Bribery means giving money to someone through whom a person takes something which he / she has no right to. For example: bribing a judge to get verdict in favour (wrongfully), or bribing an official to give him preference over others or to get other favours like allotment of a contract etc.
Bribery is a big sin in Islam. Allah says:
وَلا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُمْ بَيْنَكُمْ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتُدْلُوا بِهَا إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ لِتَأْكُلُوا فَرِيقاً مِنْ أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ بِالإِثْمِ وَأَنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
“And eat up not one another’s property unjustly, nor give bribery to the rulers that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully.”(Q.2 188).
We see that bribery is clearly prohibited by Allah. One thing to highlight in this glorious verse of Holy Qur’an is that two different messages can be inferred upon from here. One is that Allah prohibits us from eating property of others sinfully. Second is the prohibition of giving bribe to the rulers. And when bribery comes into play, eating another’s right is bound to come into effect.
Bribery is one of the biggest culprits creating havoc among the society, especially in the countries of Indian sub-continent (i.e. India, Pakistan etc.). Everyone is ready to offer bribe to get his / her work done. And almost all working in positions that matter, if not all, are always waiting to get their share of bribe from the public. It goes from bottom to top; a peon is seen taking bribe, and so is a Manager. The levels and amounts of bribery may differ according to the position held by the taker, but the filthy act is deep embedded among the people, irrespective of religion.
Small examples show our approach in this matter. These examples can be observed in routine works of almost all the offices (particularly government offices). Have a look:
1. We are in a long queue, several places behind, and we simply offer few bucks to some mediators who can get our work done earlier than others who spend their time lining up.
2. There comes an announcement from government regarding a housing scheme where homes are to be allotted to the common public, based on a draw. However, majority of the people tend to get the allotment in their favour wrongfully, without going through the hassles of draw. How? By bribing the officials involved in it.
3. Candidates are ready to pay ample amount of money to get a particular job, irrespective of the fact that they are qualified for it or not; and a qualified deserving candidate ends up on losing side.
4. Electoral processes nowadays (be it of smaller positions or bigger ones) are not spared.
5. Admissions to educational institutions are easier for people who have money, courtesy bribery.
6. Businesses prosper on bribes.
The list can go on and on. What to talk about others, our Muslim fellows are equally a part of this corrupt system. To add to the woes of corruption, bribery has found its way into the affairs of administration related to Hajj pilgrimage. There has been a recent incident about a government official (probably a minister) in Pakistan being sacked from his position because of his involvement in misappropriating funds from the Hajj pilgrims, giving and taking money as a favour to some. What a shame?
Who is the greater sinner: the taker or the giver?
I had been in discussion with my friends on this subject many times. Some of the Muslims put forward an excuse that because we are asked to give so we give. Therefore, according to them it is the taker who is doing a sin.
True, the one who takes bribe is doing a big sin. But the giver is also responsible. Let me quote a hadith or two in this context.
Abdullah bin Amr (RA) narrated: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) cursed the one who bribes and the one who takes bribe.
(Hadith No. 1337, Chapters on Judgements, Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 3).
In another narration,
Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) cursed the one who bribes and the one who takes a bribe for judgement.
(Hadith No. 1336, Chapters on Judgement, Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 3).
If we go back to the verse of Holy Qur’an mentioned at the start of our discussion and read the two ahadith mentioned above, we can see that both the giver and the taker of bribe are sinners, although Allah is more specifically ordering not to give bribery i.e. addressing the giver.
Some of the Muslims who enjoy being a part of this filthy sin put forward one stupid excuse in their defense. These are those who are in influential positions and are busy minting money through bribery. They say that it is not haraam to take bribery from Non-Muslims. What a mockery? I feel pity for people who put forward such false excuses to act like an ostrich (an ostrich has a tendency of hiding her face in her feathers and feeling that now no one can see her since she cannot see anyone). Please get out of this disillusion. Islam does not allow any Muslim to eat property of any Non-Muslim unjustly. Islam does not allow any Muslim to oppress any Non-Muslim. Refer to following verse of Holy Qur’an:
لا يَنْهَاكُمْ اللَّهُ عَنْ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُمْ مِنْ دِيَارِكُمْ أَنْ تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ
Translated as: "Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.” (Q.60:8).
This aayah tells us that we have to deal justly even with Non-Muslims. Therefore, all earnings accumulated through bribery in such a manner are haraam.
And the sin of bribery is not limited to the giver and taker only; in fact every person who is linked to any such deal, like a middleman or a mediator, is also involved in this sin.
When gifts turn into bribery (and/or Riba’)
Islam advocates exchange of gifts among the fellow Muslims. Giving and taking of gifts may involve some persons who are placed in high influential positions. But the gifts should not be confused with bribery. Both are totally different. Gifts are encouraged in Islam, whereas bribery is prohibited in Islam. However, there is one case where gifts take shape of bribe (or even Riba’). Following verse of Holy Qur’an tells us about it:
وَمَا آتَيْتُمْ مِنْ رِباً لِيَرْبُوَا فِي أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ فَلا يَرْبُوا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ
Translated as: "And that which you give in Riba’ (the gifts), in order that it may increase from other people’s property, has no increase with Allah.”(Q.30:39).
This aayah gives a similar message like the one mentioned in the start (Q.2:188). There Allah orders us not to bribe the rulers to eat up property of others unjustly. The aayah mentioned above supports it by telling us that if we give gifts to the rulers (or higher officials etc.) in order to get their undue favours with an intention of getting part of others’ property unjustly, then such a gift is Riba’.
One exception related to bribery
We have talked about the sin of bribery giver. We have talked about sin of bribery taker. However, there is one exception for the one who gives bribe in one particular case. It is allowed to give bribe if a person is not able to attain his / her rights in any other normal way. If a person is deprived of his rights, there is no harm on his part to give the bribe he is asked for in order to get his rights. In such a case, the sin is totally on the taker, the receiver. However, this must be the last resort to be adopted by a Muslim in a situation where in that right of his cannot be forgone by him .
There is a unanimous consensus among all the scholars of all school of thoughts on this exception.
There is no Favouritism in Islam
Imam Ahmed narrated in his book (Almusnad) volume 1 page 106 from Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) married Fatmah to him, he sent with him a piece of closely woven fabric of silk, a pillow that was made of leather and filled with fiber, two mills, water skin and two big jugs made of clay.
One day, Ali said to Fatmah (may Allah be pleased with them both):” I’ve carried water to drink it till my chest got ill, and your father got some slaves from the war. Go to him and ask him to give us of them.” She said:” I swear that I’ve grilled till my hands got hurt.” So, she went to the Prophet (peace be upon him), he asked her:” Why did you come, dear daughter?” She said:” I came to greet you.” And she felt shy to tell him what she wanted and she went home. Ali asked her:” What did you do?” She said:” I felt shy to tell him.” So, both of them went to him. Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) said:” I swear that I’ve carried water to drink it till my chest got ill” And Fatmah said:” I swear that I’ve grilled till my hand got hurt, and Allah got you some slaves and prosperity from the war, so help us.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:” I swear that I do not give you and leave the poor people of (suffa) find nothing to eat and I do not have anything to give them. But, I sell them and spend the prices on them. So, Ali and Fatimah went home. Then, the Prophet visited them and they were under their cover which if it covered their heads, their feet would appear, and if it covered their feet, their heads appeared. They got up, but he said:” stay in your place.” He said, "Shall I direct you to something better than what you have requested? They said: ”Yes.” Some words that Jibril peace be upon him taught me. When you go to bed say 'Subhan Allah' thirty-three times, 'Alhamdulillah' thirty three times, and Allahu Akbar' thirty four times” I swear I did not leave them since the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught them to me . He said:” Ibn Al-Kwaa asked him:” Even in the night of the Battle of Saffin?” He said:” May Allah fight you, people of Iraq, Even in the night of the Battle of Saffin”.
