Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
I spoke to someone who had cheated in their degree. They want to know whether they can now gain employment using the degree and if they do, does it make their income haram. How should one repent over this? If the university is notified of this it could mean that this person will never be able to study again.
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
Dishonesty and deception are clearly unlawful and considered to be amongst the major sins; hence a Muslim should always remain distant from them. As such, cheating in one’s exams or obtaining a forged certificate for a degree is, without doubt, unlawful (haram) and a major sin, and from which one must always refrain.
As far as seeking employment by cheating in exams or by obtaining a forged certificate is concerned, there are two situations here:
1) If one possesses the necessary and required credentials for a job, and one carries out his/her job with full dedication and commitment, the income gained on such employment would be considered lawful (halal).
The reason being is that the objective behind possessing a degree and a certificate is that one possesses the necessary requirements to take up that job. If one possesses these necessary requirements even without having something to prove it, then the income cannot be termed as unlawful.
2) If one does not possess the necessary credentials and requirements to take up a particular job, or one does not carry out the job will full dedication, then the income would be considered unlawful (haram).
Some contemporary scholars state that if one seeks a permissible employment based on fake certificates, then although the income on such employment would be Halal (provided one has the necessary credentials of doing the job, as mentioned earlier), but one will still receive the sin of presenting forged certificates.
Therefore, in conclusion, if you have already taken up employment based on forged certificates, you may continue to do so and the income would be considered Halal, provided you have the necessary requirements to take up that job.
However, if you have, as yet, not taken up employment, you should avoid doing so with such certificates, for presenting them would constitute lying and deception. However, if you do (and you possess the necessary credentials of doing that job), your income would be Halal.
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK