Website terms of use stipulates resolving matters in non-Muslim courts
Fatwa No: 237532

  • Fatwa Date:27-1-2014 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 26, 1435
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Question

When we are creating accounts on websites like Youtube, Facebook and Adobe, we are abiding an agreement called "Terms of use". For example, in the agreement on Facebook written in English (US) point numer 16.1, it states: "You will resolve any claim, cause of action or dispute (claim) you have with us arising out of or relating to this Statement or Facebook exclusively in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California or a state court located in San Mateo County, and you agree to submit to the personal jurisdiction of such courts for the purpose of litigating all such claims. The laws of the State of California will govern this Statement, as well as any claim that might arise between you and us, without regard to conflict of law provisions." In the "Adobe General Terms of Use" point number 23.1, it states: "Venue. You agree that any claim or dispute you may have against Adobe must be resolved by a court located in Santa Clara County, California, United States of America except as otherwise agreed by the parties. You agree to submit to the personal jurisdiction of the courts located in Santa Clara County, California, United States of America when the laws of California apply, and the courts of Dublin, Ireland, when the laws of Ireland applies, for the purpose of litigating such claims or disputes. The parties specifically disclaim the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods." So my question is, what is your view regarding accepting these terms of service which contain statements of kufr such as courts (tahakkum bi't-taghut)? Are Muslims who have agreed with such agreements considered as apostates?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

We believe that there is no harm if a Muslim signs such terms of use, binding agreements, or contracts stipulating resolving any potential claim or dispute before regular courts (run by man-made laws) when the need arises. Signing such agreements is not considered an act of disbelief, taking one out of the realm of Islam because many scholars have deemed it permissible for Muslims to resolve their disputes before regular courts so as to attain some advantages or ward off some evils. This also conforms to the Sharee'ah principle of necessity (i.e. the “law of necessity” in Islamic jurisprudence, “That necessity makes the forbidden permissible”). They also deemed it allowable in order to claim one's due rights and in order to repel injustice when there is no alternative, i.e. Sharee'ah court, available.

If it is permissible for a Muslim to resolve his disputes before regular courts when the need arises, then signing an agreement including such a stipulation, while he does not seek after that condition in principle nor does he accept it in his heart but, rather, resorts to it because of need or for the purpose of obtaining a benefit, is a lesser evil than filing a dispute before such courts and brings about milder harms.

Therefore, we believe that there is no harm in signing such binding agreements and a Muslim could hold the intention that he only accepts the Sharee'ah-acceptable articles of the agreement and rejects all that is impermissible and contradicts the Sharee'ah when signing such agreements. He should not deprive himself of benefiting from such services because of that stipulation or the like.

Allaah Knows best.

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