Morals and Ethics (Akhlaq)

Bribery & Usury vs. Lawful Earning (for teens)

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Bribery & Usury vs. Lawful Earning (for teens)



Islam emphasizes greatly that a person's earnings should always be halal. When a person earns haram money, everything he or she buys and uses with the haram money affects his or her soul and his or her hereafter (akhirah). Haram money is not just stolen money. It could also be a bribe taken from someone. It is haram to give or take a bribe from anyone. A bribe is called rishwa in Arabic.

Haram money can also come to us when we ask people to pay us extra money just because we lent them some money before. For example, if you lend your friend $10 but then ask him to pay you back $15 because you lent him some money that is haram and is called “usury”. In Arabic usury is called riba.

Both rishwa and riba are haram because Islam wants people to work hard to earn their living and not to acquire it by taking advantage of other people's needs.

Earning halal money is so important that it is better to only do what is wajib and earn halal than to do so many mustahab acts like reciting Quran, praying salat al-layl, etc. but then to also cheat people, give and take bribes or charge others usury,

Earning a halal livelihood also means that if I find money lying on the road, I should not pocket it. If I do, anything I use the money for will be haram. If I buy food, it will be haram to eat. If I buy clothes, I can't pray with them because it will be ghasbi and in addition to all that, I will of course be punished on the Day of Judgment.

When we find lost money and cannot find the owner, we should give it to the police or the nearest bank if it is a large sum. And if it is a very small amount we can give it in charity in the name of the real owner.

We have many ahadith from Rasulullah [PBUH] and the other ma'sumeen [AS] to teach us that a true mu'min is not one who prays and fasts a lot but it is a person who does all that is wajib, keeps away from haram and then is honest - never lies or cheats others and never bribes or uses haram ways to make money.

If we trust that Allah is the one who feeds everyone, then there is no need to cheat or charge others interest or bribe or earn haram money in any other way.


Qard al-Hasanah

Qard means ”loan” and “qard al hasanah” means “a good loan” or what we can call “an interest-free loan”. If Allah has blessed us with wealth and we cannot give large sums of it away in charity, we can at least give it in loan to other fellow Muslims whom we trust. By giving qard al-hasanah to others, we help stop the corrupt practice of usury (riba). The person in need will not have to take a loan from the bank and pay interest to them and we would get the thawab of helping someone and eventually the money would be paid back to us.

When we give away money as interest-free loan, of course we don't make any profit on it. But Allah promises to multiply our rewards and give us far more in exchange.

مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يُقْرِضُ اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا فَيُضَاعِفَهُ لَهُ أَضْعَافًا كَثِيرَةً  وَاللَّهُ يَقْبِضُ وَيَبْسُطُ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ

Who is it that will lend Allah a good loan (qard hasanah) that He may multiply it for him severalfold?....

Surah al-Baqarah, 2:245


إِنْ تُقْرِضُوا اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا يُضَاعِفْهُ لَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ شَكُورٌ حَلِيمٌ

If you lend Allah a good loan (qard hasanah), He shall multiply it for you and forgive you, and Allah is All-Appreciative, All-Forbearing,

Surah at-Taghabun, 64:17


Hoarding & Excessive Profit

Another way that people earn haram money is by keeping a very high profit on their sales. Some people do this when they know there is a shortage for the goods they are selling and so they take advantage of people's need for the goods and try and make money out of them. This is also haram especially if a person hoards necessities of life like food supplies and/or keeps a very high profit on them. The following incident in the life of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq [AS] gives us an example:


The Unwanted Profit

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq [AS] once decided to engage in trade. This was after his family had grown larger and his responsibilities and needs had also increased, and it had become difficult to support all of them with his present means.

And because Imam as-Sadiq [AS] was too occupied to go on trade himself, he decided to appoint someone to do this on his behalf.

Imam as-Sadiq [AS] decided to appoint one of the people working for him called Musadif and gave him 1000 dinars and said to him, "Prepare to go to Egypt for trade."

And so Musadif did that. He first went to the marketplace in Medina and inquired what goods the people in Egypt usually buy from Medina. Then he bought them and the next day he set off to Egypt with a group of other traders also heading the same way.

On the way, Musadif's caravan met another caravan that was returning to Medina from Egypt and when they asked them about what they had sold in Egypt, the caravan that was returning to Medina said to Musadif's caravan, “The goods that you are carrying are in high demand in Egypt right now and the people really need it and have a shortage of it.”

Musadif’s caravan was overjoyed to know this and all the traders including Musadif decided they would not sell their goods except at twice their cost. When they arrived in Egypt and realized it was true that there was a shortage for the goods they were carrying, they refused to sell their goods except at twice the cost (100% profit) and therefore made a lot of money.

Musādif returned to Medina with the other traders, overjoyed at the extra profit he had made. On the way back, he kept thinking how happy Imam as-Sadiq [AS] would be that he made 2000 dinars out of the 1000 dinars the imam had given him. Then he thought if he did this couple more times, soon the imam will become very rich and he (Musadif) will become a famous trader.

When he arrived in Medina and came to see Imam as-Sadiq [AS], Musadif first gave back the Imam the first 1000 dinars that he had been given to purchase the goods. Then he produced the profit, which were another 1000 dinars. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq [AS] asked him, “How did you make so much profit and get all this money?!”

bribery usury vs lawful earningMusadif told the Imam the whole story. How he and his fellow traders found a black market for their goods because there was a shortage in Egypt and how they all took an oath that they would not sell their goods for anything less than 100% profit, and how they decided they would make one dinar profit for every dinar of their cost.

Imam as-Sadiq [AS] was not pleased with this act of Musadif at all. He said to Musadif, “Subhan Allah! You all swore in the name of Allah to take advantage of other Muslims when they were in need and to sell to them for over a 100% profit?!”

Then the Imam [AS] took the 1000 dinars that he had originally given Musadif and said, “This 1000 dinars is the capital I had given you, so I will take it back. As for the profit you made in this trade, I don't want it.”

Then Imam as-Sadiq [AS] said, 'O Musadif! Fighting with a sword in battle is easier than earning a lawful (halal) living!”


Mohammad Foundation


Join us