The world we live in has pushed us to an extent where we are very apprehensive about making it big in life. Building a career, earning money and status and spending one’s whole life towards achievement of the same, makes us forgetful of the way we win our bread. The Prophet ﷺ said, “A time will come when one will not care how one gains one’s money, legally or illegally.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 2059]
Islam constantly emphasizes on making money in a legal way, such that it benefits us in this world and in the next. The following briefs us about the definitions of halal and haram income, the sources of haram income, the effects of earning haram income and ways to come out of it.
Defining Halal and Haram Income
The basic principle of our religion is that, halal is what Allah ﷻ and His messenger ﷺ have permitted and haram is what Allah ﷻ and His messenger ﷺ have forbidden. When a haram act is committed it leads to punishment and abstinence of rewards and if a person stays away from it, he is rewarded. Similarly, it is no sin to do a halal act or to refrain from doing it but a person is rewarded for performing a halal act.
So, earning money through means prescribed and permitted by Allah ﷻ is halal income while money earned through means forbidden by Allah ﷻ is haram income.
Sources of Haram Income
Here is a list of some unlawful sources of earning (haram income) according to Islam.
1. Riba (Usury/ Interest)
Riba generally means increase/growth. Riba is the term used for denoting usury, which is lending of money with high charges/ interest rate for its use. Any business/ transaction involving giving and taking of riba is haram in Islam.
Allah ﷻ says in the Qur’an, ‘O believers! Do not consume interest, multiplying it many times over…’ [Surah Aal-e-Imran 3:130]
The Prophet of Allah has cursed the one who bribes and the one who takes bribe. [Sunan Abi Dawud 3580]
Bribery is a major sin and if a person can get a work done without paying bribe for it then the payment is considered haram. Taking bribe is completely prohibited.
3. Profiteering and defrauding
It is permissible in trade to sell a product across a profit margin. But if the profit exceeds the original value to a great extent, especially when the buyer is negligent, it comes under deception. Deceit in business is strictly prohibited in Islam.
4. Employment involving Alcohol, drugs and gambling
‘They ask you ˹O Prophet˺ about intoxicants and gambling. Say, “There is great evil in both, as well as some benefit for people—but the evil outweighs the benefit.’ [Surah Al-Baqarah 2:219]
Clearly any source of income involving production, consumption and distribution of Alcoholic beverages and drugs of any sort is haram. This rule applies to any income involving gambling.
5. Sihr (Magic/ fortune telling)
It has become common for people to engage in professions/activities involving fortune telling and black magic. These are used for many practices such as knowing the future, hurting people, breaking marriages, making a person fall sick or curing a sick person and so on. Engaging in the practice of sihr is achieved by means of shirk, associating other things with Allah ﷻ. There is a flaw in basic belief and shahadah that leads to many effects for a person.
6. Jobs involving Indecency, Ghina and free mixing
Doing any kind of job that involves free mixing with the opposite gender, music and dancing and indecent provocation is considered haram and the money earned through it is haram. There are certain jobs where women are not allowed to practice hijab. The money earned through such jobs is also haram.
Effects of Haram Income
First and foremost, haram income affects one’s religious activities. It is with the money that one earns, one feeds himself, seeks good health, spends in prayer, fasts, hajj/umrah and charity. If the money earned is haram, then all these expenditures are fulfilled by that haram means and it is not accepted by Allah ﷻ. Moreover, the person is punished for disobeying Allah ﷻ. The Prophet ﷺ has said, ‘Hell is more fitting for him whose flesh is nourished by what is unlawful.’ [Sahih (Al-Albani), Mishkat al-Masabih 2825]
Haram income makes one lose barakah in his wealth. It does not provide satisfaction. Even if one earns in millions through haram jobs and sources, one’s wealth is never enough and it does not provide any peace or contentment.
Also, in many cases haram income means earning by ignoring the normal proceedings and doing something by cheating the government or through illegal means. This illegitimate way of earning definitely causes injustice to people of the same status quo and qualifications.
These are a few possible reasons why one should opt for earning through halal means.
Earning The Halal Way
‘O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan.’ [Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 168]
This verse conveys to us one sole reason why muslims practice earning halal income. To attain the standard for following the sharee’a, every believer must follow the obligations of earning through halal means and foregoing that which is prohibited.
Here are few instances of jobs that were done during the time of the Prophet ﷺ and the Sahabas (May Allah be pleased with them) that is permitted.
– Crafts work such as smithery, carpentry etc.
– Jobs connected to the state such as teaching, collecting zakat etc.
– Earnings acquired through jihaad (war booty)
As to what kind of jobs are recommended for us based on the fatwas, we should assess what kind of work is best and suitable for us and practice it. It could be agriculture if one is better at it, manufacturing if one is better at it or trade if one is better at it than the rest.
‘Wealth and children are the adornment of this worldly life, but the everlasting good deeds are far better with your Lord in reward and in hope.’ [Surah Al-Kahf 18:46]
We must practice and teach our children the temporary life of this world and about the strife for the hereafter by not indulging in any haram practices.
May Allah ﷻ make us walk the straight path. Ameen.