Haram Income: Its Effects on the Individual, His Loved Ones and the Society

Haram Income - GSalam.Net



Alhamdulillah… Utmost thanks and praise are due to Allah who made all good halal for us, and made upon us all sort of evil haram. Complete blessings and salutations be upon the purest among mankind who ever avoided haram income, Sayyidinā Muhammad, his household, his companions and all those who follow his guided path till the day of resurrection.

In the information era of today, when everyone is informed, we know haram as much as we know halal. They are pretty much obvious, even to the ignorant. To the extent that we have halal certifications for drinking waters, let alone our slaughtered meats. One may purchase and obtain everything halal, and pay zakāh punctually, and perform multiple hajj (let alone the number of ‘umrah), and in the end, there’s a possibility all that were accumulated from haram income.

This article tackles haram income, and its effects on the individual’s physical and spiritual wellbeing. It also discusses its impact on the earner’s immediate surrounding, his offspring and the society at large.

But first, what is haram? What is income? How do we define haram income?


Defining Haram, Income and Haram Income

What is Haram?

Haram is an Arabic word and it refers to “anything that is forbidden.” Practically, it is any act or thing that is forbidden by the Islamic law. Haram is the highest level of prohibition in Islam. Some acts or things may be discouraged or not recommended in Islam (prohibited), but they are not necessarily haram. Only Allah and His Messenger decide what is haram and what is not.

Thus, for anything to be declared as haram, its ruling must have legal basing in the Islamic jurisprudence derived from the Qur’an and Sunnah. For instance, there’s no ruling in our Islamic texts that forbids smoking. People didn’t know smoking during the time of the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. But there is a ruling that forbids us from harming ourselves. Harming oneself is haram. And smoking is proven to be harmful to our health. Therefore, smoking is haram.

As we define haram, we should notice that we can only identify haram and take responsibility of our attitudes towards it. But whether one is held account for haram he has committed or pardoned is in the hands of Allah. And it is He alone who decides.

What is Income?

The English dictionary defines income as “money received, especially on a regular basis, for work or through investments.”

In this article, income is defined as anything we earn in return for an effort put in. This includes salary, titles, prestige, recognition and praise.

You use your salary to purchase all sorts of convenience and comfort. Therefore, if these conveniences or comfort can come to you because of your effort, instead of physical money, then it also an income.

What is Haram Income?

Therefore, a haram income is the income that one incurs because of an activity he engaged in, that displeases Allah or that is forbidden in Islam. If there’s manipulation to displease Allah, by misleading others, to make that income in return, then haram income has taken place.

Here, it’s necessary to differentiate between committing haram and living on haram income.


Committing Haram Versus Living on Haram Income

Committing any sinful act is considered as falling into haram. However, committing a sinful act does not necessarily lead to earning haram income. At the same time, haram act may be done from halal income. But the process of earning from haram is automatically committing haram.

Victimizing, likewise discrimination is a sin. Unless one is paid to practice them against others, they remain just as sinful acts, which relates not to his income. The same thing applies to Zina; another major sin, that’s ruining our societies, oppression, and transgression. Some haram acts are independent. But some lead to other haram acts.

As for earning from haram, it requires that one commits a haram act, and that then leads him to make income out of it. Moreover, the effect of haram income, certainly, extends to a level or two, beyond the earner of the haram income.

For instance, in Islam, trading in liquor business is haram. The one who earns from selling liquor commits double sins; the sins of selling it, and the sin of earning from it. Unlike the one who just consumes it. If the trader consumes liquor in addition to trading in it, then, there are three forms of haram acts involved.

Similarly, prostitution is prohibited in Islam. A prostitute commits double sins, by doing prostitution and making living from it. The one who runs prostitution rings may commit more than just double sins: running the ring, encouraging for immorality and earning from the business.

The same thing could apply to the different means and sources where we earn our income from. One needs not to be told that cheating or getting paid for a job he did never do is haram, and that the income incurred from that is also haram. One does not need to be told that competing for a position he doesn’t deserve against deserving candidates, and getting paid for it is haram, and that the income made from that could be haram.

