Eight Casualties of Haram Wealth

Our analysis, when presented with a business venture, is meticulously thorough: “what are the start-up costs?”; “how many partners are involved?”; “what’s the likely return on investment?”. In many cases, however, it may not even occur to ask the most important of all questions: “what’s the Islamic ruling of this venture?”

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) had prophesied that such a day would arrive. He said:

يَأْتِي عَلَى النَّاسِ زَمَانٌ، لاَ يُبَالِي المَرْءُ مَا أَخَذَ مِنْهُ، أَمِنَ الحَلاَلِ أَمْ مِنَ الحَرَامِ

“There will come a time where people will not care regarding what they take; from Halāl or Harām.” [1]

What is interesting is that when the Qur’ān spoke of Zinā (fornication), it elaborated on its consequences and denounced it with the harshest of expressions. The same can be said about the consumption of alcohol, theft, backstabbing, false accusations and so on. However, when the Qur’ān approached the topic of finances, specifically the using of interest(riba), the language of the Qur’ān changes to an entirely new tone:

فَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلُوا فَأْذَنُوا بِحَرْبٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ

“…But if you do not desist from dealing in riba (interest/usury), then take a notice of war from Allāh and His Messenger…” [2]

Commenting on this, Ibn ʿAbbās (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said:

يُقَالُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ لِآكِلِ الرِّبَا: خُذْ سِلَاحَكَ لِلْحَرْبِ

“On the day of reckoning, it will be said to the user of interest, “Take your weaponry in preparation for war.” [3]

How humiliating, but such is the seriousness of finances in the eyes of Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). It’s important to clarify a matter at this point: what is meant by ‘prohibited wealth’? Is it exclusive to the obvious, i.e. sources via the trade of alcohol, drugs, gambling, theft and interest? In reality, this concept is far wider than that, as it encompasses:

  1. Earnings that are sourced from impermissible avenues, like the selling of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, etc.;
  2. An impermissible product, like pork and alcohol, even if purchased from Halāl wealth;
  3. The permissible product, like fruits, vegetables, beef etc, when purchased from Harām

In fact, the concept of ‘prohibited wealth’ is so far-reaching that the scholars have even discussed the ruling of an employee praying voluntary units without the permission of his employer. For the obligatory prayer, there is no problem in this. But for the Rawātib (the Sunnah prayers that are associated with the obligatory ones), scholars have two opinions: one party argues that no permission is required due to their emphasised status, whilst the other argues that permission is in fact required. As for nonspecific voluntary units of prayer, Imam Ahmad’s Fatwā is that one shouldn’t engage in them if they will minimise the employer’s benefit in any way. [4]

So those lecturers, for example, who purposely arrive late to lectures that they’re being paid to deliver; or those who use their work hours to do their shopping, to recreationally surf the internet, engage in other business ventures, or take their children somewhere;  then this is money that – in many cases – has not been worked for, and may come under the same heading of ‘prohibited wealth’. Do you now see just how encompassing the expression of ‘prohibited wealth’ actually is?

If you have allowed this type of wealth into your account, this means that you’ve unleashed a weapon of mass destruction against yourself and your family. The danger of such a weapon, however, is that its effects are not always immediately noticeable. It does not make any sounds; it does not tear down buildings; it does not release any toxic smells; but nevertheless, it is so ruthless in its effects that it has the power to singlehandedly devastate your Dunyā and your Dīn, and the casualties are beyond count. Today, we will name a few of those casualties.

The first casualty: Your heart

The same way that certain foods are damaging to your physical heart – fast food burgers, processed foods, cured meats, deep fried foods, and so on – that block the natural passage of blood through its arteries, there are certain matters that are also damaging to your spiritual heart and cause a blockage of the passage of Īmān, happiness, and Sakīnah (tranquilly) through it. One is prohibited wealth. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:

إن العبدَ إذا أخطأ خطيئةُ نُكِتتْ في قلبهِ نُكتةً سوداءَ فإذا هو نزعَ واستغفرَ وتابَ سُقلَ قلبهُ وإن عادَ زيدَ فيها حتى تعلو قلبَهُ وهو الرانُ الذي ذكرَ اللهُ كَلّا بَلْ رَانَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ مَا كَانُواْ يَكْسِبُونَ

“When a servant of Allāh commits a sin, a black spot is placed on his heart. If he then withdraws, seeks forgiveness and repents, his heart is polished clean. But if he returns, it will be made to increase until it covers his entire heart, and this is the Rān (stain) which Allāh mentioned: ‘No, but rather, on their hearts is the Rān (stain) because of what they used to earn.’” [5]

