Bismillah Walhamdulillah Facts of Riba and Its Specific Application


By Prof. Dr. M. Shakil Auj, Department of Islamic Learning, University of Karachi

First of all we will delve in the light of Quran to strive for the reality of Riba. According to descent or chronological order the verses of Riba are as follows. First Sura-e-Room then Sura-e-Nisa, then Sura-e-Aal-e-Imran and at the last the verse of Sura-e-Baqra which has more detail. The order of the verses of Riba has their own expediencies and wisdoms from gradational aspect. Now we will have a look into these verses methodically.

"So give to the kindred his due, and to Al-Miskin (the poor) and to the wayfarer, that is best for those who seek Allah's Countenance and it is they who will be successful. And that which you give in gift (to others), in order that it may increase (your wealth by expecting to get a better one in return) from other people's property, has no increase with Allah; but that which you give in Zakat (Sadaqa-charity etc.) seeking Allah's Countenance, then those, they shall have manifold increase. "(30: 38-39)

This point depicted that every endowed person's relatives, poor and travellers or guests have rights in his wealth. The phrase of Haq (right) is use for obligation as well as supererogation. The statement of the fact or circumstances of a case determines the desired meaning, wherever there is claimant's grievous need the meaning of obligation is taken. However, if the grievous need is not there then the meaning of supererogation will be use for deciding the matter.

In another verse the riba and zakah come in comparison with each other illuminating the fact of riba easily comprehensible. Those who have taken the meaning of riba from this verse as a gift or present, they have presented the concept of halal (legitimate) riba as well:^1^

  1. Maulana M. Idrees Kandhlvi has written under the Verse No.39 of Sura-tu-Room: "giving anyone anything with the intention of getting better, although apparently it is not forbidden but from the aspect of intention of objective it is also a type of riba, (Maarif-ul-Quran, Vol.6, p.158).

Maulana Farman Ali (Ahl-e-Tashi) asserts: "Thus that is the riba (usuary) which is permitted for consumption that Allah has mention as forbidden in this verse---And in Tafseer Qami the traditin replicted from Hazrat Imam Jaffar Sadiq regarding the two kinds of riba is also argued that in this verse the meaning of riba is its permissible and legitimate kind. (urdu translation with foot note).

And Allama Ghulam Rasul Saeedi states that in this verse riba stands for that gift in which the -donor is expecting a better return. In its origin this is not riba, but apparently resembles to it, therefore it is stated as usury, it is permitted, and there is neither sin nor virtue in it. In our Urf it is called 'Newta'."

Allama Saeed also states: "Atlanta Abu-Bakr Muhammad Bin Abdullah Ibn-al-Arabi AI Malki (d.543hijri) writes: "the riba mention in Sura-tu-Albaqra:279 is ligitimate". Allama Abu Abdullah Muhammad Bin Ahmad Malki Qurtubi (d.668 hijri) writes: "Akrma has said that two kinds of riba, one is legitimated riba and another is illegitimated riba, the riba which is permissible is that if someone gives other person anything as a gift and want superior than that thing." (Tafseer Tabyaan Ai-Quran: Vol.9,p.195).

The reflection of above concept can be viewed in Lisan-ul-Arab.

In our view, at this point the idea of halal riba is unnecessary, nevertheless it is obvious that the Quran has infer the unlimited but mandatory profit as riba too, whatever gifts or presents comes as return to the giver. It becomes easily understandable even if we consider the meaning of riba other than the gifts or presents. It means that it could be wealth (money) also, which is given for the pride of oneself. This is the wealth (money) that Allah (s.w.t.) has acknowledged in his law as deteriorating. Through the hereafter's aspect the interpretation of Flayarbu Indallahi has been done as Allah (s.w.t.) will deprive this kind of riba from reward and through the worldly aspect its explanation is that there is no room for this kind of riba in the law of God. This is the reason that the word of Zakah has been put in comparison with riba so that the benefit of the whole society will be promoted. Thus the intent of this debate is that through riba the total benefit of whole society gradually decrease and end into annihilation, however with Zakah it increases.

The origin of this concept could be seen in "And give not a thing in order to have more". (74:6)

"For the wrong- doing of the Jews, We made unlawful for them certain good foods which had been lawful for them--and for their hindering many from Allah's way; And their taking of riba though they were forbidden from taking it and their devouring of men's substance wrongfully (bribery). And we have prepared for the disbelievers among them a painful torment. But those among them who are well- grounded in knowledge, and the believers, believe in what has been sent down to you (Muhammad p.u.h.) and what was sent down before you; and those who perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-salat), and give Zakah and believe in Allah and in the Last Day, it is they to whom We shall give a great reward. "(4:160-162)

At this point in the first verse those Jews' crimes are depicted that due to them, they were forbidden from the pure halal things. As if it was the recompense action which was given to the wrongdoers on account of their misdeeds through the Will and reparation of the law of God..Since it is obvious that if the nation is tyrant, impeding its people from the implementation on the laws, of God, choosing whatever was prohibited means obtaining people's wealth from the illegitimate ways. This kind of nation in fact proscribes on itself the pure and rightful as a result of its misdeeds.

The way this verse illustrates riba in the crimes of Jews it does not illustrate any other crime. First the word of Akhaz is used with riba and the word of Akhaz is used for grasping something with firmness and adopting it. Moreover it also includes the meaning of prevalence and supremacy., Hence, the Jews had adopted riba in their lives with severity. Secondly "Waqadnahu Anhu" has used with this crime, although zulm (tyranny) comes in 'waqadnahu anhu" as well. The other crimes come in this category also but with them these words were not used. This indicates the severity and terribleness of riba.

In this verse the historic formation at least from the Jewish aspect is present. In which the reference of its prohibition is there, and for those who adopted the way of life filled with riba, the sign of warning is also there. And then when the next verse states the conversion of the scholars of 'the people of book to Islam, in explaining their distinctiveness the words of "Muqimin-as-salat" (perform As-Salat) and "Yutunaz Zakat" (give Zakah) was used.

To summarize it could be concluded that like Sura-e-Room, Sura-e-Nisa has also put in comparison riba with Zakah. Besides, this comparison intensifies the illumination of riba.

"O you who believe! Eat not Riba doubled and multiplied, but fear Allah that you may be successful. And fear the Fire, which is prepared for the disbelievers. And obey Allah and the Messenger (Muhammad S.A.W.) that you may obtain mercy. And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for Al-Muttaqin (the pious). Those who spend (in Allah's Cause). in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good- doers)'`. (3:130-134).

As this point it is first time that the' Muslims are addressed directly and are prohibited from the consumption of riba. "Aiafan Muzafah" (doubled and multiplied) shows in that period riba was multiplied in excess that the principal amount had been vanished from monetary values. People were preceded in the dealing of riba as muchthat taking many times more than the principal amount is the economical system of compelled riba, which was subjugated them badly. How people could return their loans? The coercion of riba over their loans had become abundant and people were bound to take more loans just to get off their riba or for rescheduling the time of payment of debt, they had to bear the increase on the principal amount. In this manner the collective capital of national interest were decreasing and the national capital of collective loss were increasing poorly with immense severity. As'it were,

Hisab-i-Mal ka itna sa goshwara tha

Riba nikal kay dekha to sub khasara tha

(The summary of account was so less in computation of principal

Only loss remains in all after taking out riba)

Some has interpreted "Azaafamuzafah" as compounded quatrain commended a pithy that the above mentioned verse prohibited people from taking twice or four times riba not from solitary riba. But those who knows are aware that these words came as to portray their condition so that the real face of economical cruelty and exaction could unveil.

Here we will have a look on the words came in the continuation of the verse of riba. For example "wattaqu Allah laallakum tuflihun" (but fear Allah that you may be successful) is related to the command of riba. Means to follow the law of Allah, and the result of which is the ultimate success. Then "And fear the Fire, which is prepared for the disbelievers" 'stated to warn and intimidate those who consume riba and in the subsequent verse the system of mercy is stated as the fruit of obedience to Allah and his Messenger (s.a.w.) and then it is commanded to march forward towards Allah's forgiveness. Here as the word of "Magfirat" (forgiveness) used for the protection from punishment and signifies forgiveness and pardon, at the same time it verifies as to ,protect from cruelty and exaction. Later on yet again these people are stated as Muttaqin (the pious) and for Muttaqin it is declared that these people are those who spend (in Allah's cause) in contentment, in suffering, and in prosperity as well as in adversity.

To summarize in Sura-e-Ale Imran "infaq" (spend in Allah's cause) is mention against riba. Just like in Sura-e-Room and Sura-e-Nisa zakat is stated versus riba. These all indications are not without grounds, yet there is a great need to comprehend them.

The Verses of Surat-ul-Baqra related to riba, in the first ruku (chapter) three words all of them are related to the Islamic economical condition and are vital for particular consideration. From the root of Nafaq come the words of "Anfaqu", "Anfaqtum", "Tunfiqu", Tunfiquna" and "yunfiqun". Moreover, with "Infaq" (spend in the cause of God), the words of "Nazar" (vow) and "Sadaqat" (deeds of charity, alms) come as well. Then within these terminologies the issue of riba commence after the commands of economical betterment and pledge. Even in the verse 276 of Surat-ul-Baqra it is decisively declared that,

"Allah will destroy Riba and will give increase for Sadaqat (deeds of charity, alms etc.)".

It means that through Infaq, Nazar, and Sadaqat, after the implementation of commands for economical and social betterment and pledge it is impossible that riba won't destroy and Sadaqat won't sustain. And if this command is taken as prediction then it will mean as by practising on the laws of God eventually riba will vanish and sadaqat will be multiplied and one day it will certainly happen.

In this verse of Surat-ul-Baqra the word of Sadaqat has taken in against of riba. Likewise as in Surat-ul Ale Imran "infaq" (spend in the cause of God), in Surat-un-Nisa and Surat-ur-Room the word of Zakah. The fact is even if it is Zakah, or Sadaqat, or Nafaqat, the object of three of them is one and that is to circulate the wealth from affluent, to poor, while', the objective of riba is to move it' from poor to affluent. The system where the deserving of Sadaqat and Zakat become the givers instead of beneficiaries is the system of riba and will be denoted with cruelty. The reality of riba is required to be further comprehended in this perspective.

Riba is divided in two, parts. One riba is categorized as corporate and the other is related to loan. Both of them can be comprehended from Quran. The verses of Surat-ur-Room and Sura-Ale-Imran bring to light on the riba related to loan. However, the phrases of Surat-ul-Baqra "They say: "Trading is only like Riba (usury)," whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba". This discloses the riba of trade and corporate. Here riba and trade is combined which shows that riba is not only in loan, but in sell and purchase meaning in business as well. All those Ahadith which are described under Riba-ul-Fadal (Riba of success), their origin- should be comprehended through this verse. The mistake of asserting Trade similar to riba was due to the fact that if absolute increase or excess is a crime then the profit from buying and selling is also an excess, then why is it wrong?

Our scholars has named the riba related to loan as Riba-ul-Quran or Riba-un-Nasiya and the riba is related to corporate as riba-al-hadith. In our view riba-al-hadith is in fact Riba-al-Quran because it's significant comes in "Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba".

Riba related to loan has inferred as riba-un-nasiya by our scholars which is riba-al-Quran, but in its explanation and detail this tradition is narrated that: In the period of ignorance riba was like that if someone has the other person's loan due with specified period, so when the period is ending the loan provider asks his debtor, are you liquidating the loan or need more delay. If he paid the debt then it is done otherwise the loan donor increases the amount of loan and the time period of payment. ^2^

  1. Mautta Imam Malik, Kitab-ul-Biu, Maja'a fi riba ad-Din, Hadith No.38, Mir M. Kutub Khana Markaz Ilm-o-Adab, Aram Bagh, Karachi.

Allama ibn qayyam infer riba-an-nasiya as riba-i-jaliy (manifest or real) and riba-ul-fadal as Riba-i-khafiy (concealed or implied). For him riba-i- khafiy is forbidden since it is the cause of riba- easily i- jaliy, however riba-i- jaliy is forbidden because of its grievous detriment mean cruelty. (Ailam-ul-Muqien, published in Delhi, 1313hijri, Vol.1, p.200-201).

As per Dr. Fazlur Rahman the peculiarity of, riba-i-jaliy is Tadeef fil Bard (multiplying of loan). In addition biue fasida (corrupt trade) has many types in which the spirit of riba (profit seeking) is functioning. For this reason Allama ibn hajr asgalani says: "yatluq-ar?riba ala kully bai muharram" means the word of riba is applied on every forbidden trade. (Fath-ul-Bari, published in Egypt, 1319 Hijri, vol.4, p.250.)

In view of the cause, quantity, and rationality of riba we have to have a look at our economical and corporate system. If there is an obvious cruelty and exaction in feudal lord system and landlordism then they will also be put in the classification of riba. On the whole our present business life depends on profiteering and hoarding. For it lie, 'deceit, deceive, and what not means and methods are adopted. In our view, for the creation of profiteering and fabricated deficiency, hoarding in present-day is more harmful and based on cruelty and exaction than the banks' profit. 'This is the reason that the verdict on the on profiteers and hoarders should be greater than it is on the profit of Banks.

However, on the other hand it is also a hard fact that the rate of interest in banks is different in taking and on giving. Because of this difference, in its origin it is a despotic and oppressive division. Furthermore, it will be easily followed in this verse: "Woe to Al-Mutaffifun (those who give less in measure and weight). Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, demand full measure, and when they have to give by measure or weight to (other) men, give less than due."

Here it is obviously depicted a character who is astray from the path of justice. The double standard of weighing and measuring is depicted here so that it will be understood clearly. Wherever this double standard is found it will come in the specification of this verse. Since the conduct of banks has a double standard in their rate of interest, therefore it is a cruelty of its own type, however Quran wants to eliminate every type of cruelty.

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