Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
I work in a court where my primary duty is processing, entering, and filing cases and sending summon letters to defendants. These cases primarily involve debt collection and landlord-tenant disputes. Am I sinful for working in this job, and is my income halal if the cases involve riba?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.
Direct assisting in the processing of a usurious contract is strictly prohibited.
Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) said, “The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) has cursed the one who takes usury (riba), the one who gives it, the one who writes the contract, and those who are witness to the contract.” He said, “They are all equal (in sin).” [Muslim]
The people mentioned in the above narration have a direct role in the usury. This direct role in assisting with a prohibited act is what the Quran mentions.
Allah Most High says, “Cooperate with one another in goodness and righteousness, and do not cooperate in sin and transgression. And be mindful of Allah. Surely Allah is severe in punishment.” [Quran; 5:2]
Indirect Assistance in Usury
It is not obvious that your role as one who processes debt collection is a direct role in usury.
The debt collections, especially those of a landlord-tenant dispute, are sound in that the principal wealth is owed. Collecting a justly deserved debt is permissible. The issue is with the additional usury, which is a secondary detail of the contract.
The axiom of the Sacred Law: “Secondary details are not singled out in rulings” also “Matters are overlooked in secondary details that not are such in main issue.” [Ibn Nujaym, al-Ashbah wa al-Naza’ir]
For these reasons, it appears that your role is an indirect assistance in usury, which is not strictly prohibited (haram) but is prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) if you have other options for income.
Advice: Moving Forward
To the extent possible, one must distance themselves as far as one can from the prohibited. You may remain at your job and consider your income permissible (i.e., not haram); however, you must prioritize seeking another occupation that does not deal with usurious contracts.
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch teaches Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York, where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences.
He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he studied for three years in Dar al-Mustafa under some of the most outstanding scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib.
In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.