#356: Mediator in Bribery

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the status of a person who is the mediator for bribery activity? Is he considered a person involved in the act of bribery?

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.

We begin with the statement of Allah SWT:

وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ

“And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.” [1]

Through this verse, Allah SWT clearly prohibits people from helping in sin. As for Muslims who wanted or wished to sin, then it is the responsibility of another Muslim to prevent him from doing so.

Bribery is defined as accepting or giving something as a reward or incentive to do something or not do something related to an official task. A bribe can be in the form of cash, gifts, bonus, vote, service, position, or discount. [2]

For example, a contractor gifting a watch to a government servant to approve a project the contractor owns.

According to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 (MACC Act 2009) (Act 694), there are four main corruption offences, namely:

  • Soliciting/Accepting bribes [sections 16 & 17 (a) of the MACC Act 2009]
  • Offering/Giving bribes
  • Submitting false claims [Section 18 of the MACC Act 2009]
  • Using positions/positions to bribe public body officers [Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009]

In al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah[3], bribery is defined as: “Anything that is given with the intention of falsifying the truth and acknowledging a falsehood.”

Allah SWT states:


وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتُدْلُوا بِهَا إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ لِتَأْكُلُوا فَرِيقًا مِّنْ أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ بِالْإِثْمِ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“And do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly or send it [in bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful].” [4]

Al-Sobuni said: “Don’t consume another’s wealth by means made impermissible by Allah such as bribing the judges.” [5]

Dr Yusuf al-Qaradhawi said: “Included as eating the wealth of another unjustly means accepting bribery. This means cash given to an authority or officer so that the authority or officer to sentence or decide on something that is in his favour or a sentence or decision that will cause a loss for his competitor according to his will, or prioritize his affairs or postpone it according to his self-interest and others.” [6]

In a hadith, Abdullah ibn ‘Amr R.Anhuma narrated:

لَعَنَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الرَّاشِيَ وَالْمُرْتَشِيَ

“Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) cursed the one who bribes and the one who takes bribes.” [7]

Here, it is clear that a person who gives and accepts bribes is cursed by Allah SWT and Rasullullah PBUH. However, what about a person who acts as the mediator for the transaction?

In answering the above question, actually, there is clear evidence from Rasullullah PBUH that prohibits this matter.

In a hadith from Thauban RA, he said:

عَنَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الرَّاشِيَ وَالْمُرْتَشِيَ وَالرَّائِشَ يَعْنِي الَّذِي يَمْشِي بَيْنَهُمَا

“God’s Messenger cursed the one who bribes the one who takes bribes and the raish (the go-between regarding a bribe).” [8]

An Islamic legal maxim also states:

الإِعَانَةُ عَلَى المَعْصِيَةِ مَعْصِيَةٌ

“Helping an act of sin is also a sin.”

Here, it is clear that those who are involved in bribery including the mediator are cursed. Some scholars interpreted the meaning of cursed as a major sin. Hence, al-Imam al-Zahabi included bribery as one of the major sins in his book, al-Kabair. 

Moreover, anyone that sees a transgression such as the sin of bribery should prevent it from happening according to the authority that he has. This is as stated in a narration from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri RA, he said, I heard the Prophet PBUH said:


مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ، وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الْإِيمَانِ

“Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [9]

Imam al-Nawawi in his commentary narrated from Abi al-Qasim al-Qusyairi and the words are said to be from Abi Ali al-Daqqqaq: “Whoever stayed silent of a truth, he is a mute shaytan.” [10]

Likewise, in a hadith narrated by Abu Bakar al-Siddiq RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:


مَا مِنْ قَوْمٍ يُعْمَلُ فِيهِمْ بِالْمَعَاصِي، ثُمَّ يَقْدِرُونَ عَلَى أَنْ يُغَيِّرُوا، ثُمَّ لَا يُغَيِّرُوا، إِلَّا يُوشِكُ أَنْ يَعُمَّهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنْهُ بِعِقَابٍ

“When the people see a wrongdoer and do not prevent him, Allah will soon punish them all. Amr ibn Hushaym’s version has: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: If acts of disobedience are done among any people and do not change them though they are able to do so, Allah will soon punish them all.” [11]

To conclude, we state that whoever is involved in sin such as bribery, whether as an accomplice or mediator, then it is prohibited the same as the act itself and the act is actually an act that helps the sin to be committed. We end this discussion by citing a book titled Bribery: Causes, Effects and Solutions that states the negative effects of bribery, among them are:

  • Destroying justice in a country.
  • Create a society without skills and abilities.
  • A selfish society emerges.
  • Produces poor work results.
  • Management costs will increase.
  • Administrative management became slow and chaotic.
  • Evil people appear and get worse.
  • This causes an unequal distribution of wealth.

Based on its implications and dangers, let us all be determined to refrain from any form of corruption but instead build an identity with superior integrity and trust. May our country be free from corruption. Insha Allah, a country will be formed whose nature is Baldatun Toyyibatun wa Rabbun Ghafur.

Wallahua`lam.

[1] Surah al-Ma’idah: 2

[2] See https://www.sprm.gov.my/index.php?id=21&page_id=75&articleid=478

[3] See al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 22/220

[4] Surah al-Baqarah: 188

[5] See Sofwah al-Tafasir, 1/112

[6] See al-Halal wa al-Haram fi al-Islam, pg. 626

[7] Narrated by Abu Dawud (3580), al-Tirmizi (1337) and Ibn Majah (2313)

[8] Narrated by Ahmad (22399), al-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabir (1415), al-Baihaqi in Syu’ab al-Iman (5503) and al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak (7068)

[9] Narrated by Muslim (78)

[10]See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 20/2

[11] Narrated by Abu Dawud (4338), al-Tirmidzi (2168), Ibn Majah (4005), and Ahmad (1)

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