#209: Wakaf of Intellectual Property

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. Is it permissible to wakaf intellectual property such as copyright reserved, design and others?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

Property endowment (wakaf) is among the sanctioned deeds in Islam. The reason for this is that it will reward its doer continuous rewards if done sincerity for Allah SWT. This follows the statement of Allah SWT:

لَن تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ حَتَّىٰ تُنفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ ۚ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِن شَيْءٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ

“Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah] from that which you love. And whatever you spend – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.” [1]

In the commentary of al-Quran al-‘Azim, Imam Ibn Kathir narrated a story of Abu Talhah RA who endowed one of his most beloved wells to attain the blessing of Allah SWT and His Messenger. [2]

In a hadith of Anas bin Malik RA, it is narrated that Abu Talhah is an Ansar companion of Rasullullah PBUH. He had the greatest amount of property in palm trees among the Ansar in Madina. The dearest of his properties to him was Bayruha which was in front of the mosque. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to go into it and drink from the pleasant water which was in it.”

Anas continued, “When this ayat was sent down ‘You will not obtain rightness of action until you expend of what you love,’ (Surah 2 verse 176), Abu Talha went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, ‘Messenger of Allah! Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted, has said, “You will not obtain until you expend of what you love.” The property which I love the best is Bayruha. It is sadaqa for Allah. I hope for its good and for it to be stored up with Allah. Place it wherever you wish, Messenger of Allah. ‘ “

“The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,

بَخٍ، ذَلِكَ مَالٌ رَابِحٌ، ذَلِكَ مَالٌ رَابِحٌ، وَقَدْ سَمِعْتُ مَا قُلْتَ، وَإِنِّي أَرَى أَنْ تَجْعَلَهَا فِي الأَقْرَبِينَ

‘Well done! That is property which profits! That is property that profits. I have heard what you have said about it and I think that you should give it to your relatives.’ [3]

 Abu Talha said, ‘I will do it, Messenger of Allah!’ Abu Talha, therefore, divided it among his relatives and the children of his paternal uncle.” The narrators said: “Among them is Ubay and Hassan.

Intellectual property means anything related to copyrights, patents, industrial designs, optical discs and trademarks. [4]

Types of Intellectual Property [5]:

  • INDUSTRIAL DESIGN: Industrial design is the decorative or aesthetic aspect of an article. A design can consist of three-dimensional features such as the shape and configuration of an article, or two -dimensional features, such as patterns and decorations. The design features must be applied to an article by any industrial process in which the finished article attracts attention.
  • TRADEMARK: A trademark is a mark that distinguishes the goods and services of one trader from another. Marks include the words, logos, pictures, names, letters, numbers or combinations mentioned earlier.
  • PATENTS: A patent is an exclusive right granted to an invention, i.e. a product or process that generally provides a new method of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.
  • GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATOR: A geographical indication (GI) is a mark used on a product that has a specific geographical origin and has the properties or reputation due to that origin.
  • COPYRIGHT: Copyright is the protection afforded to authors, copyright owners and performers of copyrighted works and performances as prescribed under the Copyright Act 1987.
  • INTEGRATED CIRCUIT LAYOUT DESIGN: An integrated circuit layout design is the three-dimensional disposal of an integrated circuit element and some or all of the interconnected integrated circuits or three-dimensional disposal provided for an integrated circuit intended for manufacturing.

Such properties are considered valuable according to syarak (Islamic law). Hence, the ruling to endow intellectual property such as these is PERMISSIBLE AND ENCOURAGED for the sake of the maslahah and progress of Muslims.

Here, we’d also like to present the previous fatwas related to the issue of intellectual property:

According to the decision made in the 5th Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islami Convention in 1409H / 1988M. The discussion on al-Huquq al-Ma’nawiyyah, the above-mentioned intellectual property has its own economical value and it is acknowledged as a form of wealth. Thus, such wealth is considered a specific right for its owner. Thus, such rights cannot be transgressed. [6]

Scholars’ opinions regarding intellectual property:

Dr Fathi al-Duraini stated: The majority of madhhab Maliki, Syafie and Hanbali are of the opinion that the copyright over a true and beneficial creation is included as valuable wealth such as a matter that can be benefitted through syarak (Islamic law/ruling). [7]

Syeikh Wahbah al-Zuhaili stated: Intellectual property such as a written book is protected by syarak. Thus, printing or publishing any parts from the book is considered as a transgression or evil deed towards the author. In simple terms, the act is considered a transgression and result in sin for its doer which then leads to compensation towards the rights of the author. [8]

Conclusion

In this issue, in our opinion, it is permissible to endow (wakaf) intellectual property as previously mentioned. The reason is this type of endowment can develop a better socio-economy of the current Muslim ummah. However, the wakaf management authority involved should draft a proper plan for the intellectual property in order to prevent it from being misused or wasted. Subsequently, we truly appreciate such wakaf and hope for positive impacts from the implementation of wakaf of intellectual property.

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] Surah Ali-Imran : 92

[2] See Tafsir al-Quran ‘Azim, 1/496

[3] Narrated by al-Bukhari (2769)

[4] See: https://www.myipo.gov.my/ms/kenali-myipo/

[5] See: http://www.myipo.gov.my/

[6] See: https://iifa-aifi.org/ar/1757.html

[7] See Haqq al-Ibtikar fi al-Fiqh al-Islami al-Muqaran pg. 20

[8] See al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh, 4/2862

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