I read in the book al-Zawaajir ‘an Iqtiraaf al-Kabaa’ir (Deterrent to committing major sins) by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, which speaks of the ruling on mukoos (taxes, levies) and the Prophet’s prohibition thereon, that those who impose such taxes will be the most severely punished on the Day of Resurrection. The economies of many states are based on customs taxes levied on imports and exports, so traders add these taxes to the retail prices of their goods. With the money raised in this manner the state undertakes various projects to build the country’s infrastructure. I hope that you can explain the ruling on these taxes and the rulings on customs and working in customs. Is the ruling the same as that on mukoos or not?.
Praise be to Allaah.
Charging customs taxes on imports and exports is regarded as a kind of mukoos and the maks (sing. of mukoos) is haraam and working in this area is haraam, even if the authorities spend it on various projects to build the country’s infrastructure, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade taking the maks and spoke sternly concerning it. It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Buraydah, from his father, in the hadeeth about the stoning of the Ghaamidi woman who gave birth as the result of zina, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, she has repented in such a way that if the one who collects the maks were to repent like that, he would be forgiven.” This hadeeth was narrated by Ahmad, Muslim and Abu Dawood.
Ahmad, Abu Dawood and al-Haakim narrated from ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No one who collects the maks will enter Paradise.” Classed as saheeh by al-Haakim.
Al-Dhahabi said in his book al-Kabaa’ir:
The one who collects the maks is included in the general meaning of the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“The way (of blame) is only against those who oppress men and rebel in the earth without justification; for such there will be a painful torment”
The one who collects the maks is one of the greatest helpers of the oppressors, in fact he is himself an oppressor, because he takes something to which he is not entitled. This is supported by the hadeeths of Buraydah and ‘Uqbah which are quoted above. Moreover the one who collects the maks has much in common with the bandit, who is a thief. The one who collects the maks, the one who writes it down, the one who witnesses it and the one who takes it such as a soldier or a flag bearer all share the burden of sin and are all consuming haraam wealth. End quote.
This is also consuming people’s wealth unlawfully. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And eat up not one another’s property unjustly”
And it was proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, in his khutbah in Mina on the day of Eid during the Farewell Pilgrimage: “Your blood and your wealth and your honour are sacred to you, as sacred as this day of yours in this land of yours in this months of yours.” So the Muslim must fear Allaah and give up haraam earnings, and seek halaal earnings, for there are many ways of earning a living in a halaal way, praise be to Allaah. Whoever strives to be independent of means, Allaah will make him so. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).
3. And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allaah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allaah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allaah has set a measure for all things”
“and whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make his matter easy for him”
And Allaah is the Source of strength, May Allaah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.
From Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 23/489.