Friday, February 22, 2008

All Bribery is Haram (Forbidden)

The following is an extract from the draft translation of the book 'Shaksiyyah Islamiyyah' (The Islamic Personality) Volume 2 by Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani:

Whoever possesses an authority/competence (salahiyya) which obliges upon him to fulfil a benefit among the people’s benefits, then the money which he takes in order to execute the benefit is bribery nor is it a wage in any way whatsoever. The distinction between the wage and bribery is that the wage is taken in exchange for undertaking an action which is not obliged upon him; as for bribery, it is taken in exchange for performing an action he is obliged to perform without exchange from the one for whose sake the action is performed or in exchange for not performing an action obliged upon him to perform. Accordingly bribery is the money given in order to fulfil/execute/carry out (qadha) a benefit obliged upon the taker to execute or to execute a benefit by the taker not doing that which he is obliged to do, whether the benefit is a right or something null/void (batil). The payer of the bribe is called the (rashi), its taker is the (murtashi) and the mediator between them is the (raish).

Bribery is forbidden by the explicit texts. Ahmad and Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi and ibn Majah narrated from Abdullah bin Amur who said: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Allah cursed the briber (rashi) and bribe-taker (murtashi).” Ahmad narrated from Tawban who said: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) cursed the briber, bribe-taker and the mediator meaning the one who walks between the two.” These ahadith are general covering all bribery whether it is seeking a right or something null whether it is seeking to repel a harm or gain a benefit, to remove imposing injustice; all are forbidden. It is not said that bribery is forbidden because it is seeking something void or neglecting the truth, so if it like this then it is forbidden. Whereas if it is in seeking the truth of lifting injustice, then it is allowed. This is not said because this means that forbidding bribery came reasoned so if it exists the rule (‘illah) exists and when it departs the rule departs. This is not correct because all the texts which came forbidding bribery are not reasoned in their forbiddance by any reason. There does not exist therein nor in any text what could be deduced therefrom as a reason. Accordingly its forbiddance is by the unreasoned explicit text sot here is absolutely no reason for it. Nor is it said that when bribery is taken from the owner of a right to fufil the right, it is permitted as it is taking money to perform an allowed action which is fulfilling the right. This is not said because the texts which forbade bribery came general so they remain in their generality covering all types of bribery. So if one wants to specify and exclude some types of bribery, this matter requires another text to specify them because the text is not specified except by a text of the Book or Sunnah. No text came so it remains general without specification. Hence all types of bribery are forbidden without distinction between its being in seeking a right or seeking something void, lifting or imposing injustice, repelling harm or achieving a benefit, all these enter under the generality of the text.

Similarly there is no distinction in forbidding bribery between its being to the judge (hakim) or official or leader or other than these; all are forbidden. Nor is it said that Ahmad narrated from Abu Hurayrah who said: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Allah cursed the briber and bribe-taker in judgement (hukm)” so this is restricted in judgement so the absolute is carried on the restricted. This is not said because the word whose description is considered a description is the absolute/unrestricted not the general word. As for the general word, specification occurs therein not restriction; so if there comes a restriction with it then it is of the type of stating clearly (tansees) one of its units (afrad) not of the type of restriction. Hence the word briber, bribe-taker and mediator are general words not

Unrestricted words, thus his statement “in judgement” is not a restriction for it such that the remaining ahadith are carried upon it. Rather it is stating clearly a unit among its units and this is the rule, so all the ahadith remain general and they remain in their generality. So all bribery is forbidden whether to the judge or official or others. Bribing the policeman to repel harm is like bribing the judge, and the bribery of the director of a company so as to be employed therein or so that he is not dismissed is like bribing the collector of taxes or conveyor of propaganda so as not to convey it. Bribing the head of workers so as to lighten the work for them or other than that like bribing the worker of the trader given to him by the customer in exchange for (yantaqi) for him new goods among the goods, or the worker of the printing press given to him by the writer of the book to perfect his work without the owner of the printing press. All these are bribery and all are forbidden because it is money taken in exchange for performing an action he is obliged to perform without exchange from the one on whose behalf he is performing the action. It enters into bribery what some of them pay to someone with authority before an official to use his influence before him to fulfil his need, but it is not the official who takes the money but rather the one taking the money is the one who talks to the official so money is paid to him in exchange for his talking to him. This is also bribery because this money is given in exchange for executing a benefit from the one upon whom it is obligatory to fulfil it so it is bribery whether the one who executed the benefit took it or not. It is not a condition in verifying the money being bribery that the one who directly performs the execution of the benefit; rather the condition in the money being bribery is that this money be given in exchange for executing the action whether the person who takes it or his friend or the one with authority before him or his relative or boss or other than these since the value (‘ibra) in verifying the money being bribery is that it is taken in exchange for executing a benefit to be executed without exchange from the one executing it.

Similar to bribery in forbiddance is the gift gifted to the judges, governors and their like until some of them counted it as being of bribery because it resembles it in its being money taken in order to execute an action obliged to be executed without exchange from the one for whose sake he is executing the action. The difference between bribery and the gift presented to judges, governors and their like is that in bribery money is given in exchange for fulfilling the benefit whereas in the gifts to judges, governors and their like, property is given therein from the owner of the benefit not in exchange for the benefit but because the one being gifted practically supervises the executing of benefits by himself or his mediators whether he is gifted desiring the execution of specific benefit or after executing a specific benefit or desiring the execution of benefits when they occur. Hence bribery and gifts presented to the judge and his like are similar and one is analogised upon the other. However their reality is that there is something of a difference.

