Stolen Goods: Islam’s Stance on Illicit Purchases

Syed Bukhari

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Is It Prohibited in Islam to Buy Stolen Goods?

Is It Prohibited in Islam to Buy Stolen Goods? -In a world where morality and ethics are often compromised, it’s crucial to understand the stance of Islam on matters that directly impact societal well-being. One such matter is the act of buying stolen goods, which may seem like a harmless transaction at first glance but carries profound implications.

The Unequivocal Stance: A Resounding No

The Islamic faith leaves no room for ambiguity on this subject – it is not permissible to buy stolen goods, even if they were stolen from non-Muslims. The reasoning behind this is simple yet profound: by purchasing stolen property, one becomes complicit in the act of theft, aiding and abetting a crime that violates the fundamental principles of justice and property rights.

The Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, provides clear guidance on this matter, emphasizing the importance of upholding righteousness and shunning transgression. Allah (SWT) says, 

“Help you one another in virtue, righteousness and piety; but do not help one another in sin and transgression.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:2)

Is It Prohibited in Islam to Buy Stolen Goods?

Scholars’ Voices: Echoing the Prohibition -Buy Stolen Goods

Renowned Islamic scholars throughout history have echoed this stance, shedding light on the nuances and implications of buying stolen goods. Let’s delve into their wisdom:

Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) stated:

“With regard to property that has been stolen or seized by illegitimate means and then sold in a proper manner, it does not become permissible for the one who bought it. If the Muslim knows about it, then he should avoid it.”

The scholars of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas emphasized:

“If a person is certain that a product offered for sale is stolen or seized by force, or that the one who is offering it for sale is not the legitimate owner, and is not authorized to sell it, then it is prohibited for him to buy it, because buying it is cooperating in sin and transgression.”

Repentance and Accountability

For those who have inadvertently purchased stolen goods, the Islamic faith offers a path to repentance and accountability. The one who buys something knowing that it is stolen is sinning, and part of their repentance is to return it to its rightful owner and return the price to the one from whom they purchased it.

This act of restitution not only serves as a means of seeking forgiveness but also upholds the principle of justice by ensuring that stolen property is returned to its rightful owner.

Shaykh ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz ibn Baz (may Allah have mercy on him) clarified:

“If you can buy it in order to save it and return it to its owner, there is nothing wrong with that, if it is not possible to seize it by force and punish the wrongdoer. However, if it is possible to take it by force and punish the wrongdoer in accordance with Shari’ah, this is what must be done.”

Doubts and Reasonable Suspicion

In circumstances where there is reasonable doubt or suspicion that an item may have been stolen, Islam urges caution and avoidance of such transactions. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) encouraged having good thoughts about others, but also advised against engaging in transactions that may involve ill-gotten gains.

The scholars have provided guidance on this matter, stating that if there is a sound reason to believe that an item may be stolen, it would be disliked (makruh) to purchase it – the degree of dislikedness being proportional to the likelihood of the item being stolen.

Ruling on Disposing of Stolen Property

In cases where an individual finds themselves in possession of stolen property, whether knowingly or unknowingly, Islam provides a clear path for rectifying the situation. It is not permissible to sell or market stolen goods, nor is it permissible to accept them as gifts or through any other means.

If the owner of the stolen property is known, the individual should strive to return the item to its rightful owner or their heirs. If the owner cannot be identified, the individual should seek guidance from a trustworthy Muslim authority or scholars of sound character to dispose of the property in accordance with Shari’ah.

If no such authority exists, the individual may sell the item and distribute its proceeds as charity on behalf of the unknown owner to one or more needy Muslims.

The Opportunity to Regain One’s Rights

In certain circumstances, Islam acknowledges the concept of “having the opportunity (to regain one’s rights),” where an individual who is owed something by another party may take possession of the other party’s property or an equivalent value if they are unable to obtain their due through legal means.

However, this principle is subject to specific conditions, such as ensuring that the action does not lead to greater harm or the individual being labeled as a thief. It is essential to exercise caution and seek guidance from knowledgeable scholars in such situations.

Conclusion: Upholding Justice and Integrity

The Islamic stance on buying stolen goods is a testament to the faith’s emphasis on justice, integrity, and the sanctity of property rights. By prohibiting the purchase of stolen goods, Islam discourages theft and promotes a society built on ethical foundations.

Muslims are encouraged to uphold these principles, not only for their spiritual well-being but also for the betterment of society as a whole. By rejecting stolen goods and actively seeking to return them to their rightful owners, individuals contribute to a more just and equitable world – a world where the principles of Islam shine as a beacon of guidance.

FAQs

Q: Is it permissible to buy stolen goods?

A: It is not permissible to buy stolen goods – even if they were stolen from non-Muslims. This is property that is prohibited in and of itself, because it is not permissible for anyone to take possession of it, even if that is by a legitimate means such as buying it, being given it as a gift or inheriting it.

Q: What should one do if they come across stolen goods?

A: If a person knows that the item they intend to purchase is stolen, they should denounce the thief and encourage them to repent from stealing and return the goods to their owner. They should try to return the goods to their owner if possible or inform the authorities about the stolen goods.

Q: What is the ruling on taking wealth from a father who used to buy stolen goods?

A: If a person’s wealth is mixed and includes both prohibited and permissible wealth, there is nothing wrong with interacting with them by buying, selling, exchanging gifts, loans, and so on. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) dealt with the Jews who consumed Riba (usury) and prohibited wealth.

Q: How should one deal with doubts about whether they are purchasing stolen property?

A: It is a desired quality for Muslims to have good thoughts about every Muslim. However, if there is reasonable enough evidence that you are buying from someone who is stealing or buying stolen property, then such a transaction will be considered invalid, and the money gained will be unlawful.

Q: What if there is no sound reason to think that an item may be stolen?

A: If there is no sound reason to think that an item may be stolen (other than one’s mere misgivings), then it would not be disliked to buy the goods.

Q: What should one do if they inadvertently come into possession of stolen goods?

A: If a person knows that an item in their possession is stolen, they should try to return it to its owner or their heirs. If it is not possible to identify the owner, they should seek guidance from a trustworthy Muslim authority or scholars of sound character to dispose of the property in accordance with Shari’ah.