WORK AND TRADE
Earning money and seeking sustenance are among the emphasized commendable deeds. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has said, "Worship is comprised of seventy portions the best of which is seeking lawful gain.” Imam al-Baqir (peace be upon him) has said, "Whoever seeks the worldly sustenance in order to be avoid asking people, to provide for his family and to be compassionate to his neighbor, he will meet Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Great, on the Judgment Day with a face like the full moon."[i]
Imam al-Kadhim (peace be upon him) has said, "One who seeks to make a lawful earning so he would benefit himself and his family, he is like one who performs Jihad
in the Way of Allah."[ii]
In a tradition narrated by al-Sukooni, Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) cites his father and forefathers (peace be upon them) quoting the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) as saying, "Great is financial prosperity as a way to help one become pious, God-fearing."[iii]
In a tradition narrated by Dhuraih, Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said, "Great is this world [and the provisions therein] as a help to succeed in the Hereafter."[iv]
And in a tradition narrated by al-Mu'alla ibn Khunais, the latter says, "Abu Abdullah – Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) saw me being late in going to the market [to trade], so he said to me, 'Hurry to what grants you dignity!'"[v]
It seems from many narrations that it is disliked to abandon doing so: In a tradition narrated by Hammad ibn Uthman, Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) is quoted as having said, "Abandoning trade decreases one's intelligence."[vi]
In a narration of Asbat ibn Salim, the latter says, "I visited [Imam] Abu Abdullah (peace be upon him) who asked us about what Amr ibn Muslim was doing. I said to him, 'He is a righteous man, but he has abandoned trade.' Abu Abdullah (peace be upon him) said, 'This is the work of Satan,' repeating it three times and adding, 'Did he not know that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) once purchased what a caravan had brought from Syria; he paid from its profits the debts which he had owed and distributed money among his relatives?! Allah, the most Exalted One and the most Great, says, '…
by men whom neither sale nor merchandise can divert from remembering Allah, nor from establishing prayers, nor from the giving of charity. Their (only) fear is of the Day when hearts and eyes will be frightened'” (Qur'an, 24:37). Storytellers say that the men [to whom the Almighty refers in this verse] were not trading. They [the storytellers] lie: these men did not allow their prayers to be delayed from their designated times. They are better than those who perform the prayers on time but do not trade."[vii]
In a tradition narrated by Muhammad ibn Muslim, Imam al-Baqir (peace be upon him) said, "I hate a man who is – or I hate for a man to be – lazy about the affairs of his life. One who is lazy about his life's issues is lazier about those of the Hereafter."[viii]
In a tradition narrated by Abu Baseer, Imam al-Baqir (peace be upon him) has said, "Allah, the most Exalted One and the most Great, hates one to sleep too much, [or] to have too much spare time."[ix]
Traditions conveying this and the like are too many to be covered.
But one has to be on his guard about unlawful means, for the believer ought to seek help from this life to benefit him in the Hereafter, as this world is the best support for his next life, as the previous narrations mentioned, and he must not make this life a cause for losing the Hereafter.
In a tradition narrated by Abu Hamzah al-Thumali, Imam al-Baqir (peace be upon him) quotes the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) as saying the following during the Farewell Pilgrimage: "The Trusted Spirit [Gabriel] instilled in myself that nobody dies without receiving his full destined sustenance; so, fear Allah and be good as you seek it. Your delayed sustenance should not cause you to seek it by disobeying Allah, for the most Blessed and Exalted One has already divided sustenance among His creation for them to obtain it lawfully; He did not divide it to be received by unlawful means. So, whoever fears Allah and is patient, Allah will sustain him with his designated sustenance by the permissible ways. One who tears the veils of covering [by violating the law] and is hasty, taking sustenance from places which are not lawful, Allah will decrease it from his lawful sustenance and he will be held accountable for it on the Judgment Day."[x]
Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) quotes the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) as having said, "What I fear most about for my nation is the unlawful earnings, secret desires and usury."[xi]
He (peace be upon him) has also said, "One is not my follower if he unlawfully consumes what belongs to another believer."[xii]
He (peace be upon him) has also said, "The effects of whatever one gains unlawfully will [eventually] appear in his offspring."[xiii]
In a tradition narrated by Dawood al-Sarmi, the latter says that Abul-Hassan (peace be upon him) said: "O Dawood! The unlawful does not bear fruit and if it does, Allah will not bless it for him. Whatever he spends [from this source] he will not be rewarded for it. Whatever one leaves of it behind will be his provisions on his way to hell."[xiv]
Reports conveying similar meanings are many.
