Is My Income Unlawful if Some of My Employer’s Wealth is Earned Unlawfully? 

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


I am currently working for a non-Muslim family member from time to time. But now that he has received rent from an alcohol company that is renting a place on his farm.

My job consists of permissible stuff like watering plants and other similar tasks. Are my earnings lawful without the need to do anything further?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him. Amin.

Based on your description, some of your employer’s income appears from unlawful sources. Even if most of his income was from unlawful sources, your job and earnings are lawful because there is a possibility that your income is from their lawful sources, which is enough in Sacred Law, and Allah knows best.

Dealing With One Whose Income is Mostly From Unlawful Sources

Imam Nawawi said: “If one is invited by someone whose majority of wealth is unlawful, it is disliked to respond to his invitation, just as it is disliked to engage in transactions with him. If it is known that the very food [served] is unlawful, then responding to his invitation is forbidden”. [Nawawi, Rawdat al-Talbin; Nawawi, al-Majmu‘ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab; Ibn Hajar, Tuhfat al-Muhtaj]

Imam Shafi‘i said: “We do not like to transact with one whose majority of wealth is from riba (usury), or the price of the forbidden, whatever it may be, or the earning of wealth through usurpation and all that is forbidden.

However, if a man conducts a transaction with one of these [people], I would not annul the sale because these [people] may possess [some] lawful [wealth], so the sale is not annulled and we do not declare something unlawful unless a man buys something unlawful that he knows of, or with an unlawful price that he knows of.

And this is the same for the Muslim, the dhimmi (non-Muslim citizen), and the harbi (one in a state of war with Muslims); all that is unlawful is unlawful. [Shafi‘i, Kitab al-Umm]

Nature of Your Job

Suppose the job involves permissible activities, such as agricultural work, administration, or any task that doesn’t directly support or engage in the unlawful. In that case, your work and earnings are permissible. You are not held accountable for the source of your employer’s wealth, provided that your earnings and work are lawful.

May Allah reward you for your concern, and may He guide us all to maintain a clear conscience and pure intentions, seeking lawful earnings as prescribed by Allah (Most High) who reminds us in the Quran: “And eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And fear Allah, in whom you are believers.” [Quran, 5:88]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar Shaykh Taha Karaan (Allah have mercy on him), where he taught.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Shaykh Muhammad Awama, Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Hitu, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has been the Director of the Discover Islam Centre, and for six years, he has been the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has fifteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic podcast, education, and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy Prophetic living and fitness.