Wa `alaykum As-Salamu 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.
In this fatwa:
2- If a person’s work is not dependent on the degree he or she got by means of cheating, then his or her earnings may be lawful, though he or she is still sinful for cheating; a sin that requires repentance.
Answering your question, Dr. Wael Shehab, PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University and currently the Imam of the Downtown Toronto Masjid in Canada, states:
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) happened to pass by a heap of corn. He thrust his hand in that (heap) and his fingers felt wetness. He said to the owner of that heap of corn, “What is this?” He replied: “O Allah’s Messenger! These have been drenched by rainfall.” He remarked, “Why did you not place this (the drenched part of the heap) over the corn so that people might see it? He who deceives is not of us.”(Muslim)
“He who deceives is not of us” refers to the prohibition of cheating people in general, Muslims and non-Muslims as well.
It was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also said in an authentic hadith, “He who cheats us does not belong to us.” (Al-Bukhari)
In another authentic hadith Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “He who takes up arms against us is not of us; and he who cheats us is not of us.” (Muslim)
“He is not of us” means: “He is not following the way of Muslims” or “His conduct is unlike that of Muslims.” It is therefore a must for every Muslim to refrain from such act.
If a person gets a degree by means of cheating, he or she should repent to Allah—by seeking Allah’s forgiveness, feeling remorse for his or her wrongdoing, and resolving not to commit such a sin again—and correct his or her wrongdoing.
For example, if a person cheats in some courses that are related to his or her career, he or she may re-study and pass in such courses in order to be eligible to earn his or her living by his or her degree.
If a person’s work is not dependent on the degree he or she got by means of cheating, then his or her earnings may be lawful, though he or she is still sinful for cheating; a sin that requires repentance.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.