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Dubai: A mufti (religious scholar) in Dubai reiterated on Sunday that employees who abuse benefits or take their company’s stationery home with them are violating the teachings of Islam and might land in court facing serious charges.

Legal advisors told Gulf News that company owners had the right to walk into police stations to lodge theft complaints against employees who take stationery home with them.

“Employees, who intentionally or unintentionally, take from their workplace pencils, pens, erasers, rulers, tape, pencil sharpeners, papers or any other cheap or petty stationery materials without permission from their employers can be taken to court,” according to one legal advisor, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The issue surfaced recently on social media networks when an employee asked a mufti at the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai (IACAD) whether it was permissible to take office stationery home.

A news website on Sunday quoted Dr Ali Ahmad Mashael, Mufti at Dubai Fatwa Section of the IACAD, stating that personal use of employer’s stationery by government or private sector employees is not allowed without permission.

Dr Mashael said official stationery is the property of the employer and it is not appropriate for employees to use it for their personal use.

The employer’s property can be used by employees for their personal needs only with permission of the management. Even after approval, such use should not be excessive, he added.

Dr Mashael’s statement was one of the top ten topics among social networking sites, as residents took to Twitter to highlight the fatwa that highlighted the misuse of office stationery.

Another legal consultant said any worker who takes items from their workplace without their employer’s permission could face charges of breach of trust, embezzlement or theft.

However, he said not everyone in the workplace has the right to lodge a police complaint. Company owners or heads of business establishments will have to walk into the police station and complain in person. According to the Criminal Procedures Law it is only the owner of the stolen item who can complain to the police.

‘Stealing is stealing’

“The law enables someone who has a power of attorney issued from the owner to complain against the employee, even if the latter stole a pencil or a piece of paper,” a legal advisor told Gulf News.

People on social networking sites responded positively to the mufti’s statement.

“Stealing is stealing, even if it’s for one fils,” said Irfan Ahmad.

“Surely, taking property without the owner’s permission, for whatever reason is called stealing. This has been the case for the last three thousand years...” said Roger Swainson.

“I think [the fatwa] goes in line with the idea of not stealing and that also involves respecting company property. The Grand Mufti is reinforcing these ideas because people do not actually spend from their own pockets when they use company stationery, and according to Islamic teachings, it is not permissible to misuse, inappropriately use or excessively use something — whether it belongs to you or not,” said Esmail Hemed.

Others also extended the question about using company computers for personal use and whether it was permissible or not under IACAD in Dubai.

“What about checking personal emails and Facebook on the company’s internet,” said Abdul Rahman.