Islam has a concept of not benefiting from interest. Many times I have seen on this site that if someone keeps his money in a bank, he may donate the interest money to charity in order to get rid of it and that he should not expect any type of reward for that donation because it is not valid charity money.

But what if donating the money makes the person happy that the cause to which he is donating is benefiting? For example, suppose the person is an animal lover, so he donates his interest money to the Humane Society. He knows that this donation does not count as charity for him, but he is happy nonetheless because now the Humane Society has more money.

Does this feeling of happiness count as a benefit such that it makes his donation a violation? If so, how can a person dispose of his interest money in such a way that he will not benefit from happiness? Must he donate it to a cause in which he does not believe? It seems like there are problems with that as well.

2 Answers 2


There was an episode of Friends in which Monica and Phoebe debated whether it is possible to ever do something that is 100% selfless. In the end, it was decided that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible because the mere act itself could bring happiness or karma or what have you to the person.

I don’t know sharia law inside and out, but I strongly suspect that they did not consider this philosophical implication and thus did not create a specific clause to account for it. Further, as you pointed out, enforcing it would create a bizarre conundrum in which one would be forced to support something contrary to their beliefs, which in the case of sharia, would be counter to the goal.

An easy way to avoid this situation is to simply avoid using an interest-bearing account like a savings account and keep your money in an account that does not accrue interest such as a checking account.

One obvious way of disposing of the existing interest would be to simply destroy it, but that would be wasteful (which is also sin to some degree), and possibly even illegal. You would be hard-pressed to find some so zealous and extremist as to say that you cannot give the money away regardless of how you feel about it.

Keep in mind the true, underlying point to the rule: interest benefits you without working to earn it, and is thus seen as sort of “cheating” or “stealing”.

You can try to donate the money without smiling and simply bottle your emotions (you would soon forget about it anyway), but no religion, law, or anything can every truly control what a person thinks or feels, so expecting someone to derive no satisfaction from a good deed could never work.

  • "I strongly suspect that they did not consider this philosophical implication." Why do you suspect this? In Judaism, there is the Talmud which was written around the same time or slightly before Mohammad lived and the Talmud deals with this consideration extensively.
    – Daniel
    Jan 3, 2018 at 21:25
  • "Enforcing it would create a bizarre conundrum in which one would be forced to support something contrary to their beliefs, which in the case of sharia, would be counter to the goal." Why couldn't it be enforced by destroying the money? Then you don't have to support something contrary to your own beliefs, you just destroy any benefit you could gain from that money. You say that you'd be hard-pressed to find someone so "zealous and extremist" to do so, but as a matter of fact at least in Judaism this is sometimes what you have to do. So your assertions without support aren't very convincing.
    – Daniel
    Jan 3, 2018 at 21:27

I personally think that if we believe in God then we would surely believe that God does not need none of our money or actions. God looks for purity in our intentions, so basically its between God and a particular individual. I may fast for rest of my life but I don't abstain from materialistic pleasures then God would know all about it. Perhaps at times things need to be looked at in the right spirit.

So if we do away with Riba one way another, would we not feel happier knowing the root of our action was to please the Lord. If this isnt taken in the right spirit then we might as well argue that happiness thus achieved is again incorrect as we should not gain anything out of charity.

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