Working for Usurious Banks
The main ruling is that it is prohibited to work in usurious banks and this applies to whoever works in such banks. But an exception has been made in case of necessity for jobs that are not dealing directly with usury.
Working for Usurious Banks
Employment in usurious institutions;
Jobs involving usurious transactions.
A Muslim living in a country with a minority Muslim community may be offered a job in a bank where he may be a clerk, a teller, an accountant or an administrator. Since most banking institutions in non-Muslim countries are usurious, is this permissible?
Normally, working for a usurious bank is prohibited. This is endorsed by the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa and Shaikh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz.
Decision 7-5 of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America suggests making an exception for jobs that do not involve dealing directly with usury, which includes preparing documentation, acting as a witness or providing any help or service, if one needs to take up such a job because one cannot find a legitimate job elsewhere. The decision states: ‘Fiqh councils make an exception for people who cannot find legitimate employment. The exception allows them to work in places where the prohibited is mixed with the permissible provided that the employee does not work directly in what is forbidden. At the same time he should do his best to find a job that involves no doubtful or forbidden activity. The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America feels that this ruling may be applied to working in usurious banks, making an exemption that allows work in areas that are not directly involved with the documentation of usurious transactions, acting as a witness thereof or providing direct help in it.’
The Prophet cursed the person who takes usurious earnings, the one who pays usury, the one who writes the contract between them and the two witnesses to the contract. He said: ‘They are all the same.’ (Related by Muslim) The prohibition inevitably applies to whoever works in such banks and such work helps to further evil and aggression.
‘Help one another in furthering righteousness and piety and do not help one another in furthering evil and aggression.’
The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America makes an exception in the case of not being able to find any alternative employment when one needs it. Necessity is determined on its merits and the exception makes it a condition of not being directly involved in this forbidden activity, including documentation, witnessing, etc.
Decisions by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America.
Fatawa by the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa.
Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz, Majmu' Fatawa Ibn Baz, edited by Muhammad al-Shuway’ir.
- Fatawa by the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa, vol. 15, pp. 46, 57 and 61; A. Ibn Baz, Majmu' Fatawa Ibn Baz, vol. 19, pp. 239 and 382–6