Bismillah. This is a very hot topic and it seems that most people have a lot of “logical” reasons why we should pirate Islamic content. Firstly I will tell you that I agree that in most cases in an ideal world it would be great if all this material was free, but lets look at this not from our own opinions and desires, but from what Allah Subhanahu wa taAla and His Messenger (alaihis salam) have decreed in this matter. Obviously there was no issue of “copyright” back at the time of revelation, but we can look at what the scholars have to say. Fiqh is not as easy as 123 tada!

You cannot become a Mufti on the weekend. Fiqh is a complicated process that involves looking at proofs, finding out if a specific rule overrides a general rule, looking at exceptions, understanding the language of the sources, and so on.

When Allah and his Messenger rule something, it is not for the believers to have any choice in the matter

And it behoves not a believing man and a believing woman that they should have any choice in their matter when Allah and His Apostle have decided a matter; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Apostle, he surely strays off a manifest straying. (Quran Trans, Shakir)

Most of the responses I usually get on this topic are “logical” answers, stuff like “it hurts the dawah”, and “we have to spread the deen”, and stuff like that. But In reality, are we following Islam, or our own hawa (desires)?
We have to look at the matter in question and see what scholars have said about it.

In regard to the matter of putting up Muhammad Alshareef’s copyrighted material (or Anwar Al-Awlaki, or Khalid Yasin for that matter) we have to keep in mind that

1. In a lot of cases, they do not have any other income. They spend a lot of time and effort propogating the deen of Allah full time, and this does not necessarily pay the bills. I personally talked to Yusuf Estes and told him I disagreed with sheikhs making it copyright, and he told me.. “what can they do? they need money to pay the bills for their wife and kids’. As far as I understand, he encourages the free spreading of knowledge and to not charge fees for teaching the deen, but does not criticize those that do.

Infact we live in such a pathetic world that most of these sheikhs, nobody provides them financial assistance for their hard work of inheriting the task of the messengers and awliya of Allah. SubhanAllah.. back in the day AlMaghrib (the OLD AlMaghrib not AlMaghrib Institute today) used to pay a stipend of money to everyone who used to study Islam and teach it, to encourage people to become scholars.

They dont have the luxury of being a so-called computer scientist like me, or a doctor like you, and having a comfortable living. We dont even know what difficulties their family has to go through to get the deen to us

Yet we take away what little funds they have. we have to admit that by making these lectures freely available online, it definately means a lot less people will buy the audio cds because they KNOW they can find it online

So we should really try to help them by directing people to purchase such audio CDs and videos.

And in regard to hurting the dawah by not putting up such audios, we can safely say that there is still another 36+ gigabytes of stuff on other sites that is not copyright that others can benefit from. In that regard we can say that they can always listen to the alternative. Noor Allah Productions (Ahmad Moait) also has a lecture set about the Prophets and Messengers which is freely available unlike Anwar Al-Awlakis.. so alhamdullilah we do we need to pirate the others?

Allah also says “Ya ayuhal ladhina amanoo awfoo bil Auqood” (transliteration)

5:1 O ye who believe! fulfil (all) obligations.

When we are pirating Islamic media (or any media), what we are doing is breaking our contracts..

first of all we are breaking the LEGAL contract we made for living in this country (because it is illegal)
Secondly we are breaking our contract with the speaker who made the dvd by copying their material when they specifically gave us the CD with the rule that we cannot copy it, and we agreed by purchasing the CD.

We have to fear Allah and realize that even though we wish for such material to be online for free, since we did not produce it, we have no right to distribute it in this manner without their permission.

If we really fear Allah and want the dawah to go, we should ourselves, first spend years studying islam, doing research on the topic (all this time finding a way to take care of our families), and then produce these high lectures with our time, effort, and money.

Then we can safely say to anyone, PLEASE put these up for free on your site. however since we did not go through all that, who gave us the right to use such media? infact most of us live very comfy lives and never have to go through this struggle ourselves.

We should first talk to the sheikhs directly and get permission from them, and if they allow us to use their lectures, alhamdullilah 🙂

Yusuf Estes is a good example, he allows us to use his audios and videos at NO CHARGE fe sabillilah alhamdullilah we should go ahead and use it and make lots of dua for him besides the fact that he will have much less money as a result.

If someone says to me, there is a difference of opinion in this matter, and i think software piracy is halal, i will say to them, please, find me the daleel. Our religion is based on proof. You will see most scholars have very clearly said it is haram to do such a thing even if it “benefits the ummah”. Understand this well, if you want to sell pork sandwiches to benefit the ummah, it’s not going to benefit you nor the ummah on the day of judgement.

What i mean is that in the same manner, we can never do something haram, and try to do something good with it. We can never steal money, run a lottery or a prostitute house, or any of those things, in order to do dawah.

The rule is that in Islam the means does not justify the end.
EDIT: See comments, it is not always the case that the above is true

From Islam-QA

From IslamOnline

Ask Imam

Sunnipath

Actually it was not necessary for me to find references from all of the above, the several fatawa on IslamQA would have been enough (And Allah knows best), but I wanted to demonstrate how there is an overwhelming consensus/agreement on this topic.

And the last thing i can say is that I personally heard Muhammad Alshareef explain why he SELLS his cds and not gives the lectures out for free. He has some lectures online for free, and very few people (less than 1000) listened to it. However once he professionally produced it ( www.emanrush.com ) he said the production was in the thousands and thousands and so many people started listening to the lectures.. so he realized this is the best way to do it. And in the end since they put in the effort, it is up to them to decide.

If you want to discuss any of this, please do leave a comment here.