So, what happens as a result of such covering? Well, you fail to enjoy the sweetness of Islām: you fail to benefit from advice, you struggle to engage your heart in Ṣalāh, in Duʿā’, and in the recitation of the Qur’ān. Mercy and kindness are taken away from it; patience and positivity are removed from it. Your heart becomes hard and as a result, even though you may take your body to the places of goodness – mosques, Islamic lectures, gatherings of remembrance – you feel like you have left your heart somewhere else every time, like a car that simply fails to start. In desperation, you ask: “What’s wrong with you?”, and if your heart had the ability to speak, it would answer: “It’s your prohibited wealth that’s suffocating me.”

The second casualty: Your Sadaqah

Due to the prohibited wealth that you refused to avoid, you have successfully managed to close the door of charity between you and Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). The fact that Zakāh comes under this category should terrify us. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:

من جمع مالا حراما، ثم تصدق به، لم يكن له فيه أجر، وكان إصره عليه

“Whoever accumulates prohibited wealth, then gives out in charity from it, he will not be rewarded for it and will have to bear the consequences of it.” [6]

“How is it that my charity will not help purify me from my sins?” I hear you ask. Sufyān al-Thawri answers:

من أنفق الحرام في الطاعة كمن طهر الثوب بالبول والثوب لا يطهره إلا الماء، والذنب لا يكفره إلا الحلال

“Whoever spends prohibited wealth in avenues of goodness is just like a person who cleans his clothes with urine. Clothes cannot be purified with anything but water, and sins cannot be erased with anything but the Halāl.” [7]

The third casualty: Your Duʿā’

What good is there in life when the rope of Duʿā’ between yourself and Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) is severed? Such a person will be left to himself, for his voice of Duʿā’ has become of no interest to Allāh. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) made mention of a man, who:

يطيل السفر أشعث أغبر يمد يديه إلى السماء يا رب يا رب ومطعمه حرام ومشربه حرام وملبسه حرام وغذي بالحرام فأنى يستجاب لذلك

“…having journeyed far, is dishevelled and dusty, and who spreads out his hands to the sky in Duʿā’, saying, “O Lord! O Lord!”, while his food is Harām, his drink is Harām, his clothing is Harām, and he has been nourished with Harām, so how can his Duʿā’ be answered?” [8]

Notice, all of the means of an accepted Duʿā’ are with such a person, for he (1) is travelling, (2) is in a humbled state, (3) is raising his hands in Duʿā’, (4) is repeating his Duʿā’, and despite these elements combined, Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has nothing for him.

It was well known that Sa’d b. Abī Waqqās (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu)’s Duʿā’ was answered by Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) every single time. He was asked:

تستجاب دعوتك من بين أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم؟

“Why is it that, from all of the companions of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), it’s your Duʿā’ that is answered?”

He answered:

ما رفعت إلى فمي لقمة إلا وأنا عالم من أين جاءت ومن أين خرجت

“I have not raised any bit of food to my mouth without knowing the details of where it was sourced.” [9]

The fourth casualty: Your acts of worship at large

Thus, the harm of prohibited wealth is not limited to one’s Duʿā’ but extends its cancerous roots to every Ṣalāh, fast, Hajj, and worship in general. Is all the money of the world worth it?

Al-Ghazāli said:

العبادة مع أكل الحرام كالبناء على أمواج البحار

“One’s worship whilst consuming the prohibited is like constructing a building on top of the waves of the oceans.” [10]

Ibn ‘Abbās (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said:

لا يقبل اللّه صلاة امرىء في جوفه حرام

“Allāh does not accept the Ṣalāh of a person who has the prohibited within him.” [11]

How tragic it would be, therefore, to have the thousands that you had spent on, for example, Hajj, and the weeks that you’d spent away from your family and comfort, rejected. See how accurate were the words of the poet who said:

إذا حججتَ بمالٍ أصلهُ دنسٌ ** فما حججتَ ولكنْ حَجَّتِ العِيرُ

لا يقبلُ الله إلاّ كلَّ طَيِّبَة **ٍ ما كلُّ مَنْ حَجَّ بيتَ الله مَبْرُورُ

“If you’ve performed Hajj from wealth that’s sourced from impurity, then you didn’t perform Hajj, but your animal did.

Allāh does not accept but that which is pure, thus realise that not every pilgrimage is Mabrūr (accepted).”

