Is it OK to buy something that you know was stolen?
Respected scholars, As-salamu `alaykum.
From the viewpoint of Islam, is it OK to buy something (a laptop, for example) that you know was stolen?
Jazakum Allahu khayran.
Wa `alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
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.
Thank you for your question, it reflects your care to have a clear view of the teachings of Islam. Allah commands Muslims to refer to people of knowledge to get themselves well-acquainted with the teachings of Islam as well as with all aspects of life.
In Islam, stealing is a major sin for which Allah has enjoined a prescribed punishment. Muslims should be a good example of trustworthiness, honoring agreements, and good character. Muslims should never buy a stolen property when knowing that it is stolen. It is not the right of the seller or the buyer to dispose of or make a deal regarding a stolen item knowingly.
In his response to your question, Dr. Monzer Kahf, a prominent economist and counselor, states the following:
A stolen item remains under the ownership of its true owner. This means that the seller has no right to sell and the buyer can't, knowingly, buy a stolen item, because he or she is buying a thing not from its true owner. It is prohibited to do either of these actions.
Besides, the true owner has full and undisputed right to take his or her property from any hand possessing it, without any compensation (in fact, even with a potentiality of charging the stealer of a criminal act), regardless of whether the person from whom the item is taken had paid for it or not and regardless of whether the latter knew it was stolen or not.
If the holder of a stolen item innocently paid for it, he or she may resort to a legal action against the recipient of his or her money, but certainly not against the true owner. By the way, the same is also in common laws in virtually all countries to the best of my knowledge.
Also, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, adds,
If you have a reasonable ground to suspect that the notebook you are buying is stolen, then you must never buy it. If, having known this, you were still to buy the same, then you are definitely condoning stealing and robbery. May Allah help us to be instruments of virtue and piety and locks to evil and corruption. Amen.
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