This is iA the most comprehensive resource for this question on the internet.
We present views from Al Qalam, IslamQA, IslamQAorg, SeekersGuidance and then our resident expert Mufti Faraz Adam presents his views, and finally IFG present a commercial perspective on the matter.
View One: Al Qalam
When working as an employee in a business where a major portion of the business does not conform to the dictates of Sharīʿah there are principally two issues that must be determined:
Is the job itself permissible? I.e., does the contracted work itself fall foul of the Sharīʿah or, if not, does it amount to assisting in sin?
What is the source of funds from which the employee is remunerated?
As regards the first, the job of an IT technician which merely involves maintenance of the computer systems is itself permissible. According to the principles of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah this also does not amount to assisting in sin as any sin incurred, such as in the transacting a usurious transaction, is incurred by an independent agent. According to Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, as the computer systems can be used for permissible and impermissible acts, any impermissible act will not be attributed to the IT technician but rather restricted to the independent agent.
As regards the second, the majority of funds in a typical bank are sourced from deposit holders, shareholders and sometimes governments. Although any loans thereby generated will be interest based the loan itself will be permissible. Interest received by a bank constitutes only a small portion of the banks funds. Thus, it is permitted to receive remuneration for performing a permissible function, such as that of an IT technician, from the bank. The majority of funds available to an insurance company are generated by the premiums paid by the premium holder. As the construct of the contract is a commutative contract that also falls foul of the prohibitions of ribā, gharar and qimār the funds available to the insurance company are impermissible. Thus, although an IT Technician may perform a permissible function within the insurance company, as the funds available to the insurance company are of an impermissible nature, the IT Technician cannot accept remuneration from those funds.
According to the principles of Imām Abū Yūsuf and Imām Muḥammad the work of an IT Technician within both a conventional bank and insurance company is not permitted as it amounts to assisting in sin and the IT Technician is also not entitled to any remuneration.
Therefore, on account of the opinion of Imām Abū Yūsuf and Imām Muḥammad, a Muslim should avoid taking up employment in a conventional bank, even if it involves only a permissible function. This is the more prudent and cautious position. However, if a Muslim is an employee of a conventional bank and only performs a permissible function such as that of an IT Technician, then, in view of the opinion of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, such employment will be permitted and any remuneration received will also be lawful.
View Two: IslamQA
We ask Allaah to reward you with good for your keenness and efforts to find out the truth, and to help your husband to find permissible employment in which there is no sin.
Note that it is not permissible to work in riba-based banks at all, because that involves consuming riba, or writing it down, or witnessing it, or helping those who do that.
The major scholars have issued fatwas stating that working in riba-based banks is haraam, even if the job does not involve dealing with riba as such, e.g. guards, cleaners and other services. We will quote to you some of their fatwas, whilst also pointing out that your husband’s work is strongly connected to riba and to recording and documenting it, because as you say, his main job is to ensure that all the computer systems are working correctly, and installing new systems, and assisting the bank employees.
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 15/41:
It is not permissible for a Muslim to work in a bank that deals with riba, even if the work that the Muslim does has nothing to do with riba, because he is giving the employees who do work with riba with what they need and he is helping them with their calculation of interest. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“but do not help one another in sin and transgression”
The Standing Committee (15/38) was asked: what is the ruling on working in the existing banks?
Most of the transactions that are done nowadays involve riba, which is haraam according to the Qur’aan and Sunnah and the consensus of the ummah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ruled that whoever helps the one who consumes riba or pays it by writing it down for him or bearing witness to it, etc, is a partner of the one who consumes it and the one who pays it, and they are all cursed and expelled from the mercy of Allaah. In Saheeh Muslim and elsewhere it is narrated that Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed the one who consumes riba, the one who pays it, the one who writes it down and the two who witness it, and he said, “They are all the same.”
Those who work in banks are helping the owners of the banks by administering their operations, whether in writing or bearing witness, or transferring papers or handing over money, or doing other things that help those who deal in riba. Hence it is known that working in an existing bank is haraam. The Muslim should avoid that and should try to earn a living in a way that Allaah has permitted; and there are many such ways. He should fear Allaah his Lord, and not expose himself to the curse of Allaah and His Messenger.
And the Standing Committee (15/55) was asked:
(a) Is working in banks, especially in Muslim countries, halaal or haraam?
(b) Is there any specific section of the bank that is halaal, as many think, and if that is correct could you explain further?
Firstly: working in banks that deal with riba is haraam, whether that is in a Muslim country or a kaafir country, because it involves cooperating in sin and transgression, which Allaah has forbidden as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“but do not help one another in sin and transgression”
Secondly: There is no section in the riba-based bank that is exempt from this ruling according to what we know of the pure sharee’ah, because all the bank employees are cooperating in sin and transgression.
And the Standing Committee (15/18) was asked:
What is the ruling on working as a maintenance engineer for one of the electronics companies that deal with some of the riba-based banks, where the company sells equipment (calculators, cameras, telephones) to the bank, and tells us, as maintenance engineers, to go to the bank to service this equipment on a regular basis? Is this work haraam on the basis that the bank does its accounts and organizes its work on these machines, and are we thus helping them in sin?
It is not permissible for you to work for companies that are as you described, because that involves cooperating in sin and transgression.
And it says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (15/48):
It is not permissible for a Muslim to work in banks that deal with riba, because that involves helping them to engage in riba-based transactions in one way or another, by writing them down, witnessing them, guarding the bank, etc. Helping them in that manner is cooperating in sin and transgression, which Allaah forbade when He said (interpretation of the meaning):
“but do not help one another in sin and transgression”
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked: is it permissible to work for a riba-based organization as a driver or guard?
