Legitimacy of Boycotting Zionist Products

By Dr. Masoud Sabry November 28, 2023 3927

In light of the brutal aggression by the Zionist entity against the people of Gaza in particular and Palestine in general, some, including those claiming to be preachers, have started casting doubt on the legitimacy of economically boycotting products from the Zionist entity. This includes products within the occupied territories and those from Zionist-affiliated companies worldwide, especially in America, as well as companies that openly declare their support for the Zionist entity and express loyalty and bias towards it, along with companies that purchase the franchise rights from it in our Arab countries.Top of Form

 Those skeptical of the legitimacy of the economic boycott have based their skepticism on several issues, including:

-It goes against obedience to the ruler, as Allah says: “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you.” (An-Nisa: 59).

-These companies have commercial representation in Muslim countries, with Muslims working for them and Muslims owning some of these representations, which will only harm Muslims associated with them.

-Many global companies, especially renowned restaurants and cafes, have issued statements declaring that they do not support the Zionist entity and have no affiliation with it. Local companies purchasing franchise rights from these global companies have even announced donations for the Palestinians.


Brief Explanation of Economic Boycott in Islam

Firstly, boycotting the enemy occupying Muslim lands for all goods that strengthen its power in its war against Muslims is obligatory. Selling and buying with them those goods that they use directly, such as weapons, or indirectly, like fuel used in weapons and war equipment, is religiously forbidden, and this is a consensus among scholars.

Imam An-Nawawi in “Al-Majmu” (9/432) transmitted consensus on the prohibition of selling weapons to the people of war. It is applied to anything that aids the enemy in fighting Muslims.

An-Nawawi, may Allah have mercy on him, said in the explanation of Sahih Muslim (11/41): “Muslims have unanimously agreed on the permissibility of dealing with the Dhimmis and others among the disbelievers if what they’re dealing with is not prohibited to Muslims. However, it is not permissible for a Muslim to sell weapons and war equipment to the people of war or anything that they use to establish their religion.”

Secondly, the Muslims' boycott of the enemy at war in goods and commodities unrelated to war is legitimate by consensus.

Evidence for the permissibility of boycotting includes what is mentioned in Al-Sahihayn. Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that Thumama bin Athal, when he embraced Islam, traveled to Mecca for Umrah and said to the people of Mecca, “By Allah, no grain of Yemen will reach you until the Prophet (peace be upon him) gives permission for it.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) indeed approved him.

Moreover, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used the economic boycott weapon in various situations.

– As mentioned in “Maghazi Al-Waqidi” (1/11): Amr bin Sa'd narrated that his father narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Go forth, O Sa'd, until you reach the Kharaar, as there is a caravan of Quraish that will pass by it.” So, I went out with twenty or twenty-one men on foot. We used to hide during the day and travel at night until we reached it on the fifth morning. We found the caravan had passed by yesterday. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had entrusted me not to go beyond the Kharaar. Had it not been for that, I would have hoped to catch up with them.

– Another incident is mentioned in “Al-Hawi al-Kabir” by “Al-Mawardi” (14/24): Then he (the Prophet) undertook the second invasion in Rabi' Al-Awwal, which was the invasion of Bawat. He went out personally with two hundred men of Al-Muhajirin in the month of Rabi' Al-Awwal to intercept a Quraishi caravan led by Umayyah bin Khalaf, who carried along two thousand five hundred camels. The banner was carried by Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas. Sa'd bin Mu'adh was appointed as the governor of Madinah in the Prophet’s absence. He returned, and no fighting happened.

It is well known that the Battle of “Badr” was aimed at intercepting the Quraishi trade caravans. The Prophet (peace be upon him) even prayed to Allah to tighten their economic conditions. As narrated in “Sahih Al-Bukhari” (1/346): Masruq reported: I went to Ibn Mas'ud, and he said: Quraish are slowing in embracing Islam, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) prayed to Allah to curse them. Consequently, they suffered a famine in which they perished and had to eat dead animals and bones. Then, Abu Sufyan came to the Prophet and said, “O Muhammad, you have come to command good relations among the relatives, but your people have perished. So, pray to Allah for them.” He recited the verse: “So watch for the Day when the sky will bring a visible smoke.” (Ad-Dukhan:10) But then they returned to their disbelief, so Allah said: “The Day We will strike with the greatest assault” (Ad-Dukhan:16), that was the day of “Badr.”

Abu Abdullah said, and Asbat added, narrating from Mansur: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prayed for rain, so they were given abundant rainfall for seven days. The people then complained about the excessive rain. He (the Prophet) said, “O Allah, around us and not upon us.” The cloud then moved away from them, and it rained around them.

However, there is a difference among scholars regarding the degree of legitimacy: whether the ruling of boycotting is obligatory, recommended, or permissible.

Thirdly, there is no dispute among Muslim scholars that one who boycotts is rewarded by Allah.

Fourthly, boycotting becomes obligatory if one of two reasons is present: first, if the Muslim ruler orders it, and second, if we are in a state of war, and revenge against the enemy can only be achieved through boycott.

Fifthly, in the case of the just Muslim ruler, if he orders a boycott, it becomes obligatory. If he explicitly forbids it for the sake of evaluating interests, it is required to obey him. If he remains silent, the ruling returns to the scholars of jurisprudence and economics experts to assess the interests of boycotting.

