Renowned Clerics Issue Fatwa Denouncing Toshakhana Law

In the middle of the Toshakhana scandal, famous clerics issued a fatwa (religious decree) condemning the law which enables the procurement of gifts from the state repository at bargain rates. They argue that such presents do not belong to any person, but rather to the nation as a trust.

Mufti Raghib Hussain Naeemi of Jamia Naeemia, together with Mufti Imran Hanfi, Mufti Nadeem Qamar, and Mufti Arif Hussain, ruled that the law allowing diplomatic gifts to be retained is ‘un-Islamic’.

They stressed that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had advised against retaining gifts given to people in positions of power. As a result, no matter how modest or great the present, it is the state’s property and must be placed in the state treasury.

The Cabinet Division, according to the legislation, evaluates the value of the presents using FBR personnel and professional appraisers. The receiver can retain gifts worth up to Rs. 30,000 for free. Gifts worth more than Rs. 30,000 can be held by the receiver for a fee of 50 percent of the amount beyond the baseline exemption of Rs. 30,000.

This exemption, however, does not extend to antiques and presents of inherent historical value. All such presents must be cataloged and exhibited prominently in official facilities. Multiple gift articles delivered to a government official on one occasion by a single dignitary shall be considered as a single gift for value purposes.

The decree further stipulated that the presents should be used for the public good. It urged that the presents be put in the state treasury, citing a Hadith, and adding that purchasing products from the state treasury at reduced rates contradicted Islamic principles. Scholars have encouraged the Supreme Court to intervene and change the current law.

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