Shafaqna (Shia International News Association) – The Grand Ayatollah Sistani answered some questions regarding laws in non-Muslim countries.According to Shafaqna the questions and answers are as follows:
Question 1: If a Muslim tries to get from the bank’s cash dispensing machine some of his own money and more money than what he had asked for is dispensed, is he allowed to take the extra money without the bank knowing about it?
Answer: It is not allowed.
Question 2: A Muslim buys a commodity from a foreign company in a non-Muslim country; the seller by mistake gives more than what was ordered. Is the Muslim customer allowed to take the extra? Is he obliged to inform the seller about the mistake?
Answer: It is not lawful for him to take the excess amount; if he did so, it is obligatory for him to return it.
Question 3: A Muslim employee of a non-Muslim company is in a position to misappropriate company’s products. Is he allowed to do this?
Answer: It is not permissible.
Question 4: Is it permissible to tamper with electric or water or gas meters, in non-Muslim countries?
Answer: This also is not permissible.
Question 5: A Muslim in the West claims that he used to drive in his country for many years and supports his claim with a document from a given source so that he gets a preferable rate for his insurance premium. Is he allowed to change the fact in his statement, even if it is by tawriya (equivocation)? Is it permissible to help him for this purpose?
Answer: Lying for the above mentioned purpose is not permissible, nor is it allowed to claim money in this way; and duplicity in this is helping in committing a sin.
Question 6: Is it permissible to cheat insurance companies in non-Muslim countries when one is confident that it would not tarnish the image of Islam and Muslims?
Answer: It is not permissible.
Question 7: A Muslim deliberately tourches his insured house so that he may receive compensation from the non-Muslim insurance company. Is he allowed to do this? And is it permissible for him to receive the compensation?
Answer: It is not permissible for him to destroy and waste the property, nor is it allowed for him to give false information to the insurance company for the purpose mentioned above. The money received [in this process] is not lawful.
Question 8: Is it permissible to cheat [in the exams] at public schools in Europe? Is it permissible to cheat [in the exams] at the private Islamic and non-Islamic schools?
Answer: Cheating is not allowed in any of these [schools].
Question 9: In some means of transportation, there are signs that say, “No Smoking”. Is it permissible to ignore those signs and smoke?
Answer: If that sign is like an additional condition for riding in that vehicle, or an official by-law of the government, and the passenger has given commitment to abide by the official laws, it is necessary for him to act according to that condition and his undertaking.
Question 10: Is it necessary for the person who has got a visa to enter a non-Muslim country to abide by the laws of that country in all fields, like traffic laws, laws regarding work and employment, etc.?
Answer: If he has given an undertaking—even if indirectly [as is implied in the immigration documents]— to abide by the laws of that country, it is necessary for him to fulfill his commitment in issues that are not contrary to the sacred laws [of Islam].As for example, it is necessary to obey traffic regulations regardless [of the fact whether you have given a commitment or not], if not obeying those rules could eventually lead to harming people’s lives and properties which are sacrosanct [in Islamic laws].
Question 11: Some governments offer social security benefits to their citizens as long as one does not find a job. Is it permissible for them to continue receiving these benefits, even after they have found work and have not informed the department concerned about it?
Answer: It is not permissible for them to accept the benefits except after informing the competent authorities in those countries about it.
Question 12: Is it permissible for a Muslim to steal from non-Muslims in non-Muslim countries? And is it permissible for him to cheat them in methods that are common among themselves in order to acquire their property?
Answer: It is not permissible to steal their private or public property, or vandalize it if that leads to tarnishing the image of Islam or Muslims in general. Similarly, it is not allowed to steal, even if it does not lead to that [i.e., tarnishing the image of Islam or Muslims] but is considered as perfidy and violation of the guarantee given to non-Muslims indirectly when one asked permission to enter or reside in their country. And it is forbidden to breach the trust and violate the guarantee in regard to every person.
Question 13: Is it permissible for a Muslim to give false information to government agencies in Europe in order to gain monetary and non-monetary privileges and benefits through their lawful means?
Answer: It is not permissible because it is lying; and what has been mentioned is not a justified reason [for lying].
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