Working in banks.

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)


One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

Dear Brother Burhan,

I am faced with a very difficult situation. I keep reading about how working for banks and financial institutions is haraam because they work on the concept of interest. I have a degree in Economics so a career in banking seems to be the 'logical' step especially since I was offered a place. I am however being very careful not to choose a bank as working for a bank is perhaps not permitted. My question is this: if working for a bank is not permissible due to interest, does that mean that working for ANY financial institution is not permitted since they will inevitably involve interest? For instance, if I start working independently as a financial advisor, it is quite likely that I will be dealing with some investment opportunities for clients that involve interest. Does that make this option haram for me? I am extremely confused. The job market is bad so there arent that many job openings and on top of that, I keep refusing to apply for the few job openings available because I think there may be interest involved. For instance, business development bank ... is that the same as any bank? financial advisors? mortgage and insurance specialists? what about working for bank in the HR dept? Please elaborate on this topic based on true islamic teachings but please be specific with the job titles that are perhaps not permissible ...

Thank you


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Working in banks

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.


Respected Brother in Islam, it is not that the system of banking in its essence has been declared haraam in Islam; but what Allah and His Messenger (saws) have specifically and categorically declared absolutely forbidden and haraam is the concept of ‘riba’, and without an iota of a doubt, the modern concept of ‘interest’ is but a part of ‘riba’. 


Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 2 Surah Baqarah verse 274-276:

But those who devour ‘riba’ become like the one whom Shaitaan has bewitched and maddened by his touch.   They have been condemned to this condition because they say,  “Trade is just like ‘riba”,  whereas Allah has made trade halaal and ‘riba’ haraam.   Henceforth,  if one abstains from taking ‘riba’ after receiving this admonition from his Lord,  no legal action shall be taken against him regarding the ‘riba’ he had devoured before:  his case shall ultimately go to Allah.   But if one repeats the same crime even after this,  he shall go to Hell,  where he shall abide for ever!   Allah deprives ‘riba’ of all blessing and develops charity,  and Allah does not like an ungrateful,  sinful person.


Allah says further in the Holy Quran Chapter 2 Surah Baqarah verse 278:

O Believers!,  fear Allah and give up that ‘riba’ which is still due to you,  if you are true believers.   But if you do not do so,  then you are warned of the declaration of war against you by Allah and His Messenger!


Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 4 Surah Nisa verse 161:

That they took ‘riba’,  although they were forbidden.  And that they devoured men’s substance wrongfully.   We have prepared for those among them who reject faith a grievous punishment (of Hell Fire)!


Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 2829        Narrated by Ali ibn AbuTalib

Ali heard Allah's Messenger (saws) invoke the curse of Allah on those who took usury, those who paid it, those who recorded it, and those who refused to give sadaqah.


There is absolutely no doubt that the conventional financial system is based on the system of ‘riba’, and even though one might not be involved himself in consuming ‘riba’, their working in such institutions would make them an accomplice in promoting and facilitating what has clearly been declared forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (saws).


If one facilitates any business which deals exclusively in what has been specifically declared as ‘haraam’ or unlawful by Allah and His Messenger (saws), like ‘riba’, prostitution, pornography, intoxicants, etc., then without an iota of a doubt, one would indeed have a share in the sin according to one’s level of participation.  


One cannot say with absolute conviction that the earning of every person working in a conventional financial institution is unlawful or haraam; but if one’s involvement with the institution facilitates ‘riba’, then without an iota of a doubt, one would indeed have a share in the sin according to one’s level of participation. It would definitely be prudent and wise of the believers to fear Allah and seek to employ their talents elsewhere and earn their livelihood from a source which is not doubtful.


Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith  3.267        Narrated by An Numan bin Bashir

The Prophet (saws) said "Both the ‘halaal’ (legal) and the ‘haraam’ (illegal) things are obvious, and in between them are (suspicious) doubtful matters. So whoever forsakes those doubtful things lest he may commit a sin, will definitely avoid what is clearly illegal; and whoever indulges in these (suspicious) doubtful things bravely, is likely to commit what is clearly illegal. Sins are Allah's Hima (i.e. private pasture) and whoever pastures (his sheep) near it, is likely to get in it at any moment."


Respected brother, instead of seeking employment in a conventional financial institution which favor or facilitate the concept of ‘riba’, it would be prudent to employ your talents in one of the several Shariah compliant financial institutions.


Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 65 Surah Talaq verse 2 (part):

And for those who fear Allah He (ever) prepares a way out.


Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone.  Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.


Your brother and well wisher in Islam,





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