Muhammadullah Khalili Qasmi*
There is much hue and cry about a fatwa of Darul Uloom Deoband regarding bank employment in national electronic and print media. The social media were also abuzz with comments and remarks on the issue.
The whole issue is that a youth submitted a question in Darul Uloom Deoband’s Darul Ifta saying that he has some proposals for marriage and one of them is from a daughter of bank employee, what should he do? The Mufti of Darul Uloom replied him that it is not preferable to accept the proposal from bank employee, rather he should prefer proposal from religious and pious families. It was a kind of advice to the person concerned who asked the question. This answer can be applicable for those who have the same case and want to follow the fatwa.
The second misconception is that each fatwa is taken as diktat and general injunction, and it is not understood within its confines. Sometimes a fatwa given as advice or directive principle, but it is taken as command for all.
In order to understand the issue in its entirety, we have to understand some basic principles of Islam. The first and foremost thing is that interest or usury is categorically prohibited in Islam with the Quran declaring it is as unlawful in several verses (2:275, 2:276, 3:130, 4:161 and 30:39) and while one verse regards it tantamount to declaring war against Allah Almighty and His Messenger (peace be upon him) (See: al-Quran 2:278).
Interest is forbidden in Islam, as it disturbs the proper circulation of wealth in the society and badly affects the poor people. There are several Hadiths regarding the prohibition of interest. One Hadith says that Allah’s curse visits one who consumes interest, the one who gives it to others, the one who writes it down and the one who bears witness to it; they are all the same. (Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 1598)
This is the reason that interest is the big factor in economics and financial issues as per the Islamic Shariah. A Muslim must avoid a deal, transaction or work which involves interest in any way. Thus, having a job in bank is also primarily not allowed as one working in bank may not avoid involvement in interest-based dealings by writing the interest based dealing or in some other way. However, if one has a job in bank which is free from any involvement in writing interest or bearing witness to interest, then his job is allowable.
Therefore, if any Muslim is seeking job, he is advised to avoid bank job which may get him involved in interest-based work. However, if one is already in the bank job, he is advised not to leave it immediately rather look for some lawful and pure income source while continuing to seek forgiveness from Allah due to involvement in interest. Moreover, such a person should give the amount of salary in charity (to a poor) which he earned against the interest based work.
Second important thing to remember is that Islam has attached much importance with regard to purity of income and its consumption. Abstaining haram and acquiring halal is as much necessary for the Muslims as the observance of Salah and payment of Zakah. Unlawful and impure income can lead a Muslim to many troubles and punishments in this world and the Hereafter, while halal and pure income helps him progress in faith and perfect his spirituality. Income earned through unlawful sources like gambling, bribe, interest, theft etc must be avoided as the Quran says that those devouring the wealth unjustly are as if they are filling fire in their stomach. (4:10) Moreover, Hadith says that the flesh grown out of unlawful income deserves to be thrown in Hell Fire (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 558), while another Hadith says that the prayers and worships of haram consumers will not be acceptable to Allah. (Al-Mujam al-Ausat, 6:311) Therefore, purity of income is one of the most important teachings of Islam.
There are many misconceptions in people even regarding many issues related to interest which must be clarified. The first doubt is that interest received bank is not the usury (riba) prohibited in the Quran. It is to be pretty much clear that the interest given by conventional banks falls under the category of riba (prohibited interest) according the Muslims jurists (Muftis and Ulama) and Fiqh academies of India and Islamic World.
Some people object if banking system is not approved by Islamic Shariah, then opening bank account and depositing money in banks is also contribution to banking system and thus it should be unlawful. It should be clear enough that opening accounts in banks and keeping money therein for safety is alright and it carries no prohibition. But the interest earned in the account may not be used in personal needs, rather should be either given in charity to the poor or paid in income tax etc.
It is also objected that the banks or the government gives salaries to their employees from interest or haram money, thus every government job must be unlawful. It should be noted that the salary of an employee becomes halal or haram on the basis of his own work irrespective of government income source; if his work is halal then his salary will be halal and if it is otherwise then his salary will be haram and unlawful. If his work is combines both halal and haram work, then the portion of income earned against haram work will become haram and impure.
Finding a life partner is one of the important steps of life that needs much care deliberation. The Hadith also says that a woman is married for four reasons; her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So you should marry the religious woman, otherwise you will be a loser. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 4700)
In the light of the abovementioned Quranic verses and Hadith references, you can decide whether the respected Mufti was right in advising the young man to avoid a proposal from bank employee and look for marrying in a pious family. Darul Uloom Deoband and other madrasas and Islamic institutions take it as their utmost responsibility to guide Muslims in the light of the Quran and Hadith.
 For instance, you can refer to the decisions and resolutions of Islamic Fiqh Academy India (http://ifa-india.org/index.php?do=home&pageid=economic) and International Islamic Fiqh Academy of World Muslim League (http://www.iifa-aifi.org/1990.html)
* Coordinator, Online Fatwa Dept, Darul Uloom Deoband