Allah says; إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ (13)
"Indeed, the most honourable from you in the sight of Allah is the most pious among you, Allah is All-Knowing, Well Acquainted with all things" (Q.39:13)
So, there should not be favoritism in dispensing public benefits and facilities. But, when it comes to some private and personal issues such as giving voluntary charity for instance, whether in cash or kind, then one has the right to give as he or she wills. But Islam still encourages in this case to begin with the closest of his relatives deserving such charity before others.
Even among one's children
One is not to favour one of his or her children above the other. Islam frowns at this and is seen as a sin.
Al-Nu`mân b. Bashîr once addressed the people from the pulpit and told them about what took place between the Prophet and his father, saying:
My father gave him a gift. Then my mother, `Amrah bint Rawâhah, said: “I will not be satisfied until Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) is a witness to it.”
So my father went to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and said: “I gave a gift to my son from `Amrah bint Rawâhah, and she told me to have you be a witness to it, O Messenger of Allah.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked: “Did you give your other children something similar?” He replied that he had not. So the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Fear Allah, and deal justly between your children.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (2587) and Sahîh Muslim (1623)]
This shows us how important it is to avoid favoritism when dealing with our children.
“My mum loves Omar more than me. I see her kissing him all the time, and she does not even look at me. My pa is the same. He always takes my brother Omar to the shop with him but he rarely ever takes me.” – This is Usamah describing how he feels. He is one of a family of eight, and he lives with his parents, three brothers, and two sisters.
Favoritism among children is a dangerous thing. It threatens the stability of the family and is detrimental to the children’s healthy development. It nurtures feelings of jealousy and enmity between children, feelings that can last well into adolescence and adulthood.
The Experts Caution
Sociologists and Psychologists warn us about how hazardous a parent’s favoritism is to the children. Discriminating against a child can affects that child’s performance at school and result in substantially lowers grades. It can cause psychological problems which sometimes reach the level of full scale mental illness. It can also lead to reclusive behavior, introversion, and aggressiveness.
Ibrahim Amir, a psychiatric consultant, says: “There is no doubt about what discriminating between children leads to. It fosters hostility between those children, causes them to even hate one another. We even find on occasion that the child who is disfavored harbors hopes that his or her sibling gets sick or is stricken with some tragedy.
Amir calls parents to develop an awareness of how they need to raise their children, so they can do so properly. He adds: “It may be expected that one child is more beloved to his or her parents than the others. This is only natural. However, it is imperative that the children are never shown anything to indicate this. Otherwise, the consequences will be very bad.”
Amir asserts that it is essential to behave equally with children in all things, even something as simple as kissing. He says: “If the father kisses one of his children, then he has to kiss them all. Other very important matters are clothing, food, and gifts. Even what we say and who we speak too matters. A mother or father should not only speak to one child all the time and ignore the others. Justice must be in everything, even in how often we look at or speak to each of our children.”
One of the suggestions that psychologists put forth to prevent our discriminating between our children is that we should always pay careful attention to all of our children and monitor their feelings and their behaviors, and especially their responses to what goes on in the home.
All of us know that bribery is a big sin, either way, giving or taking. Likewise is favouritism, as seen above. Still the attachment to the worldly things is so deep and strong that it doesn’t allow us to look beyond. Give a thought to what are the after-effects of bribery. The more bribery gets prevalent, the wider the gap between the rich and poor becomes . People get a taste of blood and gradually start living on haraam earnings. They become complacent towards the responsibilities of their duties. Corruption gets deep rooted. One who pays a hefty sum (as a bribe) to get a government position tends to get back his money and more from others, and it goes on and on. To sum it up, it leads to a series of wrong-doings. This spreads and maligns the society at a rate much faster than what cancer does to the body of a victim.
Remember, it is not correct on part of a Muslim to be part of bribery system. It is prohibited for a Muslim to take bribe, to give bribe and to be a mediator in any of the deals based on bribery.
Stay away from this sin. If we cannot stop this sin then at least we can do our part by not being a part in it in any manner.
Get up. Do the needful. Clean yourself.
Remove this malignancy from the society.
And Allah knows best.
May Allah forgive me if I am wrong and guide us to the right path…Ameen.