Q. Is it permissible for us to use gift items given to us by banks and insurance companies? Like diaries, glasses, pens, etc.? Even if it is not from our own insurance company but are given to us? Also, some banks and companies serve drinks to customers, coffee and so on, will it be o.k. for us to consume these?
A. Banks and Insurance companies are such institutions that their main source of income, profits and benefits are from interest and usury, which are totally haram (unlawful) in Islam.
It therefore means, that gifts coming from these places may have been made/produced/bought with interest monies, and will thus be not permissible to accept.
With respect to drinks served to customers, it is also likely that their profits (which are usually interest), have been used to purchase these items. Hence, out of caution, one should not consume these drinks. A Muslim must (at all times) remember that for a bank or insurance company, interest is their profit. They see no harm in it, and try their best to increase their earnings of interest which will make their businesses more prosperous. They consider their interest earned, to be normal, usable and good money, which is their surplus from the investments and transactions they have dome. Hence, when they spend from their profits (which in reality, may be entirely interest or to a large extent) they do not divide between interest and non interest. To them, money is money, and it does not matter whether interest monies were used or not in obtaining their gifts, diaries etc.
However, for a Muslim, interest is totally haram. It is impure and unlawful, and the curse of Allah and His Rasool (SA) comes upon it. A Muslim knows that he must refrain from every ‘cent’ of interest and cannot use items that have been purchased with this haram money (which is interest).
As such, it is imperative that Muslims, avoid accepting gifts from all such institutions whose main income is from interest and usury.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan