There is no doubt that one of the obligations upon the Muslim is that he earn for himself and his family a pure and halal sustenance. There are two aspects to halal sustenance, the first involving earning through halal means , and the second entailing spending only on halal items so as to ensure purity in what a person eats, drinks and is nourished on.
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
“Allah the Almighty is Good and accepts only that which is good. And verily Allah has commanded the believers to do that which He has commanded the Messengers. So the Almighty has said: “O (you) Messengers! Eat of the tayyibat [all kinds of halal (legal) foods], and perform righteous deeds” [23:51] and the Almighty has said: “O you who believe! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you” [2:172]. Then he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) mentioned [the case] of a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty, and who spreads out his hands to the sky saying “O Lord! O Lord!,” while his food is haram (unlawful), his drink is haram, his clothing is haram, and he has been nourished with haram, so how can [his supplication] be answered?”
Related by Muslim
This hadith introduces the importance of al-tayyeb, that which is good or pure. The concept of purity and goodness applies to numerous aspects in our lives. As Muslims, we must be careful to enjoy only food and clothing that are halal, use pure speech, and hold pure intentions.
In popular cultures today, there are so many impure things around us. Indeed, such impurities have become so common and widespread that we may actually think they are beneficial. Nevertheless, if something is impure, then it cannot be good for us regardless of how many people like it or practice it. Our standards should not be set according to what most people say or do. Rather, they should be defined according to the revelation of Allah (swt).
The Muslim is always to be on guard against temptation which may lead him toward doubtful activities, thereby weakening his faith and compromising his religion, no matter how large a profit or gain may be involved. The Prophet (SAW) said, “Leave alone what puts you in doubt and turn toward what does not put you in doubt.” (Reported by Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisai, al- Hakim, and Ibn Hibban in his Sahih.)
He also said, “A person does not reach the rank of the God-fearing (muttaqeen) until he abandons what is harmless out of fear that it may be harmful.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi.)
Purity is achieved when one earns his sustenance in a halal manner, and then uses it to buy halal food. So, if a person buys pure food from stolen money, this will not be accepted from him. Likewise, if one earns money from permissible means, then uses it to buy impermissible items, such as intoxicants, this too will not be accepted from him. Only when both of these conditions have been met - the way one earns money and the way one spends it - will Allah’s acceptance be gained.
Another hadith affirms the above:
"Whoever gives charity equivalent to a date, from his pure earnings and Allah only accepts pure then Allah will accept it with His right hand, then He will nurture it for its companion, like one of you nurtures his foal, until it becomes like a mountain."
So charity that is given from impure earnings will not be accepted by Allah, no matter how much is given, whereas charity given from pure earnings will be accepted by Allah, even if equivalent to a date!
It is haram to do business in alcoholic beverages, intoxicants, drugs, swine, idols, statues, or anything of this sort whose consumption and use Islam has prohibited. Any earnings from such business are sinful earnings, and the Fire is likely to be the abode for the flesh which has been nourished on such earnings. Honesty and trustworthiness in such businesses will not be counted as meritorious’ for Islam came to fight and destroy such practices.
Islam prohibits any participation in the promotion of alcoholic beverages, whether it be in their manufacture, distribution, or consumption, and that anyone who participates in any of these is cursed by the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him). The case of other intoxicants and drugs, such as hashish, cocaine, and the like, is the same; manufacturing, distributing, or consuming any of them is haram. In short, Islam prohibits the Muslim to work in any industry, business or profession which deals in, or promotes, anything which is haram.
Similarly, any service rendered in support of injustice or in promoting what is haram is itself haram. For example, it is prohibited to the Muslim to be an employee in an organization which deals in interest, in a bar or liquor shop, nightclub, dance hall, and the like.
It is not a valid excuse to say that one is neither using what is haram nor directly involved with it. As we have stated previously, it is a basic principle of Islam that whatever aids and assists the haram is itself haram. For this reason, the Prophet (peace be on him cursed the person who writes the document of interest and the person who witnesses it, as well as the person who consumes it. Similarly cursed is the person who brings the wine, the one who serves it, as well as the one who drinks it.
On one occasion, the Prophet (SAW) could not sleep all night, tossing and turning. So his wife asked him, “O Messenger of Allah! You spent the night awake, tossing and turning?” He replied,
"I found a date last night under my side, and ate it. (Then I remembered) that we had (in our house) some dates that were meant for charity. So I feared that the date (that I ate) was of it."
Subhan Allah! The Prophet (SAW) ate one date, forgetting that he had some dates in his house that were meant to be distributed to the poor, and this caused him to have a sleepless night for fear that it might have been from the dates of charity! So how is it that this accidental morsel, which a person would hope to have been forgiven on the basis of innocent intention even had it been haram, caused our beloved Prophet (SAW) so much unrest and discomfort, while one of us might earn his or her entire living through means that are haram without a doubt, and yet still enjoy a deep sleep at night?
O you who believe, do not consume your property among yourselves wrongfully, but let there be trade by mutual consent, and do not kill yourselves; indeed, Allah is ever merciful to you. And whoever does so in enmity and injustice, we shall cast him into the Fire; and that is easy for Allah. (4:29-30)
May Allah SWT grant us all Halal earnings, Ameen!