We are in West Virginia, USA and community is building a new Masjid and community center. The funds are not enough and we are trying to build Masjid and community center in the same building (community center in the basement). We are thinking about some fund-raising for the project, but there are certain issues that we need guidance about, 1) Is it allowed to use donation money (by Muslims) which is ‘mashbooh’ (not sure if halal because of the banking system or because some businesses are running on bank loans or mutual funds etc) for purpose of construction of the building. 2) Some brothers are saying we should do fund-raising from general population (donations from non-Muslims as well), would this kind of money be allowed to put in construction? 3) Can above mentioned donations be allowed for building the community center and NOT the masjid itself? Your help would be appreciated in this regard as the brothers are divided over the issue causing delay in the project and distress in the hearts.
Basically, you have asked two questions:
a) Is it allowed to use unlawful/doubtful money for the construction of the Masjid or the community centre?
b) Is it allowed to avail of donations made by non-Muslims for the construction of the Masjid or the community centre?
a) As far as your first question is concerned, one should keep in mind the following Ahadith of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace):
1) Sa’id ibn Yasar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Whoever gives in charity from good (halal) earning – and Allah only accepts the good – it is as if he placed it in the palm of the Merciful to raise it, as one of you raises his foal or young camel until it is like the mountain.” (Muwatta of Imam Malik, Hadith no. 2844)
2) Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Allah does not accept any prayer without purity, neither does he accept charity from what was stolen from booty (ghulul).” (Sahih Muslim, Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith no 1, Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan Nasa’i & Sunan Ibn Majah)
Qadhi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi (Allah have mercy on him) says in the explanation of the above Hadith:
“Giving in charity from unlawful wealth is similar in non-acceptance to performing Salat without obtaining purity.” (See: Sunan Tirmidhi with footnotes from Ahmad Shakir, 1/ 6)
3) Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Allah the Almighty is pure and accepts only that which is pure…..” (Sahih Muslim)
The above narrations are categorical on the fact that Allah Most High does not accept charity given from unlawfully acquired wealth, for He is pure, and He only accepts what is pure.
Based on this, the great Hanafi Jurist (faqih), Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) states in his renowned Radd al-Muhtar, commentating on Imam al-Haskafi’s statement “…if from lawful (halal) wealth”:
“Taj al-Shariah said: “However, if one spends filthy wealth in the Masjid, or wealth which was gained through both unlawful and lawful means, then this will be disliked (m: makruh tahriman), because Allah Most High does not accept apart from that which is pure, hence it will be Makruh to pollute the Masjid with wealth that Allah does not accept.” (Radd al-Muhtar, 1/658)
Therefore, it will not be permitted to give or take unlawful wealth as donation for the construction of a Masjid, Islamic/community centre or any other cause for that matter; rather unlawful money should be given away to the poor and needy without the intention of gaining a reward.
The above was the ruling of a donation from someone whose complete wealth was purely from unlawful means. If however, one’s wealth was a mixture of Halal and Haram, then if more than half of one’s wealth is lawful (halal) and less than half unlawful (haram), it would be permissible to accept this as donation even without investigating whether one is donating from the unlawful or lawful part of the wealth, as the ruling is given according to what is dominant.
However, if most of one’s wealth is certainly unlawful, then it would not be permitted to accept such wealth as donation to the Masjid unless one states that the money provided is from lawful wealth. (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 5/343)
You state that people’s wealth may be doubtful due to it being kept in the bank, etc. However, merely depositing money in the bank does not make it unlawful; hence it will be permitted to accept such money, unless there is some other clear reason of unlawfulness.
One must remember that the wealth which is not permissible to accept as donation is that which is certainly unlawful, such as interest money, money gained through gambling, stealing or trading in unlawful trade, etc. It is also not necessary to carry out a detailed enquiry as to whether one’s wealth is Halal or otherwise. If one’s wealth is clearly known to be Haram, even without making an inquiry, then the above-mentioned injunction would apply.
b) As far as accepting the donations of non-Muslims is concerned, Hanafi jurists (like Ibn Abidin, for example) state that the condition for giving something as waqf is that it is considered an act of reward by both the giver and the receiver (meaning in our religion). As such, if a non-Muslim was to give money to a charitable cause, he would normally do that as an act of virtue. However, if he were to donate money for the construction of a Masjid, it would only be regarded legally as Waqf if he considered it as an act of virtue and reward. (See: Radd al-Muhtar, 4/341)
Based on this, it would be permissible to take the donations of non-Muslims for the construction of a community centre. However, with regards to the building of a Masjid, it will only be permitted if the donator considers it as an act of virtue in that his belief is that he will be rewarded on giving this money,
Discovering this could be difficult at times, hence the best way to avail of donations made by non-Muslims is that, they (non-Muslims) make the Muslims owners of the wealth, and then the Muslims utilise this money for the building of the Masjid, hence the non-Muslim will not be directly giving his/her money as Waqf.
This permissibility of accepting donations from non-Muslims is, however, subject to the condition that such donations are not, in any manner, harmful to the interests of the Muslims. If, for example, there is an apprehension that the donors will try to interfere with the management of the Masjid/Islamic centre, or the donation will be detrimental to the self-respect of the Muslims, then, such donations should not be accepted. (See: Contemporary Fatawa, P. 333-334)
Here also, it will not be necessary to carry out a detailed investigation on the source of the income. However, if the source of income, on the face of it, is proven to be Haram, then the donation must not be accepted.
I hope the above answers all your questions
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK