Sep 1 - 7, 2008

Riba is an Arabic word, which means 'increase', 'addition', 'expansion', 'gain, 'multiplication' 'accumulation' or 'growth' and generally refers to the additional or extra income in form of a profit, which a lender (a rich person) recovers from the borrower (poor) according to a fixed rate and above the principal rate at a fixed time in form of money. Riba may be interpreted to include an addition to or a charge on the principal amount for a particular time limit. Hence, it includes usury and interest. Prohibition of interest is ordained in Islam in all forms and intent. This prohibition is strict, absolute and unambiguous. Interest, in fact, is fundamentally repugnant to the sprit of Islam. Islam does not on humanitarian grounds, permit the charging of interest on consumption loans as these loans are taken by needy persons for meeting their essential consumption needs from the rich persons.

According to Quranic illustrations, the literal meaning of riba is 'increase'. In 'Shariah' it means an addition, however, slight over and above the principal. Riba is, therefore, the premium that is recovered by the lender from the borrower along with the principal amount as a part of lending arrangements, or for an extension in the maturity period of loan. Riba (usury) of two major kinds (a) Riba An-Nasiah i.e. interest on lent money; (b) Riba Al-fadl, i.e. taking a superior thing of the same kind of goods by giving more of the same kind of goods of inferior quality, e.g. dates of superior quality for dates of inferior quality in great amount. Islam strictly prohibits and forbids all kinds of usury.

It has been reported that even among the pagans of Arabia in the dark days of civilization, usury and the interest was considered to be the money earned by unethical means. It is also important to know that that even prior to dawn over 1430 years before, the majority of ancient philosophers and almost all the religions of the world had strictly prohibited money lending as a business, riba, interest or usury. Usury is condemned and prohibited in the strongest possible terms. It is very interesting to note that in AD 605 just before the dawn of Islam, on a tempestuous day, a spark of fire caught the curtains of Kaaba (the House of God in Makkah) resulting in serious damage to building. For the repair and reconstruction of the building, contributions were asked from the public living in the locality. It was however, solemnly announced that for the Holy Building, only pure, clean and honestly earned money should be donated, prostitutes and usurious people were specifically debarred from contributing anything.

The Holy Quran has strongly prohibited taking Riba in three Madanni Surahs as Al-Baqarah 2, Al-Imran 3 and An-Nisa 4 and in one Makkhi Surah as Ar-Rum 30. And Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him has also described on many occasions and strictly prohibited taking riba in any form, from any source.

The details description of Riba stated in different Surahs of the Holy Quran are as below:

1. Surah Al-Baqarah 2, Ayat no. 275: Those who eat Riba (usury) will not stand on the day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaitan (Satan) leading him insanity. That is because they say: "Trading is only like Riba (usury)", whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba (usury). So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Riba (usury) shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge), but whoever returns (to Riba-usury), such are the dwellers of the Fire-they will abide therein.

2. Surah Al-Baqarah2, Ayat no.276: Allah will destroy Riba (usury) and will increase for Saddaqat (deeds as charity, alms etc.). And Allah likes not the disbelievers, sinners.

3. Surah Al-Baqarah 2, Ayat 278: O you who believe! Fear Allah and give up what remains of (your demand for) usury, if you are indeed believers.

4. Surah Al-Baqarah 2, Ayat 279: But if you do it not, then beware of war from Allah and His Apostle; and if you repent, you shall back your principles; do not wrong (others) and you shall not be wronged.

5. Surah Al-Imran 3, Ayat 130: O you believe! Devour not the usury multiplied manifold; and fear Allah so that you may be successful.

6. Surah An-Nisa 4, Ayat 161: And (because) they took usury, though they were forbidden the same and (also) because they consumed (other) people's property wrongfully; and WE have prepared for disbelievers among them a grievous torment.

7. Surah Ar-Rum 30, Ayat 39: And whatever you give as interest to increase the wealth of people, it does not increase with Allah: and whatever you pay towards the obligatory charity seeking approbation of Allah, it is they who are to increase (their wealth) manifold.

Approbation of Allah, it is they who are to increase (their wealth) manifold. Allah does not bless usury. He decreases the property acquired by means of usury. On the other hand He blesses alms and increases the property acquired through resources on which alms have been given. Allah does not love those sinners who, in spite of the divine favors of admonition and riches continue to receive usury and consider it legally valid. That reflects rank ingratitude plus contumacious sinfulness on their part.

Traditions: i) On the night of Ascension the Prophet (PBUH) noticed some persons with inflated stomachs. On enquiry he learnt that they used to take usury during their life time, ii) On the day of the conquest of Makkah , the Holy Prophet announced that the entire pagan institution of usury lay crippled under his feet, iii) Receiving usury is equivalent to 73 sins, the most minor of which is committing adultery with one's mother, iv) Allah's curse is on these persons; who receive usury, who give it, who stand surety for its surety, who testify to it as witnesses and who write out the transaction deed about its payment, v) Usury may temporarily increase your wealth but ultimately it will cause shrinkage in it.

From the above Quranic references and the Traditions of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), it is fully clear that Usury or Interest is totally banned item. Earning usury through banks or from any other institutions is an illegal money and useless for everyone and anyone who is doing usury transaction and is not good on his part. Because the Holy Quran has totally condemned this type of income in the strongest terms and declared it Harm. Usury has brought many miseries to men in their lives. Attacking with several diseases and calamities are due to taking interest and riba/usury. In these days people are depositing their hard cash in so-called Islamic Banks/Financing Institutions on the pretext that the profits from such Banks/Institutions are free from riba/interest and these institutions have also taken Fatawa with the connivance of opportunists moulvies and Alims saying that such earnings are free from Riba/Usury or Interest. Being followers of Islam, we must trust and belief only that whatever our Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have ordered as that is really true and final in all respects. If we are Muslim then we must obey the order of Al-Mighty Allah that what He (Allah) has stated about usury in the Holy Quran and the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH). At the end, we must admit that whatever miseries and calamities have fallen on the population of this country in these days are due to disobeying the orders of Almighty Allah and the sayings of the Holy Prophet. If we leave taking usury, stop telling lie, back-biting, avoiding suspicions, spying, insulting others, scoffing at others, giving nicknames, becoming slenderer, and curse on poorer then Allah will of course save us from all sorts of calamities and miseries and we will live a very happy and peaceful lives in both worlds.