So, one has to be on his guard about what is prohibited especially in these non-Muslim societies to which the expatriates are subjected. In order to avoid committing prohibited acts, one needs continuous vigilance and caution, effort and a great deal of struggle.
One will not be able to protect himself from committing what is prohibited, be it with regard to earnings or anything else, except through learning the religion and the rules of the Sharia. So, the believers, may Allah Almighty safeguard their dignity, must express an extreme interest in doing so; they must not take things easy so that the limits of Allah Almighty may be safeguarded, His rulings be upheld, the earnings may be lawful. Al-Asbagh ibn Nabatah has said that he heard the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) saying the following as he was on the pulpit preaching: "O merchant, learn [the laws of trade] before you trade, learn before you trade, learn before you trade. By Allah! Usury in this nation is more hidden than the sounds of the ants' footsteps on rocks! Adjoin your vows with the truth; a merchant is wicked, and the wicked are in the Fire save one who takes what is due and gives what is due."[xv]
He (peace be upon him) has also said, "One who trades without knowledge will collide headlong with usury...”[xvi]
It is regretful to see nowadays many of practicing believers who enter into transactions and then ask about the ruling applicable to it. Thus, one finds himself in a Sharia-related problem which is difficult to resolve and to dispose of its consequences. He could have avoided this by first asking before the action, understanding the Sharia before being in such a situation. We plead to the most Praised One for success and guidance; surely He suffices us.
Q1: What is your opinion about being employed by Western governments and being a candidate for a seat in their parliament?
A: If the intention of the person in such a position is to serve the interests of the believers, then it is permissible.
Q2: Is one who has a law degree permitted to work as a lawyer in a non-Muslim country representing his clients in court according to the laws of that country?
A: No, it is not permissible unless doing so defends a believer from injustice. Apparently, it is permissible to defend a non-believer from injustice as well if the injustice is truly so according to the Sharia, not an injustice according to man-made laws.
Q3: Is it permissible for one with a law degree to be a judge in a non-Muslim country where he gives his decisions and verdicts to the people according to that country's laws?
A: It is not permissible, and he will be ruling according to laws which Allah Almighty did not reveal, something which Islam emphatically denounces.
Q4: Is it permissible for a Muslim builder or contractor to build a non-Muslim place of worship in a non-Muslim or a Muslim country? Is he permitted to repair or maintain it?
A: He is not permitted to build the said place of worship, nor is he permitted to repair or maintain it unless it is no longer a place of worship and has become a historical relic.
Q5: A Muslim buys a building not knowing that it contains a liquor store and he cannot get the tenant out, which he came to know about later:
A. Is he permitted to collect the rent for that liquor store from the tenant?
A: Yes, he is permitted to collect the rent from him.
B. If we suppose that he knew about the liquor store being in the building before buying it, is it permissible for him to buy the building while being unable to get the store's tenant out of it?
A: Yes, he is allowed to buy it.
Q6: An electrical engineer in a European country is sometimes asked to work on or repair loudspeakers and associated items, and sometimes he is asked to work in nightclubs; so, is he still permitted to repair them or set up new equipment in such places?
A: If the place is not dedicated exclusively to prohibited night clubs, but they only happen to take place in them, there is no problem with such work. But if it is dedicated exclusively for them, it is a mandatory precaution to avoid it. Yes, if he is brought a loudspeaker which is separated from the said place, so it can be made use of outside it in a lawful way, he is permitted to repair it even if he knows that its owners will take it back to that place and they will not benefit from it except in a prohibited way.
Q7: In some European countries, there are places that sell home appliances. The buyer buys their goods and may return them within two weeks from the date of purchase. Is it permissible to buy an item with the intention to benefit from it during this period of time, then returning it after that, so as the purpose of the transaction is the said benefit? Is the ruling different if the seller is a Muslim?
A: Obviously, this is contrary to the terms of purchase, and if the seller knew about the said intention, he would not agree to hand over the merchandise. Rather, he agrees to take it back if the purpose of the transaction was to buy it, and returning it is only because there is something wrong with it. He would not agree to take it back if this was the buyer’s intention from the beginning.
