Does the Illegality of an Income According to the Law of the Land Render It Islamically Impermissible?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: I am a computer engineer but as soon as I graduated I came to America on an H4 visa. Some of my friends recommended I start a catering business and so I did it, but something has been bothering me. Since I am on an H4 visa, I am not allowed to earn here so my earning would be illegal according to the U.S. law. If a particular income is illegal according to country’s laws, is it non-halal too?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

Your income would not be impermissible in this case as long as the actual work you do is permissible.

However, since you have entered the country with an agreement not to engage in work but to study, working would be considered going aginst this agreement you entered into. This would be disliked and potentially sinful since we are:




(a) called upon to fulfill formal agreements we enter into with other people, as per the Qur’anic command, “fulfill your agreements for verily they will asked about” [17:34], and
(b) bound to obey the law of the land we are residing in.

In one way, working in this manner would also entail a form of deception, which is also prohibited within the primary texts of our tradition. As Abu Hurayra narrates from the Prophet (God bless him): “The signs of a hypocrite are three: When he speaks he leis, when he makes a promise he breaks it, and when he is given a trust he breaches it. [Bukhari]

This is the basic ruling concerning thie issue although it should be mentioned that this ruling may vary depending on one’s individual circumstances.

Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani