant.
    People in general are very open-minded, educated and tolerant which is a plus point for Muslims who want to fully embrace their American and Muslim identities while serving their community, giving da’wah, getting involved and more.
    Plus, add to it the Pacific Ocean and beautiful natural scenery and you’ve got great imaan boostin’ venues to hit up all the time. :-)
    And the Earth of Allah is vast. What a beautiful thing.

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  26. As salam aleykum

    since i live in New Zealand, i came across this article with pride

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/3216195/Young-Muslims-adapt-well-to-NZ

    and what is more important than being able to raise our children in a stress free environment and able to practise Islam? I have also lived in Germany where there are lot of issues with Muslims not integrating into society and not being able to attend mosques and I must say I prefer New Zealand anytime. How peaceful it is here!

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  27. Has anyone considered down under.

    Melbourne gotta be in the list up the top. For North Americans, its sort of Toronto with a touch of Lebanese, Turkish and Bosnians thrown in for good measure.

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  28. just on note for saudi prejudice, it has many faces and is mostly cultural evan exits among different tribes and cities and many saudis are black themselves so colour is not the reason………….

    as for muslims , we should try to visit madina an accostom our children to it for at the end of time it will be the haven for all believers and the hyppocrites will leave, and we all know of its serenity and that angels are hovering over it , etc,………….

    i’ve never regretted my life here since i came and don’t miss anything…………..its got everything now and is very different from rest of saudi , even the saudis themselves ppl of madina are just different, maybe what the prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam told us about ansaar and how they will have to be patient at the end of time, etc…………

    also the victorious army at the end of time will be of the best muslims on earth at that time and it will gather in madina……..;

    may Allah grant us and our future generations easier access to madina and life in it , ameen.

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  29. As Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    First off, I have to say that this is my first ever post on any blog/internet site and that I am privileged to post here on MM after spending hours [and hours and hours] reading through many of the eyeopening, entertaining, thought provoking as well as the occasional humorous articles and comments on this site over the last three months or so [wow that was a mouthful]. After battling myself for 2 and a half months, I finally built up the courage to post. It was a HUGE barrier for me, as I felt somewhat alien to this vast online community of Muslims here. But discomfort aside, I’ll get back to topic.

    London, personally. I don’t have much experience abroad, but I have to say, as a Muslim, London allows for many opportunities, as I’ve recently discovered. Also, generally speaking, its a good environment, with diverse communities of different cultures, faiths, races and languages, all within a 5 mile radius!

    London has its problems, that I can’t deny, but the pros outweigh the cons tenfold. I’m not particularly patriotic but there are things in London & Britain in general that just add to the greater picture which I wish were part of the Muslim states, as they seem much more Islamicly inspired.

    I know, I would love to hear the athan, but I can’t. I know drugs are an issue for the youth [as well as the adults]. I know we’ve been slightly desensitized in terms of modesty. But in the end, seeing so many non coloured, non Muslims, chanting beside me in the protest against the Iraq war really dissolved my preconceptions and prejudices towards my neighbors. This is London.

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  30. SOCAL MAKE SOME NOISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

    I’ve grown up in 3 different Muslim countries, but still believe Southern California is the best place to live in. Once you live there, you wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
    Within a 10 mile radius of where I lived, there were 9 masajid/musallas. It has a grip-load of the most tight sauce shuyookh/teachers, some well-known, some not.

    Everywhere else in the country (even so-called “Sunny South Florida”) has chilling temperatures right now…except in SoCal it’s about 70 degrees….

    Not to mention it has the coolest qabeela ever!!!! GO QABEELAT HAQQ WOOHOO!!! (Rays of Faith Jan 22-24, 30-31, be there, or be an aloo paratha :D)

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  31. masha`Allah nice read….its a favorite tea time discussion!!!! (smile)…

    having lived in 4 different countries(islamic/non-islamic) with totally different cultures/lifestyles, i can honestly say that as long as you can freely worship Allah ta`ala and carry out your obligations, be content and patient…
    some mistakenly think that making hijra will solve your eeman issues, which is not necessarily the case as the sister alluded above….it does help, but there are other personal issues that you have to overcome, and if you can’t better to stay where you are…

    I remember the words of ibn tayimeeyah (ra) when he was going to be moved into a place no one like to be, he said regarding that….”My paradise is in my heart; wherever I go it goes with me, inseparable from me. …..and exile from my town is but a chance to travel…..

    subhanAllah, a true mu`min is optimistic and has high hopes of Allah ta`ala irrespective of where he lives….

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    • Totally agreed, the Mu’min who is in complete control of their affairs can live anywhere and benefit no matter what. The truth is that many are not at that left, most in fact are weak and easily swayed by their environment.

      The example chosen is of one of the most forebearing scholars the ummah has ever seen, who was imprisoned for his stance on religious matters and who maintained patience in the face of adversity.

      The comparison is not equal though. One who knows his own weakness needs to seek refuge from that which will cause his Imaan to weaken further. We are all different, and Hijra away from fitna has been encouraged so it should not be discounted as unnecessary. There is more evidence for making Hijra from a place which has negative impact on ones deen that there is evidence for staying there.

      The Prophet(saw) when faced with chosing 2 directions both of which were permissible encouraged the easier path.

      Do not forget the words of Allah:

      Lo! As for those whom the Angels take (in death) while they wrong themselves, (the Angels) will ask: In what were ye engaged? They will say: We were oppressed in the land. (The Angels) will say: Was not Allah’s earth spacious that ye could have migrated therein? As for such, their habitation will be hell, an evil journey’s end.

      An-Nisa, 4:97

      May Allah provide for each of us the best place of refuge which will help us preserve our deen.

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      • agreed, i believe that is a sensible assessment..

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        • I for one who love to return to Live amongst Muslims in a more Islamic environment. It’s not easy getting in with enough opportunity to secure oneself and ones family though of course for the one who puts his trust in Allah Allah will make a way for him.

          Make dua for me brothers and sisters. I’m seriously hunting for a means and a place in a Muslim majority country to either work or study or both with my wife and kids. Even just for learning Arabic it’s way better as once a week arabic is difficult to progress without daily practice.

          And May Allah grant you all ease in your practice of Deen wherever you may be, and provide a way out of every difficulty.

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          • Salam alaikum Abu Iman
            Me to! I want to live in a Muslim country. I have a family
            And I’m monetarily challenged! Maybe it’s better this way.

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  32. I think the best place to live is in a mosque where there is a large muslim community around.

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  33. Slave of the Most Loving One

    Salam wrt wbrt!

    There are many factors i think is important to be considered in makin hijrah and the type of place we want to settle in , like:

    1. Bringing up ur children : i wud definitely (inshAllah) prefer to live in a Muslim majority country as i dont want my children to be exposed to all the immorality openly displayed plus the gays, lesbos and what not!!

    2. I guess for weak brothers iceland will be gud place to make hijrah :D (u wont have tht hard time lowerin ur gaze)…..*gets serious* brothers who have big time prob with lowering gaze i guess places like Saudi Arabia or other muslim majority middle east country would be a safe haven.

    i guess there can be different reasons to choose different places to make sure we wont compromise on our deen…

    but personally i feel Madinah is THE place.. :)

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  34. I think as Muslims when we are considering where to live we should bear in mind possible future occurances in the socio-political and economic realms. Especially in light of what is going on at the present. It is good to assess the future social enviroment for all, alhamdullilah if you are an adult with strong emaan but how will your children and other family members act when the fitna increases.

    As such, I would think these issues should make us consider our best options for those whom Allah has given the ability.
    Adrian Salbuchi puts it together in a concise fashion bearing in mind that ultimately only Allah knows what will happen in the future. In short ,much fitna is happening and many are asleep and as muslims we should vigilant. Please note, alternative news sources and some mainstream sources give glimpses of different aspects of these problems.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/arsalbuchi#p/a/u/1/J03j9Zo5oDk

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  35. Assalam alaikum Brothers and Sisters

    Am happy to read this article, I would like to contribute by explaining a little about Calicut.

    Location: Calicut, Kerala, India
    Also known as: Kozhikode

    Majority of the people are muslims.

    Advantages

    1.Good freedom for Dawa
    -for conferences public programs (even on roadside)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kT6tUtPCh74&feature=related
    -for squad work or distributing pamphlest / visiting public / private offices or houses.
    -interfaith dialogues/ debates / rebuttals
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMYQKj0sJBI
    -exhibitions
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmOS6vKPx-A&feature=related

    2.Freedom to Live as a fully practising muslim
    -plenty of mosques (salafi masjids)
    -lot of scholars / madrasa / colleges
    -to dress above ankles/fullbeard /hijab/niqab
    -Halal food

    3.Good living
    -Affordable accomodation/education
    -expert + affordable medical care
    -good public transport systen + average infrastructure
    -nice place for business /trade
    -people in general are literate, tolerant and tidy

    4.Excellent environment
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBC0AIiNPs8
    -lots of water/rivers
    -good beaches
    -green with plenty vegetation

    Disadvantages
    -Kuffar/Bidhees/drunkards have the same freedom
    -society afflicted with all fitna that comes attatched with the FITNA BOX [T.V]

    Pray that Allah Subhanahu WaTaala gathers us all in Jannah .

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  36. I recently finished a comparison of Dubai vs Toronto, in particular as a Muslim in a non-minority lands.

    Dubai vs Toronto (link to all parts)
    http://mezba.blogspot.com/2010/04/dubai-vs-toronto-part-5-dubai-or.html

    Part 4 – Islamic Cultural Aspect of Dubai vs Toronto
    http://mezba.blogspot.com/2010/03/dubai-vs-toronto-part-4-islamic-and.html

    There are certain myths about Dubai (especially it being a place to earn money). There is also a conception that living in an Islamic land makes one more Islamic.

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  37. Salam Brothers and sister,

    That is true that u can not compare Karachi and Islamabad with anything.if u want to live as a muslim.but i think 2nd place should be NewYork. Specially Brooklyn & Queens Areas.U will find same stuffs like ur own country all kinds of masajids,Islamic Programs Events,No problem of Halal Food.I think Newyork Sspecially Queens and Brooklyn is best for living muslims.

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  38. Assalamalaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    It was great reading all the posts alhamdulillah.

    Having lived in Bahrain, Dubai, Sudan, Pakistan, Ohio, and Seattle, WA as well as having traveled in Europe Africa and USA (including Lahore/Islamabad, Alexandria, Egypt, Kenya, Cal, Boston, Houston, London, etc), I conclude the following:

    1) If you are not close to Allah and weak in Iman, it is essential you live in a vibrant dynamic Muslim community with excellent exposure to Ulema/Mashaikh. For those very weak in iman, a Muslim country is a better choice because it will build your Islamic identity. It will make you proud of being a Muslim and not be “ashamed” of your ways (as long as you don’t get swayed by those weak Muslims who are impressed by the west and look down upon your religiosity). The azaans, the masajid, the availaibitlity of halal, there is no comparison.

    2) If your faith base is strong, and you feel living in a non Muslim country will not “water you down”, then do so; however you must find a community which can maintain your faith and make it enjoyable to live in.
    3) If you are a learned scholar, we beg people like you to come to weak Muslim communities and revive their Islam! You need to do hijrah to weaker regions because that is the need of the day! (I know UK has excellent surplus of scholars but they do not come to the US due to lack of medical facilities.. Communities need to provide for them well so they can benefit from their knowledge).
    4) The way dawah can be practised in the US has sweetness to it because you really have to fight your nafs daily. We have over 50 students who come learn Quran at our Masjid and mothers like me run the program to make our community survive.

    If your husband is strong in faith, you can live in a non muslim country and be satisfied with the kind of amazing dawah work you can do here.
    However if his level of iman is lower, then I suggest take the offer from a Gulf country if it comes.
    The problem with countries like Sudan and Pakistan is that once you have lived abroad, the system will frustrate you a lot. Once you over come that, it is has a sweetness of its own. I remember the ghafirs sitting outside our home in Khartoum recite “La ilaha illaha” from Asr to Magreb, a unique experience which resounds in my heart till this day. There is something amazing about the desert which is unparalleled by even the most beautiful countries in the world.
    Southern California is an excellent option as well. THe weather, the available programs are pretty awesome.

    wassalam
    um

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  39. As Salamu Aliakum,

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    JazakAllah Khair for all the wealth of knowledge, insight, and experience you have shared here.

    Since becoming Muslim only 3 years ago, I have lived only in Chicago and Morocco (my husband’s country of origin). While living in the USA is full of challenges, like discrimination and fitnah all around my kids, living in a majority Muslim country is not an easy answer. Why?

