I intend to commence employment as a solicitor (practising lawyer), Insha’Allah in July 2008. During my professional training I have tried to get involved and indeed have trained so that I can specialise in Islamic finance transactions.

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

I intend to commence employment as a solicitor (practising lawyer), Insha’Allah in July 2008. During my professional training I have tried to get involved and indeed have trained so that I can specialise in Islamic finance transactions. Insha’Allah my intention is to specialise and provide legal advice etc on sharia-compliant transactions.

The problem for me is that there is no entry level job available as a solicitor/lawyer in solicitor/law firms to train and deal with ONLY Islamic banks or sharia-complaint finance transactions. The UK sharia-complaint financial sector is still considered in its infancy and therefore very specialised. In order for me to eventually specialise in advising exclusively on sharia-compliant transactions I have to go down the conventional route. That is I have to advice and work on transactions that involve conventional banks for a few years. Insha’Allah gain the expertise and then perhaps shift to dealing exclusively with sharia-complaint banks.

Briefly, the legal firm I intend to work for is a leading law firm that advises and deals in various aspects of the law. One of the areas that it deals with, and this is the area that I will be working in, is Corporate finance and Banking. The function of this department is to act primarily on behalf of Conventional banks, venture capitalists etc to prepare contracts and the ‘paperwork’ between the bank, acting in its capacity as lender, and the borrower. The negotiations, arrangements, figures and the deals are agreed between the bank and the borrower directly. Our firm would provide the contractual documentation that would be required by law to primarily protect the interests of both parties. Of course our firm’s client would be the bank. The borrower would have their own solicitors/lawyers.

With my ultimate aim being to specialise in Islamic finance, the only way I can get any credible experience in corporate finance/banking in the legal sense is to work on transactions involving the conventional banks, additionally, I am not employed by the bank however the main clients of the banking team are the banks. The banking function of the firm is a small part of the overall business of the law firm. My question is would my work be classified as permissible? And my income halaal? Although my aim and goal is to eventually specialise in Islamic finance, the reality of this is that this could take years!! Is there a time frame that I would need to adhere to? What if I can’t specialise in Islamic Finance would my earnings until that point be classified as haraam?

I would like to apologise for the barrage of questions. I have always tried to maintain a halaal source of income and would not want to do anything to jeopardise that. 

Answer

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

In principle, it is not permissible to work in a conventional bank and to be associated directly with the interest bearing deals. It is obvious that as a lawyer, drawing documents for a conventional bank you will be drawing a document specific to the interest bearing deals of the bank. That will fall in the category of assisting in sin which is prohibited.

In our opinion, you should search for an opportunity to gain credible experience in the field of Islamic Finance in the Middle East. We believe there is a demand for English speaking people in that field and that may expose you to the experience you are searching for.

And Allah knows best

Wassalam

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah

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