Fatwa n°: 6
Category: Fatwas about Selling and Monetary Transactions
Working in tax services
To the honorable Sheikh! I have got a certificate in the field of the tax services, so, I want to ask you some questions about the ruling concerning work in tax services.
The first question: is it permissible for me to work in tax services?
The second question: is it permissible to impose taxes in addition to zakat in an Islamic country?
The third question: if working in such authorities is permissible, how can we interpret the hadith which dispraises taxation, taxers and those who impose tithes?
I hope that you will provide a satisfactory answer for me and may Allah reward you with good, may peace and blessing of Allah be on you.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Before starting to answer, we should distinguish between two types of taxes which some Mâliki jurists call “Al-Wadhâ'if” (the functions) or “Al-Kharâj” (the tribute). Some Hanafis call them “An-Nawâ`ib” that is to say, someone who acts as a substitute of the governor. For the Hanbalites, they are called “Al-Kulaf As-Sultâniyya”.
- Taxes which are taken from people legally with the due conditions.
- Taxes which are taken from people unjustly and wrongfully.
The taxes that are imposed by the Muslim governor in a true necessity or in order to meet a need or to remove a sudden or an expected peril or if the resources of the government public treasury are not enough and do not fill the needs of people; the scholars issued fatwas allowing the imposition of taxes on wealthy people by applying Al-Massâlih Al-Mursala (i.e. things that serve the general interests of the Muslims) on the basis of the rule: “Missing the lesser of the two interests in order to get the greater of them” and the rule: “We bear the special harm in order to ward off general harm”. This is the view of Abu Hâmid Al-Ghazâli in “Al-Mustasfa” and Ash-Shâtibi in “Al-I`tissâm”. In fact, he (Ash-Shâtibi) stated that if Bayt Al-Mâl(1) is empty and the need of the soldiers becomes larger, the ruler can take money from the wealthy according to the actual need of the soldiers, and it is evident that jihad by money is obligatory upon Muslims, and it is another obligation other than the obligation of zakat. Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said:
﴿إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَرْتَابُوا وَجَاهَدُوا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنْفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ﴾ [الحجرات: 15].
The meaning of the verse:
﴾Only those are the believers who have believed in Allâh and His Messenger, and afterward doubt not but strive with their wealth and their lives for the Cause of Allâh. Those! They are the truthful﴿ [Al-Hujurât (The Dwellings): 15].
He عزَّ وجلَّ also said:
﴿انْفِرُوا خِفَافًا وَثِقَالاً وَجَاهِدُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنْفُسِكُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ﴾ [التوبة: 41].
The meaning of the verse:
﴾March forth, whether you are light (being healthy, young and wealthy) or heavy (being ill, old and poor), strive hard with your wealth and your lives in the Cause of Allâh. This is better for you, if you but knew﴿ [At-Tauba (The Repentance): 41]. Allah عزَّ وجلَّ says also:
﴿وَأَنْفِقُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ وَلاَ تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ وَأَحْسِنُوَا إِنَّ اللهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ﴾ [البقرة: 195].
The meaning of the verse:
﴾And spend in the Cause of Allâh (i.e. Jihâd of all kinds, etc.) and do not throw yourselves into destruction (by not spending your wealth in the Cause of Allâh), and do good. Truly, Allâh loves Al-Muhsinûn (the good-doers)﴿ [Al-Baqara: (The Cow): 195]
﴿تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنْفُسِكُمْ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ﴾ [الصف : 11].
The meaning of the verse:
﴾That you believe in Allâh and His Messenger (Muhammad صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم), and that you strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allâh with your wealth and your lives, that will be better for you, if you but know!﴿ [As-Saff (The Row or the Rank): 11].
So, the one who is in authority (among Muslims) has the right to define the share of every one able to strive (in the cause of Allah) by money; as it is stated by the author of the book “Ghiyâth Al-Umam”. An-Nawawi and other Shafi`ite Imams consider that the most preponderant view is that the rich Muslims should help the soldiers with their money without that of zakat. All the public utilities that the society’s individuals benefit from are included in what we mentioned before, whether it is a public utility, both militarily and economically, which needs money and that zakat is not enough, or for calling to Allah and conveying His message which need money, as the realization of this utility is incumbent upon the Muslim governors, and the duty of zakat is not enough and does not serve the requirement, but this obligation is fulfilled by imposing taxes other than zakat. Thus, this obligation becomes established according to the rule which stipulates that: “Whatever is required to fulfill an obligation is itself an obligation”.
Moreover, the individual derives benefits from these public utilities which are made of service to him by the Muslim government. Besides, he should pay what is included in his obligatory duties, applying thus, the principle of: “Whoever takes advantage of a thing should bear its harm”.
However, this legislation is restricted to a set of conditions:
1. That Bayt Al-Mâl be empty, that the nation’s need of it be real and that there be no other monetary sources.
2. The obligation of spending the money in public utilities equitably.
3. Asking wise people for consultation in estimating the urgent needs of the country of money and the sufficient amount in case of incapacity. The government should control if the collection and distribution of this money are performed in conformity with the required way by the Sharia.
This kind of taxes which sharing is equitable and just is approved of by the jurists of the four schools of thought which gave them (taxes) different names. This kind of taxes is supported by the deed of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattâb رضي الله عنه during his caliphate. He used to impose upon traders whose countries are in war against Muslims the tithe, and take from Dhimmî(2) traders the half of a tithe and from Muslim traders the quarter of a tithe.
As for the second kind of unjust taxes, they are but confiscated money which is taken from its owners coercively, compulsorily and unwillingly. By doing so, they (those who take these taxes) contradict the general legal principle as regards money which is basically illicit, and this according to many texts, among them, the saying of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم: “It is not permissible (to take) the property of a Muslim unless he gives it willingly.”(3) and his saying صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم: “Whoever is killed while protecting his property, then he is a martyr.”(4) and the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying: “Verily! Your blood, property and honor are sacred to one another (Muslims)…”(5).
The reported hadiths, whether they are authentic or not, dispraising the collector of taxes which are related with the texts including strong warning are to be understood as referring to the unjust taxes that are taken wrongfully and spent wrongfully without any guiding. That is to say, the collector of taxes is employed by the kings and governors and their followers for their own interests and pleasures to the detriment of the poor and the oppressed of their societies’ people. From this perspective and context, Adh-Dhahabi says in his book “Al-Kabâ'ir” (The Major Sins): “The tax collector is one of the closest supporters of the oppressors. He himself is part of these oppressors. He takes what is not lawful to him and gives it to those who do not deserve it”.
This is the kind of dealing which prevailed in the world at the advent of Islam. Governments still impose these unjust taxes on middle-class and poor people of their societies, especially the Islamic peoples. These taxes are then given to governors, mighty and wealthy people. They are generally spent for the sake of their pleasures and delights which are manifested in their official protocols when receiving visitor kings and presidents, in their feasts and festivals in which, debauchery, wine and showing nakedness take the share of the lion, in addition to many kinds of music, dance and misleading publicities and others in many known fields which are visible and which cost a lot of money. This makes this tax really- as expressed by some scholars- as: taken from the poor among them and given to the wealthy, contrarily to the meaning of zakat about which the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “It is to be taken from the wealthy among them and given to the poor”(6).
According to what has been previously said, it is incumbent on every Muslim concerned with his religion, to avoid illicit things and sins and to keep away from every deed that sullies him with sins and makes his money sordid. He should also not be a means of injustice and a tool of coercion and someone who will be used by oppressors as a whip for torture in order to exhaust people by monetary expenses. He may even be among these oppressors themselves, as he usually participates with them in their oppression and share with them illicit money, knowing that if the Sharia forbids something, it forbids also its price. The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “May Allah curse the Jews, for Allah made the fat (of dead animals) unlawful for them; yet they melted the fat, sold it and ate its price”(7).