The fifth casualty: Your Barakah

With the devastating weapon of prohibited wealth, the Barakah in your life will also start experiencing the throes of death. The true extent of this loss can only be appreciated when the concept of Barakah is understood correctly, so what exactly is Barakah?

Al-Rāghib said:

البركة هي ثبوت الخير الألهي في الشيء

“Al-Barakah is when Allāh allows goodness from Him to remain in something.” [12]

This concept of “remain” is integral to the understanding of the term “Barakah”. When a camel is described as having knelt down, the Arabs say “Barakah al-Ba’īr” as, when it does so, it stays where it is. Similarly, an area where water collects is described as a “Birkah”, as it’s a place where water remains.

Take it as a rule in life: There can be no true happiness in the absence of Barakah. This is because when Barakah mixes with something small, it causes it to grow and when it mixes with something already huge, it allows it to be of benefit.

Should Barakah, therefore, become part of your wealth, health, time, children, knowledge or their likes, then they become far more productive and beneficial in their effects – a means of happiness – and their effects will remain.

We need Barakah in our lives. A person who has such will be able to achieve far more in his day than those who do not, despite the hours of the day being identical in the lives of both. Consider Saʿd b. Muʿādh (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) who embraced Islām at the age of 30 and died just 6 years later. His life was so full of Barakah that his death would cause the Throne of Allāh to shake.

We need Barakah in our hours. A person who has such will find the time to visit parents, give time to family, pray in the Masjid, require fewer hours of sleep, and more importantly, collect as many good deeds during that day. Others, however, devoid of Barakah, may sleep hours on end but still feel sluggish. During the day, they will find barely enough time to do anything productive.

We need Barakah in our money. A person who has such will feel pleased with what he or she has. Car tyres are not always in need of replacement, appliances at home aren’t always breaking down, and although the income isn’t great, the Barakah of such money means that he is able to suffice himself and family, to spend in charity, and is thus, content. On the other hand, some may have millions coming in each month, but because the Barakah is missing, such people still find themselves in debt, spiritually lost, and unable to solve the jigsaw puzzle of happiness.

We need Barakah in our knowledge. A person who has such finds each Āyah or Hadīthtransformational in terms of what it does to his or her conduct, worship, appearance, Hijāb, habits, and so on. Others, however, who are devoid of such Barakah, may sit in many sermons, lectures and reminders, yet find their inner and outer change, to be minimal or non-existent.

We need Barakah in our children. A person who has such will find his children to be righteous, dutiful, and a means of happiness for both parents. Yes, they may have one child, but this child may be one who grows to become a reformer, revivalist, a true worshipper of Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā), or similar. On the other hand, another couple may be parents to multiple children, but since Barakah is missing in them, their behaviour is deplorable. They neglect their parents, and worse still, their motivation as Muslims is at a rock bottom.

With a prohibited source of income, Barakah will be your casualty number five.

The sixth casualty: Your doors of Halāl

Yes, it is bitter, but a reality, one that states: Whoever rushes to attain Rizq via a door of Harām, a door of Halāl in his life will close. What’s interesting is that in many cases at least, those who opt for the prohibited sources of income are those who are least in need of it. He may already have several properties to his name, several sources of income, and a very reasonable saving, yet it does not stop him from pursuing the impermissible. How can this be explained other than by saying that the doors of Halāl are being vaulted shut before him?

It was narrated that ʿAli b. Abī Tālib (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) entered the Mosque of Kūfa and requested a young boy to take hold of his animal whilst he prayed inside. When he finished his prayer, ʿAli (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) took out one dinar to give the child in thanks but found that the child had stolen the saddle of his animal and ran away with it.

Instead, ʿAli (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) gave the dinar to another person and requested that he buys for him a saddle from the market. The man came back with a saddle to which ʿAli (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, “Subhān Allāh! This is my saddle.”

The man replied, “I bought it from a young boy in the market for one dinar.”

ʿAli (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said:

سبحان الله، أردتُ أن أُعطيه إياه حلالاً، فأبى إلا أن يأخذه حرامًا

“Subhān Allāh. I wanted him to benefit from the dinar in a permissible manner, but he insisted to take it in a prohibited way.”

The seventh casualty: Your safety underground

That moment of soul and body separation will be, for some, the beginning of a brand-new phase of peace and comfort as angels of mercy rush to spoil such a soul within its grave. For others, the grave represents a new episode of unimaginable suffering in the companionship of angels, who rush to torture it. One of the factors that differentiate between these polar opposite outcomes is how a person had sourced his wealth. Should it be from a prohibited source, even martyrdom will not intercede for you.

