Is Cyber Warfare Permissible?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

Hacking is finding vulnerabilities in a system and using these found vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to the system.

Cyberwarfare uses cyberattacks against an enemy state, causing comparable harm to actual warfare and disrupting vital computer systems. Some intended outcomes could be espionage, sabotage, propaganda, manipulation, or economic warfare. It’s warfare where computers are the weapons.

My question is, is hacking permissible (according to Islam) during times of genuine war? Is this kind of warfare permissible when absolutely necessary?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him.

Islam’s default position on causing harm (whether physical, psychological, or “cyber”) is that one should refrain from causing harm or reciprocating harm when a legitimate and justifiable need for harm arises (as when defending one’s life, family, religion, country, etc.,) then the only harm permitted is that which is necessary to restore justice (as detailed in Sacred Law), and Allah knows best.

Abu Saʽid al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Do not cause harm or return harm. Whoever harms others, Allah will harm him. Whoever is harsh with others, Allah will be harsh with him.” [Bayhaqi, al-Sunan al-Kubra]

Allah says: “If the enemy is inclined towards peace, make peace with them. And put your trust in Allah. Indeed, He (alone) is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” [Quran, 8: 61]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[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.