Q) Some Banks make the shares of their ownership available for purchase, while they perform transactions which are both interest-based and without interest, and there are banks owned by private individuals as well as those owned by the government, and some are also owned jointly, and some work with non-Muslims as well; considering these situations, I wish to know the rule regarding the buying and selling of shares by banks?
A) As per the case presented in the question, if the capital owned by the banks comprises of both Halal (lawful) money and Haram (interest-based) money, and the exact amount of the Halal money is not known, then it is not permissible to purchase such shares irrespective of the ownership of the bank being government, private or joint. However, if the exact amount of Halal money from the capital is known, or if it is known that the share available for sale is Halal, then there is no prohibition in its selling or purchasing, but interest-based transactions are not legal, and the profit gained from interest is also Haram. Though, if a legally responsible person is in doubt regarding the share available for purchase and does not know whether it exceeds the Halal money from the capital, then in this case, there is no problem in purchasing it until he certainly comes to know if it exceeds or not. There is no difference in the mentioned ruling if the ownership of the bank is private or government-based or joint. However, if the bank is owned by the government or jointly owned, then the legality of purchase will depend on the permission of a legal Jurist who fulfills all the necessary conditions of jurisprudence, or of his lawyer. Neverthless, if the capital of the bank comprises of interest-based transactions with non-Muslims such as the infidels (Kafir), then it is permissible to purchase the share, regardless of the fact that the bank is owned by Muslims, non Muslims or the government. Yes, for those banks that are owned by the government, the permission must be taken from a Jurist who meets all the conditions of jurisprudence, or from his lawyer, as mentioned earlier.