Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Allah then mentioned the punishment of consuming usury, saying: (Those who swallow usury) declaring it to be lawful (cannot rise up) from their graves on the Day of Judgement (save as he ariseth) in the life of this world (whom the Devil hath prostrated) confounded (by (his) touch) of insanity. (That) confusion is, in the Hereafter, the sign of the one who consumes usury (is because they say: Trade is just like usury) increase at the end of selling, once the term is due, is like the increase at the beginning of a transaction when the sale is deferred; (whereas Allah permitteth trading) the former increase (and forbideth usury) the latter increase. (He unto whom and admonition from his Lord cometh) a prohibition of usury comes from his Lord, (and (he) refraineth (in obedience thereto)) from dealing in usury, (he shall keep (the profit) that which is past) he shall not be blamed for his dealing in usury before it was made unlawful, (and his affair (henceforth)) in what remains of his life (is with Allah) if He wishes He will protect him and if He wishes He will let him down. (As for him who returneth (to usury)) after usury has been made forbidden and says trade is just like usury (-such are rightful owners of the Fire) the dwellers of hell. (They will abide therein) they will abide therein until Allah wills.
Those who devour, that is, [those who] seize by way of, usury, which is an excess [levied] in transactions of money or foodstuffs either on their value or on credit, shall not rise again, from their graves, except, rising, as one whom Satan has made prostrate, demented, from touch, [through] madness (min al-mass, ‘from touch’, is semantically connected to yaqūmūna, ‘they rise’); that, which befalls them, is because, of the fact that, they say, ‘Trade is like usury’, in terms of permissibility: this [statement] is a type of reversed simile used for intensity [sc. ‘usury is like trade’ is the expected word order]. God responds to them saying that: God has permitted trade, and forbidden usury. Whoever receives an admonition from his Lord and desists, from devouring it, he shall have his past gains, those made before the prohibition and which cannot be reclaimed from him, and his affair, with regard to pardoning him, is committed to God; but whoever reverts, to devouring it, treating it like trade in terms of lawfulness — those are the inhabitants of the Fire, abiding therein.
Those who devour usury shall not rise again, to the end of this [statement]: the devourer of usury is worse off in terms of his state than any grave sinner. For, every thing that a person earns constitutes a [source of] dependence in some way in terms of his livelihood, be that [earning] small or great, as is the case with a merchant or a farmer or an artisan since they have not designated their [sources of] provision by their power of reason, nor was it designated for them prior to its being earned, and so in reality they are upon something of which they have no knowledge of, as the Prophet said: 'God refuses to provide for the believer except from where he knows not'. As for the one who consumes [through] usury, he has had his source of earning and provision designated, whether the consumer profits or makes a loss; he is veiled from his Lord by his own soul and from his provision by its being designated: in effect he has no dependence on it whatsoever. Thus God, exalted be He, has made him dependent upon his soul and his reason and has removed him from His protection and preservation such that the jinn have seized him and possessed him and on the day of resurrection he shall rise with no connection between him and God, unlike other people who will be connected to Him through [their] trust (tawakkul) in Him. Thus he will be like the demented one made prostrate by Satan unable to guide himself in any direction; that is because they say, in other words, that is because they veiled themselves behind their [false] analogy, and the first to make such a [false] analogy was Satan and so they will be among his companions, outcasts like him.
The Punishment for Dealing with Riba (Interest and Usury)
After Allah mentioned the righteous believers who give charity, pay Zakah and spend on their relatives and families at various times and conditions, He then mentioned those who deal in usury and illegally acquire people's money, using various evil methods and wicked ways. Allah describes the condition of these people when they are resurrected from their graves and brought back to life on the Day of Resurrection:
(Those who eat Riba will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaytan leading him to insanity.)
This Ayah means, on the Day of Resurrection, these people will get up from their graves just as the person afflicted by insanity or possesed by a demon would. Ibn `Abbas said, "On the Day of Resurrection, those who consume Riba will be resurrected while insane and suffering from seizures.'' Ibn Abi Hatim also recorded this and then commented, "This Tafsir was reported from `Awf bin Malik, Sa`id bin Jubayr, As-Suddi, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Qatadah and Muqatil bin Hayyan.'' Al-Bukhari recorded that Samurah bin Jundub said in the long Hadith about the dream that the Prophet had,
(We reached a river -the narrator said, "I thought he said that the river was as red as blood''- and found that a man was swimming in the river, and on its bank there was another man standing with a large collection of stones next to him. The man in the river would swim, then come to the man who had collected the stones and open his mouth, and the other man would throw a stone in his mouth.)
The explanation of this dream was that the person in the river was one who consumed Riba.
(That is because they say: "Trading is only like Riba,'' whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba) indicates that the disbelievers claimed that Riba was allowed due to the fact that they rejected Allah's commandments, not that they equated Riba with regular trade. The disbelievers did not recognize that Allah allowed trade in the Qur'an, for if they did, they would have said, "Riba is trade.'' Rather, they said,
إِنَّمَا الْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَواْ
(Trading is only like Riba) meaning, they are similar, so why did Allah allow this, but did not allow that, they asked in defiance of Allah's commandments.
وَأَحَلَّ اللَّهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَواْ
(Whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba) might be a continuation of the answer to the disbelievers' claim, who uttered it, although they knew that Allah decided that ruling on trade is different from that of Riba. Indeed, Allah is the Most Knowledgeable, Most Wise, Whose decision is never resisted. Allah is never asked about what He does, while they will be asked. He is knowledgeable of the true reality of all things and the benefits they carry. He knows what benefits His servants, so He allows it for them, and what harms them, so He forbids them from it. He is more merciful with them than the mother with her own infant.
(So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Riba, shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge),) meaning, those who have knowledge that Allah made usury unlawful, and refrain from indulging in it as soon as they acquire this knowledge, then Allah will forgive their previous dealings in Riba,
(All cases of Riba during the time of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic period of ignorance) is annulled and under my feet, and the first Riba I annul is the Riba of Al-'Abbas (the Prophet's uncle).)
We should mention that the Prophet did not require the return of the interest that they gained on their Riba during the time of Jahiliyyah. Rather, he pardoned the cases of Riba that occured in the past, just as Allah said,
فَلَهُ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ
(shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge).)
Sa`id bin Jubayr and As-Suddi said that,
فَلَهُ مَا سَلَفَ
(shall not be punished for the past) refers to the Riba one consumed before it was prohibited. Allah then said,
(But whoever returns) meaning, deals in Riba after gaining knowledge that Allah prohibited it, then that warrants punishment, and in this case, the proof will have been established against such person. This is why Allah said,
(Whoever does not refrain from Mukhabarah, then let him receive a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger.)''
Al-Hakim also recorded this in his Mustadrak, and he said, "It is Sahih according to the criteria of Muslim, and he did not record it.'' Mukhabarah (sharecropping), farming land in return for some of its produce, was prohibited. Muzabanah, trading fresh dates still on trees with dried dates already on the ground, was prohibited. Muhaqalah, which refers to trading produce not yet harvested, with crops already harvested, was also prohibited. These were prohibited to eradicate the possibility that Riba might be involved, for the quality and equity of such items are only known after they become dry.
The subject of Riba is a difficult subject for many scholars. We should mention that the Leader of the Faithful, `Umar bin Al-Khattab, said, "I wished that the Messenger of Allah had made three matters clearer for us, so that we could refer to his decision: the grandfather (regarding inheriting from his grandchildren), the Kalalah (those who leave neither descendants nor ascendants as heirs) and some types of Riba.'' `Umar was refering to the types of transactions where it is not clear whether they involve Riba or not. The Shari`ah supports the rule that for any matter that is unlawful, then the means to it are also unlafwful, because whatever results in the unlawful is unlawful, in the same way that whenever an obligation will not be complete except with something, then that something is itself an obligation.
The Two Sahihs recorded that An-Nu`man bin Bashir said that he heard the Messenger of Allah say,
(Both lawful and unlawful things are evident, but in between them there are matters that are not clear. So whoever saves himself from these unclear matters, he saves his religion and his honor. And whoever indulges in these unclear matters, he will have fallen into the prohibitions, just like a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near a private pasture, at any moment he is liable to enter it.)
The Sunan records that Al-Hasan bin `Ali said that he heard the Messenger of Allah say,
«دَعْ مَا يَرِيبُكَ إِلَى مَا لَا يَرِيبُك»
(Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.)
Ahmad recorded that Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said that `Umar said, "The Ayah about Riba was one of the last Ayat to be revealed, and the Messenger of Allah died before he explained it to us. So leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.''
Ibn Majah recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Riba is seventy types, the least of which is equal to one having sexual intercourse with his mother.)
Continuing on the subject of prohibiting the means that lead to the unlawful, there is a Hadith that Ahmad recorded in which `A'ishah said, "When the Ayat in Surat Al-Baqarah about Riba were revealed, the Messenger of Allah went out to the Masjid and recited them and also prohibited trading in alcohol.'' The Six collections recorded this Hadith, with the exception of At-Tirmidhi. The Two Sahihs recorded that the Messenger of Allah said,
(May Allah curse whoever consumes Riba, whoever pays Riba, the two who are witnesses to it, and the scribe who records it.)
They say they only have witnesses and a scribe to write the Riba contract when they want it to appear to be a legitimate agreement, but it is still invalid because the ruling is applied to the agreement itself, not the form that it appears in. Verily, deeds are judged by their intentions. d
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The Arabic word riba' literally means "increase in" or "addition to" anything. Technically it was applied to that additional sum which the creditor charged from the debtor at a fixed rate on the principal he lent, that is, interest. At the time of the revelation of the Qur'an, interest was charged in several ways. For instance, a person sold something and fixed a time-limit for the payment of its price, and if the buyer failed to pay it within the fixed period, he was allowed more time but had to pay an additional sum. Or a person lent a sum of money and asked the debtor to pay it back together with an agreed additional sum of money within a fixed period. Or a rate of interest was fixed for a specific period and if the principal along with the interest was not paid within that period, the rate of interest was enhanced for the extended period, and so on.
The Qur'an likens the money-lender to a madman. Just as a madman loses his sense on account of his disordered intellect, so the money-lender is so mad for money-making that he divorces himself from commonsense. He is so senselessly foolish and impudent that he does not mind how his selfishness and greed are cutting at the very root of human love, brotherhood and fellow-feeling, and destroying the common good of mankind. He does not care at all that he is gaining prosperity at the expense of many. That is how he behaves like a madman in this world. In the next world he will rise like a madman at the time of Resurrection, for, in the Hereafter a person will rise in the same condition in which he dies here.
They based their vice on a wrong theory and did not see the fundamental difference between profit and interest. They argued like this: When profit on capital is lawful in trade, why should the interest on money invested in loans be unlawful? And the Arab money-lenders were not alone in arguing like this; the bankers and money-lenders of today also put forward similar arguments for charging interest. They argue that a person, who lends a sum of money to another, could himself make profit from it and that the debtor actually does invest it in a profitable business. Why should not the creditor then get a portion of that profit from the debtor for his productive credit? However, what they forget is that there is no business in the whole world where there is a fixed and guaranteed profit without any risk. In trade, commerce, industry, agriculture etc., one has to spend both labour and capital and at the same time one has to face risks, without any guarantee of a fixed profit. Let us for the present leave aside the case of the debtor who borrows money for consumption and not for production, and also the issue of the rate of interest. Let us compare the case of the money-lender who lends money at a moderate rate of interest for profitable business with the case of those engaged in other kinds of business. They devote their whole time, labour, talent and invest their own capital, etc., and work day and night so that their business may become profitable by virtue of their own efforts. But even then they are not guaranteed any fixed profit, and have to bear all the risks. On the contrary, the money-lender, who lends only his capital, goes on receiving a fixed amount of profit without any risk whatsoever. By what reasoning and on what principles of logic, justice and economics is it right for him to receive a fixed amount of profit? How can one be justified in lending on a fixed rate of interest to a factory a sum of money today for twenty years, when none can say what rise or fall in price may take place during these twenty years? And how is the subscriber to a war loan justified in charging interest at a fixed rate for a full century, and that too, from his own nation, whereas the whole nation has to face risks, bear losses and make sacrifices?
The fundamental difference between profit and interest that produces different moral and economic results is this :
(I) The settlement of profit in trade between the buyer and the seller is made on equal terms. The buyer purchases the article he needs and the seller gets profit for the time, labour and brains he employs in providing that article to the buyer. In contrast, in the case of interest, the debtor cannot settle the transaction on equal terns with the creditor because of his weaker position. As far as the money lender is concerned, he gets that fixed sum of interest which he considers his profit. If the debtor spends the borrowed money in fulfilling his personal needs, the time factor definitely does not bring any profit at all. And if he invests that money in trade, commerce, industry, agriculture, etc., then there are equal chances of profit or loss. Thus lending money at interest might bring a guaranteed and fixed profit to one party and loss to the other, or a guaranteed and fixed profit to one party and an uncertain and indefinite profit to the other.
