Message No : 20Sr.No : 619/722
Question By : Ali Ahmed

I need a good article or book on Interest?/ Riba, if possible in English.


Reply By : Jaseemuddin Qasmi
Designation : Coordinator Online Darul Ifta 

Topic: Present Economic system and curse of usuery
Writer: Mufti Jaseemudin Qasmi

In the present scenario, modern science and technology have reached new milestones of development. But in spite of this; the economy of the world is swiftly sinking towards poverty. So many banks went bankrupt and so many companies lost their capital base resulting in depriving a large number of shareholders of their investments.

The present economic system is so exploitative that it has made the poor poorer and the well-to-do people are growing richer and richer. And many people committed suicide because of poverty and impoverishment. The real reason of this mess is the modern economy, which is devoid of fraternity, spirituality and moral values.

Some people ignored the human values in economy considering it just a source to grab the riches while others exploited meager earnings by adopting usury in their business. That is why, presently there is no economic system whether it is European financial system or west, east, north and south 's economies, have no place for human values at all.

Though these systems promised to root out poverty, impoverishment and unemployment but always the poor, needy and unemployed people were left alone.

Current economy can be judged by just an example. Some days ago 'In USA, people suffering unemployment, inequality and poverty were protesting on Wall Street with the slogan �Occupy Wall Street�. And their movement encouraged people across the globe to stand against world-wide injustice of capitalistic system.

The demonstrators demanded in their post on website �The purpose of our uprising is to start an intercontinental change and we want to let politicians and corporate world know that we are to decide our future by ourselves. Because politicians are serving banks rather than common strata of society which effected impecunious and youngsters the most and they are peeved. �.this battle is against those filthy rich and puissant politician lobbies and their systems who accumulated wrongfully heaps of wealth. And their riches are increasing day by day while 99% (of the) common people are being exploited under the inequitable system.�

Islam is a complete code of life, which guides human being in every aspect of life. Likewise, Islam blessed the world with an unparalleled and exemplary economy that places high regard on human values, providing a system of equitable dealing and equal distribution of wealth.

Therefore, wherever Islamic economy was fully imposed in the world, no one was in need of zakat money in the whole country. And why should it not be, while the last Prophet of Allah Almighty (saws) selling the merchandise of Hazrat Khadijatulkubra (ra) with honesty gave the world a message that if the concept of amanat or trustworthiness is regarded in business, all kind of irregularities such as corruption, bribe, stealing and usurping will go away.

Islam underlined the need to secure human values as the Glorious Qur'an speaks 'And in the wealth of them there is a known portion. for beggars and deprived people.' [Surah Al Ma'arij 24-25] In another Ayah Allah (swt) stating the fundamental matrix of business says: 'O, you who believe, don't eat your holdings among you without fairness' [Al Nisa]

Moreover, making zakat an obligation upon Muslims, Allah Almighty made such a rule in economy that on the one hand, , poverty-stricken, homeless people and orphans would be lent a helping hand by it , on the other hand it will compel people not to stock the wealth. To take an example if one owns one-lakh rupees and he does not spend it then he would have to pay 25 hundred rupees as zakat yearly if he yet does not use these rupees in business then it will continue reducing it every year. So, to see it diminishing he would be forced to put it in business. And when it would be used in business then so many people would get benefit from it; some of them as employees, some of them as business partners, some other in other ways.

Moreover, Prophet (saws) encouraged Muslims to spend in charity and said: 'The hand above is better than the hand below'

These are the ethical values of corporate world described by Islam. One may imagine, if these valuable and humanitarian guidelines are accepted in economic affairs then there would be a reduction in poverty and wealth would be spread all around.

The real cause of modern economy's failure is usury. It is a curse upon the economy. It causes inequitable distribution of wealth among human beings. It exploits penniless and impecunious people, as thousand of Indian farmers who commit suicide are evidence of it.

To see usury's never-ending curse and losses in the economy Islam strictly prohibited any sort of usury-based dealing. And Allah Almighty warned human race in a severe way that no other wrong doing is forbidden in this way whether it is fornication, drinking wine or eating pig. As Allah says: 'O, those who believe, fear Allah and give up what still remains of the 'riba' or usury if you are believers. But if you do not, then listen to the declaration of war from Allah and His Messenger.'

