Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I am a recent graduate who found out about the impermissibility of interest transactions after graduating.
Is my degree earned through a student loan valid and can my earnings be considered halal if I get work using that degree?
Is there a way for me to receive zakat to pay off my debt in one go, and repay the donors in the future – when able – without interest?
My parents both work, and while the method by which they are earning is lawful I am unsure if the means is lawful. Two cars were purchased under a contract that I have been informed includes paying interest.
Is the family income halal if the means (these cars) by which we get there is unlawful, but out of necessity?
Is it permissible for me to accept gifts from family that I don’t live with but who have unlawful earnings (such as working in a bank)?
Answer: Wa ‘alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh
I pray you are well.
The interest-bearing loan that you took is an independent transaction; therefore – although it is sinful – it does not go on to affect the the qualifications you got. You may state your degree on your resume, use it a basis for pursuing further education and take any credits the university may offer you. It would also be permissible for you to receive zakat to repay the debt, and you do not need to pay back those people who give you zakat.
The best course of action would be to borrow the sum off friends and family, if possible, and pay the entire amount off before you are charged any interest. You may then repay them without interest at your own pace. If you do happen to have to pay interest, hasten to ask Allah for forgiveness, and ask Him to excuse you for getting into this predicament in the first place.
If this is not possible, then seek the means to pay off the debt as soon as possible – even it means cutting back on some comforts.
As with the above scenario, you can relax and eat the food your parents provide for you. Their income is halal, and you would not be sinful for eating from it.
As for the matter of the purchase of the cars, it would have to be established that it is in fact interest. Many a time in Western Finance the term interest is used, whereas it does not fulfil the conditions of Riba which the Shariʿa lays down.
With car finance schemes usually the buyer is offered two contracts: the first is a lump sum to purchase the car straight away, or the second which involves buying the car at a higher price, but with the payments distributed over an number of years. The additional cost is classed as interest in the contract, but in the Shariʿa it is seen as the buyer being offered two independent contracts, and he has a choice as to which one he will take.
Choosing the higher price with the payment distributed over a period of time is not deemed riba (Usmani, Maqalat Fiqhiyya).
As for receiving gifts from someone with a haram income, we would have to establish if it is actually haram. If the person working in the bank is dealing with interest, or involved in interest based transactions then we would say his income is haram. Merely working in a bank, such as if he was a computer technician, does not render his income haram.
If the income is haram one should not take any gifts from him. The dependants of such a person may eat the food he provides them and only he will will be sinful for that.
If the income is mixed with some halal money, and most of it is halal, it would be permissible to take up the the amount one considers halal. Otherwise, one may only take it if one is poor, but it would be better to abstain (Usmani, Fiqh al-Buyuʿ)
I recommend that you take the courses we offer on financial transactions as this will clarify a lot of matters for you.
May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.
[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time.
Over the following eighteen months he studied a traditional curriculum, studying with scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.
In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years, in Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.
His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.
When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul-Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.