    When we live in the US, I can tell my kids, in relation to the haram things like non halal food, gambling (you would be shocked at how pervasive it is!- lottery, scratch tickets, raffles, at school, and vending-style machines everywhere in which one puts coins for a chance to get a toy, ipod, etc), inappropriate dress and music, that “Those things are not healthy or lawful for anyone, but the non-Muslims can do as they please, we know the healthy and good way and we will follow it, inshAllah!” However, when we tried to move to Morocco, 99+% Muslim, my kids were more tempted and had a harder time refusing the haram things in which my husband’s family participates, like sick video games, barely dressed women singing in competition on TV, lottery tickets, BECAUSE their own Muslim cousins, aunts, and uncles are doing it. They even raise pork and make and sell alcohol there. And those aren’t just for foreigners. There’s a whole snobby secular class who take pride in eating pork as a mark of their secularism, and progressiveness, audthu billahli min ash Shaytani rajim! And they don’t accept a mere convert to tell them what she will or won’t accept for her kids. Even in Ramadan, the TV stations have a special schedule, that is, the evil programs start at iftar. So after a day of fasting, one sits down to break the fast, and someone puts on the Moroccan version of American Idol. My poor widowed mom-in-law, a woman of real faith and character, just wanted to watch the channel with the streaming video of worshippers at the Kaaba and the channels with recitations and dua, but her own grandchildren would chastise her and watch what they wanted. My sisters in law made fun of me for wearing hijab and not sitting in mixed gatherings. Why would I want to sit in a room wearing hijab in the heat, sweating, while women with makeup, tweezed brows, and flashy, tight, and revealing clothes sit talking to my husband with no shame? He lowers his gaze, mashAllah, but he is too “polite” to just go to another room and refuse to and talk with them. Sometimes I would be out of my room, reading or knitting, and one of my brothers in law would just come in, plop down, and start watching TV. So I would get up and leave, and later be ridiculed for not sitting alone in a room with them. I once found my 7 year old son in his cousin’s room playing GRAND THEFT AUTO! I marched him right out of there, but was later chastised for being rude. We had been planning to move there, but I felt more threat to our Islamic way of life there than here in the US.

    So a majority Muslim country isn’t *necessarily* more free from evil influences. I was very inspired to read the descriptions of life in Medina, alhamdullilah.

    I do really miss the adthan, all the hijabis in the streets, and the many supportive religious women there.

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    • Subhana Allah sis! I know exactly what you mean. For this reason, I even feel safer for us to just live away from family. Muslim and non-Muslim family affect us when they don’t practice Islam and as you stated sister Madinah it is much worse when it comes from Muslims! Our kids accept it from the kuffar because they know they are not Muslim and they are different but when it comes from Muslims themselves, everything goes down hill from there.

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  40. Sister Halimah
    I understand your frustration. Bu I think you would have had different experience, if you were living apart from your extended family, i.e if you had your own apartment where you can control the TV and etiquette of Islam in your own home. Relatives and extended families tend to have mostly negative impact if the kids are exposed to them all of the times.

    When I went back to my country in africa, I was looked down and ridiculed for refusing to accept relative’s handshake and I was told how people of old never had problem with handshakes and hugs and “these young generation, especially those brought up in the west” are zealots in their deen. I would love living in the a muslim country, but having spent ramadan in Dubai, kenya and in Northern Somalia (where it is quite peaceful), I would take London any day. There is no place like London. My eemaan is so high with Islamic classes, numerous masjids, and plenty of bookshops and the halaal food. I am not sure what it would be like to stay in Egypt Ramadan time, but I would definitely be interested in. I also loved staying Makkah, but who really doesnt!

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    • I agree with you, that’s the problem we’re facing too. My side of the family is non-Muslim and it’s very difficult on us to keep our sanity, especially with our kids. Masha’Allah, they are now understanding that they are Muslm and they are proud to show it. They explain to people that we don’t celebrate xmas because we are Muslim and they want they tell them others don’t feel insulted or bad in any way. AlHamduli Allah.

      Egypt is changing for the best but it still needs a lot of work. The last time I was there (prior to the revolution), they looked at us like we had 10 heads when our toddler girls wore hijab when they went out to walk in the street. Subhana Allah, I wonder what their reaction would be when they see my 4 yr old proudly imitating me with the niqab lol. There is still a lot of cultural baggage within the people there, but insha’Allah that will soon be done with.

      It is 100% sure that the way we are at home, our children will be. So no matter where we live we must live Islam within our homes. That is the only way we will change our status in dunya and akhira. Otherwise, if we let society do it for us we will be a lost civilization.

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  41. MALAYSIA

    Funny no one mentioned this place.
    Its a great modern Muslim country
    with a very hospitable local Muslim population
    who are always very welcoming to other Muslims from abroad.