Sixthly, the majority of scholars agree that buying and selling with the warriors in anything that is not related to their war against the Muslims is permissible. Al-Bukhari mentioned in his Sahih a chapter on buying and selling with the polytheists and people of war. He narrated the hadith of Abdul Rahman bin Abi Bakr, may Allah be pleased with them, who said: We were with the Prophet (peace be upon him), then a polytheist man came with a herd of sheep. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him, “Is it a grant or for sale?” or in another narration, “or a gift.” He replied, “No, it is for sale.” So, the Prophet (peace be upon him) bought a sheep from him.

Here comes the disagreement:

Is it forbidden or permissible for someone to buy and sell things that are not used in war? This is the dispute between permissibility and prohibition, or other rulings.

As for attempting to cast doubt on the legitimacy of boycotting the warring enemy, it is a distortion of Allah’s religion and a misunderstanding of its rulings. This is said with a presumption of good faith for those who express such opinions. The fundamental principle is that we judge based on what is apparent, and Allah takes care of the unseen.

Ruler’s Disobedience

Some contemporaries who oppose economic boycotts argue that they violate the authority of the ruler (Wali Al-Amr). It is unclear where the basis for this misconception lies, as the majority of Islamic governments either remain silent on the issue of boycotts or supports it. Some parliaments, such as the Kuwaiti National Assembly, have supported economic boycotts. Therefore, those who advocate the prohibition of boycotts may be in violation of the authorities, making baseless accusations against Muslim leaders. In fact, economic boycotts align with the directives of the authorities, either by remaining silent on the matter, allowing individuals to make their own choices, or by openly endorsing and supporting the boycott. In fact, those who choose not to boycott are the ones in violation of the Muslim leaders.

Furthermore, buying and selling fall under private freedoms not subject to laws. Every citizen has the right to buy or refrain from buying whatever they choose. There are no constitutional or legal provisions in Muslim countries that obligate individuals to purchase specific goods or refrain from certain products. The matter is left to individual freedom of choice. Therefore, restricting it is a false accusation against both the religion and the authorities.

Franchise and Commercial Representation

While we do not deny the potential harm to companies operating under global brands' licenses, we are currently in a state of war and jihad. Stating that this war against the people of Palestine has no relevance to us is a deviation from a religious perspective. The noble hadith states: “The covenant (given by even the lowest of them) must be respected, and they are one hand against the others.” If the people of Gaza are fighting on behalf of themselves and the whole Ummah, the least we can do is cut off economic benefits to companies supporting the Zionist entity, even if it results in financial loss. This is a form of financial jihad, considering that market fluctuations and losses can occur for various reasons, as the world has experienced excruciating economic crises. The matter is subject to balancing between lesser harms and greater harms.

In the rules of jurists, it is established that lesser harm may be committed to prevent greater harm. Here, we ask: Which is the greater harm—these companies in Islamic countries losing some money or losing lives due to economic support for the aggressive and oppressive Zionist entity?

There is no doubt that the harm to lives is greater than the harm to money. Therefore, jurists prioritize the preservation of life over the preservation of wealth, as established in the jurisprudence of the objectives of Sharia.

Furthermore, encouraging the purchase of such goods—with the differences in the rulings regarding buying and selling them—leads to tighten the enemy's grip on a part of the Ummah. These funds encourage tyranny, corruption, and killing. Is it acceptable to kill our Muslim brothers with our own money while claiming commercial gain?!

Moreover, a boycott is a form of financial jihad, an obligation for every capable Muslim. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, as narrated by Abu Dawood in his Sunan with an authentic chain of narration: “Strive against the polytheists with your wealth, your lives, and your tongues.”

Financial jihad can be through spending for the sake of Allah or through abstaining, such as through boycotting. All of this is permissible in the religion of Allah and is something that infuriates the aggressive disbelievers.

The decision to buy products that do not contribute to the enemy's war is left to the conscience of each person and what they perceive. They can either fight through boycotting or choose the opinion that permits the dealings.


Disavowal Statements against Supporting the Enemy

The claim that global companies have no connection to the Zionist entity or that they declared donating to the people of Palestine has only come after they suffered extensively due to the boycott. It is easy to review their connection records before this war to see if they were truly donating to the people of Palestine or not.

Furthermore, it is established and publicly declared in newspapers, websites, and social media platforms that these companies have supported the Zionist entity and contributed to the construction of a number of settlements. However, when they faced economic losses, they attempted to deceive people or gain their sympathy by issuing statements that could not erase their disgracing history with the Zionist entity. The statements can be reviewed in economic reports and statements regarding this matter.

To Summarize:

Disputing the legitimacy of the boycott is not based on a reputable juristic opinion, a decisive religious text, or a significant benefit. It is established religiously that the boycott is legitimate, but there is disagreement about its degree and the ruling on those who do not boycott. This is the point of dispute. Each person should choose what they prefer to present to Allah. It is not wise to exaggerate in praising or condemning governments that declare support for or remain silent on the boycott. Unfortunately, some argue in the name of religion to deceive Muslims in this matter.

Last modified on Thursday, 30 November 2023 10:23