[Al-Baqrah 278/278]

In another Ayah Allah Almighty says: 'Those who take riba or usury will not stand but as stands the one whom the demon has driven crazy by his touch'.

[ Al Baqrah 275]

It is notable that, when punishment comes from Allah Almighty, for a person or group, against a certain crime, it is certainly appropriate to the crime. Therefore, raising the consumers of usury from grave, without sense, on the day of resurrection is perhaps indicative of a certain parallelism. Is not it that the consumer of usury is so drunk with his greed for money that he is neither kind to anyone poor, nor does he blush before anyone for what he does. Since he was really senseless during his lifetime in the world, he will be raised on the day of resurrection in the same condition.

As the Prophet (saws) says in a hadith: 'This night I saw two men who came to me and brought me to Baitul Maqdis. We walked until we reached a river of blood, wherein a man was standing, and another man was standing on the bank of the river with some stones before him. Then the man who was standing in the river came forward, and when he intended to come out of the river, the other man threw a stone at his mouth, and turned him back to the place where he was earlier - thus he began to do the same with him, whenever he tried to come out of the river by throwing a stone at him and turning him back. I asked them, "What is that which I have just seen going on?" they replied, "He is the one who used to take interest or usury.'

[Sahih Al Bukhari]

Appearantly, as usurers usually suck the blood of impoverished and poor people in the world taking benefit unjustly of their poetry and impoverishment, in the same way they were punished by blood.

Moreover, stating the material loss of interest the Holy Qur'an speaks: 'Allah Almighty eradicates usury and lets sadaqat or charities grow.'[Al Baqrah 276]

This erasing and increasing relates to the Hereafter as well as to this world. In hereafter, the usury -consumer will find his wealth of no avail; it might as well become a curse for him.

When it comes to worldly life, this is a common sight in markets of usury and stocks where millionaires and capitalists of yesterday become insolvents and paupers in a short time. No doubt, there are chances of profit and loss in interest-free business activities and there are many businessmen who face losses in business deals but a loss that turns a millionaire into a beggar is witnessed only in usury markets and stock exchanges.

There are so many statements of the experienced and the knowledgeable people, who say that the wealth collected through interest, may increase faster, but it generally does not survive long enough to run through children and their successors. In between, comes some calamity and effaces everything.

May be, the wealth or property do not cause ruin outwardly, but this much is quite certain that its benefits, utilities, and blessings will go away.

Similarly, no matter how increased is the wealth of the usury-consumer, he remains, forever, deprived of its fruits, that is, comfort and honour.

Just think of the comfort of a sound sleep. In order to have it, we can certainly do our best - make a contented house which is the best possible, perfect arrangement of air and light, cooling, heating, handsome looking furniture, but with all outward luxuries, such persons are deprived of peace of mind, which only Allah can give them if they follow his commandments.

If we look closely at what happens to the consumers of usury, we shall find that they have everything in the world except what we know as real peace and comfort.

They are so intoxicated in turning their ten million into fifteen and fifteen into twenty that they have no time to eat, dress up, or be with their wives and children. There are factories to take care of. There are foreign ships to watch. Anxieties after anxieties chase them day and night. With them, they sleep and with them they rise. How terrible of these crazy people who have confused comfort with articles of comfort, and therefore, they are far away from it.

This is a view of their so-called 'comfort'. Now let us think of their ideas of status, prestige and fair name. The fact is that such people become hard-hearted and merciless. Taking advantage of the poverty of the poor and the low income of the poor people becomes their very occupation. Like parasites, they suck their blood to feed their own bodies.

That is why people start detesting them. Revealing are the accounts of the moneylenders or Banyas of India and the Jews of Syria. If you see them as they are, you will find that their coffers are filled with gold, silver, and precious stones yet they are given no respect in any group of human beings in any corner of the world. Moreover, the inevitable outcome of this cruel practice of theirs is that the poor start grudging and hating them, so much so that in the world of today most wars are an expression of this grudge and hate.

It is the confrontation between labour and capital that introduced the ideologies of socialism and communism in the world. The subversive activities of communism are a result of this grudge and hate. The whole world has become a burning cauldron of killings and confrontations because of these pernicious practices.

