#146: Prohibited Money for Charity

Question:

Is it permissible to use doubtful or prohibited money for charity such as using it to pay for fixing or repairing costs of a surau?

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.

Originally, any money obtained from sources prohibited by syara’ such as gambling and prostitution is impermissible to be used. If the income is solely from prohibited activities, then the money is prohibited money, while if it is mixed between the permissible and prohibited, then it becomes doubtful money.

From Abu Mas’ud al-ANsori RA, he said:

أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ نَهَى عَنْ ثَمَنِ الكَلْبِ، وَمَهْرِ البَغِيِّ، وَحُلْوَانِ الكَاهِنِ

“God’s Messenger forbade the price paid for a dog, the hire paid to a prostitute, and the gift given to a soothsayer.” [2]

According to the question that arises, prohibited and doubtful money can be used for charitable purposes and public benefit, on the condition that the giver has repented and freed himself from the sin.

Imam al-Nawawi cited a fatwa issued by Imam al-Ghazali Rahimahullah in the book al-Majmu` Syarh al-Muhazzab [3]:

If a person has with him a prohibited asset and he wants to repent and free himself from the prohibited asset, then if the asset is owned by someone, then it should be returned to the owner or his proxy. If the owner has passed away, then return it to his heirs. If the heirs are unknown or one has given up from trying to search for them, then it is obligatory to use the asset for the needs of the general Muslim ummah, such as for (necessities of) building bridges, infrastructures (horse stables, school or a place of gathering for Sufi), mosques, and the roads of Mecca and others in terms of that the benefit can be shared by all Muslims…

Imam al-Ghazali stated an opinion from Saidina Mu`awiyah bin Abi Sufyan, other Salaf scholars such as Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, al-Harith al-Muhasibi and other pious scholars, for it is impermissible to get rid of the prohibited asset and throw it in the sea. There is no other choice except to utilize it for the benefit of the Muslim ummah.

We are inclined towards the above opinion of Imam al-Ghazali and conclude the following guides:

  • It is permissible to use the doubtful asset to fix and repair the damage of a surau as stated. The reason is surau is also included in the category of benefitting the Muslim ummah akin to a mosque. However, we are inclined to state that although it is permissible according to the above opinion, it is better if the use of the asset is limited to matters unrelated to worship such as in the repairs of the bathroom of the surau or mosque.
  • This opinion is also not encouragement or permission to increase transgression or sinful acts with the excuse that the profits from them can be donated to mosques or surau for the benefit of all, however, it is subject to the condition that the person must have repented and free himself from the sin and intended to never repeat it.
  • It is best if the matter is discussed with the body of authorities such as the local Islam State Department so that they can give sufficient help and needs.
  • If the prohibited or doubtful asset involves criminal offences in the country such as money laundering activities which involves elements of human trafficking, drug dealings and briber, then it must be reported to the authorities such as the police or the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC).

Hopefully, this explanation benefits us all. We end with the supplication:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْمًا نَافِعًا ، وَرِزْقًا طَيِّبًا ، وَعَمَلاً مُتَقَبَّلاً

“O Allah, I ask You for knowledge that is of benefit, a good provision, and deeds that will be accepted.”

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] See al-Mu`tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafie, 3/67

[2] Narrated by al-Bukhari (no.2237)

[3] See al-Majmu` Syarh al-Muhazzab, 9/351

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