Regarding the Web Hosting Service
Assalaamu’alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakaatuh
. What is the ruling for starting a business in web hosting service?
In this business, we give people some spaces to put their data in so that other people from around the world could access it via internet. Generally, people rent the space for personal interest, or their business interest.
The problem is that sometimes, there are people who misuse the space their rent to accommodate some interests that are against the shari’a rules, such as making it as places to upload the forbidden file of pictures and videos, mp3s of music (and stolen softwares), etc. Is this business unlawful, due to the possibility of misuse as explained here?
Or is it lawful, since what being rented are spaces, and the use is up to the renter?
– Similar question also applies on business of telecommunication service (such as cellular operator), which could be used to accommodate allowable private interests, such as enjoining people to goodness, but at the same time could be misused as to be used as a tool for courtship between unmarried couple, make a deal in unlawful business, etc.
. Supposed that the business is currently running, as a web hosting manager, are we allowed to peek into the datas of the renter, in order to monitor the files that are entrusted to us? Or shall we leave it without supervision, bearing in mind that all responsibilities of space hosting use belongs to the renter?
– The renter would certainly object if their datas are examined, and from the custom and business point of view, this is unethical. If we try to make a comparison with the reality, it is similar to us renting some dorm rooms but we “peek” whatever the renter do.
. Supposed that it is already running, what is the suggested preventive action for us to do?
Is it enough for us as the manager to issue some rules containing prohibition to misuse the space hosting (at the terms of service page)?
For example: http://www.ardhosting.com/term_of_service.php
Or shall we still monitor every existing account in our service?
Wa’alaikumussalam warahmatullah wabarakatuh.
All praises be to Allah, peace and prayer of Allah be upon Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his companions.
Brother Haryo Prabowo, may Allah bestow upon you and your family His mercy and blessings.
The Religion of Islam that you love has taught its followers to keep uniting, hand in hand in helping each other, thus some of them could also feel the misery and happiness of their muslim brothers.
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ
“Surely the believers are none but brothers unto one another,” (Qs. Al Hujuraat/The Chambers: 10)
The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- too had confirmed about this in many of his sayings, amongst which is the hadith below: :
عن النعمان بن بشير رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم مثل المؤمنين في توادهم وتراحمهم وتعاطفهم مثل الجسد إذا اشتكى منه عضو تداعى له سائر الجسد بالسهر والحمى. رواه مسلم
“From Nu’man Ibn Bashir -may Allah be pleased with him- he said, “The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said, “The parable of love, affection and helping each other among the muslims is that of a body, if a part of it suffered, the rest would certainly undergo equally disturbed sleep and fever.” (Narrated by Muslim).
Imam An Nawawi -may Allah have mercy on him- said, “This hadith clearly and firmly shows the greatness of the rights of fellow muslims, and recommends that they love each other, being soft towards each other, helping each other in the things that are not sin or hated things.” (See: “Syarah Muslim”, by Imam An Nawawi 16/139).
In another hadith, he said,
لا تحاسدوا ولا تناجشوا ولا تباغضوا ولا تدابروا ولا يبع بعضكم على بيع بعض وكونوا عباد الله إخوانا، المسلم أخو المسلم لا يظلمه ولا يخذله ولا يحقره. متفق عليه
“Thou shalt not envy each other, each raising their offering of goods (though not want to buy it), hate each other, each plan ugliness, bypassing the purchase others. You should be the servant of Allah that are brothers to each other. Every muslim is a brother to another muslim. He should not abuse his brother, nor that he is silent while watching his brother being abused by others. And he shouldn’t belittle his brother.” (Muttafaqun ‘alaih)
In another hadith, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- gave a broader and clearer picture of the personality that every muslim should have.
الْمُسْلِمُ مَنْ سَلِمَ الْمُسْلِمُونَ مِنْ لِسَانِهِ وَيَدِهِ. متفق عليه
“A true muslim is a the one that all muslims feel safe from the annoyance of his words and hand.” (Muttafaqun ‘alaih)
Brother! A true muslim is a person who always works his best to realize and spread any form of kindness. This is the basis of enjoining people to goodness, ordering the good and prohibiting the wrong, and the prohibition for the scholars to hide the knowledge in Islam.
مَنْ كَتَمَ عِلْماً يَعْلَمُهُ جَاءَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مُلَجَّماً بِلِجَامٍ مِنْ نَارٍ. رواه أحمد وغيره وصححه الألباني
“Whoever hides the knowledge that he has mastered, later at the Hereafter, will be restrained with a bridle of fire of hell. ” (Narrated by Ahmad and the others, and classified as valid hadith by Al Albani).
Beside that, Islam also commands its followers to spend many of their possessions in charity, help other people, and so on, thus they will be useful, productive, member of the society who constantly have positive attitude.
عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ صَدَقَةٌ، قِيلَ أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ؟ قَالَ يَعْتَمِلُ بِيَدَيْهِ فَيَنْفَعُ نَفْسَهُ وَيَتَصَدَّقُ، قَالَقِيلَأَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ؟ قَالَيُعِينُ ذَا الْحَاجَةِ الْمَلْهُوفَ، قَالَ: قِيلَ لَهُ: أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ؟ قَالَ: يَأْمُرُ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ أَوِ الْخَيْرِ، قَالَ: أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ يَفْعَلْ؟ قَالَ: يُمْسِكُ عَنِ الشَّرِّ فَإِنَّهَا صَدَقَةٌ. رواه متفق عليه
“It is compulsory for every muslim to give alms.” It was said to him, “What if he can’t do it?”. He replied, “He should work with his hands thus he yields benefit for himself and he could give alms (with it).” Again it was said to him, “What if he still can’t do it?”. He replied, “He could help others who are in deep trouble.” It was said to him, ” What if he still can’t do it?”. He replied, “He orders people to do good.” The one who questioned him said again, “What if he still can’t do it?”. He replied, “He restrains himself from doing evil thing, then it is indeed an alms.” (Muttafaqun ‘alaih)
Based on these indications, and also other indications that I don’t mention here, the scholars of jurisprudence stated that it is not allowed for anyone to hold an activity or a deed or a business that may result in anxiety, harms, or losses on many people, whether the losses are in religious affairs or their worldly affairs.
In the past, the scholars who were experts in jurisprudence issued a fatwa that stated that selling grape to those who were to make it into liquor, or weapon at the time of war between muslims is unlawful. Although grape and weapon are legal things to sell, but at such condition, the scholars prohibited it. Not because the scholars intended to change the ruling of grape and weapon from legal thing into illegal, but the fatwa was meant to prevent social and religious destruction of society.” (See: I’ilamul Muwaqi’in by Ibnul Qayyim 2/387, “As Syarhul Mumti’” by Sheikh Ibn Uthaymeen 8/205-208, “Majmu’ Fatawa Al Lajnah Ad Da’imah” 13/30-76.)
Imam Ash Shafi’i said:
وأحب إلى له أن يحسن التوقي فلا يبيعه ممن يراه يتخذه خمرا
“I strongly encourage the owner of grape to be vigilant, thus he doesn’t sell his grape to people whom he afraid will turn it into liquor.” (See: “Al Umm” by Imam As Shafi’i 7/57)
The explanation of Imam Shafi’i above is in line with a hadith below:
لعن رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم في الخمر عشرة: عاصرها ومعتصرها وشاربها وحاملها والمحمولة إليه وساقيها وبائعها وآكل ثمنها والمشتري لها والمشتراة له. رواه الترمذي وابن ماجة وصححه الألباني
“”The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- cursed ten kinds of people regarding the intoxicant: The one who squeeze it, one who ask for people to squeeze it, one who drinks it, one who serves it (the distributor), one who got it served to him, the servant who serve it to people, the seller, one who consume the result of its selling, the buyer, and one who got it bought for him.” (Narrated by At Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja, and classed valid by Al Albani).
The explanation of Imam Shafi’i and others above is also applied in this case of yours, and the similar cases, such as in house renting, car renting, and so on. Brother Haryo, you are a believer, and of course you realize that you have responsibilities regarding your faith and demands of your inner self as a muslim to prevent any kind of immoral acts and evil doings before it happened, and to fight against it when it already happened. Are you willing if your wealth is used by other -whether in the form of renting or other service – to destroy your religion, desecrate the minds of your fellow brothers, and probably even your family?
Brother Haryo! Imagine that if one day you found your children or your beloved wife accessing the porn or terrorism site or the like, and after you investigated it, the sites were using the web hosting service that you’ve rented to one of your client? What do you think you’d feel, and you’d do?
In this occasion, I’d like to remind my fellow brothers of faith: Whatever you do to your muslim brother, you would certainly get the similar return. If now you do not care about the result of your business, then others will treat you similarly.
البِرُّ لاَ يَبْلَى وَالإِثْمُ لاَ يُنْسَى وَالدَّيَّانُ لاَ يَمُوتُ فَكُنْ كَمَا شِئْتَ كَمَا تَدِيْنُ تُدَانُ
“”Goodness will never aged, sin will never be forgotten, and Allah the Almighty will never die, thus do as you please, because as you behave, then so shall you be treated. ”
It is true that in the modern ethical code of business, which is following the example of western ethical code of business, peeking or monitoring the activity of web hosting client is unacceptable, but will that western ethic beat the calling of faith and the responsibility in front of Allah? Moreover, you actually have a full authority according to the civil law that is applicable anywhere, to monitor the usage of your web hosting service, because you’ve entered it in your criteria/stipulations in the renting contract.
According to my prediction, you’ve suited the price of renting by considering the stipulations you’ve made. The more the stipulations, the lower the price will be, and the fewer the stipulations, the higher the price will be. Therefore, if your client violated the agreed stipulations, it means that you have been harmed. Not only you’ll suffer the loss in the Hereafter, but also in this world.
Brother! Imagine that you rented a house or a building to someone, and you’ve stipulated that the building shouldn’t be used as church or discotheque. But it turned out that later, without your consent, the renter violated the agreement and turned your house as a church or place for prostitution, or for gambling, or for abortion, and the like. Would you still use the western ethical code to affirm it and sacrifice your feeling and the demand of your faith?
As the solution, you are rightful to give warning to your customer, and if he doesn’t mind your warning, you deserve to break the contract of renting with him. If this breaking of contract can’t be done due to a problem, then you may refuse to his request of extension of his lease.
This is the answer that I can give to you, hopefully it is useful. And Allah knows best.
Answered by: Ustadz Muhammad Arifin Badri, M.A.