The Economic Miracles in the Qur’an

The Wisdom in Prohibiting Usury in Islam

Allah says in Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow) verse 275: ( Those who charge usury are in the same position as those whom the devil hath prostrated by (his) touch. That is because they say: "Trade is like usury” whereas Allah permits trade, and prohibits usury. Thus, whoever heeds this commandment from his Lord, and refrains from usury, he may keep his past earnings, and his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns (to usury) - Such are the rightful owners of the Fire. )

It is reported that Gabir transmitted that: " TheProphet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed those who pay usury, those who receive it, those who write a contract based on it, and those who witness such a contract, and said they are all equal."


Definition of usury: Usury means “growth” or “addition”, and what is meant by “addition” here is what is added to the capital.


Its legitimacy: It is prohibited in all religions and strictly forbidden in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Usury is mentioned in the Old Testament: 25 "If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest ".  Exodus 22

And in the New Testament: 6:34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive again as much. 6:35 But love your enemies, and do them good, and lend, never despairing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High: for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil. (Gospel of Luke)

Besides, the Church declared usury unlawful.


Usury is Harmful to Economy, Individuals, and Society

The Psychological and Moral Effects:

  Allah sent religion to the people to guide them to the right path, and to raise them to highness and perfection so that they can get rid of the corruption of their souls with its hopes and ambitions.

  Islam’s aim is to purify both people’s hidden souls and visible acts, and the legislations of Islam are working on those two things as Allah mentions in the Qur’an the words “Purification” and “sanctifying.” In Surat Al-Tawbah (Repentance; verse 103): (Take alms from their money to purify them and sanctify them. And pray for them; surely your prayer is an assuagement for them; and Allah is the All-Hearing and the Omniscient)

  Allah (Exalted be HE) swore on seven things in Surat Ash -Shams (The Sun; verse 9) that the successful is he who purifies his soul and the failure is he who corrupts it: “ He is indeed successful who purifies it. And he is indeed a failure who corrupts it.”

  Usury deviates man from the right path; as the usurer becomes a slave to money of which glitter blinds him. He always seeks to gain money regardless of the means. That is why, he preserves no value, exceeds all the proper limits and violates sanctities. Usury also fills the human soul with avarice and thrift that soon corrupt it and fill it with laziness and cowardice. For, usurers are cowards and know nothing about courage or intrepidity. Thus, “waiting” is the craft of usurers and those who follow their examples; as they give money only to those who invest it and wait for the money to “grow”, and then take the price of their waiting.

  Moreover, usurers are indolent and inert; they do not make anything useful but rather wait for the others to work in order to steal the fruits of their efforts. The following verse refers to this meaning: (That which ye give in usury so that it may increase through the property of (other) people, will have no increase with Allah; but that which ye give in charity, seeking Allah's pleasure, these are the ones who receive their reward manifold.) (Surat Al-Room (The Romans; verse 39))

The verse is referring to the fact that usurers give their money to people so as to increase through their money.

The Qur’an describes usurers as follows: (Those who charge usury are in the same position as those whom the devil hath prostrated by (his) touch. That is because they say: "Trade is like usury” whereas Allah permits trade, and prohibits usury. Thus, whoever heeds this commandment from his Lord, and refrains from usury, he may keep his past earnings, and his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns (to usury) - Such are the rightful owners of the Fire) (Al-Baqarah (The Cow; verse 275))

Allah (exalted be He) asserts that He takes away any blessing from any money gained through usury.

(Allah makes usury to wane and makes almsgiving fruitful, and Allah does not love the always ungrateful the always sinner) (Al-Baqarah (The Cow; verse 276))

  Usury has malignant effects on usurers, their souls, actions and appearances. Physicians see that economic instability that results in avarice causes many heart diseases, hypertension, myocardial infarction, blood clotting, brain damage or sudden death.

  Dr. Abdel-Aziz Ismael, the master of the internal medicine in Egypt, said in his “Islam and Modern Medicine” that usury is the main reason behind the spread of heart diseases.


Usurers’ Disorientation:

  The Qur’an describes the state of the usurer as the one whom the Devil has exhausted and prostrated by his touch; Allah says: (Those who charge usury are in the same position as those whom the devil hath prostrated by (his) touch. That is because they say: "Trade is like usury” whereas Allah permits trade, and prohibits usury. Thus, whoever heeds this commandment from his Lord, and refrains from usury, he may keep his past earnings, and his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns (to usury) - Such are the rightful owners of the Fire.)  (Surat Al Baqarah (The Cow), verse 275)

  This state is called in Arabic (Takhabbut) which means, according to Al-Nawawi (may Allah rest his soul), a clumsy movement. When we say (Khabata Al-Jamal), this means that Al-Jamal(the camel) hits the ground by its hooves. Also when a man is acting awkwardly, we say in Arabic that he (Khabata Khabt Ashwaa) i.e. he is acting blindly; as the Arabic word (Ashwaa) means (a poor-sighted female camel.)

