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I want to read certain books & I know they will not be available within my library mainly because of corruption. If I download the ebook(piracy), am I stealing? Will I be held responsible by Allah or will the government get the blame?

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Every soul, for what it has earned, will be retained (74:38)

Here are two issues so each party would be blamed for what they are responsible for, you for stealing and those who are corrupt for their corruption (read for example in sahih al-Bukhari about stealing from public funds or doing wrong with it in any way). The government is responsible for what ever they have done or ordered, if they ordered it correctly and somebody didn't follow the orders maybe they might be blamed for not asking digging deeper or following the issues, but only as far as each person is responsible. Anybody in a high position should be aware of this verse before handling unjustly with public funds or taking unlawfully from it:

It is not [attributable] to any prophet that he would act unfaithfully [in regard to war booty]. And whoever betrays, [taking unlawfully], will come with what he took on the Day of Resurrection. Then will every soul be [fully] compensated for what it earned, and they will not be wronged. (3:161)

See also this hadith in sahih al-Bukhari.

This hadith shows the first step of repentance from unlawful taking from public funds.

Shar'ia punishment

Scholars say that stealing from a public fund is haram, if somebody does so he would be punishable by ta'zeer التعزير (see also islamqa #138334 in Arabic), this is a punishment which the Qadi (the judge) needs to evaluate, but -in general- it wouldn't be set equal to stealing, as there's a suspicion of co-ownership. This verdict won't take away the sin he/she committed.
But if this fund was specified for example for poor people, orphans etc. and the person who stole is not among this specified group of people what he/she has done is considered a robbery and the punishment according shari'a should be cutting his hand (5:38)if all necessary conditions for applying this hadd (punishment) were met.

Read for example:

... And whoever, [when acting as guardian], is self-sufficient should refrain [from taking a fee]; and whoever is poor - let him take according to what is acceptable. ... (4:6)

Also be aware that taking or stealing from public fund is a bigger crime or sin than stealing from a private person! (Source in Arabic fatwa islamweb #14984 )

  • I understand your point. However, I pay taxes. Where is that money going? It's not counted as zakat. I have to take extra money out for that. – Talker Jan 26 '17 at 12:02
  • @Talker That is a totally different issue, you have to pay taxes. Are you one of my former classmates who used to demolish school desks saying they pay for them each year in the fees for school furniture etc.? – Medi1Saif Jan 26 '17 at 12:05
  • You mentioned we have to pay taxes. Please consider thinking about why taxes were created in the first place. They were created to pool money together & provide public services. – Talker Jan 26 '17 at 12:23
  • I'm not sure why you would link me to someone vandalizing private property. – Talker Jan 26 '17 at 12:24
  • I just made a practical analogy of your example the school fees are also created to pool money together to provide desks and furniture for all students of the school... – Medi1Saif Jan 26 '17 at 12:52

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