What is intellectual property in Islam?

Welayat-e Faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic J...

Welayat-e Faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists) (Photo credit: kamshots)

Here is how the dictionary defines it:

Definition
in·tel·lec·tu·al prop·er·ty
NOUN 
1. 
property from original thought protected by law: original creative work manifested in a tangible form that can be legally protected, e.g. by a patent, trademark, or copyright
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Encarta® World English Dictionary[North American Edition] © & (P) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing PlcThere is now a whole department on trade marking and copyrighting written material.

Where does that sit in Islam? You take something from the Quran and Sunnah and quote it verbatim, that is a direct quote, or you take a tafseer written by an Alim and incorporate it in your article, should you give credit to the writer or if you write a whole book based on someone else’s teachings or methodology should you give credit to that intermediate person whose idea and work you used to come up with your book or article?

In modern day west, it is safer to use the quotes of others or the excerpts of others with complete references as one may be judged by the local legal system as a terrorist if one writes something that may fall under those (vague but enforced) precincts.

On the day to day intellectual level: In my humble opinion Muslims have to look at the laws of the land as far as copyright, references, permission etc. Even though all of Allah’s message should be free whether in writing or in speech. The cost to getting it to people must be charged to offset the cost and to promote it further. otherwise only the rich will be published and it is only their opinions and trends that will reach the audience whether they may be valid, limited or opinionated without a good grounding.

I once asked someone if I should write a book about what I am learning as there is nothing on the market as such and the advice I was given that no just write it as loose papers to distribute without a name otherwise it will “go to your head” or bad for the Nafs. I wonder if all the teachers and learners of Deen did that how much of Allah message would be passed on and by whom?

In retrospect that is not good advice: Who is going to read loose papers whose authorship is unknown and the reliability index cannot be assessed. The first thing I do when I choose a book is I look at the ethics and background of the author.

How about when someone accepts your articles for a website, book or journal and them when it suits them removes them from the website, e-book or journal?

Should articles once published remain published and who owns them? Or should they be at some point wiped out without a reference to them as archive or should the author(s) be informed of the act of erasure?

Intellectual property especially intellectual e property in Islam and Islamic works of literature needs to be worked out by the educated Faqihs (Jurists). Meanwhile I wait to find the best path on how to best disseminate Allah’s message……..

5 thoughts on “What is intellectual property in Islam?

  1. “INTELLECTUAL PROPERTIES(IP) : GIFTS FROM THE EAST TO THE WEST AS DRIVERS OF INNOVATIONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY”

    The position of Syariah Law towards intellectual property(IP) and innovations protection is positive on the basis of Maslahah al-Ammah(public interest-centric).

    This is to solve the “Syariah Dilemna” of the Ummah in resolving various socio-economic imperatives which are focuses of the United Nations, and COP 21,etc.

    INTELLECTUAL PROPERTIES(IP) from a theoretical platform could be forged to provide realised solutions for a Better Business Ummah (BBU) within the Maqasid Al-Syariah lawnomics design.

    ……………………………….
    JEONG CHUN-PHUOC
    Pioneer Advocate in “Big Compliance” for a Better Business World (Lawnomics Framework)

    He can be reached at: jeongchunphuoc@gmail.com

  2. i once asked a scholar in qatar, who has a law degree and was a consultant to the government about intellectual property and he was very clear that a piece of work created by an individual, such as a book or a painting was something that shoudl and could be protected and that it was a legitimate and acceptable practice, and that one can consider making money from such an initiative if is done with good intention. I know that this is not so clear, but inshallah it is helpful.

  3. Is there such a thing as intellectual property rights in Islam?

    A lot of scholars books have copyright marks on them, but I always assumed that this was at the behest of the publishers not the scholars.

    • ASA Brother abdul Raheem,
      Though muslim scholars write to share the message of our Deen which is the duty of each and every human being in whatever manner we can, the scholars in some manner must have copyright or something that will prevent people from distorting it and reprinting it in their name, or misusing it by deleting sections of it which make the rest sound like nonsense.
      Intellectual property has to be kept pristine just like physical property and used with taqwa as we will be questioned about it on the Day of Judgement.
      Allah knows best.

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