Islam Forbids the Violation of Copyrights and Laws Regarding Intellectual Property

Posted on September 3, 2008


Note from Professor Rafik Beekun: Many Muslim publishers, software publishers, CD/DVD producers as well as quite a few individual Muslims violate copyright and intellectual property laws by copying books, CDs, DVDs, videos, logos, designs, computer programs, etc at will, thinking that there is not against Islam. Such violation of copyright and intellectual property laws is against Islam as demonstrated by the following fatwas:

1. Intellectual Property Copyright issued by Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee:

The committee is of the opinion that quoting portion(s) of a book, a magazine, or any other piece of writing is lawful on the condition that the original authors of these writings are cited. Copying others’ writings and presenting them as one’s own thoughts is a kind of plagiarism that is unlawful both in the Shari`ah and in man-made laws.

As for using others’ thoughts by way of paraphrasing them and mingling them with one’s own thoughts, there is nothing wrong about that. This applies also to using religious and scientific opinions and theories, but citing the original thinker or inventor in these cases is also a condition.

2. Copyright Fatwa listed at the Fatwa Center at Islamweb:

The Fiqh Council passed a resolution in its fifth session which was held in Kuwait. The resolution is as follows:

1. Commercial name and address (trade mark, research work, and any invention) are the particular rights of their owners. These rights have monetary value, the Islamic Shariah respects such value, so violating them is forbidden.

2. The copyrights, inventions and research work are respected in Shariah. So, persons who are liable for these rights may act freely in their rights and violation of their rights is not allowed in any case.

3. Fatwa on Copyright Laws from the Fatwa Management System at the Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia

Question: I bought a multimedia computer program called “Qur’an, Ver. 6.3.1”. It is made by I thought that I would make a copy of this program on another CD so that I can give it to a brother as a gift so that he can learn to read Qur’an. However, the brother told me that it could be copyrighted and that it would be wrong to make a copy of it.My question is, since when was the Qur’an copyrighted?

Why is that Islamic books and multimedias are not for free? Why would it be wrong to copy them for yourself so that you can benefit from them? Since when was Islamic knowledge copyrighted? Did the Sahabah copyrighted there knowledge with each other? Did the Messenger sell his revelations for a price or did he give it for free and told everyone to pass the message?


Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the World; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.

Companies with computer render a great service to Muslims, since they produce scientific programs that facilitate operations for acquiring knowledge, search, Qur’an memorization and recitation and other useful programs.

Preparing and making such programs require great effort, incur great expense and employ many skilled workers and specialists. So, according to Shari’a, it becomes natural for such companies to reserve the right of reproducing these programs and to prevent others from any form of transgression in this matter.

The above-stated rule is not restricted only to rights of programs. In other words, rights of reproducing or trading in others’ written works, inventions and every human work, are reserved. If it is said that everyone can reproduce or use such works in trade or any other way, then it constitutes a great injustice against those who work day and night to produce and invent.

After that, such companies will close their doors; inventers and authors will not be able to think any more, and then, Muslims will be deprived of such useful works and productions.

In this concern, Academy of Islamic Fiqh issued a decision in 1405 A.H. that reserved rights of authorship and invention. In other words, all rights of such works are reserved by their owners.

Some scholars believe that it is permissible to reproduce computer programs only to be given as a gift, not for trade. But, it is more proper and with greater reason to avoid such a work.

Allah knows best.

Fatawa Issuing Body : Islam web
Author/Scholar : Dr. Abdullah Al-faqih
Date Of Issue : 26 Muharram 1423

4. Fatwa on copyright laws from

Question: Scholars of Islam, As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahamtu Allah wa Barakatuh. Is there a copyright law in Islam? Some people say that knowledge is a common property and it cannot be restricted. They use the Hadith of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, that “Wisdom is the lost property of a believer, it is his, wherever he may find it.” What do you think of making copies of computer software?

Answer by Sheikh Dr. Muzammil Siddiqui In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear brother in Islam, thanks a lot for your interest about Islam and its teachings. We do really appreciate your question which shows how far you are interested about adherence to the dictates of Shari`ah. May Allah save us all from the traps of Satan and enlighten our hearts with the light of Islam!

Islam, the true religion of Allah, respects both the private and the public ownership. It doesn’t sanction any violation against people’s rights, whether material or intellectual. Therefore, it does not allow that the propaganda or the efforts of others be taken away from them or be exploited without their consent. In order to explain this problem we should first ask ourselves why do authors, tape producers and computer program devisors resort to register their copyrights. The fact is that some unscrupulous people are always ready to make pirate copies of these and sell them at a profit of which they give no share to the author. What someone has produced after putting a great deal of effort is thus used to bring financial gains to others who do not even bother to ask his permission. When a person knowingly buys a pirate copy, then he is aiding such people whose piracy is certainly prohibited in Islam. To be an accessory to piracy is also censurable.

Focusing more on the question you posed, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

“It is correct that the knowledge is a common property. But it does not mean that people cannot sell books or own books. It does not mean that people can go and steal books or take over other people’s labs and libraries. It means that all people should be free to learn. No one group should have monopoly on knowledge.

The Hadith of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, about wisdom as a lost property of the Believer is an authentic Hadith. It is mentioned by At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah. But this Hadith also means that the Believers should be open-minded and should learn from all sources. They should be more concerned about what is being said, not about who said or from where they receive the message. `Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, is reported to have said, “Take wisdom and it would not harm you from what bag it came.” (see Al-Sakhawi, Al-Maqasid Al-Hasanah, p. 192).

Thus the meaning of this Hadith is to seek knowledge from all sources, not to take over other people’s possessions. Islam encourages Muslims to learn, but it also respects the laws of ownership. Plagiarism, piracy, misquotation, taking other people’s property etc. are all nothing but theft, and deception. People have right to their material property as well as intellectual property.

Just like there are rules in Islam for the use of material things, so there are also rules for the use of intellectual property. Computer programs are governed by the contracts that the owners or sellers make with the buyers. Allah says in the Qur’an, “O you who believe, fulfill the contracts.” (Al-Ma’idah: 1) Also, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Muslims must abide by their agreements, except an agreement that make Haram (unlawful) what is Halal (lawful) or make Halal what was Haram.” (At-Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 1272)

It goes without saying that it does not make any difference whether the contract is made between Muslims themselves or between Muslims and non-Muslims. Such programs should be used according to the terms of agreement or what is customarily accepted as a `Urf (common custom) among the people of that business.”

5. Fatwa from Sheikh `Abd Al-`Azeez Ibn Baz Regarding the Copyright of CDs and Computer Programs

Question: As-Salamu `alaykum wa Rahmatu Allah wa Barakatuh. In America, it is very common for people to copy CDs and then sell them or give them away. Is it haram or unlawful to buy these CDs that have been copied? Is it permissible in Islam?


Wa`alykum As-Salaamu Warahmatullahi Wabarakaatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, we commend your pursuit of knowledge and earnestly implore Allah to bless your efforts in this honorable way.

Responding to the question, the Permanent Fatwa Committee, headed by late Sheikh `Abd Al-`Azeez Ibn Baz (may Allah bless his soul), pointed out that it is forbidden to make copies of programs if their owners do not permit doing so without their prior permission. The following Hadiths verify this view:

Muslims should abide by their stipulations.”

“A Muslim’s property is not permitted (to be taken by others) without his consent.”

Whoever precedes others in gaining a Halal (lawful) thing, will be more entitled to own it (than others).

This is applicable whether the owner of these programs is a Muslim or a non-Muslim (who is not at war with Muslims, for the property of the non-fighting unbelievers are to be protected in the same way as that of Muslims).

Please click here to read the remainder of the above fatwa from