(2) 'The trader charges his profit, however high it tray be, once for all but the money-lender goes on charging interest over and over again and it goes on increasing with the passage of time. The profit which the debtor makes on the money of the creditor, however large it may be, has after all its own limits, but there is no limit to the interest the creditor may charge on his money. He may, as sometimes it actually happens, receive all the earnings of the debtor, nay, may even deprive him of all the means of livelihood or of the articles of his personal use and still might have the same amount of debt against him that was at the tune of borrowing.
(3) The transaction in trade comes to an end as soon as the article and its price change hands. After this the buyer is not required to return anything to the seller. As regards the rent of furniture, house, land, etc. the lent thing is not itself spent up but is returned to the owner after the term. But in the case of the principal the debtor has to spend it first and then to reproduce it and return it to the creditor along with its interest. Thus the debtor runs a double risk; he has to reproduce the principal and also to produce its interest.
(4) One engaged in trade, industry, agriculture, etc., earns profit by spending time, labour and intelligence but the money-lender becomes the stronger partner in the earnings of the debtor without any risk or labour on his part simply because he invests the money which is over and above his need. Ne is a partner only to the extent that he is entitled to a fixed guaranteed interest, irrespective of whether there is any profit at all or how much, or whether there is even a loss.
From the above it becomes clear that even from the economic point of view, trade helps construct society but interest leads to ruin. As for the moral point of view, interest, by its very nature, creates parsimony, selfishness, cruelty, hard-heartedness, money-worship, etc., and kills the spirit of fellow-feeling and co-operation It is, therefore, ruinous for society both morally and economically. As to the question what should one do with the money for which one has no use, the answer is that one may invest it in commerce, industry, etc. on the basis of partnership and share profits and losses alike.
This allowance applies only to the legal aspect of the interest which had been taken before the revelation of this verse about prohibition and does not mean that the income from that interest had also been made lawful. From the very wording of the verse, it is clear that the case will go to Allah for decision and that it has not been pardoned outright by Allah ln order to avoid endless litigation on this account, it has been declared that no legal demand for its return should be made. But from the moral point of view, it remains unclean and one who has taken it must do his best to cleanse himself of it. He should abstain from spending it on himself and try his best to find out the people from whom he received it and return it to them. In case he is unable to locate or fmd out anyone of those people, he should spend the unclean and unlawful wealth on social welfare. This is the only way in which he can save himself from the punishment of Allah Who will decide his case on the Day of Judgement. As to the person who goes on enjoying this unlawful wealth, he may be liable to punishment even for his money-lending in the past.
This is true from the social, economic, moral and spiritual points of view. Though apparently interest enriches and charity impoverishes, it is really just the opposite of it. According to the law of Allah, interest is, in its very nature, a hindrance to the social, economic, moral and spiritual progress and charity ( including a loan without interest) helps their development.
if we look at interest from the moral and spiritual points of view, we see clearly that it is based on greed, selfishness, parsimony, narrow-mindedness, hardheartedness and the like and nurtures the same evils in the money-lender. On the other hand, charity is based on generosity, sympathy, broad-mindedness, largeheartedness and the like and develops the same high qualities. Can anyone deny that these qualities are far better than the former?
From the social point of view, even a little thinking will show that a society can never become strong and stable if its individual members base their mutual dealings on selfishness and if one is not willing to help the other without self-interest. If the rich people believe that the poor people exist merely to afford them an opportunity for exploitation, there will be a clash of interest which will result in the disintegration of society. If other factors also help this evil state of affairs, these will surely produce class struggle. On the other hand, if the individual members of a society base their dealings on mutual sympathy and treat each other with generosity, they will most surely strengthen it. If everyone tries to help the other in need, and if the "haves" treat the "havenots" with sympathy or at least with justice, mutual love and fellow-feeling will develop in society and it will become strong and stable. Obviously, its progress will be accelerated by mutual co-operation and fellow-feeling.
Now let us consider interest from the economic point of view. Loans are of two kinds. The consumptive loan is borrowed by the helpless needy persons for their personal needs and the economic loan is taken by businessmen for trade, commerce, industry, agriculture, etc. As to the first kind of loan, everyone knows that interest on it produces ruinous results. In every country the money-lenders and bankers are sucking the blood of the labourers, peasants and the common poor, and making their condition miserable. The interest charges render the payment of debt almost impossible for such people and they have to borrow one loan after the other to get out of this mess. Even after paying interest equal to many times the original principal, the principal still remains as it was before. The major portion of the income of the debtor is taken away by the money-lender and the poor debtor finds himself unable to make both ends meet. Naturally this kills the interest of the labourers in their work. When the fruit of their labour is taken away by others, they cannot put their whole heart into their work. More than that: when worry, anxiety, poor food, etc.., spoil their health, they cannot afford even to buy the necessary medicine for want of money. Thus money-lending leads to the fattening and battening of a few at the expenses of the blood-sucking of the majority and results in the general deterioration of the nation. The inefficiency caused in their way lowers the quality and standard of national production. In the end the bloodsuckers themselves fall a prey to their own iniquity. When the suppressed anger and hatred of the depressed people engendered by the selfishness of the cruel money-lenders, bursts out into a bloody revolution, it sweeps away their honour and lives along with their ill-gotten wealth.
As to the fixed interest on economic loans, three out of the many evils are given below
(1) Those concerns that cannot pay an interest higher than or equal to the market rate cannot draw in capital howsoever useful they may be for the nation. All the available money flows into those channels of commerce and industry which can bring interest equal to or greater than the market rate of interest, howsoever harmful or ruinous they might be from the national point of view.
(2) There is no business commercial, industrial, agricultural that can guarantee a fixed and uniform rate of profit, say five, six or ten per cent or more under all circumstances. Not to speak of such a guarantee, there cannot be any guarantee against loss in any business. Therefore, the business which borrows capital at a fixed rate of interest can never be free from risk or loss.
(3) As the money-lender himself is not directly a partner in the profit or the loss of the business but keeps in view only his guaranteed fixed interest, he is not interested in its welfare. His only concern is his own interest; therefore he very selfishly tries to withdraw and withhold his money whenever he has even the slightest fear of a slump in the market. In this way he creates panic by his selfishness and paves the way for a further crisis and when there is already a crisis, he accelerates it into a disaster.
The above mentioned three evils of interest are so obvious that they are well known to everyone who knows even the ABC of economics. Can then anyone deny the truth of the natural law enunciated by Allah that interest does not increase but decreases the national economic wealth?
Now let us consider charity from the economic point of view. If the well-to-do people of a society spend money liberally in buying their own necessities of life and those of their dependents and distribute a part of their wealth among the needy to enable them to buy their necessities of life, or if they lend it to businessmen without interest, or invest it in business on the basis of partnership, or lend it without interest to their government for national service, then obviously, commerce, industry, agriculture, etc., will thrive to a very high standard. The standard of national prosperity will rise higher and higher and the production of its wealth will become larger as compared with the country where interest is lawful. Thus it is clear that interest hinders the progress of a nation and charity helps its development.
The money-lender is no doubt an ungrateful wretch. As a grateful servant of Allah, Who gives him spare money, the least he ought to do is to lend it to his other servants without interest. And if, instead of this, he uses the bounty of Allah to exploit His other servants who are getting less than he, he becomes not only ungrateful but also cruel and wicked.
In this passage Allah has presented two characters for contrast. One is the selfish worshipper of wealth, the Shylock, who, unmindful of Allah and His creatures, is engaged day and night in amassing and hoarding wealth. The other is the worshipper of Allah, the generous and sympathetic person who observes the rights of Allah and His creatures; who earns wealth and spends it on his ownself and on others and in doing good works. Allah disapproves of the first type of people because they cannot build any good and stable society : nay, they even make themselves and others miserable in this world, and they shall meet with grief, sorrow and affliction in the Hereafter. In contrast to this, Allah approves of the second type of people for they help build a good and stable society and achieve real success. They have also peace of mind in this world and will be blessed with all kinds of heavenly pleasures in the Hereafter.
Those who devour usury shall not rise again except as one whom Satan has made prostrate from touch; that is because they say “Trade is like usury”: God has permitted trade and forbidden usury. Whoever receives an admonition from his Lord and desists he shall have his past gains and his affair is committed to God; but whoever reverts-those are the inhabitants of the fire abiding therein. Those who turn away from the command giving themselves license from their own interpretation taÌwīl have neither secure independence in the present moment lā istiqlālun lahum fī l-ḥāl nor recovery in the end walā intiʿāshun fī l-maÌāl. They lose in their current life khasirū fī ʿājilihim and have no profit in their future wa-lam yarbaḥū fī ājilihim. Those who heed the calls of admonition curb the bridle of their whims and do not give free rein to persist [in prohibited actions] are granted respite for the present. However if they return to these blameworthy states let them wait for the swiftest uprooting and sudden chastisement.