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Wealth earned through unlawful means lawful for third party

Published: 24/08/2011 11:17:00 AM GMT
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y husband works in a bank, and he deals directly with interest, so his income is unlawful. What should I do? What should our children do? Is the food that we eat unlawful? I wish to perform Hajj. Is my Hajj going to be acceptable with the money that my husband provides for me?

Answered by

Sheikh `Abd Allah b. Muhammad al-Tayyâr, professor at al-Qasîm University

This is wealth that your husband has earned through unlawful means.

Money that is earned by unlawful means is only unlawful for the person who actually earns it. However, that money is lawful for other people – like the person’s wife, children, and others. The person who earned the money unlawfully bears the sin while those others can benefit from the money. Therefore, you may partake of that wealth. If someone gives it to you, take it and the sin is wholly upon the person who earned it by unlawful means.

Scholars make a distinction between things that are inherently unlawful and wealth that is unlawfully earned.

Things that are inherently unlawful are equally unlawful for everyone. This includes alcohol, pork, carrion, and the like. These things are unlawful for anyone to consume.

By contrast, that which is unlawfully earned – like money acquired by way of fraud, or by the sale of alcohol and other unlawful items, or through unlawful work – is unlawful for the one who earns it but lawful to others who subsequently acquire the money by lawful means, like a gift or a grant or a stipend, or through lawful buying and selling.

May Allah bless us all to earn what is lawful.


Answered by Muhammad b. Sulaymân al-Manî`î, professor at Umm al-Qurâ University

The money that he receives from working with interest is unlawful. He must repent to Allah and rid himself of that money.

As for the money he spends on his children, that money is lawful for them though it is unlawful for him.

The Jews in Madinah did not eschew unlawful dealings like interest, as evidenced by Allah’s words: “For the iniquity of the Jews we made unlawful for them certain (foods) good and wholesome which had been lawful for them;- in that they hindered many from Allah’s way;- that they took usury, though they were forbidden; and that they devoured men’s substance wrongfully.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 160]

In spite of this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to engage in business with them, buying and selling. He would accept their invitations, eat their food, and receive their gifts. This is established by considerable textual evidence.

And Allah knows best.


A note for clarification:

Please know that stolen goods are a form of wealth that is unlawful in and of itself. You may not knowingly buy, sell, or receive as a gift goods or money that are known to be stolen.

Stolen goods are treated in the same way that wine, carrion, swineflesh and any other inherently unlawful property is treated.

--Fatwâ Department Research Committee of IslamToday chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

Source: Islam Today

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