Is It Unlawful to Subscribe to Streaming Services?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

Is it unlawful to subscribe to streaming services that have unlawful content? Would I be sinful, and is it considered assisting in sinning?
What if we cannot subscribe to them, but we must watch the ads first before watching the content, is this considered helping in sinning too? Am I responsible for their sins if someone watches something unlawful via the service because I subscribe to that service?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide us to that which pleases Him, forgive us for our shortcomings, and alleviate our difficulties, Amin.

Suppose no impermissible elements are involved in the content you watch. In that case, it is lawful to watch within the reasonable limits of Sacred Law, and Allah knows best.

While there is an element of assistance or support, a streaming service, at its core, is not unlawful and, therefore, by subscribing, you are not directly assisting in sin, and Allah knows best.

Assisting in Sin or Not

May Allah reward you for your concern about assisting in sin. Allah says: “…Cooperate with one another in goodness and righteousness and do not cooperate in sin and transgression. And be mindful of Allah. Surely Allah is severe in punishment.” [Quran 5:2]

Allah says: “And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.” [Quran 6:164]

First, you will not be accountable for the actions of others who may be watching unlawful content. Second, subscribing to a streaming service may be compared to a supermarket that sells lawful and unlawful products. As long as you refrain from the unlawful products and the supermarket does not predominantly trade in unlawful commodities (such as a liquor store, for example), your purchasing from (and therefore supporting of) the supermarket is not unlawful, and Allah knows best.

Watching Video Content

If, as mentioned, there are no other unlawful elements in the content you watch, then watching it is lawful but within reasonable limits. Extramural activities which are lawful could become unlawful if they cause you to neglect your duties with Allah, and Allah knows best.

If you find that what you like to watch is unlawful, then (after turning to Allah for assistance) I suggest you find a lawful and healthy hobby or sport to do as an alternative.

Please see the following relevant answers about watching television:
Can I Watch a Movie Using a Filter That Removes Sexual Scenes?
Is It Permissible to Look at Women Who Don’t Wear Hijab?
Is It Permissible to Watch Movies and Cartoons If I Fast-Forward the Kissing Parts?
I pray this is of benefit.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.