Can Islamic Organizations Accept Unlawful Donations?

Answered by Shaykh Dr. Mohammad Fayez Awad


Is it permissible for Islamic organizations/institutions to accept donations from those whose source of income is unlawful?


All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. Blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah, his Family, and his Companions.

To answer this important question, it is necessary to clarify the following points:

  1. The obligation of earning lawful income and the prohibition of the opposite;
  2. What can we do with money that comes from an unlawful source through one’s will and choice?

Earning Lawful Only

To elucidate, seeking lawful earnings is obligatory for every Muslim. [Ghazali, ‘Ihya; Ibn al-Jawzi, Mukhtasar Minhaj al-Qasidin]

Allah (Most High) has commanded eating from what is good, as He (Most High) says:

“O believers! Eat from the good things We have provided for you. And give thanks to Allah if you (truly) worship Him (alone).” [Quran, 2:172]

He (Most High) said in condemnation of the unlawful:

“Do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly, nor deliberately bribe authorities in order to devour a portion of others’ property, knowing that it is a sin.” [Quran, 2:188]

Ibn Mas‘ud (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

“Indeed, Allah has distributed among you your characters as He has distributed among you your provisions. And indeed, Allah gives the worldly life to those He loves and those He does not love, but He only gives the religion to those He loves. So, whoever is given the religion by Allah, then Allah loves him. And by Him in Whose Hand is my soul, a servant does not truly submit until his heart and tongue submit, and he does not believe until his neighbor is safe from his misfortunes. They said: And what are his misfortunes, O Messenger of Allah? He said: His injustice and wrongdoing. And no servant earns wealth from haram (unlawful) and spends from it, and it is blessed for him, nor does he give in charity from it and it is accepted from him, and nothing he leaves behind except that it is his provision to the Fire. Indeed, Allah (Most High) does not erase evil with evil, but indeed, He erases evil with good. Indeed, the impure does not erase the impure.” [Hakim; Ahmad]

Narrated by Ka‘b Ibn Ujra (Allah be pleased with him), he said: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “O Ka‘b Ibn Ujra, flesh and blood that have grown from ill-gotten gains shall not enter Paradise. All flesh and blood that have grown from ill-gotten gains are more deserving of the Fire.” [Ibn Hibban; Hakim; Nasa‘i; Tirmidhi]

Therefore, it is incumbent upon a Muslim to seek lawful means of earning and to avoid dealings that are unlawful.

How to Dispose of Unlawful?

Whoever earns unlawful wealth must repent to Allah the Exalted for this act and dispose of this prohibited wealth by returning it to its owner. Imam Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) conveyed in al-Majmu‘ from Imam Ghazali that,

“If one possesses unlawful wealth and wishes to repent and disassociate from it, and if it has a specific owner, it must be returned to him or his agent. If the owner has passed away, it must be delivered to his heir.” [Nawawi, al-Majmu‘]

However, if one was forced into this situation or did not do so intentionally and the owner is known, it is also obligatory to return it to him.

And if the owner is unknown, as in the case of interest money from dealing with banks, which has become common these days, the obligation first and foremost is to intend to rid oneself of it so as not to consume it or feed one’s family with ill-gotten gains. Imam Nawawi, quoting Imam Ghazali (Allah have mercy on them), said,

“And if it belongs to an owner whom he does not know and has despaired of finding, it should be directed towards the general welfare of Muslims such as bridges, hospices, mosques, and the interests of the way to Mecca and the like, in which Muslims share, or else he should give it in charity to a poor person or poor people.” [Ibid.]

Qaradawi (Allah have mercy on him) said:

Bank interest accumulated is considered unlawfully earned wealth, making it impermissible for the one who earned it to benefit from it, as this constitutes consuming ill-gotten gains. This applies to all forms of benefit, including food, drink, clothing, housing, and paying dues. Leaving such interest with banks is also impermissible, as it supports usurious institutions, which is aiding in sin. Instead, these funds should be spent on charitable causes like aiding the poor, orphans, and wayfarers, supporting jihad, spreading Islam, building mosques and Islamic centers, training preachers, and publishing Islamic literature. [Qaradawi,]


From what has been stated, it is clear to us that Islamic institutions are permissible to take such funds, which the owner is prohibited from benefiting from. This assists in abandoning ill-gotten wealth and getting rid of it.

May Allah guide us to lawful, good provision and open the doors of goodness and blessing for Muslims, for He is the All-Hearer, the All-Responder.

[Shaykh] Dr. Muhammad Fayez Awad

Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Fayez Awad, born in Damascus, Syria, in 1965, pursued his Islamic studies in the mosques and institutes of Damascus. A graduate of the Islamic University of Medina in 1985, he holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Bahauddin Zakariya University in Pakistan.

He has extensive experience developing curricula and enhancing the teaching of various academic courses, including conducting intensive courses. Shaykh Awad has taught Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Quranic sciences, the history of legislation, inheritance laws, and more at several institutes and universities such as Al-Furqan Institute for Islamic Sciences and Majma‘ al-Fath al-Islami in Damascus.

He is a lecturer at the Sultan Muhammad al-Fatih Waqf University in Istanbul, teaching various Arabic and Islamic subjects, and teaches at numerous Islamic institutes in Istanbul. Shaykh Awad is a member of the Association of Syrian Scholars, a founding member of the Zayd bin Thabit Foundation, a member of the Syrian Scholars Association, and a member of the Academic Council at the Iman Center for Teaching the Sunna and Quran.

Among his teachers from whom he received Ijazat are his father, Shaykh Muhammad Muhiyiddin Awad, Shaykh Muhiyiddin al-Kurdi, Shaykh Muhammad Karim Rajih, Shaykh Usama al-Rifai, Shaykh Ayman Suwaid, Shaykh Ahmad al-Qalash, Shaykh Muhammad Awwama, and Shaykh Mamduh Junayd.