What is the ruling on selling subsidized flour (with fixed price) by some of the bakeries and using it for purposes other than the ones allocated by the country?
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all of his family and companions.
The government offers subsidies of the essential foods .i.e. flour in addition to providing bread with low prices in comparison of the high cost of manufacturing and this kind of effort is an attempt by the government to help individuals; especially, the ones with limited income as well the poor.
It is familiar that this sort of subsidy must reach its recipients in accordance to the instructions given in this regard; therefore, exploiting subsidized flour given by the government in private markets is impermissible and the same applies on selling it to owners of cattle. Besides, getting rich by exploiting subsidies is similar to selling people's food and taking their money unjustly.
This sort of wicked exploitation or earning is considered a sort of defrauding (Theft) since, Allah, The Exalted said (What means):" Whoso embezzleth will bring what he embezzled with him on the Day of Resurrection. Then every soul will be paid in full what it hath earned; and they will not be wronged." [Al-Imran/161].
Furthermore, the one who committed the above act is obliged to repay the cost of what been earned through this process before standing in front of Allah , at that time, a person won't neither own a Durham nor a Dinar. During that great stand, Allah, The Exalted will ask him regarding ill-gotten money with two questions: How it was earned? and on how it was dispose of it? As the Prophet (PBUH) said (What means):" Man's feet will not move on the Day of Resurrection before he is asked about his life, how did he consume it, his knowledge, what did he do with it, his wealth, how did he earn it and how did he dispose of it, and about his body, how did he wear it out." [Related by At-Tirmithi] In this regard, he (PBUH) said (What means):" Some men acquire Allah’s Property (such as the funds of the Muslim state treasury, Zakah etc.) and they will go to Hell on the Day of Resurrection.” [Related by Al-Bukhary].
Moreover, another method of exploitation, is mixing subsidized flour with unsubsidized Zero flour (A flour used primarily for sweets and the like with no fixed price), so that the bakery owner would be able to product and bake sweets pastries and later selling them with high price out of this mixture as if they were made from Zero flour only. This act is considered cheating and falsehood by which Islam warned us about; in this regard, Allah, The Exalted said (What means):" O ye who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah, and be with the truthful." [At-Tawbah/119], in addition, the Prophet (PBUH) said (What means):" He who deceives is not of us." [Related by Muslim].
The majority of Muslim jurists stated that this kind is of unlawful wicked earning and whosoever steals, misappropriates , accepts a bribe or takes money unjustly from the public funds is obliged to return them in order to be on the safe side, since The Prophet (PBUH) was asked, 'What type of earning is best?' He replied, "A man's work with his hand and every transaction which is free from cheating or deception." [Related by Ahmad].
Finally, using subsidized flour for purposes other than the ones for which they were allocated is impermissible for the following reasons:
First: Ignoring the Sharia objective which is the subsidization of similar goods since they are allocated for humanitarian consumption nor to trade in, in addition to the fact that the quantities are limited and based on the consumption's needs.
Second: This will cause a rise in prices which is going to harm legal recipients directly.
Third: A violation against the instructions of the guardian or the ruler.
Fourth: Its considered kind of unlawful cheating and falsehood.
Fifth: It involves eating people's money unjustly and unlawful enriching out of their basic needs and from the food allocated for them. Finally, merchants and bakery owners are obliged to fear Allah, The Exalted by avoiding the manipulation of people's food and provisions since they will stand all before Allah, The Exalted as He said (What means):" Do such (men) not consider that they will be raised again, Unto an Awful Day,The day when (all) mankind stand before the Lord of the Worlds ?." [Al-Mutaffifin 4/6]. And Allah knows best.