The Hijrah Experience Interview With Its Founder Ibn Mushfiq
With so much interest from Muslims worldwide at the possibility of making Hijrah (immigration) to Muslim majority countries, the Inside Saudi editor, Mohammed Francis, sat down with the founder of the very popular online Hijrah Experience Telegram Forum, Ibn Mushfiq.
I asked him about making Hijrah and about the current excitement and explosion of international interest in his Hijrah Experience members forum.
1. Brother, Why Did You Decide To Start The Hijrah Experience Telegram Group?
For a number of years, the idea of making Hijrah really fascinated me. Considering my personal circumstances then, it was just a lofty dream. That is, until recently.
In 2021, I started to research and plan Hijrah for myself. I also decided that I would share my discoveries by creating the Hijrah Experience forum.
At the same time, it was an opportunity for me to get to know other like-minded Muslims with similar ambitions.
I noticed that there were no centralized resources available for potential Muhajireen and there was a terrible lack of information and advice online to show people how to move to a Muslim country.
From What’s App To Telegram
So, the Hjirah Experience forum was born. It began as a WhatsApp group. As the membership numbers grew steadily, I migrated the group to the Telegram App.
The telegram app has altogether better functionality and a much improved, safer user experience.
For example, you can use the Search function to quickly find any topic or discussion you wish to know more about related to Hijrah.
On our Telegram channel, members meet up, respectfully discuss issues together and share so many easy-to-access resources.
The expansion has been rapid and so far, hundreds of new members have joined.
2. Who Are Your Members?
Members Are Both Veterans And Newcomers
The Hijrah Experience members are made up of a number of experienced individuals and families who have already moved out to Muslim countries.
The group also has so many more potential Muhajireen -those still wishing to leave their home countries and start a new life abroad.
These battle-hardened individuals who have successfully spent more than ten years abroad use the online facility to offer advice and guidance to those who are still fairly new to the Hijrah experience.
I particularly value these interactions, and they are the central feature of the Hijrah Experience group.
Also, the newer members really appreciate the information and personal Hijrah experiences that are shared.
One grizzled, experienced Muhajir group member told me how amazing it felt to be mentoring others, today.
He has always wanted to be a valuable asset to potential Muhajireen, in ways he had only imagined serving them 10 or 20 years before.
As the founder of the group, my ultimate aim is to assist members in the realization of their dream and ambition to set up a new life in a Muslim country of their choice.
Anyone with even the smallest of interest in the idea of performing Hijrah is welcome to join us.
3. Why Do Members Wish To Move To Muslim Countries?
Eastern Muslims Want To Move To The West
Ironically, the dream of many Muslims worldwide especially in Arab and Asian lands is not about religious Hijrah at all.
To them, a better life means leaving their Muslim homelands and setting up a new one in prosperous Western nations such as Canada, the USA, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
Their intentions, of course, are positive.
They wish to obtain well-paid jobs, improve living standards, and enjoy a much better quality of life.
Western Muslims Want To Move East
However, the Muhajireen who are native to developed nations do not especially want to move to the Muslim world only for material gains, luxury, or economic opportunities.
This is because in the West most of them already have jobs, a comparatively good standard of living, and ample financial means and opportunities.
Actually, the reality is that moving to a Muslim country will likely involve a loss of assets and a much lower standard of living.
In truth, these individuals seek to improve their Islamic lives.
They wish to learn Arabic, have access to learned Muslim scholars, be close to mosques, and raise their children in the wholesome, ethical societies which they feel that only the Muslim nations can better provide.
Islamic Scholars Rule Hijrah Obligatory
They agree with the Islamic scholars, who with their understanding of the principles of the Quran and Sunnah, maintain that Muslims should not remain residents in the non-Muslim countries.
Most rule that Muslims in the West are obligated (Waajib) to leave the land where non-Muslims are the overwhelming majority and emigrate to the majority Muslim nations.
Others however regard making Hijrah to a Muslim country as highly recommended. (Mustahab).
4. What Expectations Should Forum Members Really Have ?
Members dream that by setting up a home in a Muslim majority country, their ambition to live a righteous Islamic life is bound to be much easier to achieve.
Life In Muslim Countries -Not all Roses
From the outset, experienced members of the Hijrah Experience group work hard to dispel any rosy notions that newcomers may have about life in Arab or Asian nations.
They do not wish to demolish dreams or ambitions, rather they try to provide forum members with a more balanced appreciation of the sobering realities on the ground.
However, from the start, they should understand that living conditions in these nations are far from ideal.
People in Muslim majority countries have serious economic challenges to overcome.
Drop In Income And Lifestyle
Creating a suitable religious environment including the optimum conditions for a thriving Islam is not always their main priority.
Also, moving to another country involves a radical change of lifestyle. This should prompt a honest questioning as to whether the Muhajir and his family will readily adjust to such a life change.
It is a fact that some governments do not always openly welcome immigrants, Muslim or otherwise. Experience shows that some friction exists between locals and immigrants.
However, life in Muslim countries is generally more affordable. For example, the cost to rent cramped studio apartment in a overpopulated western city is almost the same as renting a 3-4 bedroom apartment in the sought after city of Medina, Saudi
Whilst spends are cheaper, jobs opportunities and salaries are less. Also, the life style can be less hectic.
Of all the issues raised in this article, questions of lifestyle change are easily the deepest and most complicated ones to answer.
In the Hijrah Experience forum we endeavour to answer some of these complex questions to the best of our abilities, Inshaallah.
5. What Are The Main Challenges To A Successful Hijrah Experience?
The main practical challenge for members is to find the right destination; a Muslim country to make their Hijrah.
This includes visas, employment, setting up a business, housing, schools, paying taxes, and finding a supportive Islamic community in the host country.
Since most forum members are from Western countries, they need also to decide when is the best time to give up their jobs and to sell their homes before embarking on their Hijrah experience.
Everyone has different skills, tolerance-levels vary together with expectations. However, potential Muhajireen should themselves the following questions.
Serious Questions To Ask
- Can I remain in the country of my choice for the long-term and settle there indefinitely? If not, what are the next best alternatives?
- Does my chosen destination have the kind of environment that I and my family can thrive in, religiously?
6. Which Specific Countries Do You Recommend To Members?
The forum admin does not make any particular recommendation regarding the choice of Hijrah destinations.
It is entirely up to forum members to decide where to go.
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman
However, most of our participants would dearly love to live in Saudi Arabia, especially in the cities of Mecca and Madinah to be close to the two holy mosques. (The Haramain)
Other possible destinations include Gulf countries like the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman.
Some members also consider countries of the Sham region including Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Turkey.
North African countries of Egypt and Morocco are also viable options.
7. How Do Local Laws And Conditions Affect A Member’s Ability To Start A New Life In A Muslim Country?
The decision to start a new life in a Muslim country will often depend on immigration status, laws, and local regulations concerning resident foreigners or expats in the country where members wish to emigrate.
Saudi Arabia And Sponsorship
For example, in Saudi Arabia, foreign nationals are welcome to live in the kingdom as long as they have a job and a local sponsor (Kafeel).
This means though that once a job contract terminates, the person being sponsored together with his/her family should transfer that sponsorship to another employer (Kafeel), or else leave the kingdom, permanently.
Westerners And Saudization
Increasingly, Western trained and qualified Saudi nationals are fast replacing expat workers in many job fields. Fewer and fewer jobs are available to Western expats as the kingdom gets closer to meeting the Vision 2023 target of 100% Saudization.
Obtaining Saudi Nationality
Even though it exists, there is no easy way to get Saudi nationality.
Also, for a large fee, the new Saudi Premium Residency scheme (SP 1 & SP2) allows investor foreign nationals to self sponsor and to remain permanently in the kingdom.
Most forum members may not be eligible for the residency scheme.
In addition, SP 1 & SP 2 visa holders enjoy far fewer rights than Saudi nationals in terms of access to employment, education, health care, and other things.
Click the following link to get all the information you need about the Saudi Premium Residency in a handy Q & A style format. What is the Saudi Premium Residency Scheme (Green Card)?
8. In General, If Someone Wishes To Make Hijrah, Which Issues Should They Consider?
There are a number of other issues forum members should consider.
The first is learning Arabic or local foreign languages. Though English is widely spoken in the Arab or Asian world, knowing the local language will allow you to connect and understand locals and to enjoy a better quality of life.
Kids Education And Homesickness
They should also consider schooling for children. Standards of education in public government schools in Muslim countries (though free of charge) are not as good as in the Western world.
Also, private schools offering much better levels of education are punitively expensive and a large chunk of the expat’s salary is used on paying school fees.
Another issue is feeling homesick. Forum members rarely mention this, but being so far away from the wider family, loved ones, the life and culture you know can be very painful.
Thankfully, the internet makes it possible to stay in daily contact with distant family and to lessen aching feelings of longing for home.
9. How Does Your Hijrah Experience Group Assist Members In Deciding Where to Move?
Currently, our initiative is simply to provide information and assist members in planning and deciding where to go for Hijrah.
There are ample resources on the site in the form of articles, videos, and those who are already living in Muslim countries who offer their first-hand experience and personal advice to newer members.
In the end, it is for the Muhajireen themselves (after Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَ) to decide which country is best for them for Hijrah.
The Hijrah Experience forum merely seeks to empower participants and to provide experienced guidance for the years ahead.
10. What Are Your Future Plans for the Hijrah Experience Group?
The Hijrah Experience will continue to be an important, free community resource.
Income earning Ops
In the future, our initiative could expand into other paid services that include visa procurement, translations, passport and immigration, green card and residency services, etc.
We are also considering other income-producing activities such as e-books, PDFs, offering consultancy, training, audios, videos, software, and useful apps.
Boosting The Hijrah Experience Profile Online
Currently, we are planning to set up a new website and and branch out into other social media spaces. We wish to help as many people as possible make Hijrah.
We ain to do this by increasing our online visibility and inviting more experienced Muhajireen to particiate.
Ultimately, our goal is to become the a primary go to place for all Hijrah related resources.
11. How Do Potential Members Join The Hijrah Experience Group?
We provide a special link to join the Hijrah Experience group. Potential members simply click on the link, download the Telegram app to their phones, and join with ease.
To become a member, click the following Hijrah Experience Forum link. It will first prompt you to download the Telegram App and then take you directly to joining our forum.
At this time, there is no barrier or a vetting process.
12. Are There Any Joining Fees?
10. How Can Members Contact You, Personally?
I am easy to reach. Although I enjoy a private life, I am always happy to meet forum members, make myself available, and be of service to anyone who participates.
As the owner and admin of the group, my job is to gather resources and make them easily available for members.
Also, I have delegated other admin members to take responsibility for the day-to-day running of the forum, membership, and user queries. They, too, can be contacted on the forum.
In the future, I hope to play an ever-increasing role on the site and other business areas, so contacting me will be easier than ever.