The forbidding of gifts to the judge, governor and their like came explicitly in the ahadith. Al-Bukhari narrated Abu Hamid As- Saidi “that the Prophet (SAW) appointed ibn al-Lutaybiyya upon the sadaqat of Banu Sulaym. When he came to the Messenger of Allah (SAW) and he accounted him, he said: This is what is for you and this is a gift gifted to me. So the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: ‘Why did you not sit in the house of your father and the house of your mother until your gifts came to you if you are truthful?’ then the Messenger of Allah (SAW) stood and gave a khutbah to the people. He praised Allah and extolled Him then said: ‘As for what follows, verily I appointed men from among you upon matter over which Allah appointed me. Then one of you comes to me saying: ‘This is for you and this is a gift presented to me.’ Why did he not sit in the house of his father and the house of his mother until his gifts came to him if he is truthful? For by Allah, none of you will take anything from it without due right except that he will come carrying it on the Day of Judgement.’” From Buraydah from the Prophet (SAW) who said: “Whoever we appointed upon work and provided sustenance (rizq) for him, then whatever he takes after that is illicit wealth (ghulul)” or the Messenger (SAW) had called it (suht) which is forbidden money. Al-Khateeb extracted in Talkhis Al-Mutashabbih from Anas that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The gifts of governors is (suht).” It is related about Masruq from ibn Masoud that he was asked about (suht), is it bribery? He said: ‘No, but (suht) is that a man seeks assistance upon an injustice (madhlama) so he gives you a gift. Do not accept.’ Abu Wail Shaqeeq bin Salamah, one of the Imams of the Tabi’in, said: “If the judge takes the gift, then he has eaten (suht). And if he takes bribery, then he has reached thereby.’ All these ahadith—the hadith of Abu Hamid and the hadith of Buraydah and the hadith of Anas—all of them are explicit in that the gifts presented to the one supervising the general/public actions are forbidden whether it is presided after performing a specific action or before performing it, or it is presented to him because he is the one in authority in any matter, or it is presented to him because he has authority with the one in whose hands are executing the benefits; all these are forbidden. The word gifts (hidaya) came in the hadith of: “The gifts (hidaya) of the governors is (suht)” is general covering all gifts to governors. Analogised upon the governors all those supervising the execution of the people’s benefit who is obliged to execute them without exchange taken from the one for whom it is executed; it is forbidden for him to take a gift or a gift be taken from those for whom is this benefit desiring its execution. The policeman, head of a company, leader of workers, and whoever is like them; it is forbidden upon them to take gifts and the gifts for them are (suht).

However, the gift to these people is forbidden if it is not the custom of the one giving the gift to present it to them. However, if it was of his custom to gift to them whether they were supervising the execution of benefits or not, then the gift is permitted for them without any blame in it. This is because the Messenger (SAW) says in the hadith: “Why did you not sit in the house of your father and the house of your mother until your gifts came to you if you are truthful?” Its understanding is that the gift which is gifted to him while he sits in the house of his father and his mother without being a governor is permitted. This means that this gift, whose affair is that its presenter would gift it to the person if he were not supervising, is permitted in the situation of his supervising the execution of benefits as it is permitted in the situation of his not supervising the execution of benefits. So the ahadith of prohibition do not apply upon it and it is excluded by the understanding of the hadith.


Anonymous said...

is it possible to get this hole book(Shaksiyyah Islamiyyah Volume 2)?

muslim directory said...

Asslamu alayikum,

Quite a detailed article... I have heard numerous reports from 1st hand witnesses that bribery takes place on an unprecedented scale in so-called Muslim countries... Never sell your deen for an easy ride in the dunya.

Anonymous said...


A very good article indeed. I would like you to clarify one other point which is somehow related to this issue, conflict of interest. For example, i am working in some organization and at the same time i am the of a software development company. The company i am working in wants to make a website and i am the in charge of this. I take two quotations from other companies and put my own quotation in it which is low in cost. Am i allowed to do it? In reality i am benefiting the company by offering them the low cost, however, the organization i am working in is not aware that i own another company.


Islamic Revival said...


You are not permitted to deceive the company you are working with and do your own work during the time which you work for them and they pay you for. You must work for your employers business during the hours you are employed. Allah (swt) told us 'fulfil your contracts'.

Anonymous said...

What to do when the policeman asks for bibes for letting to talk to the one who is brought to court for a hearing?

Ruman mawaz Khan said...

Assalam aleikum. Is it alright to give bribe in order to get my right?. Otherwise they Will not give it to me.

Learn Quran Online said...


A very good article i learned alot from it .

Waqas said...

In Pakistan, many government officials ask you for extra money to get your work done for eg if i want my file of the case in court i will not be given unless i give money to the official, although by law that file should be given to me for free.
People claim this money is extortion money and not bribe as that file was your right and not an infringement on anyone's right. Could you please explain how extortion and bribe can be separated in the above sitution or similar situations?