Please note: The answers on constitute friendly advice rather than fatwas. Where relevant, we translate the opinions and fatwas of respected scholars and present them in our answers.

On Muslims working for companies that deal with interest

I just wanted to ask you since my major is economy and some jobs involves working with the interest rate especially if it's a firm that works with lending money. Can I still work with them? There's a lot of competition here in this country regarding this major so saying no to a job means it's very difficult to find any other job.

Working for a lender who charges interest is similar to working for a company that you know systematically steals money from people, or working for a company that runs brothels. It is not an honorable thing to do, and by helping them, you share a part of their sin. The same applies to for-profit insurance companies. It is far better to lose a job opportunity and find a lower paying job than find a great job and have a cursed life.

If you are completely desperate for a job, you might make an exception for yourself, saying that you have no choice, and it is even possible that God will accept your excuse. However, you can never be sure that God is pleased with you, and true love and fear of God requires that one should avoid all questionable things (not only forbidden things, but those things that are in a gray area).

If I were you, I would refuse to accept jobs in usurious lending and for-profit insurance the way I would refuse to work for any other evil and unethical company. Many times in your life you will be offered the choice between something ethical and something unethical that promises greater rewards. People fall into the trap of making the unethical choice today, thinking that down the road they can make up for it. Reality it does not work like that. A person who finds it to make the ethical choice today and instead goes for the unethical choice will find it just as difficult to make the ethical choice tomorrow. It never gets easier. If you accept that job, thinking that down the road you will find an equally good but ethical job, in reality such a job may never appear, and you may never be able to leave the current job without making a big sacrifice for it.

Humans like to think “I will be a good person when it becomes easy for me to be good,” and in this way they can spend their whole lives as corrupt and lowly servants of God waiting for the day when they can be pure and angelic servants of God without having to sacrifice anything, a day that will never come. The tests that God throws at us are designed specifically for us, to bring out our true natures and show Him our level of dedication to Him.

Unethical companies would go out of business if no one accepted to work for them. By working for them, we become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Best wishes inshaAllah.

I just read your answer on the banking job. I got the work as a financial officer in the bank. I feel confused about your answer, because applying that logic it means that Muslims can't work in banks but how is that possible when banks are everywhere even in Muslim countries. After doing some research I found that it is even haram to be security guard for a bank. But then how come we use credit cards from the banks? we are still their customers even if we don't take interest

We cannot use credit cards unless there is a desperate financial need for it since they charge interest. I guess you meant how we can have bank accounts and debit cards. The reason is that using a service from an unethical company when you don’t have a good alternative is very different from working for them. Ideally we should have our bank accounts and debit cards with Islamic banks that do not deal in usury, but there are no reliable and respected banks of that kind in the United States, though your country might have them.

Muslims can work in banks, as long as the banks do not deal with usury. There is a whole field of Islamic finance that can do everything an ordinary bank does without usury.

When we Muslims use debit cards from a bank, we are simply using a halal service offered by a company that deals in both halal and haram. It is similar to buying groceries from someone who also owns an unethical business. Ideally we wouldn’t buy from such a person, but sometimes we don’t have alternatives.

And God knows best.

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