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Concept of bribery in Islam

[ April 08, 2016 ]

Apart from the obvious damages that we cause to society through bribery and corruption, Islam provides another view on this menace.The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) used to appoint a number of his companions as the collectors of zakat, during the Medina period. They were to make proper assessments on the items where zakat become payable, collect the proper amounts
and distribute to the recipients in the same locality.

All benefits derived from sinful activities are definitely unlawful. To this applies the famous hadith that states that the flesh that grows out

One of these collectors of zakat came back and told the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), "This amount is what I have collected less what I have distributed to the rightful recipients, but this is mine". The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was very upset and rebuked him saying, "What right have you to put aside something that does not belong to you. If you were to remain in your father's house, would you get what you are taking?" The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had also been reported to have said, "If you get from the people because of your position is bribery. Would you get it if you are not holding that position, or if you stay in your father's house?"These hadith provide us with the strict definition of bribery and corruption in Islam. Gifts that we get, could be considered as bribery if it is meant to oblige us to abuse our position or power. However, if it is customary for those in power to receive gifts because of the respect, love and services that they have rendered to the people, then of course it cannot be regarded as bribery.We know that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself used to accept gifts of various forms from heads of states in his time. He also used to give similar gifts to others. This is surely not bribery because it is customary to do it. Moreover, it is often given out of love and respect for the person.In essence, Islam too frowns upon bribery and corruption. It is definitely a sinful act. All benefits derived from sinful activities are definitely unlawful. To this applies the famous hadith that states that the flesh that grows out of unlawful income has no place in the hereafter but hell.The problem that we have to sincerely question is whether the bribe that we have paid for will bring about future streams of income to us or not. If the stream of income that we receive is clearly the result of the bribe that we have paid for, then naturally, the stream of income that we derive is unlawful in the eyes of Islam.

For instance if we bribe to get to a certain position, the stream of income that we enjoy from such a position is also questionable Islamically. This is the real danger of all our sinful actions. Whether we pay zakat or donate our wealth for a very noble cause from such wealth, there is no benefit to us. This is because, neither zakat nor good charitable deeds are counted from unlawful income. After all, we are all accountable to almighty Allah in every action that we do on this earth. A famous hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad SAW) has it that almighty Allah will call us to account how we spend our life, our youth, our wealth and our knowledge.