The seller agrees to hand over the merchandise to the buyer relying on good faith. So it is not permissible to take the merchandise with such an intention if the seller is a Muslim; and it is a mandatory precaution not to do so if the seller is a non-Muslim because there is a strong possibility that this is a sort of breach of trust. If it is supposed that this does not reach the extent of prohibition, believers are encouraged to refrain from doing so to adhere to the ideal principles and to follow moral ethics.
Q8: The owner of a printing press in the West prints menus of foods and drinks of a restaurant which include pork, wine and such prohibited things. Is he permitted to do so? Is he allowed to print promotional materials for places that sell liquors or places of other prohibitions, keeping in mind that he claims that his business will be affected [negatively] if he does not print such material?
A: It is permissible to print menus of foods and drinks for a restaurant although a believer would do better to rise above doing so. As regarding printing promotional materials for unlawful things, doing so is prohibited and cannot be permitted under any circumstance.
Q9: A Muslim calligrapher is asked to inscribe a sign for advertising the drinking of wine, a dance party or for a restaurant where pork, wine or some other prohibited things are served; is he permitted to do so?
A: He is not permitted to do so in the first two scenarios and their likes which are based on promoting and encouraging the doing of something prohibited. As regarding the restaurant, it may be promoted unless it is exclusively for serving what is prohibited.
Q10: Is work permissible at shops that sell magazines with nude pictures in them? Is trading in them lawful? Is printing them permissible?
A: Printing and trading in the said magazines is prohibited if there is no considerable lawful benefit in them other than promoting what is prohibited and what causes moral degradation, as it is mostly the case.
As regarding working in shops where such magazines are sold, it is also not permissible if it involves selling them or handing them over to the buyers on behalf of the store owner. But if working there does not involve this, it is permissible, such as if one works as an accountant for the store, as a janitor or as a salesman for other things which do not include prohibited things.
Q11: What is the ruling relevant to one who works in a company, whether it is privately owned or owned by the government, and his job is to print promotional materials such as the picture of a dog on clothes or of a tiger on a wine bottle?
A: It is permissible if one works for a privately-owned company except in two situations:
(i) If working there encourages what is prohibited, such that if one refuses to do the said work it will have an effect in minimizing the committing of prohibited actions and in rejecting them; this is as opposed to where this is not the case due to the fact that there is a sufficient number of people who are undertaking this responsibly and the position of the said individual is insignificant so his refusal to do such a job will not affect the work process.
(ii) If the performance of such a person results in the insulting of the Islamic religion or of himself since he is known to belong to the Islamic faith, and his doing so will be a manifestation of him being a non-practicing Muslim or of him being lowly in such a way that he is forced to do such work which is not suitable for him as a Muslim. In the twelfth chapter of the Introduction, there is useful material in this regard, so it is good to refer to it and to act upon it.
Q12: What is the ruling regarding a Muslim worker who works at a Western restaurant as a washer of dishes which contain some prohibited drinks?
A: It is permissible with the exception of the two situations mentioned to in the answer to the previous question.
Q13: What is the ruling relevant to those who work in hotels in preparing rooms knowing that these chairs and other items are used for dancing, wine drinking and the like?
A: It is permissible with the exception of the two situations mentioned in the answer to question eleven.
Q14: What is the ruling relevant to one who works as a cashier at a gas station, since these stations sell prohibited drinks and sometimes he has to hold the bottle from the buyer and put it in a bag?
Q15: Is it permissible to work at a restaurant that serves wine if the worker does not serve the wine himself but may help clean the glasses?
A: It is permissible with the exception of the two situations referred to in the answer to the eleventh question.
Q16: Is it permissible for a Muslim to work at grocery stores in a corner of which wine is sold, but his job is only to take payments?
A: It is permissible if the buyer is a non-Muslim, and it is also permissible if he is a Muslim who is aware that money should not be paid for wine since Muslims are not permitted by the Sharia to own wine, and he still pays it willingly.
Q17: Is it permissible to work at places where meat of animals not slaughtered in accordance to Sharia, wine, different newspapers, things that are associated with gambling and the like, are sold at large supermarkets, meat plants and the like?