As for the imposition of taxes besides zakat, if there is no way to fill this need, but only by taxes, it is permissible to impose them, even more, it is obligatory when Bayt Al-Mâl is empty. However, they should be spent rightly and distributed equitably and justly, as it is previously mentioned concerning the just taxes and what was supported by the deed of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattâb رضي الله عنه.
This is my opinion concerning this issue, so if I am right it is from Allah, and if I am wrong, it is from me. We ask Allah to guide us to the right way and to take us away from errors and to show us what is best for our life and our hereafter and to make us help in reforming the people and the nation, verily He عزَّ وجلَّ is the One having authority over that and having the Power to do so.
The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah عزَّ وجلَّ. Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet, his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Algiers,12 Jumâda Al-Ûla1417.
Corresponding to: September 26th, 1996
(1) Bayt Al-Mâl: the public treasury of the Islamic state.
(2) Dhimmi: A non-Muslim living under the protection of an Islamic government.
(3) Reported by Ad-Dâraqutni (hadith 300), Ahmad (5/72), Abu Ya`la and Al-Bayhaqi (6/100). This hadith is judged authentic by Al-Albâni in “Al-Irwâ'” (5/279) number (1459) and in “Sahîh Al-Jâmi`”.
(4) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of “Injustices” concerning when one fights in defense of his property, Muslim, chapter of “Faith” concerning the proof that whoever intended to usurp a property of another one unlawfully…, At-Tirmidhi , chapter of “Blood money” concerning what is reported about whoever is killed while protecting his property, then he is a martyr, An-Nassâ'i, chapter of “Forbidding blood” concerning he who is killed while protecting his property, Ahmad (2/348) number (6486), from the hadith of `Abd Allâh Ibn `Amr Ibn Al-`Âs رضي الله عنهما, Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “As-Sunna” concerning fighting against robbers, Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Legal punishments” concerning whoever is killed while protecting his property, then he is a martyr, from the hadith of zayd Ibn `Amr Ibn Nufayl رضي الله عنه.
(5) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of “Knowledge” concerning the saying of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم: “…the informed one (who is present) might comprehend what I have said better than the present audience who will report it to him.”, Muslim, chapter of “Oaths”, concerning the decisive prohibition of bloodshed, (violation of) honors and (seizing) the property (of others illegally), according to Abu Bakra رضي الله عنه and At-Tirmidhi, chapter of “Trials” concerning what is reported about “Your blood, property and honor are sacred to one another (Muslims)”, Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Rites” concerning the sermon of Friday on the day of slaughtering (Eid-Al-Adha), and Ahmad (5/443) number (18487), the wording of this hadith is his, from the hadith of `Amr Ibn Al-Ahwas رضي الله عنه.
(6) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of “Zakat” concerning the obligation of zakat, Muslim, chapter of “Faith” concerning calling for stating the two testimonies, and for the laws of Islam, Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Zakat” concerning the zakat of the live stock, At-Tirmidhi, chapter of “Zakat” concerning the undesirability of taking the best things (when collecting the money of zakat), An-Nassâ'i, chapter of “Zakat” concerning the obligation of zakat, Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Zakat” concerning the obligation of zakat and Ahmad (1/386) number (2072) from the hadith of Ibn `Abbâs رضي الله عنهما.
(7) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of “Selling” concerning selling the dead animals and idols, Muslim, chapter of “The prohibition of the sale of wine, dead (animals), swine and idols”, Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Al-Far` and Al-`Atîra”, concerning the prohibition of benefiting from the fat of dead animals, Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Transactions” concerning what is forbidden to sell, Ahmad (4/270) number (14063) from the hadith of Jâbir Ibn `Abd Allâh رضي الله عنهما.