This statement has been ascribed to the Noble Prophet (s) and many scholars have discussed the possible connection love for one’s homeland may have to faith. Not being able to fathom any connection between the two has led many a scholar to classify this tradition as apocryphal. While not found in any early Shi’i hadith corpus, it has been refered to as a ‘hadith’ by certain late Shi’i scholars like Syed Muḥsin Amīn and Mullā Aḥmad Narāqī. 1 There is no complete and uninterrupted chain of transmission (sanad) for this statement in any work of hadith or history, even though the earliest instance of this statement as prophetic tradition dates back to the fourth century. 2
As far as the meaning of this statement goes, it cannot be taken literally since many non-believers also love their homelands. This is why some have understood it to mean that ‘loving one’s homeland does not contravene one’s faith’. 3 Others have tried to explain this statement by saying that the homeland (waṭan) being referred to is the paradisal homeland of the Hereafter. Some mystics have even posited that waṭan here means one’s intrinsic nature (fiṭrah) and the first covenant made by man with the Almighty. 4
Since this statement is not found in any early ḥadith works, it cannot be attributed to the Prophet (s). Nevertheless, it may be possible to acquiesce in a more suitable meaning for this statement that is acceptable and in line with the teachings of Islam. It would still not qualify as a tradition per se, but if explained correctly, it may be approbated as one of the popular aphorisms used by wise Muslim sages. And Allah knows best.