Faking certificates is haram. Securing employment using fake certificates is likewise haram. And any income made from that employment is clearly a haram income. This is not different from creating lies to secure a job and get paid for that job, after you’ve told lies to secure the job. It is also not different from seeking intercession to secure a job, which you know very much, that you are not capable of undertaking.

Also, running charity organizations or overseeing social or public projects could lead to living on haram income. Donors entrust their money to you to distribute to the needy or to build orphanages, schools, mosques or wells. If bigger percentages of these funds go to your personal account rather the accounts of beneficiaries, you are accumulating haram income. If these schools, mosques, wells and others are built in your belly instead of on the ground, you are accumulating haram in your belly.

If you receive any financial aid, coupons from governments, charity organizations or educational institutions, your benefits are clean if you don’t twist the qualifying documents you submitted to qualify for that benefits. However, the benefit becomes haram income if you’ve manipulated the required qualifying documents.


A Few Scenarios for a Better Understanding

To develop a better understanding from practical angles, let’s look at the following scenarios. Please note that none of the names indicated here is real, or applies to someone I know, who’s working in any of the indicated professions.

Scenario One: Ms Kawthar, the Sales Executive

Ms Kawthar works as a sales executive. She works for a multi-national company that trades in nuts (pistachios, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.). Unfortunately, her employer disallows her to don ḥijāb during working hours. She claims she’s desperate for a living and has no choice but to work for this employer. She also appreciates the generous salary she takes home every month.

In Islam, it’s not harmful to a woman to work as a sales executive. Muslim women sold things in the markets of Madinah, during the time of The Prophet Muhammad ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. However, it’s haram for a Muslim woman to not don ḥijāb, or dress modestly, outside her home. The fact that Ms Kawthar is unable don ḥijāb during her working hours doesn’t make working as a sales executive haram.

Yes, she should don her ḥijāb. In fact, we should advise her to look for an alternative job where she can fulfill her religious obligations. Ms Kawthar acknowledges the requirement for ḥijāb in Islam. But she also admits to her weakness in upholding to it.

Thus, she decides to continue working as a sales executive without donning ḥijāb, during her working hours. Her salary earned from this job is halal. And her income is not a haram income.

Scenario Two: Ms Khawlah, The Banker

Ms Khawlah works for a conventional bank. The bank, obviously deals with ribā (usury). And Ms Khawlah is aware of that. She also knows the Islamic ruling pertaining to working for anything that generates usury.

Ms Khawlah dons ḥijāb from head to toe. She is punctual in her prayers. She’s gone for hajj, even. In fact, she never fails to pay her zakāh. All from the blessings of this job.

Just because Ms Khawlah seems to be religiously inclined doesn’t make it halal for her to work in a usury institution. In fact, that religious inclination should have barred her from working in a conventional bank. For her income is a haram income.

Scenario Three: Mr Khalid, the Lawyer

Mr Khalid is a lawyer by profession. He serves clients from all walks of life. As long as you’re willing to pay, Mr Khalid will be your lawyer until you win your case in courts.

Mr Khalid is resourceful, knowledgeable, eloquent and charismatic. He hardly loses a case. Therefore, most of his clients are criminals and legal offenders. He does have clients who are genuine victims. Mr Khalid stands up for all.

Any money Mr Khalid makes from cases where the clients are victims, fighting for their rightful rights is clean and halal. But any money he makes from clients whom he is convinced to be offenders and transgressors is filthy and haram income.

Scenario Four: Mr Khadim, the Butcher

Mr Khadim is a butcher, who runs ones of the most ‘successful’ butcheries in the city. People come from all parts of the city to purchase meat from Mr Khadim. In fact, some of his customers come from the nearby villages, towns, and cities.

Some recent investigations found that Mr Khadim cheats in scale. There are no ways your meat, for which you pay the price of 2kg will reach 2kg in actual weight. It always has some missing grams.

This could be accidental. But it’s hard to believe it to be so. It’s normal for good traders to give you some extra grams when weighing for you. If they can’t give you extra, they won’t give you less than what you pay for.

If Mr Khadim’s customers’ claims are true, and if he’s doing that purposefully, that becomes cheating in scale. And any cheating in a single gram in a transaction of a 2kg meat turns the whole transaction into a haram income. For no one will willing pay for less of what he’s paying for, unless he’s doing charity.

As much as I’m sure the above-mentioned scenarios exist, none of them is based on a true story. It’s worth emphasizing here, that living on haram income has a heavy price to pay. Sooner or later.

Now, let’s find out, what are the causes of haram income.


Some Causes of Haram Income

There are several factors that lead to indulging in haram income. In this article, I’m able to identify four of them. They are greediness, jealousy, absence of God-consciousness and impatience.


Greediness is when one develops an excessive desire for wealth. A greedy person only cares about himself, and cares not, if the rest of the world starves.

To him, the world is fine, as long as his desires are fulfilled. Even if the rest of the world is on fire. Unfortunately (to him), no matter how much wealth a greedy person accumulates, he will come across someone who is given more wealth than him.

This is when his jealousy is triggered. For he would want more. For he’s not satisfied.


A dissatisfied person easily falls into jealousy. He can’t stand seeing anyone with success or good achievement. As much as he wants to attain your goodness, he wants you to lose the blessings Almighty has bestowed upon you.

If these feelings settle in one’s heart, he loses focus and his moral compass. And gradually, he loses God-consciousness.

Absence of God-consciousness

Being mindful of Allah and having constant consciousness for Him serve as strong immunizations for the believer. It also keeps the believer guided in all he does. Even his instincts (firṣasah) become guided. The absence of God-consciousness can lead to anything, imaginable and unimaginable in the opposite direction of righteousness.

Since lack of God-consciousness is usually close to being engrossed with materialism, impatience become the norm in life for many.


One of the factors of failure is impatience. This is applicable to worldly affairs, as well as affairs pertaining to the next life. The moment you want to digest the whole module in one lesson, you end up learning nothing. Worse, you think you have learnt something, at all.

Similarly, the moment we want to make quick wealth, we become desperate. This pushes us against the walls of all righteousness. Once you bounce out of the walls of righteousness, you bounce to the unlimited walls of evil. Welcome to the world of haram income…


Some Effects of Haram Income

The decision to hold one to account for his haram activities is solely in the hands of Allah. He brings him to account however He wills. He may punish the individual in this life. He may delay it for him to the Day of Judgement. As for what might happen in the next life, we leave it until the next life comes. Since we are living the moments, let’s discuss some of the impacts of haram income on our worldly life.

Imām Muslim reports from the narration of Sayyidunā Abū Hurayrah raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu, that Rasūlullāh ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam says:

أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ طَيِّبٌ لاَ يَقْبَلُ إِلاَّ طَيِّبًا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ أَمَرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ بِمَا أَمَرَ بِهِ الْمُرْسَلِينَ فَقَالَ ‏{‏يَا أَيُّهَا الرُّسُلُ كُلُوا مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَاعْمَلُوا صَالِحًا إِنِّي بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌ‏}‏ وَقَالَ ‏{‏يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ‏}‏‏.‏ ثُمَّ ذَكَرَ الرَّجُلَ يُطِيلُ السَّفَرَ أَشْعَثَ أَغْبَرَ يَمُدُّ يَدَيْهِ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ يَا رَبِّ يَا رَبِّ وَمَطْعَمُهُ حَرَامٌ وَمَشْرَبُهُ حَرَامٌ وَمَلْبَسُهُ حَرَامٌ وَغُذِيَ بِالْحَرَامِ فَأَنَّى يُسْتَجَابُ لِذَلِكَ‏

“O people, Allah is Good and He therefore, accepts only that which is good. And Allah commanded the believers as He commanded the Messengers by saying: “O Messengers, eat of the good things, and do good deeds; verily I am aware of what you do” (Sūrah al-Mu’minūn. 51). And He said: “O those who believe, eat of the good things that We gave you” (Sūrah al-Baqarah. 172). He then made a mention of a person who travels widely, his hair dishevelled and covered with dust. He lifts his hand towards the sky (and thus makes the supplication): “O Lord, O Lord,” whereas his diet is haram, his drink is haram, and his clothes are haram and his nourishment is haram. How can then his supplication be accepted?”

