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Documenting Usurious Transactions as an Accountant

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: Is the following hadith related to my work as an accountant?

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas’ud: The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) cursed the one who accepted usury, the one who paid it, the witness to it, and the one who recorded it. (Sunan Abu Dawood)

I work as an accountant for a company which provides accounting and legal services for several entities. These entities deal significantly with structured loans, debts and derivatives financial instruments (options, forwards, swaps etc).

My day to day work is the administration of these structures. This entails calculating interests, reviewing loan agreements, and recording/ reviewing these loans and derivatives transactions and producing the financial statements.

Can you please advise if this work is permissible as I understand these type of transactions have elements of Riba and Gharar embedded in them and whether I fall in the scope of the “one who records”.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states. Please pardon me for the undue delay in response.

The category of ‘the one who recorded it’ in the hadith you cite is understood by scholars to refer to the one who wrote the contract at the time of the actual usurious transaction, as he too is involved in the transaction. In the words of Imam Munawi, “The reason that these [four] categories share in the curse is because the contract is not completed without all of their participation.” [Fayd al-Qadir]

Therefore, the hadith would not refer to one who is not involved in the actual transaction but merely records it later. Of course, the person should hate the transaction in his heart.

For a detailed fatwa by the esteemed scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani, please see:

Working as an Accountant When Interest Transactions Are Involved

Hence, if your work does not entail drafting actual contracts with usury but merely recording past transactions, it is permissible. If it does entail drafting contracts of usurious transactions, then you should find alternative work, although this can be done gradually, meaning you don’t have to leave your current job until you find a viable alternative that is halal.

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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