No Copyright in Islam

As-salamu alaykum,
One of the questions quite often asked of us, is regarding the copyright of Islamic materials.

Point 1- No Intellectual Copyright
First and foremost we wish to point out that there is no such thing as intellectual copyright in Islam i.e. a person cannot quote Quran and Sunnah or anything related to this deen and claim it for himself, as this deen belongs to Allah (swt),

إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الإِسْلاَمُ

Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam.  (Aali Imran 3:19)
We are commanded to convey this deen, the Messenger (saw) said in a hadith collected in Sahih Al Bukhari,

بَلِّغُوا عَنِّى وَلَوْ آيَةً

“Convey from me even one verse”

and Allah says,

وَمَا عَلَيْنَا إِلاَّ الْبَلاَغُ الْمُبِينُ

“And our duty (i.e. the Messengers) is only to convey plainly (the Message).” (Ya-Sin 36:17)
The reward we seek for conveying this deen should be sought from Allah (swt).

وَمَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْر ٍ إِنْ أَجْرِي إِلاَّ عَلَى رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“No reward do I ask of you for it (my Message), my reward is only from the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists). (Ash-Shu’ara 26:109)

Point 2 – The Right of Disposal
Secondly the confusion most people have is that one may be compensated financially for producing a CD for his effort in production etc, however once the product is brought by the buyer he has the right of disposal to do as he wishes with this CD, DVD, book etc. This includes to copy the material and distribute it freely if he wishes. The original seller cannot stipulate any conditions on the buyer once the goods has left his hands.

Point 3 – Copyright is an innovation of the Non-Muslims
If we look to our Islamic History we do not find our scholars copyrighting their works, rather they made it available for the Ummah so that they could benefit from the knowledge.
Unfortunately with the age of technology, some Muslims have started to practice that which never existed in Islam and are following the innovation (bidah) of copyright.

We advise you listen to this lecture by Sheikh Feiz Muhammad which clarifies the points mentioned above.
Click the title in the player to PLAY.

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16 comments

  1. no copyright for media filth. too bad.

    Troid supported Islamic Scholars now detaining and re-educating non-violent critics of Gulf state governments

    Video:

    ISLAM 1984: Salafi Scholars detain re-educate thought criminals

  2. Your argument about their being no copyright in Islam to have absolutely no basis. Here is why, while no one has exclusive rights to the quran and hadith people do have rights to their hard work. These audio programs and islamic books took a lot of effort and money to produce and publish. By distributing these materials for free once you purchase them or gain access to them you are actually undermining their ability to distribute quality islamic materials since no one will actually buy their products if they can download them for free.
    I see that on your site you have a link to Shaikh al-Munajid’s site Islam QA, Lets take a look at what the Shaikh’s site says about copyright laws.

    http://www.islam-qa.com/en/ref/52903/copyright

    Copying tapes and CDs with the aim of distributing them

    We copy religious tapes and give them away for free or sell them very cheaply in order to distribute them more widely, but the tapes are protected by copyright, and our aim is to spread knowledge and da’wah.
    Similarly with CDs, it may be difficult and expensive to get hold of original copies. And the purpose of what we do is to spread knowledge.

    Praise be to Allaah.
    Copyright or the rights of authors, inventors and producers, and other financial and moral rights, belong to the owners of these works and it is not permissible to transgress against them or undermine them without the permission of their owners. That includes tapes, CDs and books.

    Reference may be made concerning that to what was written by Shaykh Bakr ibn ‘Abd-Allaah Abu Zayd (may Allaah preserve him) about copyright in his book Fiqh al-Nawaazil, 2/101-187.

    The Standing Committee was asked: Is it permissible for me to record (a copy of) a tape and sell it without asking permission from its author, or from the publisher if the author is no longer alive? Is it permissible to make many copies of a book and sell them? Is it permissible to make a copy of a book and not sell it, rather keep it for myself, if it is marked copyright; do I have to ask for permission or not?

    They replied: There is nothing wrong with making copies of useful tapes and selling them, or making copies of books and selling them, because that is helping to spread knowledge, unless their authors have stated that this is not allowed, in which case their permission must be sought.

    End quote from Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 13/187

    The Committee was also asked: I work in the field of computers, and since I started working I have been making copies of programs to work with them. I have been doing that without purchasing an original copy of these programs, knowing that these programs carry warnings against making copies and their copyright is protected, like the phrase “all rights reserved” which appears on some books. The author of the program may be a Muslim or a kaafir. My question is: is it permissible to make copies in this manner or not?

    They replied: It is not permissible to make copies of programs whose authors have forbidden the making of copies without their permission, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Muslims are bound by their conditions.” And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever reaches a persmittible thing first has more right to it.” It does not matter whether the author of the program is a Muslim or a kaafir who is not in a state of war with Islam, because the rights of a kaafir who is not in a state of war with Islam are to be respected like the rights of a Muslim.

    End quote from Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 13/188.

