The Prohibition of Riba in Stages
Allah (swt) is the only one knows his slave best. The one who created knows the adaptation process of human beings. It is difficult for us to leave a bad habit overnight. Therefore, Allah (swt) prohibited alcohol and Riba in stages. Even the prohibition of alcohol was gradual. It is in Quran (16: 67, 2:19, 4:43 and 5:90-91).
In the same way, Allah(swt) prohibited Riba gradually and in different stages because Arabs were very used to it and it was very common practice to take interest along with the principal amount. The prohibition of riba has taken place in four phases (Karaman, at al., 2006, pp. 670-71).
The word “Riba” is mentioned in the Holy Quran at 8 times. three times in 2:275 and one time each in 2:276; 2:278; 3:130, 4:161 and 30:39. .
- The First Stage (Quran 30:39)
- This verse is revealed in Makkah and in this verse, Allah (swt) hasn’t prohibited Riba directly but compares Riba with zakah and charity.
- Allah(swt) encourages the giving of zakah by mentioning that Riba(usury) does not increase wealth and it is not blessed but zakah and sadaqat increases and is blessed by Allah(swt)
- The purpose is to prepare the minds and hearts of believers for the future prohibition of Riba. It recommends not to put the borrowers in a more difficulty by taking Riba but it is much better to alleviate the burden of those in need [ the upper (giving) hand is better than the lower (taking) hand].
“And whatever you give for interest to increase within the wealth of people will not increase with Allah. But what you give in zakah, desiring the countenance of Allah – those are the multipliers.”
Second Stage (4:160-161)
- This verse declares the taking of riba (usury) as an iniquity because it consumes the property of people falsely.
- We are informed that riba was also prohibited for the Jews and there is mention of the evil deeds of Jews.
- In this verse, riba is not directly prohibited but believers are advised not to disobey Allah’s commandments because when Jews disobeyed and started indulging in Riba they went through several calamities.
“And their taking usury though indeed they were forbidden it and their devouring the property of people falsely, and We have prepared for the unbelievers from among them a painful chastisement.”
Third Stage (3:130)
- This verse underlines the propensity of riba of becoming double and multiplying. So, this verse prohibits the system of charging double and multiple interests.
- The Jews of that time used to charge interest which almost exceeds the principal amount.
“O ye who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied; but fear Allah; that ye may (really) prosper.”
Fourth Stage (2:275-281)
- The fourth phase is the grouping of verses which finally prohibit Riba.
- In these verses, the prohibition of interest is directly linked to obedience to Allah and the Messenger of Allah (saw) and not obeying this commandment is mentioned as an open act of revolt against Allah and His Messenger (saw).
- Also, indulging in Riba is considered as the closing the door of Allah’s mercy doors of mercy.
- The word majnun (possessed by the jinn) is used by Arabs to describe the insane. The Qur’an uses a similar term to point out those who take usury. Because an insane person is like a usurer who resorts to every type of immoderate acts due to his craze for money. He forgets to bother about mutual human love and brotherhood. This is the condition of his ‘insanity’ in this world and no doubt human will rise on the day of judgment in the same situation in which he dies in this world.
“Those who devour usury will not stand except as stand one whom the Evil one by his touch Hath driven to madness. That is because they say: “Trade is like usury,” but Allah 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 Allah (to judge), but those who repeat (The offence) are companions of the Fire: They will abide therein (forever).” (Quran 2:275)
“O ye who believe! Fear Allah, 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 Allah and His Messenger. But if ye turn back, ye shall have your
capital sums: Deal not unjustly, and ye shall not be dealt with
unjustly.” (Quran 2:278-279)
“If there is one in misery, then (the creditor should allow) deferment till (his) ease, and that you forgo it as alms is much better for you, if you really know. Be fearful of a day when you shall be returned to Allah, then every person shall be paid, in full, what he has earned, and they shall not be wronged.”(Quran 2:280, 281)