A: It is prohibited to sell in person gambling-related things, newspapers which promote what is prohibited, and other unlawful things with the exception of meat of animals not slaughtered in accordance to Sharia and pork: It is permissible for one to work as an agent of a non-Muslim in selling such meat to a non-Muslim. As regarding wine, it is prohibited to sell it based on mandatory precaution. Also, there is no harm in working at the said places if work does not require doing what is unlawful such as serving wine. However, if the said job causes insult to the individual or to his [Islamic] faith, it is prohibited similarly to what has already been indicated in the previous questions.
Q18: An individual buys a franchise of a famous restaurant in a non-Muslim country and offers in it goods which include meat of animals not slaughtered in accordance to Sharia. Is this permissible on the basis that he takes the said meat from the original source without intending to form a religiously recognized transaction and does not appoint his workers to sell this meat, but they undertake the invalid transactions of this meat with the customers and then he takes ownership of the money which accumulates every day or month without intending to form a religiously recognized transaction, especially since the sum is deposited at his bank account. Does this make it permissible to buy the said restaurant? What is the ruling if the main item sold at it is the said meat? Is it still permissible to buy the restaurant as it is?
A: Buying the said franchise by itself is not prohibited, nor is taking the said meat without intending to form a religiously recognized transaction. But making it available to those who eat it while he is its owner violates the obligatory precaution. Not appointing the workers to sell this meat on his behalf is not factual because he hires them to serve the customers and to give them what they want, including this meat. If the workers fall short of doing so, he will hold them accountable or he may fire them; so, how can he not then be appointing them to act on his behalf?!
Q19: Is it permissible to serve meat of animals not slaughtered in accordance to Sharia to those who believe it to be permissible to eat? Is it permissible to make it available to them? Is it permissible to receive money from a non-Muslim or [even] from a Muslim, in return for surrendering one’s right over the item – since the Muslim is not recognized by the Sharia as an owner of meat of animals not slaughtered in accordance to Sharia, rather he merely has the right of possession – or in return for making it available to him?
A: Apparently, a Muslim serving it by itself is permissible except if doing so results in weakening Islam or Muslims or it promotes what is prohibited, so as one who does it will be promoting or encouraging committing it, or abandoning it will result in prohibiting the doing of what is wrong even if it may be for one who is not directly involved in actually doing it.
As regarding money received in exchange for authority over it, it is permissible, whether it is taken from a Muslim or a non-Muslim. However, based on mandatory precaution dealing in the way stated above by a Muslim is not sound if the purpose behind taking it is to use it for what is prohibited, such as to consume the non-halal meat. At the same time placing it under the person’s authority is prohibited based on compulsory precaution. It is then that the money taken would be unlawful, unless one who pays it is a non-believer so the money becomes lawful due to the legality of the transaction according to him.
Q20: In the same previous supposition: Is it permissible if the money is taken from a non-Muslim without intending to form a religiously recognized transaction, rather than that of compensation in return for lifting the right of possession?
A: There is no problem with taking the money from a non-Muslim. The problem is in granting him authority over the non-halal meat by a Muslim that is not recognized as an owner of it.
Q21: Some believers work in shops where wine and pork are sold, that is, they contain some lawful products and some unlawful products. What is the ruling relevant to the wages they receive? Are they lawful or not? Is there a difference in the ruling between the employee’s wages and the shop owner’s income in this regard?
A: The wages they receive are lawful for them, unless a portion of it is specifically received in return for doing something prohibited – as referred to in the answer to the previous question – then this portion will then be unlawful. Hiring someone to work in the shop without specifying the type of work he will be required to do, while the shop contains some prohibited duties, this does not prohibit receipt of any wages. However, the person employed is not permitted to do the prohibited act on his own accord. This is in regards to the employee.
As regarding the owner of the shop, it is unlawful for him to provide in his shop what is prohibited, and whatever money he receives in lieu of them is unlawful.
Q22: Someone works at a restaurant which serves non halal meat to non-Muslims and he serves pork to non-Muslims as well; is this allowed? In the case of his refusal to serve this food, he will be subjected to dismissal from the restaurant.
A: The said type of work is by itself permissible, but it may not be so if it is a manifestation of a Muslim taking his religion and dignity lightly especially when it comes to pork if he is known to be a Muslim. In any case, this is not good. Allah, Glory and Exaltation belong to Him, is the One Who has secured the sustenance of everyone and everything: "… He (always) prepares a way out for those who fear Him (Allah), and He provides for him from (sources) which he can never imagine” (Qur'an, 65:2-3). It has already been stated in answers to some past questions, and in several places in the Introduction, what is useful in this regard.
Q23: A refugee in Switzerland has a specific job which is to transport empty bottles which used to be filled with wine and take them outside the place of business. Is this permissible?
A: The said work is by itself permissible, but if he is able to leave it, it will be better.
Q24: Someone works at a car garage for a boat which is a floating casino frequented by individuals who gamble and do other prohibited things. Is this type of work allowed in Islam? Are the wages permissible?
A: Working in the garage to look after the car is permissible and so are the wages received for doing so. The owner of the car, after having left it at the garage, going and doing prohibited things on board the ship does not necessitate the labeling of the work at the garage as prohibited, nor are the wages for such work unlawful.
Q25: Is a Muslim permitted to work at a slaughterhouse for pigs, slaughtering them in exchange for a wage?
A: Apparently, this is permissible in itself. However, it may be prohibited due to other factors, such as this will weaken himself or weaken his religion, similarly to what has been stated above.
Q26: Is it permissible for the Muslim owner of a business to employ non-Muslims to work for him while there are Muslims who need work?
A: Yes, it is permissible for him, if there are qualifications in non-Muslims that are not present in Muslims, although it would be better for him to hire Muslims whenever possible. But if this is based on his lack of care for his believing brothers, this by itself is unlawful.
Q27: Some individuals buy clothes in wholesale from merchants. When they open the merchandise to sell it, they find some clothes having nude pictures on them.
A. Is the sale of these clothes permissible?
A: Their sale is permissible unless it results in promoting corruption.
B. In case, their sale is not permissible, this will result in a financial harm for them, and so is it permissible if they are used for purposes other than such sale, for example?
A: Yes, it is permissible if it does not result in corruption or in the promotion thereof.
C. Is buying this bulk clothes permissible while the buyer does not know their contents in detail?
A: Yes, it is permissible.
Q28: Some items enter some countries after being smuggled from another country, and they are foodstuffs that are sold here cheaper. Is it permissible for Muslims who own grocery stores to buy these items to sell them?
A: This is related to the violation of the law of the land and does not relate to the religious law.
Q29: Is it permissible to sell items associated with gambling and night clubs, wines and other Najis things to some non-Muslims, People of the Book, atheists and the like who see them as being lawful?
A: All of this is prohibited and in all cases.
Q30: I own a business for videotaping wedding parties, and I have foreign photographers, Muslims and non-Muslims. Am I permitted to charge a fee for videotaping a wedding some activities of which include a dance during which men stand raising swords and repeating some poems while drums are beaten?
A: The videotaping by itself is permissible unless it necessitates something prohibited such as listening to unlawful music; it then becomes impermissible.
Q31: Is buying guard dogs permissible? Is it permissible to trade in them? Is it permissible to lease them?
A: Buying and selling them are not permissible, but they can be leased. However, the money can be paid, not as their price but in order to forfeit their ownership so the one who pays the money takes ownership of them; the same can be said if their original owner did not want them and turned away from them.
Q32: Is it lawful to sell dogs such as guard or hunting dogs, meat of animals that are not slaughtered according to the Islamic Sharia and pork to non-Muslims who make use of them?
A: None of these are lawful to sell to Muslims or to others except for the hunting dogs which may be sold to them. However, it is permissible to sell meat of lawfully slaughtered animal that is mixed with the meat of an animal that is not slaughtered in accordance to the Sharia if they were not distinguishable for the one who deems the latter as permissible.
Q33: What is the ruling regarding fishing for catfish and selling them to those who regard eating it as lawful, or if there is a lawful benefit out of it such as using it as animal feed for cattle or for fertilization and the like?
A: It is not permissible to sell it to those who regard it as lawful, but if there is a permissible considerable benefit in it, such as fertilization or animal feed, it is then permissible to sell it to everybody.
Q34: Are chickens and meats imported from non-Muslim countries lawful to sell to those who regard them as lawful such as Christians, Muslims who differ from us in their jurisprudence and the like? Does the ruling also cover pork and wine?
A: The sale of these things and other prohibited items is not permissible to those who regard them as being lawful, let alone those who do not.
Q35: Is it permissible to sell books of misguidance to those who themselves are originally misguided?
A: No, this is not permissible if their sale and purchase are based on recognizing and strengthening the entity of misguidance, as is the most likely the case. But if this is not the case, there is no harm in it, such as if the sale and purchase are for the purpose of studying the negativities of the said books and the contradictions and superstitions in them.
Q36: Can a Muslim sell copies of the Holy Qur'an or give them as gifts to non-Muslims during these times when some people like to learn about the Holy Qur'an?
A: Yes, this is permissible if the Holy Qur'an is not exposed to disrespect.
Q37: Is it permissible to sell some religious books if this results in guiding people, or is it not permissible since it is considered to be trading of obligatory guidance, as some people think?
A: Their sale is permissible, and the notion referred to is groundless.
Q38: As the market normalizes in its sales and purchases, is it permissible to charge a profit that is double the price of purchase or more? And what is the limit of exorbitant profit?
A: Yes, it is permissible, but it is better to lower the profit margin.
Q39: The law in some countries grants the citizen, within certain terms, the right to bring in non-citizen through work visas. The sponsoring citizen pays the relevant fees and takes upon himself the responsibility of the workers. He can then sell this visa to anther citizen when he no longer needs the workers:
A. Is the money received from selling this visa permissible, and what is the justification from the jurisprudential standpoint?
B. Is it permissible to take a fee or a sum of money from the workers in exchange for bringing them in to the country and arranging for them what is known as a "free visa” so they may do any free work while they pay the citizen a fee or a monthly sum or any other agreement?
A: There is no harm in doing so since it is a sort of imbursement in exchange for the effort exerted to get the work visa and bearing its responsibility, or for benefiting from the visa after obtaining it and bearing its responsibility.
Q40: What is the ruling relevant to life, health and other types of insurance?
A: Such a transaction is permissible if it is based on an agreement that the insurance policy holder pays a particular amount of money in an exchange for the insurer to pay for loss and damage as stipulated in the contract.
Q41: Is it permissible to purchase treasury bonds from the government-owned national bank?
A: It is permissible to do so but with applying the law of “Majhool Al-Malik” - as previously explained in the answer to the eighth question of the Khums chapter – if the money passed through Muslim hands. If it did not pass through their hands, then it can be taken and owned.
Q42: A Muslim in the West can open different types of bank accounts with a choice of opening ones with higher interest rates. Is he allowed to do so considering that he intentionally seeks to benefit himself?
A: It is permissible to open an account in order to receive the interest if the bank is privately owned and no Muslim is a shareholder in its capital, or if it is government-owned. But in the latter case, one must apply the law of “Majhool Al-Malik” to the money taken from it, whether the withdrawals are from the capital deposited in the account or the interests accumulated on it.
Q43: Is it permissible to ask for interest from non-Muslim banks?
A: We permit the asking for the bank-set interest based on what the bank agreed to give in the contract that exists between the two parties.
[Rather than depositing money in such banks], it would be good if Muslim-owned banks understood the religious rulings and announced to the people who deposit in their banks that the extra money that the banks distribute is lawful since they are given as gifts, not as interest. However this gift should not be part of the agreement of lending – as depositing money with a bank is actually lending money to it; he should similarly intend to lend the bank the deposited money without the condition of interest.
Q44: Is it lawful to place funds at interest-based banks in the West keeping in mind that they [the banks] invest the money in the purchase or in making some prohibited things, weapons, and the like?
A: Yes, it is permissible if it does not consist of what encourages the committing of prohibited things.
Q45: Is a Muslim permitted to cooperate with someone else in the use of his name, benefiting from doing so in buying shares in banks, companies, etc. in exchange for a sum of money agreed upon by both parties?
A: Yes, it is permissible. However, if the Sharia recognizes the ownership of the other party of the transactions, then the ruling is that a contract is to be formed between the latter and the person whose name is used rather than the person using his name. After completing the transaction, the owner of the name passes the money over to the person using his name.
But, if the other party to the transaction as mentioned above becomes familiar with the status and accepts to deal directly with the person using the name, there is no problem with this.
Q46: Do actual money bills, such as dollars or pounds or the like, by themselves have financial value? Or is their value measured according to their buying power? If they have a value by themselves, is this ruling applicable to all currencies, including unstable ones?
