On “Islamic” highway robbery, piracy, and greed

(n.b. The reasoning behind the rulings, maxims, and objectives mentioned here is covered in my various books and Tabah Research papers. This started as a short, spur of the moment Facebook post. Repeating it all here would undermine its brevity and spontaneity.)

There’s not much particularly “Islamic” to practices, industries, and institutions that turn a profit by preying on the spiritual, physical, mental, and moral welfare of others; and that enable others who are known to do those things.

Out of the five major objectives of the Sacred Law:

  • Protection of life is #2
  • Protection of wealth is #5


  • Necessities and needs have a higher priority than luxuries.
  • The survival of the masses is a necessity.
  • The rich increasing their shoe, watch, car, house, yacht, bauble collection is a luxury.
  • Since means have the same ruling as their end, assisting the masses to survive has priority over assisting the rich to increase their luxuries.
  • And since what benefits the larger group has priority over what benefits the smaller, assisting the masses to increase their luxuries has priority over assisting the rich to increase theirs.


  • It is unlawful to hurt others.
  • It is obligatory to avoid harm.
  • It is not unlawful to merely break even.
  • It is not obligatory to make a profit.
  • It is unlawful to assist others in doing the unlawful.
  • It is obligatory to withhold from those one knows will do so.
  • It is not obligatory to earn more than you need for the day, the month, the year, or your lifetime.


  • Everything belongs to Allah.
  • Anything in your possession above your needs is a trust from Allah. Choosing to give it to the rich who don’t need it to abuse the poor who do is, most definitely, on you.


  • If it is obligatory and you refuse to do it because others are being hypocritical about it, then your first duty is to cure the hypocrisy in yourself. You can start by doing what Allah commands and prohibits *because* He prohibited it regardless of what everyone else is doing.

* * *

Yes, there most definitely were Companions who were wealthy (may Allah be pleased with them all!) and the Prophet ﷺ did say that the upper hand [the one with wealth] is better than the lower. Anyone who wishes to cite them as evidence for amassing personal wealth had better act like them.

And Allah knows best.

ADDED: There also isn’t much Islamic in an institution or industry that insists that it’s totally fine for them to continue to engage in a particular activity so long as no consensus of ulema explicitly declare that particular act to be truly analogous to the unlawful act it resembles in every legally significant aspect.

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