Donating Interest Money

It’s the beginning of a new year according to the Gregorian or Christian calendar. And for those of us with interest-based banking accounts, it’s also the time to get rid of that haram interest money.

In the Quran, Chapter 2 verse 276, it says:

يَمْحَقُ اللَّهُ الرِّبَوا وَيُرْبِي الصَّدَقَتِ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ كَفَّارٍ اثِيمٍ

It means:

Allah will deprive Riba (usury) of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He loveth not creatures ungrateful and wicked.

Interest money or Riba, is prohibited to take and give. Interest is forbidden as it is a socially unjust mechanism for lending money. It benefits the rich to the detriment of the poor and also does not involve any investment risk for the lending party.

Narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah:

Allah’s Messenger cursed the accepter of interest and its payer, and one who records it, and the two witnesses; and he said: They are all equal (Muslim).

Abu Huraira related that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

On the night of the Miraj I came upon a group of people whose bellies were like houses. They were full of snakes which could be seen from outside their bellies. I asked Gabriel who they were, and he told me that they were the people who had practiced Riba (Interest). (Ahmad, Ibn Maja)

Abdullah ibn Hanjalah related that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

A dirham of Riba (interest) knowingly taken by a man is a sin worse than committing Zina (fornication) 36 times (Ahmad, Daraqutni).

So how can we get rid of that haram interest money ?

  1. Donating to Mosques:

    Mosques or Masjids should be owned by the community. Muslims should pay for the building of the mosques from their own money that is halal. There are some scholars who argue that interest money can be used to build parts of the mosque, such as the restroom, etc. But remember that Allah curses interest, therefore how can we build a part of the mosque, a place of worship, using interest money? Based on my personal opinion, we should avoid donating interest money to mosques.

  2. Donating to the needy:

    I am personally of the view that the interest money should be given to a charitable cause (poor, the needy and orphanages, etc) with the understanding that one will not receive any reward for the donation.

But in the Quran, Chapter 2 verse 267, it also says:

يَايُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءامَنُوا انفِقُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَتِ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ وَمِمَّا اخْرَجْنَا لَكُمْ مِنْ الْارْضِ وَلَا تَيَمَّمُوا الْخَبِيثَ مِنْهُ تُنفِقُونَ وَلَسْتُمْ بِءاخِذِيهِ اِلَّا انْ تُغْمِضُوا فِيهِ وَاعْلَمُوا انَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ

which means:

O you who believe! Give of the good things which you have (honorably) earned, and of the fruits of the earth which We have produced for you, and do not even aim at getting anything which is bad, in order that out of it you may give away something.

If someone asks how can we give to others what we do not like to take ourselves, then we answer them that we do not take it because we do not need it, but it is permissible for the poor to take it because they are in need. (al-Buhuth wa al-Fatawa, 1992, p. 284). We have a choice to either destroy this money, making it useless, or to use it to help someone. So we prefer helping someone instead of destroying it.

It must also be made clear though, that the intention is important when you get rid of the interest money. It should not be given with the intention of giving to charity, but should be given with the intention of getting rid of the haram money.