The man mentioned in the ḥadīth is on a voyage. He’s overwhelmed by the stress and anxiety any traveler experiences in longer journeys. Our situation in this life is not different from his. Perhaps, that’s what the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam is illustrating for us to make us think.

Are we not in a long journey? We often clean ourselves from the dust accumulated in the journey. Don’t we? We often cut our hair, to look better, even though we’re still in the voyage. Don’t we? When we do, do we care where and how we make money for that? Where do we seek help from, to be able to continue our trip? Do we care?

Based on the ḥadīth above, haram income has several impacts. Multilevel and on multi-generation. First, haram income affects the earner physically. Second, it affects all his religious rituals and activities. Third, haram income makes injustice to the family of the earner. Fourth, haram income does injustice to anyone whose position has been taken, or whose money is looted.

The Effect of Haram Income on the Earner

The process of making income from haram source is haram by itself. And this is the first impact of haram income. A person, who is indulged in haram lives a severe anxious and stressful life. He knows happiness. But he can’t find it, or taste it. This can be worse, if any of his victims is praying against him.

He might has accumulated lots of wealth from the haram income. But barakah has been taken away from it. This means, no matter how much he accumulates, he neither gets satisfaction nor does he experience happiness.

The Effect of Haram Income on the Earner’s Religious Activities

It’s from one’s income, that he usually feeds himself. It’s from that feeding that he seeks good health. Isn’t it? He, then, establishes his prayers from that. Isn’t it? He pays his zakat from the accumulated income. Isn’t it? One enriches himself and goes for hajj from that income. Isn’t it? One fasts from that income. Isn’t it?

Unarguably, the procedures of these religious activities could be correct or wrong depending on how they are mastered. But the essence of it, the fuel that was used to operate it must not have been a contaminated fuel. And, that… if it happens, it nullifies everything no matter how it’s mastered or perfected.

Imagine a person who might have built an empire of wealth, built schools and mosques, established prayers punctually in first rows, paid zakāh punctually, and yet, all that happens to come from haram money.

The Effect of Haram Income on the Earner’s Loved Ones

A stable person reacts to events reasonably. An anxious or stressful person reacts unpredictably. Because he can’t think straight. Since haram income drives its earners anxious, this state of anxiety extends to affect their families, in the form of constant argument, quarrel and domestic violence. When haram income is the source of funding for a family, they can expect to lose tranquillity and peace in the home.

Also, the same way haram income affects our nutrition and physical growth, it also affects our sperms and eggs negatively, which affects our offspring. This is where and when parents do injustice to their unborn children.

Therefore, before one asks Allah for children who are coolness to his eyes, he must be responsible enough to ensure they don’t come from sperms generated from haram income, nor are they nurtured in haram. In Islam, the foundation is important.

The Effect of Haram Income on the Society

Haram income does injustice to the society at different levels. When someone bypasses normal procedures to take over a post, knowing that there are better candidates for the job, he has done injustice to them.

When someone fakes a certificate and successfully secures a job, even if it’s through a formal procedure, if he’s a civil/public servant, he’s stealing from the public money. If he’s sitting on a charity organization, he’s stealing from public money.

People like these can’t stop corruption in any society. In the first place, they are products of corruption. How, then, can they bring about social change and reform? You see what haram income does to societies?


How to Live Without Haram Income

A few years ago, I came across a brother in Singapore. He introduced himself as someone who works for a bank.

Before I made any comment –and I wasn’t intending to make any comment, he started giving excuses. He started justifying why he works for a bank. He added that, “he knows it’s haram to work for the banks, and he knows they deal with ribā (usury/interest). But he had no choice.”

