Religious scholars of different political allegiances have moved to refute and condemn NGO Jammiyathul Salaf’s claim earlier this week that taxation is haram (forbidden) in Islam.
Deputy Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Farooq told local media that there was no religious grounds to declare taxation prohibited.
“When you say something is forbidden in religion, it should be clear under what principle or rationale that it is forbidden,” he explained to newspaper Haveeru. “You can’t just declare something forbidden on a whim. You cannot say something is forbidden when it is not clearly and definitely forbidden.”
He added that Zakat (alms for the poor) were being collected as before and old forms of taxation, such as varuvaa and import duties were not prohibited in Islam either.
Sheikh Farooq condemned the issuance of such fatwas (religious edicts) “without considering” either its validity or social impact.
Meanwhile the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) religious council condemned Salaf’s claims as an attempt to mislead the public over taxation.
“Human beings cannot forbid something Allah has allowed or allow something Allah has forbidden,” the council’s chair al-Hafiz Ahmed Zaki told the party’s website.
Hafiz Zaki explained that Islam specified steps to be followed before religious judgments or rulings could be made: “One cannot just arbitrarily declare something forbidden,” he said.
Zaki warned that such fatwas could lead to civil unrest and social divisions over religious issues. He said that Islam was a religion of moderation that did not encourage extreme actions.
Zaki urged the public and businessmen to clear any doubts with the concerned authorities instead of “listening to press releases issued by individuals soaked in self-interest.”
Meanwhile Adhaalath party spokesperson Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed told Miadhu newspaper that taxation was practiced in many Islamic countries while there was consensus among scholars that it was not prohibited.
“There are narrations that have reached us that tax was taken by the state during the time of Caliph Umar. He collected tax from wealth,” he said.
Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Afrashim Ali, chair of the party’s religious council, meanwhile told private broadcaster DhiFM that there was no grounds to declare taxation forbidden in Islam.
However NGO Salaf insisted in its press release Monday that, “Without doubt, using a person’s property or profiting from the property without the consent of the owner is haram in Islam. Only the compulsory Zakat (alms for the poor) portion can be taxed from a Muslim’s property.”
The religious NGO contended that “formulating a law and taking people’s property whatever name it is done under is for a certainty haram.”
“Jamiyyathul Salaf would remind the Speaker of Parliament and all MPs that those who formulate such laws and those who assist them will without a doubt have to bear responsibility before Almighty Allah,” the Salaf statement warned.
It adds that there is consensus in the Islamic ummah (community) that “stealing property by compulsion with laws on taxes, duties and pension imposed on a Muslim’s property is definitely haram.”