Tuesday 16th of April 2024
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The twenty-fifth Greater Sin is Consumption of Haraam. In the Quranic ayat 'Akal-e-soht' is translated as eating of what is unlawfully acquired. Hence the word "eat" is not restricted to consumption of edibles but includes the use of any and every article, which has been acquired unlawfully or by illegal means.

Consumption of haraam is listed as greater sin in the Holy Quran and the tradition of Imam Reza (a.s.) from the book Oyoon-e-Akhbare Reza and the tradition of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as related by Amash. In the following ayat of Surah Maidah:
"And you will see many of them striving with one another to hasten in sin and exceeding the limits, and their eating of what is unlawfully acquired; certainly evil is that which they do. Why do not the learned men and doctors of law prohibit them from their speaking of what is sinful and their eating of what is unlawfully acquired? Certainly evil is that which they work."
(Surah Maidah 5:62-63)

In this ayat Soht refers to the acquirement as well as use of anything acquired unlawfully. The dictionary meaning of 'Soht' is 'to be finished' or 'to be lost'. The thing that becomes 'Soht' is that which is finished off or used up. The use of this word signifies that unlawfully acquired things do not have any 'barakat' and will not benefit the possessor in any way. It should be evident that this unlawful practice would include usurping another's property, taking interest and all activities that are undertaken using the money obtained by illegal means. The use of article brought with such money is also unlawful.

Sayyid Abu A'laa Maududi writes in his book Islam and the Economic Problems: "Islam permits the people to obtain their livelihood in any way they opt. They have their freedom to choose their occupation and obtain the necessities of life, but Islam does not allow them to earn in a manner that is harmful for society. It should also not endanger the social equilibrium. Islamic laws not only prohibit the consumption of wine and intoxicants and gambling, but also prohibit any action that causes these sinful things to come into being. For example to undertake cultivation of grapes for wine making, to manufacture wine, to transport, to buy or sell wine, to give it and to use it; all these are haraam too. Islam does not consider free-sex to be a human activity. Islam has prohibited dancing. It does not consider singing and playing musical instruments lawful professions. Any activity that is beneficial to one person but harmful to someone else or to society is considered haraam in Islam. All such types of actions carry a heavy punishment in this world and a dreadful retribution in the hereafter e.g. bribes, stealing, interest-taking, adulteration and frauds, unlawful hoarding of edible items to hike their rates making life difficult for the poor. In the same way all such actions that instigate wars and those occupations that do not require effort, making the person rich by luck, such as lottery. All these occupations are haraam."

Shaykh Sadooq (r.a.) has narrated a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said,
"Any action of Khayanat with the Imam is 'Soht'."

There are many types of 'Soht'. 'Soht' includes that which is received from the tyrant rulers, bribe to Qazis, payment for prostitution, wine, alcoholic nabid (a kind of wine), and interest.

"To bribe a Qazi (for giving a favourable judgement) is to disbelieve in Allah the Almighty."
(Khisaal of Sadooq)

A similar kind of tradition is to be found in the book Al Kafi, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"'Soht' means the payment for corpse, for dogs and wine. It also denotes the fee paid to a prostitute, the bribe given to a judge and the payment to a Kahin."

Although consumption of every type of haraam is 'Soht', some of them are denounced more emphatically and their punishment is more severe. The worst of these is taking bribe. One who accepts bribe is just like a disbeliever and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has cursed him. The one who takes interest is equated to the one who has made war against Allah (a.j.) and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.).

Types of bribe

There are three types of bribes:
(1) Bribe paid to a judge for a favourable judgement.
(2) Bribe for 'haraam' work.
(3) Bribe for permitted things.

The first kind of bribe comprises of money etc. paid to a judge so that he may give a favourable judgement. The judge may also be bribed for pointing out the loopholes whereby one could weaken the position of the opposite party. It is absolutely haraam even if the one who is paying the bribe is right and the judge delivers the correct judgement. The paying and receiving of this type of bribe or whatever may comprise this bribe is also haraam and a Greater sin. A person who pays or accepts such a bribe deserves the curse of Allah.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"May Allah curse one who gives a bribe, one who accepts it and one who acts as an agent between them."
(Safinatul Behaar)

Elsewhere, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Beware of bribe! It is nothing but disbelief. The one who is involved in bribe will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise."
(Safinatul Behaar)

Bribe is not only a sin for the guilty but it constitutes assisting in sin, the one who accepts. However if one is compelled to bribe and without it he cannot obtain his rights, it is another matter, but it is still haraam for one who accepts it. Similarly it is also haraam to reach someone by bribing. The one who acts as an arbitrator or agent and takes an active part in negotiating bribe is also a sinner.

