Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel
A friend of mine invited me to help him program a bot that pretends to be multiple users to get past restrictions by websites that limit buying a product to a limited amount per individual buyer. The purpose of this bot is to buy up a specified amount of stock on limited items and new releases (such as shoes, clothes, etc.). He plans to sell this bot to resellers who will use it to buy large quantities of either restricted items or very popular items that don’t necessarily have restrictions on the amount that can be purchased but sell out quickly.
My question is, would it be haram to develop and receive money from this bot? I am worried that it would be considered a form of deception or impermissible business.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.
I pray you are in good faith and health.
It would be impermissible to help someone program and develop a bot that pretends to be multiple users to get past restrictions. This is a form of deception and cheating.
A bot is a software application that is programmed to do specific tasks. Bots are automated, which means they run according to their instructions without a human user needing to manually start them up every time. Bots often imitate or replace a human user’s behavior. Typically, they do repetitive tasks and can do them much faster than human users.
Good Bots and Bad Bots
Bots usually operate over a network; over half of Internet traffic is bots scanning content, interacting with webpages, chatting with users, or looking for attack targets. Some bots are useful, such as search engine bots that index content for search or customer service bots that help users. Other bots are ‘bad’ and are programmed to break into user accounts, scan the web for contact information for sending spam, or perform other malicious activities. If it’s connected to the Internet, a bot will have an associated IP address.
Honest Business is Blessed, Lying is Not
Hakim ibn Hizam (Allah be pleased with him) reported, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Both parties in a business transaction have the right to annul it, as long as they have not separated. If they are truthful and clear with one another, there is a blessing in their transaction. If they lie and conceal something, the blessing of their transaction will be eliminated.” [Bukhari; Muslim]
One would be allowed to create, develop and use a bot that is not in any way against sharia appropriateness, the country’s law, company, or that lead to any malicious intent. Otherwise, it would not be permissible.
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I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied in the UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete the hifz of the Quran in India, then enrolled in an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied the secular and ‘Aalimiyya sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan. He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for several years. He has taught hifz of the Quran, Tajwid, Fiqh, and many other Islamic sciences to children and adults onsite and online extensively in the UK and Ireland. He taught at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK, where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences. He currently resides in the UK with his wife. His interest is a love of books and gardening.