Q76 :In my country, corruption has become so
widespread among government officials that it is almost impossible to
obtain one's rights without having to pay some official or another. In
some cases, people have to pay government officials just to be allowed
to carry on with their business which is legitimate and allowed by the
government. If the official is not paid, he creates untold problems.
Scholars in our locality say that paying such bribes is permissible.
A76 : There is no doubt that bribery is forbidden.
The Prophet curses the one who pays bribery and the one who receives
it. We have, however, to be clear about what constitutes bribery. The
Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it as: "Money, etc. offered to
procure (often illegal or dishonest) action or decision in favor of the
giver." This is indeed the sense of the Arabic word "Rashwah" which the
Prophet has used in the Hadith which invokes Allah's curse on both the
briber and the bribed. The reason is that through bribe the giver gains
an unfair advantage. The practice is, therefore, an unjust one since it
causes another person to be deprived of his rights. Moreover, the
recipient of a bribe uses his position in order to give unfair
advantage to the giver. [ Be it just the fact that the giver gets his
perfectly legitimate work done - out of his proper turn. Thus, another
person's turn is delayed and an unfair advantage is obtained by the
giver. This is equally unacceptable.) This is corruption if any action
deserves the description of being corrupt. What you are speaking
about, however, is something different. A government official makes use
of his position in order to procure for himself something which he
cannot otherwise get. Moreover, what he is receiving is paid to him by
people against their will. Had the matter been left to them, they would
not have paid him a single halalah (one hundredth of a riyal).
Therefore, we cannot describe it as paying bribery. One is actually
paying a penalty or a fine, for nothing wrong one has done, but simply
to be allowed to carry on with one's legitimate business. Keeping that
in view, I would say that if you are absolutely certain that what you
are doing is absolutely legitimate and you are not seeking to have
unfair advantage and you are paying that official simply to avoid
whatever trouble he can cause you, then it is not forbidden to pay him.
If you can do without payment, it is all the better, but if you cannot
get your right without giving a "sweetener", as the expression goes,
then you have no option. Some scholars take a stricter view and say
that when we pay such officials, we are actually encouraging them to
use their position unfairly. If many of us stand up to them and refuse
to pay them, then they will not be able to demand payment. This is
certainly true, but we are often in a position where we cannot do
anything about our immediate situation. (We submit to coercion.) We
should try hard to stop such a practice, but until we are able to do
so, we may have occasionally to play the game as it is.
Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )