What should be done with the interest income received from a bank? Can it be used for charity?

The Details of the Question

If we do not use it, foreign powers will spend it on the purchase of weapons. Can one receive thawabs for the charity done with haram money?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Islamic scholars have two views about where to spend the money earned through haram ways. Some scholars say that haram money cannot be taken; even if it is taken, it cannot be eaten up. According to them, it is safer to throw the haram money into the sea or into the fire than to take it. When Fudayl, who was one of those people who preferred asceticism and taqwa, realized that the dirhams he had received were haram, he threw them among the stones and said, "I do not want to hold haram things with my hand." He did not regard it worthy to benefit from haram things in any way.

However, some scholars, especially Imam Ghazali, found it more appropriate to give such money to a poor person; they point out that there is no benefit in throwing it into the sea or into the fire and that it is absolutely beneficial to give it to the needy.

Ghazali mentions in his book called Ihya as evidence regarding the issue that when the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) realized that the mutton served to him was earned illegally, he immediately withdrew and sent it to the poor and that when what Hz. Abu Bakr, who placed a bet that the Byzantines would win the war against the Iranians, claimed turned out to be true, he gave the camels he gained to the poor.

That is, haram things cannot be eaten, but they are given to the poor if their benefit is far from that person. No reward is expected from it; only getting rid of the responsibility is regarded as a basis.

The decree about money received from interest is no different from it. Money should not be invested in the banks that give interest; they should not be assisted or supported. However, if one has to, the interest he receives should be given to somebody whose benefit is far from that person. A solution such as buying and distributing books, or buying things that the poor need other than foodstuffs and giving them to the poor should be considered.

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