It is not permissible to work for a riba-based organization even if you are a driver or a guard, because accepting employment with a riba-based organization implies that you approve of them, as whoever denounces something could not work to serve its interests. If he works to serve its interests, he must approve of it, and the one who approves of something haraam has a share in its sin. With regard to those who are directly involved in writing down transactions, transferring money, depositing money, etc, are undoubtedly dealing directly with something that is haraam. It was proven from the hadeeth of Jabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed the one who consumes riba, the one who pays it, the one who writes it down and the two who witness it, and he said, “They are all the same.”
From Fataawa Islamiyyah, 2/401
And there are other well-known fatwas which forbid working in riba-based banks, no matter what the kind of work involved. Based on this, your husband has to repent to Allaah from what he has done in the past, and leave this work, seeking the help of Allaah, putting his trust in Him and being certain that He will grant him provision. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).
And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allaah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allaah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allaah has set a measure for all things”
View Three: IslamQAorg
As a principle, it should be remembered that, the permissibility or impermissibility of employment in a particular firm or company basically depends on two things:
- The nature of the job must be lawful (halal), meaning if the work entails something that is prohibited in Shariah, such as posing for nude picture-taking, serving alcohol or recording and calculating interest transactions, etc, then this type of work will be unlawful
The reason for its prohibition is that, the work itself has been prohibited in Shariah, and due to this, even if the salary was paid from a Halal source, the work will still remain unlawful.
- The salary or income that one receives must also be from a Halal source. If the work itself is lawful (halal), but the salary is paid from unlawful and impure money, such as stolen or interest money, it will still be unlawful to accept that job.
Keeping the above two points in mind, the ruling with regards to working in a bank depends on exactly what the job consists of.
Employment at a bank that entails direct involvement with interest based transactions, such as the job of a manager, cashier, clerk, etc will be unlawful (haram).
Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) cursed the one who accepted usury, the one who paid it, the witness to it, and the one who recorded it. (Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 22, Number 3327)
In another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) invoked curse (la’na) on the receiver of interest, the payer of interest, the scribe and the two witnesses. And he said: “They are the same” (i.e. in sin). (Sahih Muslim)
Thus, the warning of the Messenger of Allah is very severe. The one who is directly involved with interest transactions in any way, shape or form, such as writing or calculating the transaction will earn the curse of Allah Almighty and his beloved Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace).
Therefore, one must avoid accepting a job at a bank, which consists of being involved in interest transactions and dealings. It is unlawful (haram) to help and assist others in their interest-based dealings. One must decide between temporary worldly gains and the curse (la’na) of Allah Almighty and his Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace).
If a person is already employed at a bank, then he is advised by the scholars not to leave his job immediately, rather he should look for a permissible job elsewhere and when he succeeds in obtaining one, he should leave the employment at the bank.
The important point here is that one must exert all possible ways and means in order to a find an alternative job. If one puts in the effort and is willingly ready to accept comparatively reduced benefits, then there is no reason why a suitable job is not found. (See: Contemporary Fatawa by Shaykh Taqi Usmani, P. 280-281).
However, if the employment at a bank is such that it does not have a direct involvement whatsoever with interest-based transactions, such as the job of being a guard, cleaner or cook, etc, then this type of job will be lawful although superior to avoid.
As for the income received on such jobs is concerned, scholars mention that the money stored in a bank is not all interest money, rather the cash stored in the bank (and from which the salary is given), comprises of the depositors depositing their money in various accounts, capital put in by the owners of the bank and also interest money. In fact, the portion of interest money is usually less in comparison to the other two types of income.
Therefore, the salary received from the bank is a mixture of unlawful and lawful wealth of which the majority is lawful. As such, it would be permissible to accept this money as income, provided the actual job is lawful. (See: al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya: 5/343).
In conclusion, it will be unlawful to employ one’s self in jobs at a bank (or any other place) that have a direct involvement with interest-based transactions. However, if the job has no connection with interest dealings whatsoever, then it would be permitted to take this job, although detested.
View Four: Seekers Guidance
The principle concerning employment in a bank (or any other financial institution) is that any work or job that entails being directly involved in interest-based transactions will be unlawful and sinful with the wages on such work being Haram, and any work that does not entail being involved in usurious transactions will be lawful.
In a Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) invoked curse (la’na) on the receiver of interest, the payer of interest, the scribe and the two witnesses, and he said: “They are the same” (i.e. in sin). (Sahih Muslim)
Keeping the above principle in mind, let us now look at certain specific posts and jobs at a bank:
- Working in a bank as a call attendant and answering phone calls would be permitted as long as the job entails discussing general matters regarding one’s account and giving information to the customer in a general manner. However, if the job also includes giving advice on interest-based transactions or helping the customer in being involved in Riba, then this would be considered assisting in sin, hence not permitted.
- Providing computer software or making computer programmes for the bank would also be permitted. However, designing programmes that are exclusively used for usurious transactions will not be permitted.
- Working as a manager in a bank is not permitted.
- Working as a cashier at a bank is also not permitted.
- Working as a guard, a cook or a cleaner in a bank will be permitted.
Thus, in conclusion, if a job has a direct connection and link to the writing, assisting, recording and advising of interest-based transactions, then it will not be permitted to take up that job. However, if a job at a bank has no connection with interest-based transactions, it will be permitted, but still better to avoid.
I hope your query has been answered with the above explanation.
Mufti Faraz Adam View
We adopt the more cautious Hanafi view, and broadly the view adopted by IslamQAinfo above.
Our detailed thoughts are summarise in this article.
We have also summarised our views in this video:
Our reluctance with adopting the view that as long as your job is intrinsically halal then that’s fine - is that banks are inherently team-based organisations and require each constituent part of their workforce to do what they do in order for the whole to succeed.
There are also a plethora of halal high-paying options to avail of instead as explained in the video.