The point is to discuss earning from a source one is convinced, rightly or wrongly, to be haram, and yet one persists in earning from that source. Sayyidunā al-Nu‘mān ibn al-Bashīr says, in a ḥadīth reported by Imām al-Bukhārī, that Rasūlullāh ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam says:

الْحَلاَلُ بَيِّنٌ وَالْحَرَامُ بَيِّنٌ، وَبَيْنَهُمَا مُشَبَّهَاتٌ لاَ يَعْلَمُهَا كَثِيرٌ مِنَ النَّاسِ، فَمَنِ اتَّقَى الْمُشَبَّهَاتِ اسْتَبْرَأَ لِدِيِنِهِ وَعِرْضِهِ، وَمَنْ وَقَعَ فِي الشُّبُهَاتِ كَرَاعٍ يَرْعَى حَوْلَ الْحِمَى، يُوشِكُ أَنْ يُوَاقِعَهُ‏.‏ أَلاَ وَإِنَّ لِكُلِّ مَلِكٍ حِمًى، أَلاَ إِنَّ حِمَى اللَّهِ فِي أَرْضِهِ مَحَارِمُهُ، أَلاَ وَإِنَّ فِي الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إِذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ، وَإِذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ‏.‏ أَلاَ وَهِيَ الْقَلْبُ ‏”‏‏.‏

“Halal and haram are evident but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most of the people have no knowledge about them. So, whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honour. And whoever indulges in these suspicious things is like a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near the territory (private pasture) of someone else and at any moment he is liable to get in it. (O people!) Beware! Every king has a territory and the territory of Allah on the earth is His illegal (forbidden) things. Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt and that is the heart.”

Based on this ḥadīth, the believer is given a clear way out from falling for haram income. Imagine, that the ḥadīth does not only warn us against haram, but it’s, in fact, warning us against the gray area that falls between halal and haram. If it’s warning us against grey areas, what more about the haram areas, in the first place?

Therefore, the way out is to realize that your provision is guaranteed by Allah. Yes, put in the effort and go for it. But go for it righteously.  Prior to that, know the boundaries of Allah…

وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ ٱللَّـهِ فَقَدْ ظَلَمَ نَفْسَهُۥ

“and he who transgresses the bounds set by Allah commits a wrong against himself” (Sūrah al-Ṭalāq, 65:1).

The way out is to develop some sense of satisfaction (qanā‘ah), and accept Allah’s decision with regards to his provisions for us in this temporal life. This will help cleans our hearts from greediness. Some of the heart diseases that lead to greediness are jealousy, malice, and lack of God-consciousness.

The way out lies in reviewing our source of income regularly. This will enable us to reflect, and correct any mistakes, where applicable. If you expect to be promoted at your workplace every two years, then you should review your source of income every month. Promotion matters but it’s not crucial. The world doesn’t end if you’re not promoted. But ensuring the halal source of one’s income is very crucial. It determines everything about you as a Muslim individual. It determines the happiness of your family. Remember: we can only have happy societies when we have happy families. Happy family require purity. If healthy families need healthy food and hygiene to survive as such, then happy families need purity to remain.

The way out is that the Muslim realizes, that the money he has put in the effort to acquire in an unlawful way could have come to him lawfully, if only he exercised patience and gave it the time to process naturally.

You may be stranded, sometimes. But that’s not the end of the world. It’s just a temporal test. You must pass it. In other words, just because you are stranded does not open the door for you to indulge in haram.

Here, I must emphasize, that the moment we allow haram to take place in our earnings, we have agreed to compromise the missing element in our pursuit for happiness, wherever we go.


What After One Repents?

The door of repentance is open. As long as the sun rises from the east and sets at the west.  Allah surely accepts repentance. We are of three categories when it comes to repentance:

  1. The unlucky ones: those who are not fortunate and are not granted the chance to repent.
  2. The luckiest ones: those who are granted repentance with an absolute pardon.
  3. The lucky ones: those who are granted repentance, but with some consequences

The unlucky ones are made to take things for granted. And by the time they come to their senses and realizations, it’s too late for repentance. It’s either they cared not about repentance and died in that state, or they defied and refused to accept the possibility that they can be forgiven.

Those what are granted repentance with absolute pardon are the luckiest sinful people. They are pardoned, and all their sins are forgiven and eradicated. They are free from any accountability.

The lucky ones are those whose repentance are accepted, but they must be cleansed before they meet Allah. Thus, every flesh that was generated from haram must be purified and taken out of their bodies, before they leave this world. Hold your breath and read about the truth. It’s painful. They must undergo a very painful experience. May Allah safeguard us.


A Helpful Supplication

When we are back to our senses and have decided to pursue for our wealth the natural way, we reject evil whispers and thoughts, and then constantly seek guidance and protection from Allah against falling for the trap of the devil.

Imām al-Tirimdhī reports, that a man came to Sayyidinā ‘Ali ibn Abī Ṭālib raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu, complaining his inability to settle his debts. Sayyidinā ‘Ali raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu taught him a du‘ā’ which Rasūlullāh ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam had taught him. Sayyidunā ‘Ali then said, if you have a debt the weight of the mountain of Thubair, Allah will settle it for you. The du‘ā’ says:

اللهم اكْفِنِي بِحَلَالِكَ عن حَرَامِكَ وَأَغْنِنِي بِفَضْلِكَ عَمَّنْ سِوَاكَ

It means,

O Allah, make me satisfied with your halal provision, against haram provision. And enrich me with your bounty above anyone else’s bounty.



Allah has secured everyone their provision. Everyone’s comes in a different form at a different time. Man does injustice to himself when he goes impatient with Allah’s decision. This can lead to many implications. Many of which have been ruining our communities and societies for long.

The decision to strive and stop earning haram income effectively can only be made by those involved in it. One can make a million excuses to justify his wrong doings, if he wants to satisfy his heart desires. But he only needs one reason to be honest to himself. That’s you can lie to everyone but not to yourself. Even if you lie to yourself (self-denial), you can’t lie to Allah. The point is: no one knows the context and circumstances of your job more than you do. Therefore, the best ‘sheikh’ to determine for you whether the income you make from your job is haram is your own self. And it starts with essentially the nature of the job; whether it’s permissible in Islam. This is followed by the qualifications and means you presented to get the job. Then the honesty you showcase in the job. And you name the rest.

If you are still unsure, approach your local religious scholar to clarify things with him. When you do, remember to give him the bigger and clearer picture of the nature of your job. Tell him the whole story. Don’t give him a manipulated picture.

Haram income is easily attained. The easier it is to attain it, the farther is keeps you from purity. An obsession with haram income is an encouragement for corruption. It’s an encouragement for looting public fund. It’s an encouragement for abuse of power. It’s a cause for the downfall of the family institution. Until we fix our source of income from haram income to halal income, we can’t fix our many social problems.

O Allah, guide us and protect us from falling for haram income. O Allah, forgive our past practices in haram income. O Allah, purify our wealth from any form of haram. O Allah, make us satisfied with your halal provision, against haram provision. And enrich us with your bounty above anyone else’s bounty.

Let the discussion continue on Facebook. To receive updates from GSalam.Net delivered right to your inbox, click here. If you know a friend or an acquaintance who may benefit from this article, there will be no harm sharing it with him, inshā Allah.

Allah knows best.
Allahu Hafiz 🙂


  • S N Smith

    It is a good reminder, but it does need some editing. I shared it with others in my network: https://www.facebook.com/groups/islammadesimple/

    • Salam Mr Smith,
      Thanks for passing by. I’m glad you’ve read the article and found it useful.
      Please continue to share my articles with your network. I would, actually, be grateful if you can volunteer to give a read to my articles before I publish them.
      Thanks again. Wassalam.

  • Haruna Ismail Veejay

    Assalamu alaikum dear @1BabaSalam:disqus , what do i do? i live with an elder brother who have been earning from working in hotels for years now. He has been childless since marriage, with his earning we feed, school and others. he even help others with his money. some times, he want me to go work with him. i have also worked with him in the same hotel and also got some money from it. but recently, i have turned down some of his request of going there and have promised myself never to go there again. what do i do? where do i stand? please help me analyze the whole scenario!
    jazakallahu khairan.