We know that interest was forbidden by stages just like alcohol. Could you explain those stages?
Submitted by on Sat, 13/02/2010 - 17:21
Dear Brother / Sister,
Interest was very wide-spread in the Arab community before the emergence of Islam. There were brokers in Makkah, Taif and Madinah who made money without working, by utilizing interest and living at the expenses of people. They used to loan needy people money on condition that they would take back more than the capital they loaned. If an indebted person could not pay back in time, they would extend the due date, increasing the amount of interest in return. Therefore, the indebted person would have to pay much more than he borrowed generally. This application was so settled and rooted that people used to say, as stated in Quran as well, “… trade is also like usury…” (al-Baqara, 275) and consider usury lawful like trade.
Interest was gradually forbidden because of the fact that it grew wide-spread to the utmost in the society.
The first judgment on the issue is the 39th verse of the chapter ar-Rum. It was sent down in the period of Makkah.
“That which you lay out for increase through the property of (other) people, will have no increase with God: but that which you lay out for charity, seeking the Countenance of God, (will increase): it is these who will get a recompense multiplied.”
In that verse, interest was not forbidden, but it was just declared that there would not be abundance in the interest profit.
The 160th and 161st verses of the chapter an-Nisa which was sent down in the period of Medina, the following is stated:
“For the iniquity of the Jews We made unlawful for them certain (foods) good and wholesome which had been lawful for them;- in that they hindered many from God's Way that they took usury, though they were forbidden; and that they devoured men's substance wrongfully;- we have prepared for those among them who reject faith a grievous punishment.”
Although there was not an obvious judgment in those verses that interest was forbidden for Muslims, it was also stated that Jews utilized interest although it was forbidden for them and thus, they deserved Allah’s punishment. This statement indicates that loaning is malicious to the utmost degree and it must be refrained from.
Interest was forbidden, i.e. made haram for Muslims with the 130th verse of Aal-e-Imran for the first time:
“O you who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied; but fear God; that you may (really) prosper.”
With this verse, compound interest which was applied the most in that period of time and which oppressed the poor the most was forbidden. There was not yet a certain judgment which forbade ordinary interest. This resembles the stage in which drinking alcoholic beverages was not yet forbidden, but it was forbidden to perform prayers while drunk. Islam, first of all, forbade the kind of interest which wore out the poor to the utmost degree.
All kinds of interest were forbidden for sure with the 275th-281st verses of the chapter al-Baqara which was sent down later. The translations of those verses which forbade interest definitely are as follows:
“Those who devour usury will not stand except as stands one whom the Evil One by his touch Hath driven to madness. That is because they say: "Trade is like usury," but God hath permitted trade and forbidden usury. Those who after receiving direction from their Lord, desist, shall be pardoned for the past; their case is for God (to judge); but those who repeat (the offence) are Companions of the Fire: They will abide therein (forever).”
“God will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He loves not creatures ungrateful and wicked.”
“Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”
“O ye who believe! Fear God, and give up what remains of your demand for usury, if ye are indeed believers.”
“If ye do it not, Take notice of war from God and His Apostle: But if ye turn back, ye shall have your capital sums: Deal not unjustly, and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly.”
“If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if ye remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if ye only knew.”
“And fear the Day when ye shall be brought back to God. Then shall every soul be paid what it earned, and none shall be dealt with unjustly.”
They are the last verses about interest to have been sent down and all kinds of interest were definitely made haram with them.
Our Prophet explained the pitiful state of usurers in the Hereafter with the following words:
“I came across a crowd of people at the night of Ascension. Their stomachs were like houses which could be seen through and full of snakes. I asked ‘Who are they?’ Gabriel answered me ‘They are usurers’.”
Again in hadiths, it is stated that “our Prophet curses those who give or take loans, who make interest bonds and the both parties”. (Abu Dawud, Buyu 4, (3333); Tirmidhi, Buyu 2, (1206); Ibn Majah, Trade 58, (2277).Muslim, Musaqat 25, (1579)
This prohibition is also related to the verse “Muslims are but only brothers” and the hadith “One who is full though his neighbor is hungry is not one of us”. (The expression “… is not one of us” in the hadith means “he has not yet comprehended the delight in mature belief”.)
Since the Quran made Muslims brothers and made it obligatory for the rich to give alms and encouraged charity, a rich Muslim will gain a great profit for his afterlife if he meets his/her needs when a Muslim brother/sister asks him to lend him some money. Instead of performing the worshipping called “Qard-al hasan” which earns one a lot of thawabs, saying “I will lend you money but I will take more than I give” does not comply with Islamic brotherhood.
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