Taking Interest for a Noble Cause
Economic Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

We are going to start a clinic in our town in India. The total expense to run the clinic is USD 1200 per month, but it is difficult for us to raise this amount every month. We will get money from some people every month but this will not be enough. So we want to ask if we deposit USD 100,000 in a bank to earn interest because by adding the interest to the collected money, we will manage to reach the required target of USD 1200 per month. So is this allowed? The clinic is for all communities, and free for all. Can we use the interest money for such philanthropic causes?  


Taking interest is forbidden in Islam even if it is taken for a noble cause. Islam requires that both the means and the objective of an enterprise be morally justified. It does not condone the ‘Robin Hood’ concept of achieving noble objectives through ignoble means. Its objective is to purify a person’s concepts and his deeds from any semblance of evil. Its message is to strive in the right direction whether the objective is achieved or not – for achieving an objective depends not on a person’s efforts; it depends on the will of Allah. It is not our obligation by any means to spend money on philanthropic causes when we do not have it from the right means.

An example from the Qur’ān may help in illustrating this point: Gambling and Drinking in pre-Islamic times were a means through which the rich showed their generosity and helped the poor and needy. In winters, when cold winds blew in and caused conditions akin to drought, the courageous would gather at various places, drink liquor and, in their state of inebriation, slaughter any camels they could get hold of. They would pay the owner of the camels whatever price he demanded. They would then gamble on the meat of the slaughtered camels. Whatever parts of meat a person won in this gambling, he would generously distribute them among the poor who would gather around on such occasions. In the pre-Islamic Arabia, this was a matter of great honour and people who took part in this activity were considered very philanthropic and generous. The poets would narrate the accounts of their benevolence in their odes. On the other hand, people who stayed away from this activity would be called ‘Barm’ (stingy).

It was this very benefit of drinking and gambling which prompted people to make an inquiry when they were regarded as prohibited items. The Qur’ān asserted in its reply that in spite of serving this noble cause, they were instrumental in producing moral misconduct in an individual, which in no case can be allowed:

They ask you about liquor and gambling. Tell them: there is great sin in them and some profits as well for people. But their sin is greater than their profit. (2:219)

In other words, despite having utility, drinking and gambling were prohibited since they cause moral misconduct. Therefore, I would advise you to think of some other alternative.

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