A: Yes, they have by themselves their financial value, including unstable currencies. The unstable currencies are not measured by their buying power or by foreign currencies; if one owes a sum of money in a stable or unstable currency, his debt is not affected by the change in the purchasing power of the currency, nor by the fluctuation in the value of that currency compared with another.
Q47: Is paying with a check equivalent to paying in cash, so the payer's responsibility is cleared by merely handing it over to the seller?
A: If the payer is in debt to the recipient and the payment by check is based on shifting his debt to the bank, he is cleared of any responsibility even if the debt is not physically received.
However, if the payment by the check is not based on shifting the debt, but on merely authorizing another entity to receive the debt from the payer's account, the responsibility is not cleared until the money is received or the sum is transferred from the bank account which belongs to the check payer to that of the recipient. Apparently, this kind of transaction falls under the second scenario.
All of this applies to a privately owned bank. But if the bank is government-owned, there must be an agreement between the two parties that the burden of the payer’s debt is cleared once the check is cleared and the amount has reached his account. If the recipient decided to cash the check or withdraw any amount from such a bank he should apply the law of “Majhool Al-Malik” to it as previously explained.
Q48: The tax in some countries is not levied directly from people. Rather, it is imposed on the sellers themselves. The seller adds the tax percentage to the prices of the merchandise and passes the tax received to the government; what is the ruling of the Sharia regarding these sellers being tax collectors on behalf of the government, considering that this is a general law which covers all types of goods and services?
A: If the seller is not legally obligated to take the tax from the buyer, he is not allowed to do so. But if he is legally obligated to do it to the extent that he cannot sell without so doing, it will then be lawful for him in order to avoid harm, although the collected tax is still owned by the payer but the seller is not responsible for it.
Q49: In the west, there are certain new trade methods called pyramid schemes. Briefly, it involves a seller (a company or its agent) and the customer, and the goods being sold are permissible such as jewelry, gold coins, cosmetics, hygiene materials or the like. They are sold and bought, and there are commissions paid by the company (or its agent) according to certain terms and conditions for a network of customers who are connected to each other. Both parties, the seller and the buyer, are in agreement. Now, is this sale, purchase and process of earning commissions in this way accepted by the Sharia?
A: Apparently, such dealing in all its ways is permissible and there are no Sharia-imposed restrictions.
Q50: Some students in the West, who wish to continue their university studies, get a loan from the government with a fixed interest. Without this loan, they cannot, or it is very difficult for them to, continue their studies. What is the ruling regarding taking this loan with interest?
A: Taking such a loan in itself is not allowed because it is an interest-based loan. But since the lender is the government, this can be validated and legitimized by taking the amount without intending to form a Sharia- recognized transaction.
Q51: Nowadays, credit cards have become quite widespread. A bank may give this card to its customer for an annual fee in exchange for putting at his disposal a large sum of money from which he can use as a loan whenever he wishes provided that he pays it off within a month. Interest will be charged on any late payments. What is the ruling regarding dealing with these cards and the interest relevant to them?
A: The payment of the annual fee by itself is permissible because it is not an interest on the loan but a charge in exchange for his right to borrow the sum put at his disposal, and this is not prohibited. What is prohibited is a loan that involves interest such as in this case, since the usage of this card is offered with a condition that interest is payable for late payments. However, the money can be taken and owned without the intention of forming a religiously recognized transaction. Paying back this amount with the interest will be to avoid harm resulting from non-payment.
Q52: Some companies give someone a store credit card. He has the right to buy with it some items from the same company but with interests which may reach 30% or more; is this regarded as usury?
A: This is permissible and it is not considered as usury because usury is taking interest on a loan. The question supposes the price increases from the beginning; so, it is similar to increasing the price in the case of delaying payment; in fact it is the same thing. This applies to buying from stores owned by the company that issues the card.
Q53: There is here in the West a way to buy homes known as mortgages. A bank lends its customer a loan to buy a house provided he pays it back in installments with interest imposed by the bank. The loan is secured on the house so the bank has the right to take it, sell it and get its money back from its value if the buyer defaults on paying the installments. So, what is the ruling about buying homes through this method?
A: There is no objection to the buying of the house itself, but the problem lies in the loan as explained above: What has already been stated in answering the previous questions apply to it. This is so if the bank is owned by a government or a private non-Muslim entity. But if the bank is privately owned by Muslims, there is no possibility for the permissibility of such a transaction.
