What Can I Do with the Unlawful Money I Earned from Something I Repented Long Ago?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

I was looking through my old files, and by chance, I found an old account with a large amount of money that I earned from an unlawful job. I repented for that long ago (The job does not involve theft).

How can I get rid of this money? Is it permissible to donate it to needy people or to use it to buy Islamic books that can be put in the Mosques or given to people willing to learn about Islam?  Thank you.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide us to that which pleases Him, Amin.

All praise is to Allah, who guided you away from an unlawful job. We pray that He grants you the ability to save yourself from all forms of unlawful pursuit. Unlawful income remains unlawful for the one who earned it, and he should not benefit from it. Scholars differ about how best to disburse unlawful income, and the disbursement avenues you described are suitable. The following rules should be observed, and Allah knows best.

Disbursing Unlawful Income

The general rule that applies to any form of unlawful funds is as follows:
1. Where the rightful owner is known, it must be returned to the rightful owner.
2. Where the rightful owner is not known [or if they refuse], the funds must be disposed of in one of two ways:

a) it must either be given towards a charitable cause that benefits the public at large, such as public hospitals, schools, or mosques;

b) or it should be given in charity to a person who is entitled by his need to receive charity.
[Karaan, Disposal of Riba (Fatwa issued by the MJC)]

I pray this is of benefit.

[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. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, 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 served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

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