I am about to start a career in law soon. Yet I have been informed that most aspects of English law would be haram to practise. What I would like to know is what principles/rules I should take into account when deciding what area to practise. I.e. would I be allowed to defend people accused of crimes (irrespective of their guilt), or when defending rights, would I be able to advocate rights that may be incompatible with Islam but are a part of English law (homosexual rights etc).
What I am asking is what ideas/rules do I use to decide what areas would be permissible and which won’t.
The world-renowned contemporary scholar and expert on Islamic law and finance Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him) has discussed the issue of entering the Law profession in his English Fatawa collection titled ‘Contemporary Fatawa’. He explains that there are basically three conditions which need to be met in order for a Muslim to take up any job connected to law, advocacy, and legal representation.
1) One’s work should be for a just cause, and not to help defend a person who is guilty of a crime.
2) One must not help others gain a right that is prohibited or disapproved by Shari’ah.
3) The means used in helping a client must also not be prohibited in Shari’ah. (See: Contemporary Fatawa by Mufti Taqi Usmani)
To elaborate, firstly, it is not permitted to defend the case of an individual regarding whom one is certain that he is guilty of the crime, such that the client himself admits he is guilty, or there are clear and obvious evidences that prove his guilt. If one is unsure or in doubt, it is permitted to go ahead with the case, since one is considered innocent until proven guilty, and there must be sufficient evidence to presume someone’s guilt.
Secondly, a believing Muslim must practice law within the limits of Islamic guidelines. As such, one is not allowed to advocate and fight for something that is considered not permissible in Islam – because just as it is impermissible for a Muslim to carry out the impermissible act, it is likewise not permitted to assist someone else accomplish it. For example, it will not be permitted to help someone recover interest money, fight for someone’s right to drink alcohol, or advocate for someone’s right to engage in homosexual activity or have a same-sex marriage. Likewise, one cannot be party to injustice, wrongdoing, corruption, or bribery.
Note that this does not mean one cannot advocate other rights for people such as homosexuals. On the contrary, it is Islamically not permitted to discriminate based on gender, ethnicity, faith and sexual preference. As such, it is perfectly permitted to fight for other just rights, regardless of whether one’s client is a homosexual or otherwise.
Finally, it is not permitted to use any means, whilst helping a client, that are unlawful in Islam such as using forged documents, deception, lying and false statements.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK