Question # 138: Assalam alykum brother. I would appreciate if you explain working for [website] company halal or not based on the works and services they provide as they partly claim to be an investment firm and offer banking services. My role is a printing operator, printing, documents, books, posters etc… Jazak Allah khair

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: From the website link provided by the questioner, it appears that the UK Company offers the following major services, among others: Portfolio Management, Wealth Planning, and Banking and Treasury. From Islamic perspective, business conducted by this company is not permissible. Moreover, according to the scholars of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah, irrespective of the type of job, working in riba-based (interest-based) banks is haraam (not permissible). Nevertheless, if someone desperately needs a job to survive, while other jobs are completely unavailable, then he/she can keep it until the Islamic alternative appears. 

Long Answer:  From the website link provided by the questioner, it appears that the UK Company offers the following major services, among others: Portfolio Management, Wealth Planning, and Banking and Treasury.

[For the benefit of the readers, generally, Portfolio Management or] Investment fund management involves creating long-term investment Funds. It provides investors with risk intermediation by investing in a diversified portfolio of assets. Such companies issue instruments called units in a wide variety of denominations, and they provide marketability by either issuing units for which a ready market exists or repurchasing the units at their current asset value. In addition, investment funds offer economies of scale in investment management and transaction costs by spreading the costs of security evaluation over a large number of investors and by taking advantage of reduced rates on large-scale transactions.

The nature of assets in which such companies invest may differ considerably. Investment companies generally invest in equity, bonds, commodities and various hybrid and derivative products. There are also companies that focus entirely on the real estate sector. However, not all types of securities are Shari’ah compliant. Let’s briefly analyze the most common types of investment:

  • Conventional debt securities are not permissible as they involve riba.
  • Equity Funds – Although, majority opinion among jurists seems to tilt in favor of granting permissibility to the modern stock, there are additional constraints and conditions: i) the company itself must be engaged in Islamically permissible activities, ii) ownership interest should relate to ownership in real assets and not in debts or money, iii), the company neither borrows money on interest nor keeps its surplus in an interest bearing account.
  • Conventional derivatives such as, options, futures, swaps or more complex products that have these features, are not permitted in Islam.
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts combine the best features of real estate and stocks and hence, are acceptable in the Islamic framework, to the extent they do not engage in riba-based borrowing or lending. ( ‘Islamic Financial Services’ by Mohammed Obaidullah)

Consequently, based on the above information, the business conducted by this company is not Islamically permissible. Moreover, according to the scholars of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah, working in riba-based banks is haraam (not permissible).

However, as for working in administrative jobs in such organizations, the following are the opinions of the scholars:

  • Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “It is not permissible to work in a riba-based institution even if a person is working as a driver or guard, because that means that he is working for the riba-based institution, which implies that he approves of it. For whoever disapproves of a thing would not work to support it, so if he is working for it that implies that he approves of it, and the one who approves of something that is haraam is also guilty of sin…” (Fataawa Islamiyyah)
  • According to Dr. Monzer Kahf: “Working in an interest-based bank, investment or commercial, is certainly not the best job in the world from Shari’ah point of view because even if you don’t undertake any riba action, you are very close to it and normally touched by its evil. But, the fatwa is that it is permissible to work in an interest-based bank as long as you avoid being a signatory on a riba-based contract, on behalf of the bank or on behalf of yourself, being a writer or a witness of a riba The reason is twofold: 1) we don’t need to expand on the prohibition without good reason and the prohibition is limited to taking/giving riba, writing its contract and being a witness to the contract as provided for in a correct hadith reported by Muslim that the wrath of Allah is on those persons; and, 2) hardship must always be removed and there is a great hardship in the prohibition of working in banks and similar institutions.” (Fatawa on Jobs, Business and Actions)
  • According to Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America: “…working in any place or entity that has a pure haraam core business is prohibited because of the obvious participation in promoting such a prohibited cause. However, necessity is a factor that determines the permissibility of having such a job for a particular individual. This means that if you desperately need this job to survive while other jobs are completely unavailable, then you can keep it until the Islamic alternative appears, definitely, while seriously looking for this alternative. The above rule does not include the desire of having experience in this field as a reason behind the dispensation of having this job, since goals do not justify means in Islam.”

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam