Can I download cracked software from the internet such as Microsoft office and adobe and use it for educational and personal use, not for making money?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
In principle, Islam is against any act that causes harm to an individual. Piracy is stealing from the people who created the content. In piracy, one uses something for free which has cost others a lot of time, money and effort to build. Unfortunately, majority of the consumers, including Muslims, do no see a problem in it. Afterall, the law of copyright and enforcement of the intellectual property rights is for protecting the investor from any monetary loss and damage.
There is much discussion on whether piracy actually causes harm to the economy or not. Thus, one may disagree with the concept of piracy causing harm to the economy. Even if the argument of piracy not affecting the economy were to be accepted, there is still no denying that Piracy is stealing or in the least is creating duplicates of copies without the consent of their owners. Allah Ta’ala says:
وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتُدْلُوا بِهَا إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ لِتَأْكُلُوا فَرِيقًا مِّنْ أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ بِالْإِثْمِ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
Translation: And do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly(in any illegal way, e.g. stealing, robbing, deceiving), or send it [in bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful]. [al-Baqarah 2:188]
In conclusion, piracy is impermissible in Islam. However, we also acknowledge the fact that downloading a pirated copy of the software is not the same as piracy. The person downloading the software has nothing to do with the Principle(The person who actually commits the crime) in creating a duplicate of the original software, he is not taking part in the public distribution of the pirated software and neither is his intention to make money out of it. However, as the person downloading the software knows of the copyright infringement and yet downloads the software, he becomes an accessory by helping or encouraging the criminal in some way. Therefore, knowingly downloading pirated items from the internet will be disliked.
As an alternative, we advise you to adopt one of the following:
- Use a free version of the software, if available. For example, Office Online from Microsoft.
- If the premium version of the software is expensive, you may still opt for less expensive version with limited features which will fulfil your needs.
- Search for an alternative to the software which might be cheaper.
- If none of the above works, we advise you to buy the premium version. It will be worth spending the money on.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Naved Akhtar Ibn Shabbir.
Student – Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
بحوث في قضايا فقهية معاصرة – مفتي محمّد تقي العثماني – دار القلم (ج:1 ص:113)
فتاوى دار العلوم زكريا – مفتي رضاء الحق – (ج: 5 ص:297)
فتاوی قاسمیہ – مؤلف : حضرت مولانا مفتی شبیر احمد القاسمی صاحب – ناشر : مکتبہ اشرفیہ دیوبند الھند (ج:23 ص: 185)
فتاوی حقانیہ – مؤلف : حضرت مولانا عبد الحق صاحب (ج: 6 ص:68)
This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.