  The Devil’s touch here means his call for seeking pleasures, satisfying desires, and being occupied by anything but Allah. Thus, whoever follows him, he is then Motakhabbet (disorientated): At times the Devil degraded him to his whims and desires, and at other timesThe King guides him to piety and religion. That is why there is no steady movements or actions, and this is the Takhabbut(disorientation) caused by the Devil.

  However, this state from which usurers suffer is not confined to what has been mentioned but it extends to include his mental and psychological state.


The Reflection of Usury on the Human Societies:

Human societies are based on people’s unity through cordiality and love which are the product of mercy, vouching and brotherhood. The individuals in the society, or any group of people, who do not care about the pains, suffering and ordeals of their brothers in the same society are exactly like the paralyzed organ that has nothing to do with the other organs in the body, or like those who are doing the donkey work because their aims and ambitions are only centered around their own interest. That is why; they do not care about those who are bereaved of their children, or the moaning of the sad people or the suffering of the orphans. They know nothing about the miserable and the needy except that they are a priceless prey whose blood has to be sucked.

  In the past, the merciless usurers used to enslave the insolvents who were not able to pay off their debts or the interests of these debts. Moreover, Abu-Lahab compelled Al-‘as Ben Hisham to fight on his behalf in the battle of Badr because the latter was owed to him.

  How can a society prosper while usurers fill it trying by every possible means to loot people’s money? How does intimacy spread in a society that lives under a usurious system in which the rich crushes the poor? How can we expect that those whose money was stolen can love those who stole them? In such societies, there is nothing but hatred, grudge and ill-feelings. In such societies, hearts are full of malice, and tongues are cursing those who dispossessed people of their money and wealth. It is not only that, but sometimes people plan for fatal rebellions that crush usurers, their properties, and homes, and ruin everything in their way.

  Al Maraghi, may Allah rest his soul, said: “ usury results in hatred, enmity, wrangles and hostility. It makes hearts devoid of mercy, and it takes away chivalry and good deeds among people. Hence, cruelty replaces mercy to the extent that the poor are starved to death because they do not find what keeps their body and soul together. That is why, the usurious societies are always suffering from social problems; as workers, and all those who are suffering under the same circumstances, often rally against money lenders and go out on strikes. Ever since the spread of usury in the Egyptian society, both mercy and cooperation have disappeared, people are no longer trusting even the closest persons to them, and refuse to lend anything unless there is a contract and witnesses (whereas lenders in the past were keen to give money, even to the foreigner, without telling anybody, and borrowers could easily get their rights without demanding or suing.

  The meanness and immorality of the Jews led them to conspire against the societies that opened their doors for them and for the world at large. They always ignite the flames of war and they do their best to corrupt this land. Allah tells us in (surat Al-Ma’edah {The Table} verse 64) about their dreadful nature: (The Jews say: "Allah's hand is tied up." Be their hands tied up and be they cursed for what they say. Nay, both His hands are spread out in bounty, He expends as He pleases; and what has been revealed to you from your Lord will certainly cause many of them to plunge deeper into transgression and infidelity. Amongst them we have placed enmity and hatred till doomsday. Whenever they ignite the flames of war, Allah puts them out. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah does not love corrupters.)

  Many trusty writers drew our attention that the Jewish Emperors of money are the main reason behind the wars broken out last century, it were them who ignited the flames of those wars. Consequently, much blood was shed, and millions of money were squandered. All of this was in order for the Jewish money to grow and their power to increase.


The Imbalance of the Society due to
the Inequitable Distribution of Wealth

If money is confined only to the rich, the rich and the poor will both suffer. Usury centralizes money in the hands of the few and deprives the majority of this money, and this is what is called the inequitable distribution of wealth.

  Dr. Schacht, the former president of Bank of Germany, said in a lecture delivered in Syria 1953, “It becomes obvious, with an infinite mathematical calculation, that all the wealth would end up to the hands of usurers. That is because debtor usurers always profit in every deal whereas creditors are liable to profit and loss. Hence, all the money, by mathematical calculation, will end up to he who always gains.” That is why, the Jews insist on dealing through usury and spreading it among people. Moreover, they are keen on teaching such a “profession” to their children in order to take hold of the money and hoard it in their safes.

  This inequitable distribution is a blight that baffled doctors; even eminent economists in the West, including Charles Rist, acknowledged that. Charles Rist, according to the Muslim economist Issa Abdu – may Allah rest his soul - is an authority on the history of economic doctrines, and the founder of an unexampled school in the West. After he reached the acme of his experience, he said: “Now, I’m about to retire, and I want to give a piece of advice to the younger generation concerning this issue. (After all these efforts, we became in an incessant confusion. For, all of us suffer from the uneven distribution of wealth and income. This is either because of minor issues like that of usury and interest or major issues like that of class division. We got so exhausted but to no avail.” Don’t you think that Rist said the inevitable end of whoever turns away from the Divine laws? “We became in an incessant confusion… all of us suffer from the uneven distribution of wealth…we got so exhausted but to no avail” this is the wretchedness of the present life, and the wretchedness of the Hereafter is far worse and everlasting. Allah says in (Surat Taha): (And whoever turns away from the remembrance of Me, verily he will have a miserable life, and we resurrect him blind on doomsday (124) He will say: "O my Lord! Why did you resurrect me blind, while indeed I was a seer (before) (125) (Allah) will say: “you forgot our revelations when they came to you, In like manner you are forgotten this day. We thus recompense him who transgresses and refuses to believe in the Signs of his Lord. And verily the retribution in the Hereafter is far worse and everlasting.” (126))


Usury Destroys Societies:

Usury afflicts the human soul with diseases, the economy with plagues and causes an unequal distribution of wealth which result in the destruction of the human societies. The author of the economic encyclopedia said that usury had a great role to play in the collapse of the primitive societies, and in the emergence of the slavery-based economies. Because of the fact that loans were guaranteed by the borrower himself along with other guarantees, the end was always the centralization of the “real-estate ownership” in the hands of the few.

  This is the effect of usury in the past, and the writers who could see the hidden reality of things was able to realize the effect of usury on these societies; but most of them think that the usurious interest nowadays does not have the same effect on the primitive societies.

  In the past, usurers turned people into slaves working in the very farms stolen from them. Till today, usurers seek to take hold of the fruits of people’s labour and to steal their sweat and money. The ages of filthy usury haven’t ended yet; this is a mere fiction, as the British list of money lenders in 1927 allows usurers to impose an interest of 48%. This is the apparent rate but in fact it was far more than that. Anwar Al-Qorashi tells us incredible things, which were happening in Great Britain in the 1st quarter of this century through a report prepared by a joint committee of the House of Lords and House of Commons concerning moneylenders letters of exchange in 1923, and through finding the bad effect of money lending in Liverpool in 1924. Those who prepared the report reached the fact that the interest, in some loans, could be up to 250%, 260%, 400% and 433% and sometimes, according to the report, 866% and 1300% per year.

  What is mentioned in the report of the House of Lords and the House of Commons in the greatest country at that time was not an individual case. The representative of money lenders union of the joint committee said: “ money lending is a huge mission and I will prove this by figures. Is it too astonishing for you to know that there are more than 300 of money lenders registered in these countries?” the report tells about 1380 of those usurers in Liverpool , and if we compare this number to that of the people, we will find that there is a usurer for every 730 person.

  The case in America, according to Al-Qorashi, is not better than in Britain. He mentioned reports and facts to prove that usurers were receiving rates of interest up to 20%, 40%, 100% and more.

  If we have a look at a developing country like India, suffice it to say that the farmers of the district of Punjab were paying interests that equaled two times the land yield (1).

  It could be said that today is different as interests are now fixed and exhaust neither individuals nor institutions and governments, but I see that this is a short-sightedness as the interests of the usurious banks and finance houses at the beginning of this century were not more than 3%, 4%, 5%, 6% or 7% at the very most. However, nowadays they reached 18%, 20%, and now 10%, 11%, 12% and in some dealings in Kuwait 800% which caused what is called “ Climate Crisis.” Those who know the details of the crisis say that the amount of money that was behind this crisis was 27 billions (9 billions were accumulated because of usury), but those who did not charge usury were very far from the effects of this crisis.

  What proves that people are still afflicted with this plague is that what is known as the third world countries are now overburdened with debts and even its exports cannot help to pay them off.


Economic Repercussion of Usury

  Usury, when blights economy, spreads like cancer, and as doctor failed to cure cancer, men of intellect, politicians and economists fail to cure the plague of usury. What is astonishing is that some people believe that usury is good for people. In this, they are exactly like those who think that the body swelling that results form certain disease is a good sign for health while not every swelling in the body is a sign for health.

  Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the body; a growth that is not in the benefit of the human being but rather it is devastating and killing. The same can be said about usury as all what results from it is not for the benefit of the society but it is very harmful to it. The problem is that the effects of usury do not appear in the structure of the society and economy all at once. Al-Razi said, “Although it appears that usury is increasing, it is in fact decreasing” and this is taken from the Qur’an in(Surat AL-Baqarah (The Cow), verse 176)(Allah makes usury to wane and makes almsgiving fruitful)

  “Waning” means that something is gradually decreasing. This meaning is taken from the waning of the moon; as when the moon wanes, its size is gradually decreasing one night after another after being full. Those who are dealing through usury think that it is profitable while what the Omniscient and the All-knowing, and also reality, tells us is that usury causes any profit to wane and destroys economy as it afflicts economy with malignant diseases that could baffle the skilled physician. Usury is not a blessing and prosperity, but a chronic disease that takes away money and decreases it. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said: "Though usury seems to be increasing, it is in fact turns towards decrease" Narrated by Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him); Ibn Majah transmitted it. Hadith No.2827 of Mishkat Al-Masabih.

 

  Our Muslim scientists that knew the truths through Hadiths and Qur’an realized this fact. Al-Maraghi said: “usury results in havoc and ruin; as we see many people whose money was lost and families were broken up because they charge usury.” Al-Qasem said; there is no blessing in any money comes through usury because it is the result of violating divine laws. That is why its end is always fatal.


Economic blights caused by usury are so many

and the following are the most important ones:

1) Hindering Human Power:
  Usury hinders the productive human power as it encourages people to neglect their works and to be lazy, and human life gets advanced and civilized only when people pool their physical and intellectual efforts towards construction and development. Usurers who find it easy to increase their money through usury get used to laziness and hate forced labour and anything that requires hard working. The thing that deprives people of their livelihood; as it is well known that construction, crafts, and trade are the pillars of people’s life.

  Moreover, it is not only usurers who stop being a productive power but also many workers and businessmen could leave their works because of the difficult economic problems that usury causes to them. Those who suffer under the capitalist system find no body to help them but usurers who lend them money at exorbitant rates of interest that takes away the fruits of their labour. These economic problems have a very passive effect on the workers’ productivity. Besides, usury results in economic recession and unemployment which hinder the working power in any human society.

2) Preventing Money from Circulation:
 
As usury hinders part of the productive human power, it prevents money from circulation. Money circulation to society is exactly like blood that circulates in the body, and water that runs in orchards. Preventing money from circulating has very bad effects on the society just like arteriosclerosis or the blocks that prevent water from running.

  Allah (exalted be He) frighten those who hoard money and threaten to give them a painful retribution:

(Those who hoard the gold and silver, and do not spend them in the way of Allah, promise them (O Muhammad) a painful retribution (34) The day will come when their gold and silver will be heated in the fire of Hell, then used to burn their foreheads, their sides, and their backs: "This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you have hoarded.) (35) (Surat Al-Tawbah {Repentance})

  Allah sent us divine laws to guarantee the continuous flowing of money to all the members of the society, and not for it to be monopolized by the rich. Allah says in surat  (AL Hashr, (Exile), verse 7) : (Thus, it will not remain monopolized by the rich of you.)

  Usurers, because of their cowardice and their desire to earn as much money as possible, do not contribute in useful projects or economic business except with the amount that guarantees that money will be back tenfold. When they feel that they are in danger or that they wish for a higher interest in the long run, they keep their money from people. That is why people fall in a great distress when they became short of money. Besides, they do not lend money unless they guaranteed a profit more than the interest of the debt.

3) Inflation:
  “ Inflation” means a continuing increase in the prices of goods and services because their amount does not keep up with the demand for them, or a surplus without the ability to expand the amount of supply. Inflation has direct and indirect causes, and usury is one of its indirect ones. This is because usurers, although they demand high rates of interest, compel the owners of commodities and services to increase the latter’s price. It goes without saying that inflation is very harmful to people especially those who have fixed salaries such as employees and workers; as their actual salaries decrease. If the government tries to find a way out by increasing salaries, this increase happens neither quickly nor in the proper time. That is why, men of intellect, politicians, and economists should work on fighting inflation especially the one that economists describe as “rampant inflation.” In this kind of inflation,  prices increase in an exorbitant way, and usury is one of its main causes. Therefore, fighting inflation is exactly like fighting a serious disease.

4) Recession and Unemployment:
  When there is a great increase in the prices of commodities and services, people stop buying them either because they cannot afford the price or because the price will exhaust their budget. When people refrain from buying, goods will remain unsold in the stores and shops. In this case, factories will reduce their production and, as a consequence, they will get rid of some of their workers and employees; or factories may stop their production completely and, as a consequence, workers and employees will be a surplus labour. At this point, when usurers feel that the market is declined, they add salt to injury and stop lending money or withdraw it altogether, which brings about economic convulsions.

  This is really astonishing because money is available but it is hoarded in the usurers’ safes. In spite of that, people have to buy their needs but they cannot afford the price, and workers need to work but there is no place for them in factories or companies either because the latter are in bad a need for money or because they need to sell their goods.

  Usury has a bad effect on the trade cycle. That is why, Islam prohibited it in order to maintain this cycle, and it made a lot of legislations to prevent the centralization of money in the hands of the few. Today, America; the master of capitalism, is suffering from a frightening terrorism crisis. 

  When the nations are shackled like this, they keep working and working and working and get nothing; as their efforts end up to usurer's safes. That is why, individuals in the society cannot get all what they need. However, the government imposes more taxes and increases prices in order to reduce the deficit in its payments. As a result, many revolutions broke up, people died, and all what is happening in the world is not satisfying.

  Sometimes, the country fails to pay off its debts and decides to write them off exactly like what happened in Cuba in 1961, and in North Korea in 1974. Dr. Stuart Greenbawn, the professor of banking and finance in the university of North Western, said:" Imagine yourself as one of the dictatorial rulers in Latin America, and you sank heavily in debts. Then, if you agreed to the conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and decreased the imports, for example, you will be attacked through protest demonstrations and rebellions, and; on the other hand, if you refused to pay off your debts , you will be renounced by the international community and the international loan markets. Hence, When you get dead sure that the first solution will hang you on a tree branch, you will, inevitably, go for the second one."

5) Economic Deviation:
  Moreover, one of the bad effects of usury is that it deviates economy from its normal course. Usurers pay to those who give them more profit, and the one who takes the usurious loan do not invest the money except in the fields that give him a profit that exceeds what is imposed by usurers. That is why, the issue is an issue of cupidity which takes people away from the useful projects that works for the good of the society, to invest their money, instead, in the more profitable projects.

6) Extravagance and Taking risks:
  It is too easy to get money through usury as long as the usurer guarantees that he will take his money back. That is why, those who have no experience become greedy and take usurious loans and get involved in projects that could be doomed to fail or in business which has more to do with gambling rather than clean business. When this kind of business spreads, it harms the economy of the nation. Usurers do not refrain form lending money to those people  because they do not care  about the means through which they will invest their money, but rather they care about getting their money back with its interests.

  Islam orders us to prevent extravagants from spending their money as they pleases for the nation's wealth not to be lost. Allah says in surat Al- Nesaa (Women, verse 5) : (Do not give extravagants the properties that Allah has made a means of support for you)

  Notice here the word "Your" which means that the money of extravagants is a collective ownership and the nation may make use of it. For, usury centralizes  the nations' money in the hands of adventurers and ignorants who waste it. what is worse is that usurers can take hold of the people's houses, farms, factories and stores.

  The easiness of the usurious loan encourages people to be extravagants and to waste their money. The American "Time" mentioned, in its study concerning the Third World debts at the beginning of this year that Liberia sank heavily in the usurious debts as a result of hosting the meetings of the Organization of African Unity. The " Time" also mentioned that Central African Republic spent over 5 million dollars (i.e. the half of its annual budget in 1977) during the coronation of Emperor Bokasa.

  Al Maraghi said because borrowers can take money without an immediate exchange, The Devil tempts them to buy luxury goods, which leads to the increase of their debts to the extent that they became overburdened with them. Hence, when the time comes for their debts to be paid off, they keep procrastinating till the debtors put their hands on their properties and they become poor and destitute. Allah is right when he says: (Allah makes usury to wane and makes almsgiving fruitful)

7) Putting the Muslims Money in the Hands of their Enemies:
  The most dangerous thing that could befall the Muslims is the depositing of their money surplus in the usurious banks; as this could divest them  of the tools of economy and of the force majeure in the exchanges and  put it in the hands of the Jewish emperors of money who gained full control over the money markets . Besides, the interests that usurers pay us is considered to be the price of their (the Jewish emperors of money) control over the international liquidity.


References  : R. Esaa ABDW

(1) Ser. Malcolom lwbal  draleng  book