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Is It Permissible to Seek Employment in Banks That Deal With Riba? (Interest)

Today's world has a complex financial structure. Nearly every transaction is carried out through banks. One cannot possibly eliminate the banking completely from one's life but at least we can control on how much interaction can be carried out. The more we can avoid the better.

Firstly, it is not permissible to work in riba or interest-based banks at all as it involves consuming riba, or writing it down or witness it or help those who do that.

It is one of the major issues in our society nowadays and most of our community is involved in banking jobs. The major scholars have issued fatwas stating that working in banks that deal with riba is haraam, (proven through hadith and Quranic verses) many people know this already yet continue with this sin. Even if the nature of work doesn't involve dealing with riba directly it is still haram and it includes guards, cleaners, and other services as well. This is because they are witness to one of the grievous sins.

In fataawa al-lajnah al-Daaimah. 15/41 it is mentioned that:

It is not permissible for a Muslim to work in a bank that deals with riba, even if the work that the Muslim does has nothing to do with riba because he is giving the employees who do work with riba with what they need and he is helping them with their calculation of interest.

Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“but do not help one another in sin and transgression”

[al-Maa’idah 5:2]

Hence helping one in committing sin is a sin itself and a person will be held accountable for that. And hence it includes all personnel engaged in banking sector be it officials or guards or cleaners.

The Standing Committee (15/38) was asked: what is the ruling on working in the existing banks?

They replied:

Most of the transactions that are done nowadays involve riba, which is haraam according to the Qur'an and Sunnah and the consensus of the ummah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ruled that whoever helps the one who consumes riba or pays it by writing it down for him or bearing witness to it, etc, is a partner of the one who consumes it and the one who pays it, and they are all cursed and expelled from the mercy of Allah.

In Saheeh Muslim and elsewhere it is narrated that Jaabir (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed the one who consumes riba, the one who pays it, the one who writes it down and the two who witness it, and he said, “They are all the same.”

Hence from these hadith, any doubt or question is completely eliminated any possibility of working in a bank. It is Haraam. Muslims should avoid it and earn a living through permitted means. A person should not expose himself to the curse of Allah and his Messenger. And if you happen to be part of any riba-based bank leave the job for the sake of Almighty Allah. Do not fear of poverty, for Allah is sufficient for everyone and He (SWT) will provide the means that one least expects.

The Standing Committee (15/18) was asked the following questions:

1. Is there any specific section of the bank that is halaal, as many think, and if that is correct could you explain further? There is no section in the riba-based bank that is exempt from this ruling according to what we know of the pure shari'a because all the bank employees are cooperating in sin and transgression.

2. What is the ruling on working as a maintenance engineer for one of the electronics companies that deal with some of the riba-based banks, where the company sells equipment (calculators, cameras, telephones) to the bank, and tells us, as maintenance engineers, to go to the bank to service this equipment on a regular basis? Is this work haraam on the basis that the bank does its accounts and organizes its work on these machines, and are we thus helping them in sin?

They replied:

It is not permissible for you to work for companies that are as you described because that involves cooperating in sin and transgression.

And it says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (15/48):

It is not permissible for a Muslim to work in banks that deal with riba because that involves helping them to engage in riba-based transactions in one way or another, by writing them down, witnessing them, guarding the bank, etc. Helping them in that manner is cooperating in sin and transgression, which Allah forbade when He said (interpretation of the meaning):

“but do not help one another in sin and transgression”

[al-Maa’idah 5:2]

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: is it permissible to work for a riba-based organization as a driver or guard?

He replied:

It is not permissible to work for a riba-based organization even if you are a driver or a guard because accepting employment with a riba-based organization implies that you approve of them, as whoever denounces something could not work to serve its interests. If he works to serve its interests, he must approve of it, and the one who approves of something haraam has a share in its sin. With regard to those who are directly involved in writing down transactions, transferring money, depositing money, etc, are undoubtedly dealing directly with something that is haraam.

It was proven from the hadeeth of Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed the one who consumes riba, the one who pays it, the one who writes it down and the two who witness it, and he said, “They are all the same.”

From Fataawa Islamiyyah, 2/401

And there are other well-known fatwas which forbid working in riba-based banks, no matter what the kind of work involved. Based on this, if you are indulged in such sin than you have to repent to Allah from what you have done in the past, and leave this work, seeking the help of Allah, putting his trust in Him and being certain that He will grant provision.

Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).

And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things”

[al-Talaaq 65:2-3]

We ask Allah to make us independent by means of that which is halaal so that we will have no need of that which is haraam.

May Allah protect us all.

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