Are boycotts Haram? Some people are saying it is Haram to boycott businesses or products that support Israel unless the leader gives you permission. Is this correct?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah Most Merciful Most Kind

Short Answer

It is not Haram to boycott businesses or products that support Israel. Rather, this is an effective way of putting pressure on them. We should support those businesses that try to assist the oppressed. Certainly not those that cause oppression.

Are boycotts haram?

There are so many errors in the view that one cannot boycott the products or services of a particular company without the express permission of the leader. I will explain some of them below.

انْفِرُوا خِفَافًا وَثِقَالًا وَجَاهِدُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنْفُسِكُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

March forth, light and heavy, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the cause of Allah. That is better for you, if you only knew. (Surah al-Towbah, 41).

Firstly, the Sharia provides Muslims with the freedom to purchase products and services of their choice, as long as they are Halal. In Islam, we are not coerced into purchasing products or services from a particular company. This really is an absurd notion. It is shocking to think that any person of even minimal knowledge of the Sharia would contradict this.

Secondly, as seen in the verse of the Holy Quran above, we are encouraged to fight the enemy with our money. Boycotting companies that support oppressors likes Israel is an incredibly effective means of fighting oppression. The Quran and Sunnah did not restrict this means to the permission of the leader.

Thirdly, the Sahabah used economic pressure to combat the oppression of Quraysh. They attempted to intercept the trade caravans the Quraysh used to send out. Anyone with cursory knowledge of strategy understands that economic pressure is often the most effective means of defeating an aggressor.

Fourthly, we have a specific example of the great Sahabi Thumamah bin Uthaal refusing to trade with Quraysh due to the oppression they engaged in. This was evidently done without the involvement of the Holy Prophet ﷺ which is why the Quraysh appealed to the Prophet ﷺ to speak to Sayidina Thumamah (May Allah Most High  be pleased with him).

لاَ يَأْتِيكُمْ مِنَ اليَمَامَةِ حَبَّةُ حِنْطَةٍ، حَتَّى يَأْذَنَ فِيهَا النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ

Sayidina Thumamah bin Uthaal (May Allah Most High  be pleased with him) said to Quraysh:   Not a single grain of wheat will come to you from al-Yamamah until the Prophet ﷺ permits it. (Sahih al-Bukhari, 4372).

In the Nass (text) below, we see the Sharia permitting Muslims to trade freely and the futility of coercion in trade. Therefore, anyone saying that you cannot boycott a product without the permission of the leader has misunderstood the fundamentals of Sharia.

فَلَا يَصِحُّ بَيْعُ الْمُكْرَهِ إذَا بَاعَ مُكْرَهًا وَسَلَّمَ مُكْرَهًا؛ لِعَدَمِ الرِّضَا. (بدائع الصنائع في ترتيب الشرائع)

The sale of a coerced individual is not valid, if he sells something under duress and delivers under duress. This is due to the lack of acceptance. (Imam Abu Bakr al-Kaasaani, Badai al-Sanai).

Concluding Remarks

It is important to understand that boycotts are most effective when they are organised and strategic. Therefore, they should be researched thoroughly, to make sure that the company being boycotted is truly guilty of what is being alleged. Also, it is best to target the most supportive companies first. This can be made easy by following an organisation that monitors these concerns.

Furthermore, such organisations should make sure they update people when a boycott has been successful and a company has desisted from supporting oppression. Thereafter, the relevant adjustment can be made. Sometimes people are encouraged to boycott but do not become aware when the boycott has been successful. Thus, they continue the boycott when it should be reversed. This can be counterproductive.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (13.11.23)