It is said that “Interest” cannot be avoided in today’s world. Is this true?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh.
Ribā, or interest, is strongly prohibited in Islam. Consider the following verses and ahādīth:
Allah Ta‘ālā says:
وأحل الله البيع وحرم الربا
“Allah has permitted sale and prohibited ribā (interest/usury).” (Qur’an, 2:275)
Allah Ta‘ālā also says:
يا أيها الذين آمنوا اتقوا الله وذروا ما بقي من الربا إن كنتم مؤمنين، فإن لم تفعلوا فأذنوا بحرب من الله ورسوله
“O you who believe, fear Allah and leave out the remains of ribā, if you are (true) believers. If you do not do so, then let it be an announcement of war with Allah and His Messenger.” (Qur’an, 2:278-9)
Allah Ta‘ālā further says:
يا أيها الذين آمنوا لا تأكلوا الربا أضعافا مضاعفة
“O you who believe, do not consume ribā, doubled and multiplied.” (Qur’an, 3:130)
The hadiths of Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) are equally strict on the prohibition of all forms of ribā.
Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) cursed the one who receives interest and the one who gives it. (Sahīh Muslim; Mishkāt al-Masabīh, 2807)
Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:
درهم ربا يأكله الرجل وهو يعلم أشد من ستة وثلاثين زنية
“One dirham of ribā a man consumes knowingly is worse than thirty three acts of illicit intercourse.” (Musnad Ahmad; Mishkāt al-Masabīh, 2825)
There are many reasons for the strict stance Islam has taken against usury. In an economy infested with usury, we are in a better position to understand the strict stance of Islam. Interest favours the rich and impoverishes the poor. The major imbalance in the distribution of wealth in today’s world is a direct consequence of the capitalist economy, which is based on usury. Hence, interest is a great source of injustice and oppression, referred to as such in the Qur’an (2:179). As Muslims, therefore, we must make all effort to avoid interest.
Since Allah Ta‘ālā has ordained that interest is harām, it entails that interest is avoidable. Allah Ta‘ālā would not ask us to do something impossible. The Qur’an says:
لا يكلف الله نفسا إلا وسعها
“Allah does not task a soul beyond its capacity.” (2:286)
We understand that the world today is infested with interest. In fact, this situation was prophesised in a hadith reported from RasūlAllāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam):
ليأتين على الناس زمان لا يبقى أحد إلا أكل الربا فإن لم يأكله أصابه من بخاره
“A time will come on the people when none will remain but he consumes interest, and if he does not consume it, its vapours will reach him.” (Ahmad, Abū Dāwūd, an-Nasā’ī, Ibn Mājah; Mishkāt al-Masābīh, 2818)
Indeed, it is a great challenge in today’s time to stay clear of interest.
Allah Ta‘ālā says:
أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
“Do people think that they will be left alone only on their saying, ‘We believe,’ and will not be put to any test?” (29:3)
The test of īmān is to face the challenges that Allah Ta‘ālā has set for us.
Although interest is prevalent and the economy is infested with interest, as Muslims we must ensure that all our dealings are free of usury. In doing so, we must trust in Allah, and have faith that He will take care of our provisions. Allah Ta‘ālā says:
ومن يتّق الله يجعل لّه مخرجا، ويرزقه من حيث لايحتسب، ومن يّتوكّل علي الله فهو حسبه
“Whosoever fears Allah (by observing His commandments), He will make a way out for him. And he will provide him from where he did not imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him.” (65:3)
If the whole world practised nudity, should Muslims stoop down to their level and also practice nudity? Rather, Muslims must take all precautions to ensure that this practice is avoided and does not infiltrate their communities.
In the same way, Muslim communities should not succumb to the pressure of accepting the current usurious economy. Instead, they must make their own financial arrangements that are free of interest and anything that does not conform to the Shari‘ah.
And Allah Ta‘ālā Knows Best
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
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