The Prophet (saws) cursed four persons involving in interest, the one who takes usury, who gives interest, who writes it and who bears a witness to it [Muslim-2955]

In another hadith he speaks: 'If any one eats one dirham of usury knowingly then it is worse than to commit adultery thirty six times' [Musnad Ahmad- 20951]

Another hadith states: 'Usury has ninety categories, the least degree of it is to intercourse with his own mother' [Mishkat]

It is to ponder, that the last Prophet of Allah (saws) was sweet-tongued and soft spoken, when he spoke it seemed the flowers are coming out from his mouth, but despite this he used such a harsh sentence to show that how hateful and grievous sin usury is in Islam.

In Islam, all kinds of usury are forbidden. Whether it is taken or given for commercial purpose or for any other objective. So it is baseless and arrogant ignorance to say that 'Interest-based commercial loan is permissible because it does not aim at exploiting poor and needy.' Since, commercial loan was also in custom in pre-Islamic era. Some tribes in that era were taking commercial loans as well.

Basically, usury is of two kinds in Islam: Usury in loan and usury in trading transactions. The usury in loans only was in vogue in pre-Islamic era, and the prohibition in Qur'an is about it.

The definition of this usury is 'Extra wealth in dealing where there is no profit on other side while exchanging wealth.' [Inaya]

In Ahkam al-Qur'an, Imam al-Jassas defines riba or usury ; as follows:

'The loan given for a certain time on condition that the borrower will pay an increased amount above the principal.'

Holy Prophet (saws) himself has defined riba (usury) saying: 'The loan that draws profit is riba.[Al-Jami al-Saghir]

And another form of usury is stated by Prophet (saws): 'Six things should not be exchanged among them but equally and hand to hand that is wheat by wheat, barley by barley, gold by gold, silver by silver, grapes by grapes and dates by dates'.

On the base of this hadith Muzabna business and Muhaqla business which were in the vogue in Arabia were forbidden. The way of Muzabna was that they were selling the dates on the tree in lieu of the dried dates in the home by assessment. Muhaqla meant to sell the crops in the farm in lieu of the grains in the home by appraisal. They were outlawed because there were possibilities of both not being estimated equally.

After the death of Allah's apostle (saws), the matter of usury in trading transactions remained undetailed and unclear, and even hazrat Umar had to say: 'The verse of usury is among the last verses of the Qur'an. The Holy Prophet (saws) was taken away before he could make its details clear for us. So give up not only usury but also all the transactions where is a doubt of usury. (Ahkamul Qur'an, Jassas, page 551)

Actually, here the question worth consideration is 'Are these six commodities particular as such, or there are other commodities also which fall under the same injunction? If there are some, what shall be the basis for including other commodities under the same rule? What forms shall be taken to have come under riba? This was the difficulty faced by Sayyidna Umar and other companions of prophet (saws) and their followers.

Later on, Islamic jurisprudents made principles to include other merchandise. Hence, Imam Abu Hanifa(rah) says: If two things' origin (jins) and measurement are same then it is necessary to sell and buy one by other, hand to hand and equally otherwise it would be usury.

However, from the modern times, Europeans monopolized the corporate world; they introduced usury-based exploitative trading of Jews and Mahajans in a lavish way that even the loathsomeness towards usury went from common people's mind. As a result of this, the usury which was considered a hateful and abominable dealing now it is counted as back bone of economy.

But the truth of the matter is, what some Western thinkers have themselves admitted, that interest-based dealings have decimated entire economies. Usury is like a termite that eats its way into the entrails of the system.

It is regrettable that even theoreticians and scientists of today are unable to free themselves from the stranglehold of custom and practice and do some serious thinking in this direction.

Neverthless, when a disease spreads all over the world in a way that no medicine is going to cure it. In this condition, a doctor's accountability is to give them treatment until they get rid of the disease or to treat them as long as they are alive. If this doctor being afraid of treatment gives up his responsibility, saying it is out of his reach, then that doctor is guilty of criminal negligence and their killer.

Likewise, Muslim community's position among the nations of the world is like a doctor as it is sent down for the benefit of whole universe. They are followers of a messenger who came in the world as a mercy to all the worlds. So, it is their duty to free the world from the curse of usury and to provide the human race an interest-free economic system. For that, they should make their best efforts and keep the candle of hope always lit up, because, 'Nothing is impossible. Where there is a will there is way'.

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Eastern Cresent
Current Issue October 2012
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