Auditor/Accountant earnings from non-shariah compliant businesses or for getting interest-based loan
Auditor / Accountant earnings from non-shariah compliant businesses or for getting interest-based loans Salam. I have a question that is a great concern to me as I think I will have to change my career or find a unique halal niche to avoid the doubt. I am a Chartered Accountant in Canada and started to work on my own practice trying for both direct to consumer and subcontracting for other CA. Before at large firms, we would audit large companies that were in need of the audit for both debt to the bank and for shareholders. However now as a small practice owner, most of the work qualifies under the following: 1. Audit financial statements and processes for companies that do a shariah-compliant business like a trucking company, but solely for the purpose of getting a bank loan which I know is interest-based. Is this not halal for me as I am directly aiding in the interest-based loan process? I literally have to write that in the purposes and users of the audit that it's for an (interest) bank loan and bank name as user...(so am I one of the writers of interest contract or too close to the transaction?! I heard the writers of Interest are damned by Allah and I read an audit generally doesn't qualify but this seems directly related to interest loan and goes in the loan approval file and the bank person contacts me to get confirmation to give the bank loan) 2. Audit the financial statements and processing for charities that often are either churches, temples or other religious denominations. Is this okay as it supports shirk and idolator religions? They would include interest-bearing loans.
3. Audit financial statements for businesses such as an interest-based bank itself or for businesses to get bank loans (interest-based) that are not shariah compliant such as idol manufacturing, banks, financial credit unions, insurance agencies, and mortgage investment companies who's significant earnings are from activities that are against Islam. 4. Tax services that are usually at the level of complexity of the firm are usually companies or individuals that are often (interest-based) mortgage broker, insurance brokers but this is for tax planning and compliance to save on taxes legally and do the required tax filing for company/individual. Would I be supporting these non-shariah compliant businesses by doing this tax work and putting doubt in this earnings? 5. The services of the audit license with a very limited Islamic finance system in Canada means most audits/assurance engagements are only for getting traditional bank loans. The only areas I've heard that could avoid these are non-religious or Islamic non-profits like food banks and masjids if they need it, or housing/condo corporations, and some health clinics that are reimbursed by the government. I don't know of other areas of service that would use my lifelong learning experience in a way to avoid doubtful earnings. I have had to say no to customers who are insurance sellers and such, but I cannot seem to get access to the above-mentioned housing/non-profits/ health services companies. Should I still try and focus on those less doubtful industries or is my work just to look at how financial statements and processes work and it doesn't matter in Islam which client I'm working for if I have a choice? I have contemplated and with a little manageable hardship can plan a career move to Islamic finance or a general small business (as I want to follow in the sunnah to be a taajir). Is that a better approach Islamically? Some people are telling me I'm too picky in worrying about my earning being doubtful because I'm just an accountant/auditor and have nothing related to the not halal portion of the clients I mentioned above. I did hajj last year and I try to do my best to analyze what I do now more. I just feel wrong and it seems this doubt will continue to disturb me in my life and my hereafter, so I would rather be safe than sorry in the eyes of Allah, especially as Allah has provided me the ability to adjust my career to be less doubtful in earnings (if it is doubtful in the first place or it's just unnecessary thoughts in my mind that I'm looking for your advice on). Please advise. Jazakullah Khair!
Answer: ﺑﺴﻢ اﷲ اﻟﺮﺣﻤﻦ اﻟﺮﺣﯿﻢ In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful 1. It is mentioned in a Hadith that the Prophet (s.a.w.) cursed the consumer of interest, the one who gives it, the one who witnesses it, and the one who records it (Abu Dawud: Hadith 3333). However, the scribe of interest who is referenced in the Hadith refers to the individual who wrote the agreement or prepared the document as proof of the transaction. The Hadith does not refer to the person who was not involved in the transaction (e.g. auditor/accountant), rather, he merely reviewed the accounts of an individual/organization or probed into them, then recorded a PAST transaction that involved interest without him having any involvement. Therefore, in essence, there is no sin in accounting or auditing itself. You are not responsible for the sin of the client who intends to use your service for sinful purposes, e.g. obtaining an interest-based loan. However, you should avoid writing on the document that the purpose of the audit is for an interest-based loan and the user is the bank, and refrain from dealing with the banks by giving confirmations as these two things entail direct assistance in acquiring an interest-based loan and show one’s approval of such a grave sin. Whilst carrying out your job as an auditor/accountant, and at all times, continue to abhor usury and all other sins. Furthermore, when auditing and accounting, do not have the intention of assisting others in sin. Nevertheless, it is certainly more superior to deal with clients whose businesses are Sharia-compliant.
2. Refer to answer #1
3. Refer to answer #1
4. The firm or individual accountants offer tax preparation services in lieu of a fee. This service does not necessitate direct assistance in committing a sin, hence it would be permissible. Offering such services does not imply support as long as that was not one’s objective when rendering the service.
5. Refer to #1. Yes, it would be better to pursue a career in Islamic Finance or start a halal business on account of you being in a better environment and not having to indirectly/directly facilitate interest-based loans. Understand the afore-mentioned rulings well and act accordingly. After knowing the Islamic legal ruling of a particular matter, do not pay any heed to doubts and whisperings of Shaytan.
Your concern for a halal livelihood is a sign of your strong Iman. If you experience such doubts after acquiring sound knowledge and acting accordingly, then that is just Shaytan desiring to make life miserable for you by creating anxiety and doubts in your heart. Continue seeking refuge in Allah (s.w.t.), asking Him for pure, halal sustenance, and consulting the scholars regarding that which is permissible and impermissible.
Khulasa Al-Kalam fi Masala Al-I’aana ‘alaa Al-Haraam: p. 7; Contemporary Fatawaa: p. 159-161 (Idara-e-Islamiat)
Only Allah knows best
Written by Maulana Mohammad Ahsan Osmani Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham