Interest: Spending interest

Q292 :The interest we receive from the bank on our deposit we distribute to the poor as charity. We are unable to act on the suggestion that such interest could be used to provide public services such as toilets, cemeteries, etc. The only way is to distribute it to the poor. Your suggestion requires that many people should share in its implementation by paying the interest they may receive into a special account for the purpose of building public services. Please advise.

A292 : I feel that a Muslim should not go to a bank to open an interest earning account, with the intention of spending the interest he receives in charity. To resort to such an arrangement is bound to give him the false feeling of satisfaction that he is doing his share in alleviating the effects of poverty on others. What he has to understand is that interest, and all usury for that matter, is foul. Allah accepts only what is good. With regard to money, that means what is earned with one's work and effort. It is true that individuals cannot get involved in providing public services. The interest they receive on their deposit is too small for that purpose. However, they can pay that amount to a society which may be engaged in such work. One could give it to the municipal authority to encourage it to provide such services. I have also suggested that this interest may be given to any Islamic relief organization which is working in the famine- or disaster-stricken areas of the Muslim world. Muslim Aid of Britain and the Islamic Relief Agency in Sudan are two such organizations. [Added: or the Eidhee Trust in Pakistan.] I would hesitate before approving the payment of interest directly by one who receives it to a poor person. I am not keen on that at all. The whole situation is a false one. The poor person feels very grateful to someone who is giving him something which he does not own. That is absurd.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )