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Interest is Haraam, prohibited

by Mufti Muhammad Shafi'i Rahmatullahi 'Alaihi
Muslims may at least regard a Harâm matter to be Harâm and extremely detrimental in this world and the Âkhirah and thereby correct their knowledge. It is of great benefit for a sick person to realise that he is ill because perhaps at some time he may turn towards a treatment.

If a person is involved in a sin because of negligence or financial difficulty, then at least he should regard the sin as a sin otherwise it will result in two sins: one with regard to knowledge and the other to practice. When a sinner regards himself to be a sinner and he is aware of it, then it is possible that at some time or the other he will get the ability to make Taubah [repent]. Secondly, when an unconcerned patient is made aware of his sickness, it could result in him turning towards a treatment.

Similarly, if we are made aware of the harms and detrimental effects of a certain matter in the Âkhirah, we will at one time or the other think of refraining from it. At times such thoughts become resolutions which in turn remove all types of difficulties.

Islâm is that miraculous religion which will remain till Qiyâmah. No matter what difficult period passes; how common ignorance and negligence become; how difficult it becomes to remain firm on the truth; in each period of time there were some pious slaves of Allâh Ta'âla who opposed these difficulties and remained steadfast on the Straight Path of Dîn. Nothing is difficult for Allâh Ta'âla.

The Linguistical and Technical Meaning of Ribâ/INTEREST
Linguistically, Ribâ means an increase, an addition, an excess, an elevation. According to the Shariah, Ribâ technically means that increase which is obtained without any financial return. The following is mentioned in Ahkâmul Qur'ân of Ibne Arabi: "Linguistically, Ribâ means an increase and the meaning of Ribâ in the âyah of the Qur'ân is every such increase in exchange for which there is no return."

Included in this is that increase which is obtained by giving money on loan because in exchange for the loan, the full capital amount is received and the increase which is taken in the name of ‘interest’ is without return. Those forms of buying and selling are also included in this wherein an increase without a return is obtained.

During the time of Arab Ignorance, the word ‘Ribâ’ was used for the first type. They did not understand the other types of Ribâ. Different forms of Ribâ were prevalent in different places. Amongst the Arabs the most common practice of Ribâ was the giving of a stipulated amount of money for a determined period of time in exchange for a fixed amount of interest. If the debt was paid within the determined period of time, the creditor would take the fixed amount of interest and the transaction would terminate. However, if the debt was not paid within the determined period of time, then for an extension of time an extra amount of interest was charged. Nevertheless, even prior to the revelation of the Qur'ân, the reality of Ribâ was understood as giving a loan by taking benefit. Another definition of Ribâ has also come in one Hadîth in the following words: ‘Whichever loan earns benefit is Ribâ." ~ JAAMI SAGHEER ~

The Verses of the Quraan and Ahâdîth prohibit Ribâ, prohibit the acceptance of a debtor’s gift if mutual presentation and acceptance of gifts were not common from before. The acceptance of such gifts is not permissible because this is also one way of gaining benefit by giving a loan. From this it is also established that Ribâ is that excess which is obtained because of a loan whether it is personal, banking, group or business interest.

‘Abdullâh bin ‘Abbâs RadhiAllâhu ‘anhu has defined Ribâ as follows: The debtor tells the creditor: "Delay the due date of payment for me, I will give you an extra amount of money." From this it is known that to delay the time of repaying the debt for a return and an excess is Ribâ. Amongst the Arabs Ribâ transactions were common. These transactions continued to take place in a similar manner even in the initial period of Islâm.

The âyat (verse) which declares Ribâ as Harâm (prohibited) was revealed on the occasion of Fathe-Makkah (the Conquest of Makkah) in the 8th year of the Hijrah. On hearing the âyât of the Qur'ân everyone understood the known meaning of Ribâ – to benefit by giving a loan – and regarding it as Harâm (unlawful) they discarded it. Rasulullah SallAllâhu ‘alaihi wasallam, according to his functionary duty, while explaining the meaning of Ribâ, added other types which the Arabs did not consider as Ribâ.

Rasulullah SallAllâhu 'alaihi wasallam explained a second type of Ribâ as: "The giving and taking of gold in exchange for gold, silver in exchange for silver, wheat in exchange for wheat, barley in exchange for barley, dates in exchange for dates and salt in exchange for salt should be equal and hand to hand. An increase and decrease in this is Ribâ. The giver and the taker are equally sinful." (Bukhari)

This is a very authentic Hadîth which has been quoted extensively in all the books of Ahâdîth under different headings. In this Hadîth a new type of Ribâ comes to be known. If there is any increase or decrease in the mutual exchange or buying and selling of these six things mentioned in the Hadîth, then this too is Ribâ. To exchange it on credit is also Ribâ even though it is taken in equal quantities and measures and there is no increase in the quantity or measure.

The Sahâbah RadhiAllâhu ‘anhum understood the famous and common meaning of Ribâ – to take a benefit by giving a loan – hence they discarded it from the very beginning. However, the type of Ribâ which Rasulullah SallAllâhu Alayhi Wasallam explained in the Hadîth was not known to anyone before.


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