The Importance of Lawful Earning in Islam: Part 2

According to what has been said in the first part of this article, the income one earns is either Halal (gained through lawful ways), which can be freely spent, or Haram (gained through foul means), or sometimes of doubtful origins (mixed up of both Haram and Halal), which must be seriously avoided. Now you might wonder what some of the precise examples of unlawful earning are in today’s world.


What Are the Instances of Unlawful Earning (Haram Income) in Islam?


Riba (Usury)


Translated as usury, Riba refers to unfair, exploitative interests made in business. The unjust interest gained from the repayment of a loan or the simultaneous exchange of unequal commodities are the two common examples of usury. “There is the principle of the relationship between one's efforts and the amassing of wealth and the importance of participating in the risk of losing one's wealth as well as increasing it in any economic transaction. That is why Riba or interest is forbidden in Islamic Law” [1] [i].


earning in Islam



Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said: “The worst unlawful earning is the income a governor gains through bribery” [2]. When some people bribe to gain what they want easily, the others who avoid giving bribes for any reason will face many difficulties to obtain what they are entitled to. Also, the bribe receivers will not fulfill what they are required to do by law unless they are bribed.


So, if bribery spreads among people, especially government officials, in a society, it will definitely lead to an increase of corruption within the community [ii].


Profiteering and Defrauding


One of the great sins in Islam is cheating in selling things, which could be of two kinds; selling something at a higher price than its real value, especially when there is a shortage of that product in the market, and also selling short measures to consumers [iii]. The loss of public trust and financial corruption are among the most devastating results of this sin.


There are also other examples for selling short measures, one of the most common of which happens in offices when employees are not conscientious enough to fulfill their job commitments and responsibilities. So, the income they earn is Haram.


Drug Dealing and the Trade of Alcoholic Drinks


Any income one gains through the role she/he has in producing, distributing, or consuming alcoholic beverages and also drug is considered Haram:

They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, "In them is a great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit…"” (2:219)


Muslims believe there is no harming nor reciprocating harm in Islam. So, they seriously avoid anything that inflicts harm upon them or their fellow brothers.


earning in Islam


Based on the verse above, the money one earns through gambling is Haram, too[iv].

That is because Islam highly recommends earning the livelihood through productive jobs and encourages hard work and striving to earn money rather than becoming wealthy or losing all one’s money overnight.




The income one may earn by singing or playing a song which is typical of or suitable for frivolous gatherings, and carouses are also unlawful (Haram) [v].




Indeed those who want indecency to spread among the faithful—there is a painful punishment for them in the world and the Hereafter, and Allah knows, and you do not know” (24:19)

There are numerous instances of indecency in the world we are living today, from the provocative pictures of countless celebrities anyone can find in media, on the internet, etc. to the films that encourage immorality, and to sexual exploitation of women and so forth and so on. In fact, Islam has been sent to spread and complement the best of morality [4].


Therefore, the income earned through any attempt to spread any immorality or indecency in the society is certainly Haram.


Magic and Fortune Telling


Magic and fortune telling are believed to be destructive in the Islamic teachings, since according to the Quran: “Your omen is with Allah” (27:47), so, we should not put our trust in anyone except Him. Islam considers magic an act of devil and a great sin which has to be avoided [vi].


What has been mentioned above are among the most common examples of unlawful income. There are other instances as well which you can ask a proficient Islamic jurist or scholar about. On top of that, human’s common sense and reason can indicate what is exactly unlawful (Haram) and should be avoided.


This article is to give you some hints so that you become more cautious about your income in order to lead a decent and virtuous life.



[i] “Those who exact usury will not stand but like one deranged by the Devil’s touch. That is because they say, ‘Trade is just like usury.’ While Allah has allowed trade and forbidden usury” (2:275).

[ii] “Do not eat up your wealth among yourselves wrongfully, nor proffer it to the judges in order to eat up a part of the people’s wealth sinfully, while you know [that it is immoral to do so]” (2:188).

[iii] “‘O my people! Observe fully the measure and the balance, with justice, and do not cheat the people of their goods, and do not act wickedly on the earth, causing corruption’” (11:85).

[iv] “O you who have faith! Indeed wine, gambling, idols, and the divining arrows are abominations of Satan’s doing, so avoid them, so that you may be felicitous” (5:90).

[v] “Among the people is he who buys diversionary talk that he may lead [people] astray from Allah’s way without any knowledge, and he takes it in derision. For such there is a humiliating punishment” (31:6).

[vi] “…and Solomon was not faithless but it was the devils who were faithless—teaching the people magic and what was sent down to the two angels at Babylon, ... They would learn that which would harm them and bring them no benefit; though they certainly knew that anyone who buys it has no share in the Hereafter. Surely, evil is that for which they sold their souls, had they known!” (2:102).



[1] S.Hussain Nasr, A Young Muslim’s Guide to Islam, p.58

[2] al-Jame al-Saqir, vol. 2, p. 45

[3] Allama al-Hilli, Nahj al-haqq wa kashf al-sidq, p. 495

[4] Kanz-ol-a’maal, 13th vol. p.151, Hadith #36472