Assalamu Aleykom Wa RahmatuAllah Wa Barakatuhu, I have a question: is it haraam to study law, work in the field of law as a lawyer or judge or else in a secular country?
According to a fatwa on IslamOnline (a website that is overseen by the respected Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi) it is permitted for Muslims to work as lawyers and judges in secular legal systems. Below are the main points from the fatwa:
- In most secular legal systems most of the legal code (such as that which applies to traffic regulations) does not conflict with Islamic law. They are part of ensuring the general good of the population, which is something permitted and recommended in Islam.
- Muslims should not work on cases where they have to support something that goes against Islamic law, for example a Muslim lawyer should not work to defend a criminal and get him off when the person should rightly be punished, and they should not work on cases that cause something forbidden to be permitted, such as working to defend someone’s usurious gain, or working to defend a type of abortion that is forbidden by Islamic law.
Working in the secular legal field is never simple and a lawyer or judge will have to use their conscience to decide whether they are doing the right thing. The same also applies to working in most other government fields. As I mention in my book review Ibn Taymiyya and His Times, a man asked Ibn Taymiyya whether he should work for the government when he was sometimes forced to act in ways that conflicted with Islam. Ibn Taymiyya’s answer was that it was a good thing for him to work there and to work to reduce evil and promote good as much as possible.
Since the good served by Muslims working in the secular law field is greater than the harm that comes from conflicts of conscience, it is better for them to work in it and try to avoid unethical and evil things. The evil caused by Muslims completely avoiding the legal field would be greater than the evil caused by them working in it, and since in Islamic law we are required to choose the lesser evil when faced with two choices, the better choice is for Muslims to work in this field.
- IslamOnline fatwa (Arabic PDF)