DEALING WITH THE LAWS OF NON MUSLIM COUNTRIES
Q1: What is the difference between the religious laws and the man-made laws of the land?
A: The religious laws are those that were legislated by Almighty Allah, the obedience of which results in rewards in the hereafter and disobedience is met with punishments in the hereafter.
The law of the land determines the responsibilities and the relations between the members of the society or the relations between countries. Disobedience of these laws results in legal consequences that vary based on the law broken.
Q2: Muslims – like others – may break the laws in some countries, but some components of the media enlarge this issue which could contribute to the tarnishing the image of Islam and Muslims. What is your ruling in this regard?
A: It is not fair to use some limited practices that occur in all groups of people to ruin the image of a religion or a nation. It is the responsibility of Muslims in all parts of the world to avoid what harms their religion and the Muslim nation. Every Muslim must be a positive part of society. In a narration, the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) stated: “Deal with people in such a way that when you die they would cry for your loss, and when you live they long for you.”[i]
Q3: What is your advice to the expatriate Muslims about the laws of the countries?
A: We urge Muslims to uphold the laws which have been imposed upon them to serve the betterment of society in all countries whether Muslims form a minority or a majority in them. A Muslim should be a positive part of the security, order and improvement of the society in which he lives.
Q4: Is one permitted to work unofficially? If the authorities come to know about it, one will be subjected to fiscal penalties and maybe other penalties.
A: The individual bears the legal responsibilities of disobeying the law. We advise everyone to observe the laws that serve the betterment of the society.
Q5: After any refugee arrives in some countries and gets residency and housing, a loan is given to him according to the size of his family. This loan must be returned two years after the residency in one lump sum or in installments. But installment payments require payment also of interest, unlike paying it in one lump sum. One can get away with not paying the money. Is this allowed?
A: One can pay it back in a lump sum. It can also be paid in installments without intending to form a contract bound by the Sharia, but as a legal transaction only. If one decided not to pay the money back, he will bear the legal responsibility. We advise this person to uphold the laws.
Q6: There are in some countries private television companies, and they provide their services for certain fees. Is it permissible to take this service without the company's knowledge and without paying the service fee?
A: If doing so does not necessitate the usage of the company's possessions without its permission, there is no problem.
Q7: A Muslim employee in a non-Muslim company can take some of the company's items without its knowledge; is he permitted to do so?
A: Since the company employs its employees based on its trust in them with regard to its possessions, stealing its possessions is a breach of trust which is prohibited. Even if the hiring was not based on trust, a believer should rise above doing that. Actually, doing so may be prohibited because it may reflect a bad image about Islam and Muslims, and doing so may bring them negative results. A Muslim is obligated to safeguard his religion's honor and that of its followers; he must not do anything that would cause them harm. In the eleventh chapter of the Introduction, we have already stated what is beneficial in this regard, and it will be advantageous to refer to it and contemplate about it.
Q8: Every member of a family residing in some countries receives a monthly stipend according to age. Are the parents allowed to use their children's stipend while knowing that the parents' stipend alone suffices to meet the family's needs?
A: The stipends set aside for the children were paid so they would be spent on meeting their needs and to serve their interests. There is no harm if he [the head of the family] spends it in the manner for which it was intended.
Q9: What is the ruling about stealing in Western countries and the Muslims who travel to these countries - as visitors, residents or refugees - violating their laws?
[i]Nahj Al-Balagha, p.771.