Are Muslims permitted to work in the banking sector?


A doctor from Egypt wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa and asked whether [a Muslim] engineer was permitted to work in a bank or in an engineering firm owned by a bank since such employment inadvertently helped the interest and alcohol markets. 

Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 18 October 2021, provided the following guidance on this issue:

“The banking system has become an integral part of almost every worldly business nowadays. And most of the world’s banking systems have some element of interest in them, which then becomes part of those businesses as well. That is why the following statement of the Promised Messiahas, the Hakam ‘Adl of this age, is fundamental to understanding this phenomenon. Huzooras states:

“‘In recent times, most jurisprudential issues in this country have become convoluted. There is one or the other element of interest [riba] involved in every trade. This is why renewed ijtihad is needed in this age.’ (Al-Badr, nos. 41-42, vol. 3, 1-8 November 1904, p. 8)

“Under such circumstances, if a person remains given to a lot of doubt and suspicion, then his life would become unbearable, because some interest money would have been invested somewhere in the companies that do business with the clothes that we wear in our daily lives. Then, with the bread we eat, there will be some involvement of interest money at some stage or another in its business. And if a person wants to abandon all these worldly needs in favour of merely sitting in his house, which is obviously impossible, even then, his house would have been made of bricks, sand and cement and the companies that make these materials also would have dealt with interest or used interest money in their businesses.

“Hence, one should not create unnecessary difficulties for oneself by subjecting such matters to extreme scrutiny and falling into suspicion. It is also mentioned in a hadith as narrated by Hazrat Aishara that:

أَنَّ قَوْمًا قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللّٰهِ إِنَّ قَوْمًا يَأْتُونَنَا بِاللَّحْمِ لَا نَدْرِي أَذَكَرُوا اسْمَ اللّٰهِ عَلَيْهِ أَمْ لَا فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللّٰهِ صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ سَمُّوا اللّٰهَ عَلَيْهِ وَكُلُوهُ

“‘A group of people said to Allah’s Messengersa, ‘Some people bring us meat and we do not know whether they mention Allah’s name or not (while slaughtering the animal).’ He said, ‘Mention Allah’s name (i.e. recite the basmalah) on (the meat) and eat it.’’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Buyu‘, bab mun lum yara l-wasawisa wa nahwaha min ash-shubuhat)

“Likewise, the Promised Messiahas was asked whether it was permissible to eat food prepared by Hindus. He stated: 

“‘The sharia has made it permissible. The sharia does not insist on such restrictions; rather, it places emphasis on:

قَدۡ‭ ‬اَفۡلَحَ‭ ‬مَنۡ‭ ‬زَكّٰهَا

“‘[He indeed (truly) prospers who purifies it. (Surah al-Shams, Ch.91: V.10)]. The Holy Prophetsa would eat items prepared by Armenians and, in any case, one cannot do without it.’ (Al Hakam, no. 19, vol. 8, 10 June 1904, p. 3)

“During the blessed era of the Promised Messiahas, someone who was employed as a deputy tehsildar [tax officer] in the irrigation department, inquired from Huzooras through a letter whether this type of employment was permissible. Huzooras replied:

“‘At present, all such matters in India fall under compulsion [iztirar]. A tehsildar or naib tehsildar does not make, sell or drink liquor. He is only assigned administrative supervision and is duty-bound as a public servant. In view of the rule of the country and the current situation, this matter is permissible on account of iztirar. Of course, one should keep praying to God Almighty to create even better circumstances for him. The government may have jobs that do not involve such things. Moreover, one should keep seeking forgiveness from God Almighty.’ (Badr, No. 39, Vol. 6, 26 September 1907, p. 6)

“Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states with regard to bank employment: 

“‘In my opinion, a job that involves actively working toward receiving interest money or encouraging [others to do so], is not permissible. However, employment as an accountant or bookkeeper at such a bank is permissible.’ (Al Fazl, Qadian Dar-ul-Aman, No. 95, Vol. 3, 7 March 1916, p. 9)

“Then, on another occasion, he stated: 

“‘A job in which one has to encourage others regarding interest, is not permissible. Clerical and account-keeping tasks as part of a job, are permissible.’ (Al Fazl, Qadian Dar-ul-Aman, No. 113, Vol. 3, 13 May 1916, p. 8)

“Thus, one should act with piety when tending to the various matters and worldly affairs, without giving way to suspicion and doubts. And where there is a direct possibility of committing a prohibited act or the prohibition of something is clearly evident, then it should be avoided at all costs. However, one should not become too given to suspicion and doubt and avoid the use of lawful things without a valid reason.”

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