Using bank interest for trade or emergencies
Fatwa No: 337744

Question

Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaah. I am a Muslim from India, and it is almost impossible to find an Islamic bank in our locality. Therefore, we are forced to keep our money for various reasons (e.g. online money transfer, ATM cards, but not obtaining interest) in non-Islamic banks, which involves dealing with interest. We get some interest on our money automatically. I know that this interest that we get should be given in charity to poor people. However, I want to ask if I can use this money in case of an urgent need or emergency or use it for business and then when I make enough money give the amount equal to that interest in charity later. Would that be permissible? And please consider both cases: the one about an urgent need or emergency as well as the other one about using it for business. Also, some scholars also say that when donating such money to the poor, we should not have the intention of seeking reward. Is that correct? Also, what is "economic credit"? Please reply as soon as possible and with details and references, as I am a curious student learning Islam, Maa Shaa Allaah. Wassalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaah.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger. 

In principle, it is forbidden to deposit money in interest-based banks except when needed and when there are no other banks that are free from usurious transactions. Ibn 'Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “If you are in need of opening an account in an interest-based bank, then you may do so, but if you are not in need, then you must not do so.” [Excerpted from Liqaa’ Al-Baab Al-Maftooh]

On the other hand, a person will not be rewarded for getting rid of forbidden money, such as bank interests, by donating it to the poor and the needy in the same manner that a person who gives charity from his own money is rewarded, because those forbidden interests are not his own money in principle; rather, he gives it away in order to get rid of it and of its sin, so he will be rewarded for abandoning what is forbidden, and not for giving charity.

As regards a person who takes interests and trades with it and then later gets rid of it, then that is absolutely forbidden.

As regards the case of necessity, then we do not think that this could be the case while there is capital money deposited in the bank!

It should be noted that the Islamic necessity does not mean just being in need, because necessity, as stated in Al-Manthoor by Az-Zarkashi, is:

“A person reaching a state whereby if he does not consume what is forbidden, then he will die or nearly die, such as the one who is in case of necessity for eating or wearing clothes in a way that if he stays hungry or naked, he will die or part of his body will be amputated – and this makes consuming what is forbidden lawful for him. As for the need, it is like a hungry person who will not die if he does not find something to eat, but he faces hardship and difficulty, and this does not make what is forbidden lawful for him.

As regards your question on economic credit, then we apologize for not answering it because we made it clear in the question entry field that the questioner is only permitted to enter one question at a time, and if one asks more than one question, then only his first question will be answered.

Allaah knows best.

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