#470: Treating to Food When One Managed to Get a Tender

Question:

Is it permissible for a contractor company that has just received an open government tender to treat food to all the staff of the office that has approved the tender to the contractor as a sign of gratitude? Or is it considered a bribe?

 

Answer:

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 Last Day.

A bribe can be defined as accepting or giving a reward or motivation for an individual to do something or not do something that relates to his/her official job. A bribe consists of cash, gift, bonus, vote, service, position, or discounts. [1]

For example, a contractor who gave a watch to a government servant so that he’d approve a project from the contractor’s company.

Based on 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 [Section 17 (b) of the MACC Act 2009]
  • Submitting false claims [Section 18 of the MACC Act 2009]
  • Using positions/posts to bribe public body officers [Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009]

In al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah [2] a bribe is defined as: “Any gift with the purpose of falsifying the truth of declaring a falsehood as the truth.

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].” [3]

Al-Sobuni said: “You shouldn’t consume the wealth of another unjustly through means that have been made impermissible by Allah such as by bribing judges.[4]

Dr Yusuf al-Qaradhawi said: “Included in consuming the wealth of another unjustly is by accepting a bribe. It is money given to a ruler, authority or officer so that he’d sentence a ruling that would profit him or a ruling that would result in a loss for his opponent or that his affairs are prioritized or delayed according to his interests and others.” [5]

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.” [6]

According to the above question, we conclude that such an act should be avoided because there are elements of syubhah (doubt) that could lead to bribery. Among the details and our advice on the matter are:

  • In this issue, the intention should be considered. An Islamic legal maxim states:

الأُمُورُ بِمَقَاصِدِهَا

“The ruling of a matter is based in its purpose.”

  • Based on the warak characteristic, it is best if one distances himself from syubhah matters.
  • Avoid giving gifts that could be misinterpreted.
  • Review and consider the meaning of the terminology briber according to the
    Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) knows its terms and legislation.
  • We pray to Allah SWT to save us all from any form of bribery and syubhah surrounding it. Reflect on the hadith narrated by al-Hasan bin ‘Ali R.Anhuma, where Rasullullah PBUH said:

دَعْ مَا يَرِيبُكَ إِلَى مَا لاَ يَرِيبُكَ فَإِنَّ الصِّدْقَ طُمَأْنِينَةٌ وَإِنَّ الْكَذِبَ رِيبَةٌ

“Leave what causes you doubt and turn to what does not cause you doubt. Truth is tranquility, but falsehood is doubt.” [7]

May Allah SWT grant us all understanding in this religion. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.

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

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

[3] Surah al-Baqarah: 188

[4] See Sofwah al-Tafasir, 1/112

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

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

[7] Narrated by Al-Tirmizi (2518)

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