Guidance for the Traveler (Part 3 of 3) 

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Guidance for the Traveler (Part 3 of 3)

(continued from the previous week (

When one needs a car in a country whose laws force one to have car liability insurance, buying the insurance has effectively become a tax, and is the moral responsibility of the lawmakers, not the person forced to comply (Reliance of the Traveller [71], 942–43).

With the above in mind, Sheikh Wahbeh al-Zuhayli was asked for a fatwa about health insurance in the United States, where as yet (2011) there is no national health care plan, and medical treatment can be so costly that a serious health crisis for some families can mean financial ruin or not getting treated. He gave a detailed reply too long to reproduce here, but at the end of which he said,

To summarize, it is possible to say — sometimes, with the previously noted strictures [including inability of some people in North America to afford medical treatment] — that health insurance is lawful for certain individuals out of necessity or need; namely, those who are poor or of medium income, because of their inability to immediately pay [for treatment], and because some hospitals do not agree to give treatment without insurance, and those who do, discriminate in their dealings [between those who have it and those who do not], as the [fatwa] question made clear — While keeping in mind that preserving life and treatment of the ill is something fundamental to life and health — which is not true of insurance for fire, theft, drowning, or the like. And Allah knows best (Fatwa[106], 11 March 2003, 1).

Anyone working in an industry directly connected with institutionalizing the unlawful, such as banks, or stores selling pork, alcohol, pornography, and the like, should immediately begin looking for alternative forms of employment, even if it involves a loss of income. A little of the lawful that is blessed is better than a lot of the unlawful that is devoid of any blessing. The search for alternative employment should be sincere and earnest. If a substantial period of time elapses and one finds that one’s livelihood is still directly connected with the unlawful, one should seriously consider emigrating to a place where one can find lawful employment.

This said, it is godfearing enough in our times to avoid work that directly deals with or is an immediate cause of the unlawful. As for mere possibilities or indirect causative factors contributing to the unlawful, it is very difficult to avoid all such things in most jobs, and because it is obligatory to support one’s family with honest work, one should do the best one can, and rely on Allah for help with the rest.

If we are inconvenienced by any of these measures, we should remember that a Sufi is a spiritual warrior. He is engaged in a battle against his nafs, and he is engaged in a battle against oppressive practices and institutions which the Devil and his minions have initiated to veil human beings from Allah. As Abu Sulayman al-Darani has said, “He who gives up something of this world for the sake of the next one gains both; while whoever gives up something of the next world for the sake of this one loses both.” Success in this matter will not only benefit our souls, but provide tangible benefits to all of humanity.

Guidance for the Traveler (1 of 3) (

Guidance for the Traveler (2 of 3) (

Reprinted with permission from “Sea Without Shore — A Manual of the Sufi Path” by Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, from chapter 12: Life, Work and Wealth — Riba (Usury)


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