This type of bribe is absolutely haraam whether paid in cash or kind. Bribe may also comprise of offering some services to the judge like stitching his clothes free of cost or constructing his house etc. Bribe can even be paid in words. One may praise a judge unduly to please him and thus influence him to give a favourable ruling.

Bribe in the name of khums and gift

Even if a bribe is paid in the name of khums and gift, it is haraam. For example to give someone a gift or a present with the intention of bribing him i.e. with the intention that by giving a gift the beneficiary will act to benefit the giver in some way. Similarly khums and zakat given with the intention of bribing is also haraam. It will not be considered as Khums or Zakat and it will be obligatory for one who has paid Khums or Zakat with such intentions, to pay it once more. Khums and Zakat are to be given with the purest of intentions, that of achieving nearness to Allah (a.j.). There can be no other motive. One of the signs of Qiyamat is mentioned in traditions in the following words:
"Bribes will be accepted as gifts."

The second kind of bribe is the bribe paid to someone, a tyrant or an oppressor for inflicting harm on a third person. The Holy Quran says:
"And do not swallow up your property among yourselves by false means, neither seek to gain access thereby to the judges, so that you may swallow up a part of the property of men wrongfully while you know."
(Surah Baqarah 2:188)

In this ayat believers are warned not to use anything obtained illegally and not to use their wealth to bribe those in power in order to obtain anything unlawfully.

Paying a bribe for obtaining ones rights

The third type of bribe is one that is paid for something lawful. Like paying someone in order that he may help in obtaining ones rightful property or to escape from a tyrant. Bribing for lawful things is allowed.

In a tradition Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) was asked about the person who bribes the occupant of a house to vacate it so that the owner may himself use it as his residence. Imam (a.s.) said that there was no harm in it. However the house mentioned in this hadith does not belong to the person who pays the bribe. It is a trust property or a public place like, the mosque, madrasa, lane, by-lane, and bazaar etc. Thus if someone is occupying a place in the mosque or a student is living in a room in the public hostel, he can be bribed to vacate it.

Hafsul Amr enquired from Imam Ali an-Naqi (a.s.): "The ruler has appointed agents to purchase our agricultural produce. Is it allowed for us to bribe those agents so that we may remain safe from the ruler's tyranny?"

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"There is no harm in it. You may pay whatever you think fit."

Then Imam (a.s.) asked:
"Do you have to supply lesser quantity of grain to the ruler after you have paid the bribe to these agents?" "Yes," said the questioner.

"You have invalidated your bribe (i.e. you have made the bribe haraam)," Imam told him.

Thus it is clear that bribing to cause someone to be oppressed is haraam but it is permitted in order to save oneself from oppression.

Accepting a bribe for doing something lawful

It must however be made clear that though it is permitted to gift something for lawful acts or to save oneself from oppression, it is detestable to accept such gifts. Because these gifts bear a close resemblance to bribe. Also, the habit of bribing for lawful things may make a man habitual and he may be inclined to pay bribes for unlawful purposes too. One is prone to error. If a pious person refrains for Makrooh (detestable) bribe he will never be prone to the haraam bribe. The following tradition supports this fact.

"Those are they for whom Allah does not desire that He should purify their hearts; they shall have disgrace in this world, and they shall have a grievous chastisement in the hereafter. (They are) listeners of a lie, devourers of what is forbidden."
(Surah Maidah 5:41-42)

Explaining this ayat, Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says:
"It is that person who fulfills the wish of his believing brother and accepts a gift in return."

Shaykh Ansari says in the book, Makasibul Aamaal: "There are many explanations of this tradition. One of it is that we must absolutely refrain from accepting gifts in return for favours done that we may never fall into the trap of accepting bribe."

source : GREATER SINS Volume 2 Shaheede Mehraab Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.) Translated By: Syed Athar Husain S.H. Rizvi
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