Editing Someone’s Books Without Their Knowledge

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat


If someone edits a book, deletes some things, like weak narration, etc., and republishes it in the same name with the same name of the original Author, without his permission, or if he has died, without requesting the permission of his inheritors, then what is the Islamic ruling of this action? Also, is it advisable to read such a book?


I pray you are well.

Such an action would be dishonest and a form of treachery. If there are mistakes or problems with a work – and not just issues where there is a genuine difference of opinion – one should contact the author in the spirit of sincere counsel, and apprise them of the mistakes. Most people would be open to corrections.

“Indeed, Allah commands you to restore trusts to their owners…” (Quran, 4:58). One of the implications of this verse is that Believers should not transgress on the rights and properties of others.

If the author is alive, it’s best to speak to him, or his family if he has passed away, to negotiate an approach everyone agrees on, as most works have some form of copyright in our times. If the book is a historical text, then one still does not have any right to alter it.

The way of the scholars of the umma is to attribute statements to those who said them, and if there is any correction needed, to accurately cite the original work and then to comment and correct in the margin or the footnotes. This is honesty and academic integrity.

The advisability of reading such a book depends on the book. It’s best not to support such approaches, however.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

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[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History, he moved to Damascus in 2007, where, for 18 months, he studied with many erudite scholars. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Quranic recital, and he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Quranic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.