    There is also a statement from the Islamic Fiqh Council concerning intellectual property rights in which it says:

    Firstly:

    Trade names, trademarks, copyright and patents are all rights which belong exclusively to their owners. In modern times they have come to have a considerable financial value. These rights are recognized according to sharee’ah, and they should not be violated.

    Thirdly:

    Copyright and patents are protected by sharee’ah. Their owners have the right to buy or sell them and nobody has the right to violate these rights.

    Undoubtedly the authors of these tapes and CDs have expended time, effort and money to produce them, and there is nothing in sharee’ah to indicate that they should not take the profits that result from this work. The one who transgresses against their rights is wronging them and consuming their wealth unlawfully.

    If it is permissible to transgress against these rights, then these companies would stop producing these things, because it beings no returns. Their employees would have no motive to work, and undoubtedly stopping this work would result in a great deal of good being withheld from people. So it is appropriate that the scholars have stated that it is haraam to transgress against these rights.

    This is the basic ruling, but in some cases it may be permissible to make copies without the author’s permission. That applies in two cases:

    1 – If something is not available in the marketplace, if there is a need for it and it is charitable distribution, not for sale or for making a profit.

    2 – If there is a great need for it and its authors are asking for more than its price, and they have already made enough money to cover the cost of producing this program with a reasonable profit – which is to be decided by people of experience. In that case, if it serves the interests of the Muslims, it is permissible to copy it, so as to ward off harm. But that is subject to the condition that it not be sold for personal gain.

    And Allaah is the Source of strength.

    You can contact the companies which produced the material and tell them of the charitable purpose behind it and ask them for permission to make copies, or give them an appropriate price.

    And Allaah knows best.

    1. So islam is copy righted ahhh. So who made those laws. Don’t play with words, this is your or some ones saying.

      Ye Allah knows best, lets sue every one Allah knows best.

    2. So hang on… they’re doing for the MONEY..?? Well then they’re doing it for the wrong reason. Everything of an Islamic nature which I recite, create and write is available to all, for free. I have no right to retain my knowledge, it’s actually HARAAM to do so. Of course I understand the need to put bread on the table, but that’s what jobs are for. Sharing Islamic material is our moral duty. It is an excellent form of Akhlaaq to acknowledge the producer of any work of course, and that should be the decent thing to do. Money should never come in the way. TABLIGH IS NOT A BUSINESS! Astaghfirullah.

  3. assalamu’alaikum warrahmatullah wabaarakatuh

    is there any one know about diference between software and ebook in fiqh? and regarding ebooks which it content islamic knowledge and ebook general knowledge?

  4. can you refer me some ahadeeth and quranic verses with reference in which copyright issue can be taken as haram!

    Help me out plz!!!!

    1. Bro Adil, the Qur’anic references have been provided above in the first post. Unfortunately, the word of Allah swt just doesn’t seem to be enough for some people! :o/

      It’s so simple – when it comes to religion and religious knowledge, there can be no copyright, because the copyright is with ALLAH SWT ONLY. Therefore, when we spread this religion and religious knowledge, are we breaching ALLAH’S copyright…?? Then what is the purpose of Da’wah, does it become a “breach of copyright”..??

      Common sense people!

  5. Sheikh Feiz:

    Asalaamu Alaykum warahmatAllah wabarakatahu.
    Dear brother Ahmad the Repenter i ask the Almighty to increase your knowledge,knowledge that is implemented then taught then patience in the face of adversity is observed.

    I appreciate your understanding to this issue,the issue of copyright in islam, and i do respect your view.However there are a few things that i believe that should be looked at before passing any judgements on this issue, for indeed it is an issue of great controversy.

    -Firstly:Islam is not the property of an individual.The Quran and the sunnah are divine revelations revealed to man in order that they be followed.

    -Secondly: There is no precedent in the glorious Word of the Almighty nor in the sunnah, nor in the views of the early jurists (fuqaha) that knowledge of islam can be subjected to private ownership or to sale and purchase.

    -Thirdly:I see it as a major obstuction in the spreading of this beautiful deen,as many people can only afford their basic daily needs which i believe are the majority,therefore copyright prevents these people from learning their deen.

    -Forthly:Many people buy their islamic material on line which in reality could lead to a prohibited act (i.e) credit cards etc…

    -Fifthly:Copyright today for most people has become no more than business,where many people have lost the real focus of dawah which should be solely for the sake of Allah.

    What i see from all this and much more my beloved brother Ahmad is that copyright is a major prevention of spreading this beautiful deen to the world.

    Allah the Most High says in surat Ad-Duha:11 (interpretation of its meaning):
    “And proclaim the grace of your Lord”

    The prophet (peace be upon him) said:”Convey regarding me even if it were one verse”

    He (peace be upon him) also said:”Whoever calls people to right guidance will have a reward like that of those who follow him,without that detracting from their reward in the slightest…”Narrated by Muslim, ”

    So how can one convey this beautiful deen which is the greatest treasure on this earth when he is prevented from doing so because of copyright.

