Q: Is my income as a para-planner ḥalāl, since I will be doing the research but not the advising on the different products (life insurance, mortgages, fixed interest bonds, mutual funds with non sharīʿah compliant companies etc)?
I am currently training as a para-planner at a small independent financial advisory firm and I wish to become a qualified Financial Adviser. The firm has a target Muslim clientele of around 1% and therefore the scope to adopt a sharīʿah compliant adviser is very small but this may change as the organization is moving more towards ethical investments.
Also, when qualified, I will be concentrating on investments, and not protection, i.e., mortgages, life insurance, etc. As you know asset allocation must be made up of bonds. How do I make my income ḥalāl? E.g., do I remove the percentage of income from these asset classes from income and give to charity etc?
الجواب حامدًا و مصليًا و منه الصدق و الصواب
A: Whilst the work of a para-planner, as described above, does not involve advising clients re non-sharīʿah compliant products the conclusions of the research in to these products are used exclusively to advise clients about them. I.e., the sole function of the conclusions of the research is to assist in the advice of non-sharīʿah compliant products. They have no other permissible function. Thus, whilst the research itself is not fundamentally unlawful, but as the exclusive function of the research is to assist in the advice of non- sharīʿah compliant products, it is not permissible to undertake such research on account of the assistance in sin. Accordingly, any income earned in carrying out the research will be unlawful. If the conclusions of the research have both permissible and non-permissible functions then, according to the principles of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, it is permissible to perform such research. However, according to the principles of Imām Abū Yūsuf and Imām Muḥammad, if the conclusions of the research have both permissible and non-permissible functions but the researcher knows that the intended use is not permissible then the research too will not be permissible on account of the assistance in sin. If one cannot find any other line of work then, as a temporary measure, there appears to be capacity to adopt the position of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah until one finds other suitable employment.
The nature of the research you conduct as a para-planner will determine whether it is permissible and whether the income received for the research is ḥalāl in accordance with the details mentioned above. If the majority of the research relates to investment opportunities that are fundamentally lawful but a minority relates to the likes of interest bearing bonds then one should cleanse one’s earning proportionately by giving to charity as suggested in the question.