Q54: In the situations where the mortgage method is not lawful, can there be an agreement made with the bank such that the bank buys the house, then the customer buys it from the bank for a higher price where the bank's profit is equivalent to that same interest, on the condition that the amount is paid in installments? Is this lawful?
A: Yes, there can be such an agreement made with the bank in this way. But if the seller of the house is a Muslim and the bank buying it from him is government-owned, then the transaction is not recognized by the Sharia. Therefore, the buyer, in this case, must seek the agreement of the original seller to take ownership of the house.
Q55: Is it permissible to invest money in companies among the products of which are wines, with the inability for one to separate his invested money from that of others?
A: No, it is not permissible.
Q56: Thousands of people own shares in a shareholding company. If this company owns a bank, what is the ruling regarding dealing with this bank? Are its monies unlawful, knowing that it deals in usury and some of those who own shares in the company are Muslims?
A: The bank’s ownership of the money is recognized by the Sharia, because some of the transactions which it undertakes and some of the money at its disposal being unlawful due to such transactions does not necessitate the illegitimacy of the rest of its money, according to the Sharia, after it used to be at the hands of Muslims.
Q57: We work in a company that pays financial incentives to its employees from the total profits accrued from a group of projects which the company implements. If one of these projects is alcohol production, and a portion of the incentives we receive comes from this project:
A. What is the ruling regarding the financial incentives which I receive from this company keeping in mind that I am not participating in the project which produces alcohol?
A: Receipt of the said incentives is permissible but only after receiving them on our behalf so they will belong to us according to our own intention, then you can take them as our gift to you.
B. What is the ruling regarding the individual who participates in implementing this project that produces alcohol if he has no way of avoiding having to work in it?
A: The sale of alcohol and all intoxicants, though it is absolutely forbidden and taking proceeds from selling it is likewise prohibited, its production is prohibited only if it is for the purpose of drinking it. But if it is for some other purposes, it is allowed. Therefore if the purpose of the production of alcohol in this case was for drinking then such production is prohibited, otherwise it is not. Producing it after this stage and preparing it for consumption is prohibited.
Q58: In some contest television programs, they ask questions to the viewers, and the viewers participate by calling and submitting their answers. When the correct answers are many, they resort to drawing lots and the winners receive prizes. The contestant loses only the cost for the telephone call. Are we permitted to participate through this method and is the prize money permissible or not? What is the Sharia ruling in regards to Khums and other matters?
A: There is no harm in participating in the said contest, and the money won from it is lawful and Khums is not obligatory unless it or some of it remains unspent when the Khums year ends, as is the case with all other profits of the said year.
Q59: There is a popular game in many countries called the Lottery. A company prints tickets with a list of numbers on it and sells each ticket for a small price. The participant in the game buys this ticket, choosing a certain amount of numbers from the list, with the condition that if the selected numbers match the numbers drawn in a lot by the company, the latter will give the winning participant a prize. Is it lawful for a Muslim to buy such a ticket?
A: Participation in this transaction through buying the ticket is permissible.
Q60: What is the ruling about buying the said tickets if some or all of their revenues is spent for homosexuals?
A: One is prohibited from participating in the game with the assumption that some of its profits will be spent on homosexuals in order to encourage and support this great abomination, unless such spending is not official or made public in such a way that participation will not promote it.
Q61: Is it permissible for a Muslim to ask a non-Muslim to buy a lottery ticket on his behalf with the intention that he may win its prize?
A: There is no difference between buying it himself and asking someone else to buy it for him, whether he asks a Muslim or not. The criterion in the legality or prohibition is based on what we have mentioned above.
Q62: Is it permissible to buy honey, for example, with which there is a lottery ticket, with the intention to win its prize?
A: Yes, it is permissible.
[i]Wasaail Al-Shi'a, Vol. 12, p. 11.
[iv]Ibid., Vol. 12, p. 16.
[vi]Ibid., Vol. 12, p. 5.
[vii]Ibid., Vol. 12, p. 6.
[ix]Ibid., Vol. 12, p. 36.
[x]Ibid., Vol. 12, p. 37.
[xi]Ibid., Vol. 12, p. 52.
[xii]Ibid., Vol. 12, p. 53.
[xv]Ibid., Vol. 12, p. 282.
[xvi]Ibid., Vol. 12, p. 283.