    May Allah the Almighty forgive us for our shortcomings and guide us to that which He loves and is pleased with.
    This is my opinion and Allah knows best.
    Sh Feiz,wa salam alaykum warahmatAllah wabarakatahu

  6. Assalamu aleykum. SubhanAllah, when we come across a question about our prayer, fasting or zakah we immediately refer it to a Shaikh to get a final answer. But when it is about a matter that we really want to hear an answer that suites to our nafs/desire, we just use our limited mind and leave our Shuyukh aside. Brother Ahmed has posted a link including the response of knowledgeable Shaikh on this issue. Great scholars from Saudi and other places have ruled out that copyright exists in Islam. Yet some of us challenging those fatawas of our Shuyukh and putting ourselves before them. Who are we dear brothers and sisters?! Do we have qualified knowledge to make fatwa?

    Secondly, we are not living in a simple society like 1400 years ago, things have changed. Based on that our beloved scholars have laid down instructions in terms of what is bid’ah and what is not. Even if the copyright didn’t exist back then, it doesn’t mean it is a bid’ah. Do you think those great scholars of Islam do follow bid’ah? Bin Baaz rahimahullah has said that copyright does exist in Islam.

    Yes, it is a common sense that there can not be a copyright regarding Quran and Hadith, but no one is claiming there is a copyright regarding them. The point is when a scholar or a Muslim does a hard work, using his intellect, spending his precious time and money to bring something that is of value and wants to get the equivalent value of them, no one can deprive him from that right, isn’t it fair? You might say he should do it for free or shouldn’t impose copyright, we say that is a good idea but not all people/scholars can afford it. If some do then khayr, use/copy it as much as you can, but for ones who don’t allow others using his intellect without his permission then it is his Islamic right. Note, I am not saying you can’t use Quranic verses but his writing or product that belong to him. If anyone needs a verse from Quran or hadeeth just refer to a Mus’haf or Hadeeth compilation!

    Some have said that early scholars didn’t do it. It is because during their time there was an Islamic state and most of them were financially supported by the government or people, so they could provide for their families. Finding shelter, bread and food wasn’t as hard as today. But now who is financially supporting the scholars? May be very little number of them in certain places get wages but most of them have to care about themselves and families. Scholar doesn’t have time to work elsewhere to get paid. Nowadays everything cost money and you can’t live a decent live without being paid.

    Some have quoted verses and hadeeth regarding tabligh or conveying the message. While it is the duty of every muslim, it doesn’t mean you have to convey the message by stealing from some one’s property or belonging. Intellect, time and efforts of any Muslim used to produce a quality Islamic product be it a book or CD, is considered his belonging. Even a shaheed will be questioned in Qiyamah if he has stolen or taken a thing without the permission of its owner. Brothers and sisters, this is a delicate issue, especially if it is regarding the haq (right) of others. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala can forgive any sin done against Him only, but doesn’t forgive a sin committed against His slave until he forgives him. If the matter is doubtful to you then simply stay away from it.

    Simpy by saying it an obstruction or makes the spread of Islam difficult, does not make it lawful. There are other halal ways to deal with the issue. Instead make sadaqah, donations to buy books for those unfortunate poor Muslims. Valuing the time and efforts of others will further motivate the scholar and helps to create quality Islamic products inshaAllah. One must think it in a broader scope.

    It seems all the arguments quoted above are from unqualified people to give verdict in this regard.

    May Allah guides us all to His straight path!

    1. Salaam Brother, Firstly you say, “The point is when a scholar or a Muslim does a hard work, using his intellect, spending his precious time and money to bring something that is of value and wants to get the equivalent value of them, no one can deprive him from that right, isn’t it fair?”

      If a person does ANYTHING in Islam, it should be for the pleasure of Allah swt ONLY, and not for personal gain, eg, fame. This is not to say that a person should not be able to earn a living through such things, of course he has a right to do so, BUT this can still be done without imposing a copyright. It is good Akhlaaq to acknowledge a person’s hard work, perhaps by buying and recommending their production, and THIS is where we are perhaps going wrong.

      Secondly, you say, “Even a shaheed will be questioned in Qiyamah if he has stolen or taken a thing without the permission of its owner.” Brother, this defeats the whole point of this discussion. If there is no copyright, then how is one stealing a work which has been produced to be of benefit to the Ummah…? Once again, it is a common act of COURTESY which is required.

      If a person is producing an Islamic book, cd, etc, for fame and financial gain ONLY and NOT FOR THE PLEASURE OF ALLAH SWT, then he should NOT be doing it.

      There are other ways of attaining copyright and gain through factual media, which will benefit both Muslims and non-Muslims, eg, a “how-to” book or video.

      Bottom line: If it’s anything to do with Islam, it should not have a copyright attached. Sharing for the pleasure of Allah swt is caring for the Ummah.

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