Bribery means giving money to someone through whom a person takes something which he / she has no right to. For example: bribing a judge to get verdict in favour (wrongfully), or bribing an official to give him preference over others or to get other favours like allotment of a contract etc.
Bribery is a major sin in Islam.
Allah says: “And eat up not one another’s property unjustly, nor give bribery to the rulers that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully.” Qur’an Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 188
Bribery is clearly prohibited by Allah. One thing to highlight in this glorious ayath of Qur’an is that two different messages can be inferred upon from here. One is that Allah prohibits us from eating property of others sinfully. Second is the prohibition of giving bribe to the rulers. And when bribery comes into play, eating another’s right is bound to come into effect.
Abdullah bin Amr (RA) narrated: Allah’s Messengerﷺcursed the one who bribes and the one who takes bribe. Chapters on Judgements, Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 3: 1337, Ibn Majah Vol3.2313 and Sunan Abi Dawud 3580
In another narration, Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated: Allah’s Messengerﷺcursed the one who bribes and the one who takes a bribe for judgement. Chapters on Judgement, Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 3: 1336
These examples can be observed in routine works of almost all the offices.
1. We are in a long queue, several places behind, and we simply offer few bucks to some mediators who can get our work done earlier than others who spend their time lining up.
2. There comes an announcement from government regarding a housing scheme where homes are to be allotted to the common public, based on a draw. However, majority of the people tend to get the allotment in their favour wrongfully, without going through the hassles of draw. How? By bribing the officials involved in it.
3. Candidates are ready to pay ample amount of money to get a particular job, irrespective of the fact that they are qualified for it or not; and a qualified deserving candidate ends up on losing side.
4. Admissions to educational institutions are easier for people who have money, courtesy bribery.
5. Businesses prosper on bribes.
The list can go on and on.
Islam does not allow any Muslim to eat property of any Non-Muslim unjustly. Islam does not allow any Muslim to oppress any Non-Muslim. Refer to following ayath of the Qur’an: “Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” Qur’an Surah Al-Mumtahanah, 60:8
This ayath tells us that we have to deal justly even with Non-Muslims.
Islam advocates exchange of gifts among the fellow Muslims. Giving and taking of gifts may involve some persons who are placed in high influential positions. But the gifts should not be confused with bribery. Both are totally different. Gifts are encouraged in Islam, whereas bribery is prohibited in Islam. However, there is one case where gifts take shape of bribe (or even Riba’). Following ayath of Qur’an tells us about it: “And that which you give in gift (to others), in order that it may increase (your wealth by expecting to get a better one in return) from other people's property, has no increase with Allah, but that which you give in Zakat seeking Allah's Countenance then those, they shall have manifold increase.Qur’an Surah Ar-Rūm, 30:39
This aayah gives a similar message like the one mentioned in the start (Aayah No. 188, Surah Al-Baqarah). There Allah orders us not to bribe the rulers to eat up property of others unjustly. The aayah mentioned above supports it by telling us that if we give gifts to the rulers (or higher officials etc.) in order to get their undue favours with an intention of getting part of others’ property unjustly, then such a gift is not permitted.
As it is mentioned earlier that bribery is a big sin, either way, giving or taking. Remember, it is not correct on part of a Muslim to be a part of bribery system. It is prohibited for a Muslim to take bribe, to give bribe and to be a mediator in any of the deals based on bribery. So a Muslim has Stay away from this sin. Allah said: And you see many of them hurrying for sin and transgression, and eating illegal things [as bribes and Riba (usury), etc.]. Evil indeed is that which they have been doing. Quran Surah Maidah 5:62