Fatwas, after all, aren’t just issued as religious diktats to discourage people from committing blasphemy or apostasy, a fatwa can also be issues in the digital realms. This seems to be the case in Dubai where the religious authorities issued a fatwa against Wi-Fi theft. You are committing a religious crime if you are stealing Wi-Fi of your neighbour. It’s like, “Thou shalt not stealeth the wi-fi of thy neighbour,” or something like that.
What’s a fatwa? It’s an Islamic religious edict. It’s a call to action. It’s like the quintessential “thou shalt not” or “thou shalt” call issued by a religious leader or an Islamic religious body of repute.
They say that stealing the Wi-Fi of your neighbour wouldn’t be a proper Islamic conduct. The fatwa has been issued by Dubai’s Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department and it is available on the department’s website. The fatwa was issued in response to a question asked by an anonymous reader regarding what is the provision in Islamic law about stealing your neighbour’s Wi-Fi.
What If your neighbour voluntarily allows you to use his or her Wi-Fi? Then there is no problem. The fatwa says, “There is nothing wrong in using the line if your neighbours allow you to do so, but if they don’t allow you, you may not use it.”
I think this is a very good development. The implication of Islamic thought on fatwas is changing with times. Up till now whenever we have come across the word “fatwa” it had meant calling upon the people to execute someone. One of the most famous fatwas was the call to kill author Salman Rushdie issued by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei because of Satanic Verses.