Is it permissible to work in haram jobs?

The Details of the Question

- Did Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) allow the sale and serving of pork and alcohol?
- Is it permissible according to Hanafi fiqh to work in a job where alcohol, pork and non-halal meat are sold and served?
- For example, working as a cashier in a grocery store in the West; even if a customer buys pork, alcohol, or non-halal meat, you have to process them and put their products through the belt and put them in bags; if you work as a waiter in a restaurant in the West, you have to serve food to customers even if they order pork, alcohol, or non-halal meat in their meals.
- Other Muslims have told me that Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) allowed it and that he is of the opinion that in this case, your earnings are still halal. Is it true?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is not permissible for a Muslim to work in haram businesses and earn money there no matter where he is in the world unless there is a necessity and obligation to do so.

Imam Abu Hanifa made this ijtihad in accordance with a hadith (see Zaylai, Nasbur-Raya, 4/44) and said that a Muslim could receive interest from a non-Muslim in darul-harb if it was for the benefit of the Muslim.

However, it is also possible to understand it to mean that he only said that in countries with which we are at war, some haram gains are permissible because they are considered the spoils of the Muslims.

Today’s international relations and situations are different. It can be permissible to work in such jobs temporarily only in case of necessity (when there is no other option and no other work).

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