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    • Agree with you, Br. Yousef.
      It is fact. Alhamdulillah..
      I have been to many countries. Malaysia is a country where you can find multicultural, races and beliefs live in harmony. MasyaAllah….

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  42. Assalaamulaikum……I am surprised not to see Jeddah on the list……..though I have my own opinions….!!!!!but U.S is good too….every thing has a good and a bad side!

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  43. Malaysia..definitely is the place to be in..good muslim population..really good place for muslims with all the best of the west..i.e technology , education ect…

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    • Allahu alam, I used to think so too. But when I saw how their system is really corrupted with so many sects and thousands, if not hundreds of thousand gay-muslim men (and proud!) there. I scratched it off of my list entirely!

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  44. Assalaam ‘alaykum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.

    Ok, I’ve been researching for quit some time now. I’m looking for a “perfect place” in the USA for a Muslim to live in. Yea I know, no such thing as “perfect.” But if I must live in the USA, which place would be better? Any suggestion? First of all, hands down, I would prefer Madinah (Saudi) over any other places (despite all its cons), but I live in the USA. I live in an environment where I basically see almost no one. I want to live in a place where there are lots of Muslims (practicing) who are very active in the community. Moving in this country can be very hard. You’ll have to find a job where you plan on moving, find a place to live in, etc… It’s even harder if you’re a woman. I totally agree on women not traveling without a mahram, but on certain situations, it can be impossible not to. At least living in an area where there are lots of Muslims (especially Muslim women) would be better for the eman insha Allah. So in such cases, it would be better to keep in touch with sisters of the area and possibly get roommates (Muslim women) instead of living alone with no mahram.

    I would really appreciate it if some of you could give me a little bit of more details on which places are of the top, why they are so, and what is the best way to get in touch with the community (especially other sisters) insha Allah. What would be the best jobs to get, and how should one apply for them (go there first or apply online/phone before appearing given the fact that many employees hire face to face)?
    Another important thing is that I wear the niqab. Which place has the highest population of women with hijab (including niqab)? I’ll really appreciate it if I could get responses as soon as possible. I’m really searching and very serious about this. Would being hosted by other sisters be the best way to go about in the beginning? If so, how should it be done and are there any organizations or group of sisters who do these things? I’m definitely looking forward on doing many of these things myself, but I have to find the right place insha Allah and start my journey in getting involved.

    By far, here is the list of places I have read are the most populated Muslim places in the North America: Houston, New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Toronto. Ok, what makes these places stand out more? Are they diverse Muslim communities? We know that many places have the sickness of separating themselves by ethnicity. Which ones are the most diverse? Which ones are safer to live in (crime rate, etc…) And lastly, which ones have many sisters living together as roommates? I know that I’ve asked a whole bunch of questions lol, I apologize. It’s just that I’ve been searching for a while now and I definitely want to make some moves as soon as possible insha Allah. Please help with out with some information for the sake of Allah if you can insha Allah.

    May Allah unite the Muslims and guide us all till the Day of Judgment and grant us all the highest place in Jannah. Please forgive me for my long and detailed message/questions.

    Wa salaam ‘alaykum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.

    Your sister
    Madinah.

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    • I currently live in Madinah. Honestly if it wasn’t for the Prophet’s masjid (sallahu alhi wa salaam) and the Islamic University of Madinah, (which I would like to enroll into but have not been able to get into yet) then I would not like this place. I’m not impressed with the people and even though it’s Madinah, it’s still under the Saudi system. I actually came to this site because I was looking for where else there was to go. You’d think Madinah would be the best spot on earth. I’m not saying it’s not….but I haven’t been impressed with the oppressive treatment of others or the system in-of-itself.

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      • Masha’Allah, hang in there, especially since you’re already there. There isn’t a spot on this Earth that doesn’t have oppressors and tyrants ruling it- not even USA and Europe.

        Subhana Allah, I would love to live in either Mecca or Madina. Ad Dajjal is coming so soon. All of the signs are there. Should we not live to see it, our children or grandchildren will. It’s so close yaum al qiyama. At least pave the road for them to be there. Hang in there. Even these places will soon kick out the hypocrite system that rule them right now.

        May Allah SWT grant you patience, guide you, protect you and our entire Ummah.

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  45. We all have a place on this dunya where we feel most at home.But we need not be distracted by the dunya and its beauty. Instead we need to focus on the hereafter and come together as, Muslims and create a united Muslim state where all Muslims can live in peace with each other and also with non Muslims. Allahu Akbar and may Allah bring all my brothers and sisters peace and blessings.

