In the first place, we would like to stress that every committed Muslim should work with his heart and tongue and devote his energy to upgrade Muslim’s economic system. Indeed, this is a reachable goal that is not impossible.
The eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following: “The Islamic economic system is based on fighting usury. Islam declared usury as one of the major sins that brings about disasters and societal destruction. It wreaks havoc in this life and a great penalty in the hereafter, as Allah says in the Qur’an: “Allah will deprive usury of blessing but will give increase for deeds of charity, for He loves not creatures ungrateful and wicked.” (Al-Baqarah: 276)
It is sufficient to read what Allah has said in the Qur’an: “Oh ye who believe! Fear Allah and give up what remains of your demand for usury, if ye are indeed believers. If you do it not, take notice of war from Allah and his messenger. However, if ye turn back, ye shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly.” (Al-Baqarah: 278-279)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has said, “If adultery and usury spread in a village, the people of that village are asking for the punishment of Allah.” The Islamic ruling in resisting evil is to do your best to fight it, change it and do not cooperate with others in doing it. Therefore, if all Muslims participated in the killing of an innocent life, Allah Almighty will punish them all. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) cursed those who produce alcohol, sell it, drink it, promote it, those who sit with drinkers, carry it and those whom it is carried to. In another saying, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) cursed bribery, those who give it, take it and those who call for it or promote it. Similarly, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) cursed usury, those who take it, write its contract and those who witness such a contract.
It is these sayings of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that torture the lives of some good Muslims who work in banks and other financial institutions.
In fact, the issue is more than witnessing a contract. Usury has penetrated the very structure of our economic systems and financial institutions. The hardship has become collective, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) once said, “There will come an age where everybody eats usury and those who don’t will be touched by its dust.”
This disaster won’t be changed by an individual’s refusal to take a job at a bank. What changes it is a societal desire to be rid of the disastrous effects of such a system. Usury is taken from the exploitation of a capitalist system. The change would come when a people possess their destiny with their own hands and act accordingly. Islam does not oppose removing this ill in increments. That was the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and Islam in exterminating the habit of drinking. What is important is that the people be convinced of the disastrous effects of usury. That way, when they possess the will to change it, they will. If the intention and the goal are determined, then the path is clear.
Therefore, every Muslim should work with his heart and tongue and devote his energy to develop our economic system in accordance with Islam’s instructions. This is a reachable goal that is not impossible. There are many countries and millions of people who do not subscribe to the usury system. These are the communist countries. If we too prohibit working with banks and financial institutions, then non-Muslims will control our economies as well as the international economy. Usually, the one that has that control are the Jews and that is not in our best interest.
Generally speaking, most functions of the banks are not prohibited, with only the least of their functions being involved in usury. I see no problem in accepting a job with a bank.
Meanwhile, we should all work to change such a system and do our best in conducting ourselves to be satisfied with our work and Allah’s satisfaction with us. Working is necessary to provide for oneself and one’s family with sustenance. Therefore, the rule of necessity applies here. Allah Almighty says, “If a person is forced by necessity without wilful disobedience or transgressing due limits, thy Lord is oft-forgiving, most merciful.” (Al-An`am: 145)