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Studying for a Degree Using Pirated Books

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

Answered by: Mufti Muhammad Adnan


I’m trying to become a medical doctor, and planning to take biochemistry and then proceed to take medical school. Now I’m studying using pirated books I downloaded illegally from the internet. I know from the beginning that pirating books is haram but that’s not my question. I have to do that because I cannot find the books in my town, besides I don’t have a lot of money to compensate for all of my study needs.

So my questions are:

– Is it just because I’m using pirated haram materials would my knowledge now became haram? (I know this may sound ridiculous but please answer this kindly)
– How big is the sin if I download illegal materials for study only, cause I cannot find any other source anywhere and anyhow? And tell me how to repent from this?
– Let’s say that I manage to graduate, will this render my income haram?

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.


Using pirated versions of the original software/programs or books is known as ‘copyright infringement. In previous days, the concept of ownership was only confined to tangible items. However, recent technologies have proved that ownership may also take place in non-tangible items. The ownership of a non-tangible property is known as “intellectual property”.

The concept of “intellectual property” demands that the person who applied his mental skills and effort to invent a particular item should be the owner of its profit and benefits. Similarly, if a person has invented a formula or software using his own skill should be the sole owner of it. No other person should have the right to reproduce it. Due to this reason, the law of copyright came about to protect the inventor from losing his benefits.

The ulamā have differed in their opinion regarding the permissibility of copyrights.

According to us, copyrights and intellectual property is a valid Sharī right. Therefore, the use of pirated software is not permissible. It is an infringement of a valid right. (Contemporary Fatawa by Mufti Taqi Usmani, Pg.188)

You should look to seek the original books or pay to download from Amazon books or similar websites that sell the books you need, however, after you graduate your earnings from your degree will not be unlawful because of this. Both transactions are separate and have no bearing on each other in this context.

Only Allah Knows Best

Written by Mufti Muhammad Adnan

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.

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