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  46. Honestly, in my eyes, the way I see things, the USA is the last place Muslims want to be. Especially in the next couple of months to come. Our freedom and rights are being snatched from under our feet and we are too busy and hypnotized to even realize it.

    Rasul Allah SAWS said that dunya is a prison for the believers and it truly is. This is why the believer can’t make up his/her mind where to go. No matter where they land they will not be happy. We will either be happy here OR be happy in akhira. I choose akhira. For me, the USA isn’t on my list at all. They are planning on implanting an RFID chip in us (obligatory) and that means will be walking cell phones. The way they stamp cattles, that’ll be us. This chip is already implanted in new passports and drivers license. Their dajjal system is in its final stages.

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  47. AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    (My observations may not be relevant to a lot of people. They are pretty subjective)

    Thank you very much for this article and conversation. I appreciate all of the comments and perspectives. My husband and I have been having this discussion for a year, plus. He studies in Qatar. I am from the US. I grew up in a very rural area of the US; corn fields, orchards, etc. Our community is a small community of about 50. I had a free and pure childhood here in the US, where I was homeschooled and surrounded by my Muslim family. Living in a rural and isolated area made that possible. However, when I left home and went to another city, I was ill prepared for the challenges of trying to live a Muslim life in a western country. I resented my plight. I wished I had been raised in an Islamic country.

    Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Qatar where my husband studies. What an experience! Masha’Allah, Athan for every prayer heard from every street. People stop what they are doing when it is time for Jummah prayer and just go pray. You don’t have to go through the long explanations about why you need to do this and that or can’t do this or that because of your religion, most everyone shares your religion! I was home.

    That being said, I witnessed too much oppression- not of the women, but of the foreign workers and the foreign students and any foreigner. I quickly saw the advantage of allowing my American accent to be heard (among women). And something else… There is no judgment in this, but it is something I would not have foreseen. I wear hijab, and in urban areas in New York State I can pretty much walk with my sisters and we go relatively unnoticed, or we don’t feel as if we are being stared at. In smaller communities, farm communities, you will get stares… However, when walking with my husband in Qatar, I felt like I was being watched everywhere we went. My husband, newly married, who has spent most of his time with family in a small community like my own and male colleagues in university, quickly became very anxious. He is a gentle and fair person, but after walking around with me for a couple of days things became tense between us… He would say I was walking on the wrong side of him, exposing myself to the public. I was walking behind him exposing myself to the men behind us. When we went out to eat, we would stand for a while deliberating on where I should sit so I would not sit facing any men (we remember ourselves standing and laugh about it now). He was not being paranoid. I witnessed what was making him so uncomfortable, but his reaction, due to lack of experience, was to put the responsibility on ourselves since we were the only ones in his control. I finally had to tell him I was being hurt by this. I wear black abaya and hijab when I am in public, so I couldn’t see what more I could do to stop all of this attention (I later realized that niqab would likely have solved our problems). I never felt as if I was in any danger. I just felt uncomfortable in a way I never have in the US. There is some irony in this I think. Eventually, he and I established some balance, knowing if we were doing everything we could do for the sake of Allah, then that is enough. We became confident in ourselves and actions once again and had a wonderful time.

    I will say, if I move to Qatar, I will not likely go out without my husband, I may go out less, and I WILL wear niqab. I know that after a couple of years I may grow tired of such a lifestyle. I am accustomed to freedom- the freedom of a natural environment; the sun, breezes, open fields, animals and everything else natural and beautiful. But I would endure it for as long as possible because when I am awakened by the Athan being called from outside (!) I feel at home. The world becomes smaller and less intimidating when you know you have a home and a family. After my trip I flew into NYC, where my brother met me and took me for a walk and dinner. That city never seemed as small as it did that night, and I felt at home with myself there in that city because of my home, among Muslims, I found in Doha. I spoke to very few people, but I felt they were my family because I can assume we love the same One- Allah. Our (worldwide Muslim) family does have problems. But when we become aware of problems, we don’t abandon our family and home and say, ‘I’m not going there anymore.’ We serve Allah and contribute and do good deeds to help our family. If we each see ourselves as having a contribution to make and some good to share we will see the benefit of living in any country east or west. The entire world is our own.

    …I am interested in learning more about Malaysia…

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