Once the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) heard companions congratulating the soul of a Muslim—Midʿam—who had died after having received a stray arrow to his body during the expedition of Khaybar. They said: “Congratulations for him entering Jannah!”

The Prophet’s (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) response, however, took them all by surprise. He said:

كلَّا، والذي نفْسي بيدِه، إن الشملةَ التي أخَذها يومَ خَيبرَ من المغانمِ، لم تُصِبْها المَقاسِمُ، لَتَشتَعِلُ عليه نارًا

“No, I swear by the One who possesses my soul. He took a shawl from the spoils of Khaybar before it was correctly distributed, so its flames are now covering him.” [13]

People were horrified to hear this, and so one man came to return one or two leather shoelaces that he’d also taken, and said: “I took these on the day of Khaybar”, to which the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:

شراكٌ أو شراكان في النار

“One or two shoelaces from hell.” [14]

If this was the outcome for someone who had added to his possessions something prohibited on the off chance, what then do you make of a person whose day to day life consists of such? What kind of surprises await such a person?

The eighth casualty: Your home in Jannah

Imagine the tears of regret that some will shed when, on the Day of Reckoning, Jannah is within sight, but they are prohibited from walking through its gates due to prohibited wealth. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) told his companion, Kaʿb (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu):

يا كعبُ بنُ عُجرةَ! إنَّه لا يدخُلُ الجنَّةَ لحمٌ ودمٌ نبتا على سُحتٍ، النَّارُ أولَى به

“O Kaʿb b. ʿUjra, any person whose flesh and blood were nourished through the impermissible cannot enter Jannah. The hellfire is worthier of them.” [15]


Easy returns and quick turnovers? Yes, this is the type of money that the prohibited sources may bring but beware of convincing yourself that this has anything to do with success. It is simply impossible to disobey Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) and then succeed, just as it is impossible to obey Him and then fail. “Success” and “failure” are not measured by what you see in the hands of people today but in the outcomes.

The Prophet Muhammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:

إِذَا رَأَيْتَ اللَّهَ يُعْطِي الْعَبْدَ مِنْ الدُّنْيَا عَلَى مَعَاصِيهِ مَا يُحِبُّ فَإِنَّمَا هُوَ اسْتِدْرَاجٌ ثُمَّ تَلَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ { فَلَمَّا نَسُوا مَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ فَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ أَبْوَابَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَتَّى إِذَا فَرِحُوا بِمَا أُوتُوا أَخَذْنَاهُمْ بَغْتَةً فَإِذَا هُمْ مُبْلِسُونَ }

“If you see that Allāh is giving one of his servants from this life all what he wishes whilst engaging in wrongdoing, then know that Allāh is baiting him to destruction. Then, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam)  recited the verse (which confirms this meaning): “So when they forgot Our reminder, We opened for them the gates of every good; until they became proud with what We gave them, We took them away all of a sudden and lo and behold, they were plunged into destruction.” [16]

If you are given the option between two paths –  one that is downhill, fully paved, scenic and fragrant but ends in a bottomless pit, and another path that’s uphill, dark, rough in its terrain but ends in a top class chalet, swimming pool and all-you-can-eat buffet – which of the two would most people opt for? Thus, success and failure are to be measured by the eventual destination, not by the ease or difficulty of the journey.

With such casualties associated with prohibited wealth, what good is there left in the life of a person acquiring it?

Ali Hammuda



[1] Al-Bukhārī, on the authority of Abū Hurairah

[2] Al-Qur’ān 2:279

[3] Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr

[4] Manārus Sabīl

[5] Al-Tirmidhi, on the authority of Abū Hurairah

[6] Ibn Khuzayma, on the authority of Abū Hurairah

[7] Al-Kabā’ir, al-Dhahabi

[8] Muslim, on the authority of Abū Hurairah

[9] Jāmi’ul ‘Ulūmi wa al-Hikam

[10] Ihyā’u ‘Ulūmid Dīn, Al-Ghazāli

[11] Jāmi’ul ‘Ulūmi wa al-Hikam

[12] Al-Mufradātu fī gharībi al-Qur’ān

[13] Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Abū Hurairah

[14] Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Abū Hurairah

[15] Al-Tirmidhi

[16] Ahmad, on the authority of ‘Uqbah

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