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Should I Pay Zakah on Money Earned via Haram Work?

23 October, 2018
Q I would like to explain my situation. I am a student studying in a Western country and I am still living at home. I am studying tourism and have worked for the past few years in restaurants, until just recently. I did not know that serving alcohol and pork is haram. I thought maybe it was makruh, but once I found out it is haram, I stopped working and serving these things and I am repenting to Almighty Allah. It is particularly hard to find a job in restaurants or tourism in this country that does not involve serving these things. Very few restaurants do not serve these things, so I have many questions to ask: First, I had been working in restaurants which serve alcohol and pork for a few years and I managed to save a decent amount of money which I intended to use to get married and things related to that such as a deposit for an apartment. Is it permissible for me to use this money? Should I donate a specific amount of money to cleanse the money? If so, how much of it? If I should donate some money, does it have to be immediately or can I donate it at some time in the future? Second, my father also works in a Western country in the same field and his job involves serving pork and alcohol. Currently, I am in need of my father's support for study fees and help with costs for an apartment and other things. Is it permissible if I accept financial support from my father? Do I have to cleanse this money? If so, how? Third, should I pay zakah from the money which I have saved from previously working in serving alcohol and pork? Fourth, in this country, and especially in the field of tourism, it is quite hard to find a job without having to serve alcohol or pork. Although there are some, I have been looking for a job for months and cannot find any that do not involve serving these things. Is it permissible to work in serving them temporarily until I find a halal job? JazakumAllahu Khayran


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

If the money you saved reached the nisab (minimum zakatable amount), you have to pay zakah on it, as you earned it without knowing that it is haram to serve pork and alcohol even for non-Muslims.

Responding to this question, Dr. `Abdul-Fattah Idrees, Professor of Comparative Jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, says:

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A pious Muslim has always to be cautious about the sources of his earnings. Unlawful earnings invoke the wrath of Almighty Allah and endangers the Muslim’s life in the Hereafter as he will be held accountable for such gains. The amount of lawful jobs are surely more than those that are unlawful.

A Muslim has to exert effort in looking for a permissible job and Almighty Allah will help him in this regard.

As you did not know the prohibition of working in such places, you are allowed to make use of the money you gained during this period because you exerted effort in return for this money without knowing the prohibition of its source.

Therefore, it is permissible for you to spend it on your preparation for marriage and such lawful purposes.

However, you are not allowed to take money from your father because you know that the source of his money is prohibited. You should even advise him to quit this unlawful job so as to cleanse and purify the source of his provision.

For sure there are many other sources of lawful earnings. Insisting on working in the field of tourism is not an excuse for transgressing the limits of Almighty Allah. You and your father can look for any other job, even if it is outside that field, which, as you have mentioned, is difficult for you to observe the injunctions of your religion when working in it.

As far as the issue of zakah is concerned, if the money you saved during this period has reached the nisab, then you have to give out its zakah according to the percentage prescribed by the Shari`ah.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.