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Is It Allowed to Obtain Social Benefits Illegally?

03 June, 2022
Q As-salamu `alaykum. Please help me with regard to my very sensitive question. I am currently jobless. The government here in France pays social benefits for the people who left their work or those who are jobless an amount of money until they find work. Every month, the concerned authorities send a bill for the person to sign so that the money can be claimed. The problem is that I got an offer to work in an Islamic school on weekends, and I will receive money in return. Is it permissible for me to work in that Islamic school on weekends without informing the government in order to receive the unemployment allowances?


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:

You should inform the concerned authorities about the additional salary you are going to obtain from the new job before receiving the governmental social benefits.

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In his response to the question, Dr. `Ali Muhyy Ed-Deen Al-Qara Daaghi, Head of the Department of Principles Jurisprudence (Usul Al-Fiqh) at the Faculty of Shari`ah, Qatar University, states:

It is better for the Muslim to be active and to search for lawful means in earning his living. We cannot wait aimlessly for our states to help us. We should work and search for a decent way to earn a living.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught his Companions that the whole of a human being’s dignity is tied up with his work—any sort of work —and that real disgrace and humiliation lie in depending on other people’s help.

He is reported to have said: “It is better that a person should take a rope and bring a bundle of wood on his back to sell so that Allah may preserve his honor, that’s better for him than begging from people, (regardless of) whether they give him or not.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

It is unlawful for the Muslim to act in contrary to the stated laws that regulate people’s affairs in the non-Muslim country where he/she lives as long as those laws do not contradict the texts of Shari`ah.

Brother, for you not to violate the laws of your country, you should inform concerned authorities about the additional salary you are going to obtain from the new job.

What I want to stress here is that the Muslims should stick to the high morals of Islam, especially while residing in non-Muslim countries. Muslims’ showing compliance to the laws in those countries will indirectly entice others to Islam by demonstrating its noble manners. Such demonstration reflect the true teachings of Islam, and rectify its distorted image in the Western media.

Moreover, Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi, the late deputy chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, adds:

It’s incumbent upon Muslims living in non-Muslim countries to respect the laws of those countries as long as those laws do not contradict the teachings of Islam. Thus, it’s unbecoming for Muslims to resort to practices, such as the one you referred to in your question, that are deemed unlawful in those countries.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.