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Is my job halal or not? This is a question that a lot of Muslims find themselves asking at some point in their life. Today, we live in a complex society where many jobs are related to something that is forbidden in Islam.

Living in the West, the situation gets worse when you indirectly become a part of numerous forbidden activities around you. For example:

  • Imagine that you are a taxi driver in a non-Muslim majority country. Your job itself is not haram, as you are only charging clients for your service. But what about driving people to the local brewery? Let’s say that as a taxi driver, you often end up driving people to nightclubs and bars. Is the money earned through this job halal?
  • Or you work at a supermarket, and your job is to help customers find what they want to buy. But one day, the manager asks you to stock up on alcohol. What should you do?
  • Imagine getting offered a job at a bank where you are tasked with helping people invest money in various ways while selling other financial products that pay interest. Can you take the job?

Many Muslims find themselves facing these dilemmas at some point in their lifetime.  

Differentiate Halal or Haram Jobs

Answering “is my job halal or not” will depend on the differences between halal and haram jobs. The basic rule for differentiating halal and haram jobs is that if the nature of the job is entirely haram, one must find an alternative job. For example, a job that involves interest is haram. So, the job position for an accountant, financial analyst, debt collector, and banker is haram if it involves interest.

Similarly, a job that involves pork or alcohol directly is haram. For example, working as a server where one must serve alcohol and pork items is haram.

But some jobs can be complex, where the worker might have to indirectly become a part of a haram activity.

Positions of Islamic Scholars on This Issue

Number 1: If you are helping an individual or a company in an activity that is impermissible even though your job is not directly linked to it, you are a part of it, and the job is impermissible under Shariah.

Number 2: If you are helping an individual or company in an impermissible activity, but the individual or company is entirely responsible for it, and you are only providing your services. If the job itself is not haram, then the job is permissible, and your income is halal.

Now, to understand both opinions, here is an example. Consider the job of a security guard at a bank that offers numerous services, including interest-based financial products, and a major part of the bank’s gross profit is earned through taking an interest.

Now, according to the first opinion, the job of a security guard is haram since he is involved indirectly in a haram activity.

But, according to the second opinion, the job of the security guard is not haram. This is because the people who sell interest-based financial products and buy them are fully responsible for their actions. The job of the security guard is to watch the bank and carry out a halal task. Because the security guard is not directly involved in a haram activity, his job is valid, and the income he earns is halal.

Which opinion you should follow depends on your situation and choice.

The Level of Haram

Before we debate which jobs are halal and which jobs are haram or what actions make your job haram, it is important to evaluate the type of available jobs and where you live. If you are living in a Muslim-majority country where pork, interest, and alcohol are prohibited, there will be plenty of job options that do not involve these items at all.

But if you live in a country where interest, alcohol, and pork or other impermissible items are openly and frequently used by numerous people, finding a 100% halal job can be extremely difficult. Because Muslims who live in a Western countries already have trouble conforming to the norms of society, finding a truly halal job can add one more difficulty to the list.

Even if your job is haram, you cannot quit right away. It is important to make sure that you and your family are prepared to manage finances until you find your next job. So, you might have to hold onto your job a bit longer. It is permissible in Islam to do something haram if it is an absolute necessity.

Here are some examples to help you decide if your job is halal.

Situation 1

Even if the nature of your job is entirely halal, the company might expand its operations and get involved in something impermissible. For example, if you are working as an account’s manager for an entirely halal company, such as a company selling seafood.

You have been working hard for the last 3 years to reach your current position, but one day, the management decides that the company should also invest in the pork business. What will you do? You will not be selling pork to people, but you’ll take your salary from the company. A part of this company’s income comes from the pork business.

But if such a job is haram, then because most companies get involved in some type of impermissible activity, it would mean that a lot of jobs are impermissible. This will make it very difficult for Muslims to find jobs and can greatly affect their financial well-being.

Situation 2

Just because you are indirectly a part of the haram activity will not make your job haram. For example, if you work in the supermarket and your job is to help people find items. One day, if a customer asks you to help them locate the alcohol aisle, you are not responsible for the person’s action.

You are merely a worker who helps customers, stocks up shelves, and works at the checkout aisle. You get paid for the halal services. Furthermore, you are not a marketing agent for the company or an alcohol brand that is trying to sell more alcohol.

So, this example draws a clear line between when your job is permissible and at which point it becomes impermissible. However, some situations can be very complex.

Situation 3

Interest exists in so many contracts, and staying away from it can be impossible in today’s world. Utility bills, mobile phone bills, rental agreements, and even app purchases can involve conditions to charge interest nowadays.

Many lawyers, accountants, bankers, financial experts, and even clerks might have signed documents that contain some condition where the company or the individual will take or pay interest. For example, upon late payment, the customer will be charged an interest penalty.

So, if your job involves interest but as a minimal prerequisite and your job itself is permissible, then your job and income are halal according to the second opinion discussed earlier in this article.

Halal Checklist

Here are some questions that you need to ask yourself to decide if the job position you wish to occupy, or the one you currently work at, is halal or not.

Does your job directly involve haram?

Now, directly haram here means that when you think of the job or read the job description, you cannot ignore the haram element of it. For example, if you work at a bank, you need to check what work you will be doing and how the bank makes money. If it involves interest, it is haram.

Similarly, if you want to work as a security guard at the house of a drug lord, the job is haram. Although you will be providing the services of a security guard, who are you protecting the guy from? Law and police.

But if you are considering the position of IT assistant at food staples company. The job per se is not haram because it does not directly require you to get involved in anything impermissible.

What is the company’s source of income?

The company’s source of income is important because salaries are paid out of a company or business’s gross income. For a business that earns a major part of its income from selling a haram item, working at such a company is impermissible. 

For example, any job position at an alcohol brewery is haram. 

How Close are You to the Haram While Working at Your Job?

Your proximity to the impermissible activity determines if your job is halal or not. For example, if you are only driving a taxi and dropping people off at a pub, you are away from sin. Hence, the job is permissible.

But if you are serving alcohol directly at a restaurant, you are directly involved. Such a job is impermissible.

Can You Find an Alternative Job?

There are always halal alternatives to jobs that are impermissible. For instance, you can work at a halal restaurant if you are a chef or a server. 

Similarly, you can work at an investment bank that provides services in mergers and acquisitions instead of working at a bank that sells interest-based financial products. 

If you are confused about whether your job is halal or not, consult a religious scholar, as every person’s job and financial situation is unique.