The Prohibition to Reside Among the Disbelievers when Able to Migrate
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala begins this ayah by saying,
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَوَفَّـهُمُ الْمَلَـئِكَةُ ظَـلِمِى أَنفُسِهِمْ
“Indeed, those whom the Angels take (in death) while they were wronging themselves…”
This ayah was revealed for the people who had accepted Islam but were still living among their own clans, which had not yet embraced Islam, without any genuine excuse or compulsion. They were doing wrong to their own selves by living in a state of semi-Islam, although the abode of Islam (Madina) had come into existence where they could migrate and live the full life of a Muslim. They were quite content to live such a wretched life of semi-unbelief, according to their faith because they preferred their comforts, their families, their properties and their interests to their Faith.
قَالُواْ فِيمَ كُنتُمْ
“ … they (the Angels) will say, ‘In what (condition) were you?’…”
meaning, why did you remain here and not perform hijrah.
قَالُواْ كُنَّا مُسْتَضْعَفِينَ فِى الاٌّرْضِ
“They will say, ‘We were oppressed in the earth.’”
Meaning we were unable to leave the land or move about in the earth. The angels would then ask next,
أَلَمْ تَكُنْ أَرْضُ اللَّهِ وَسِعَةً فَتُهَـجِرُواْ فِيهَا
“ Was not the earth of Allah spacious (enough) for you to emigrate therein?”
meaning why did you continue to live in a place which was oppressed by the rebels against Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and where it was not possible to live in accordance with the Law of Allah? When Allah’s earth is so spacious why did you not migrate to a place where you could follow the Divine Law without any hindrance?
Abu Dawud recorded that Samurah bin Jundub said that the Messenger of Allah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam said,
مَنْ جَامَعَ الْمُشْرِكَ وَسَكَنَ مَعَهُ فَإِنَّهُ مِثْلُه
“Whoever mingles with the idolator and resides with him, he is just like him.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then ends this ayah by saying,
فَأُوْلَـئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ وَسَآءَتْ مَصِيراً
“Then those will have their abode in Hell and evil it is as a destination.”