Riba in the Hadith and the Bible

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By: Hira Amjad, Regional Head – West Africa
Organization: Alhuda CIBE, Dubai

Riba in Hadith:-

1- From Jabir (R.A) The Prophet (PBUH), may cursed the receiver and the payer of interest, the one who records it and the two witnesses to the transaction and said: “They are all alike {in guilt}.” (Muslim, Kitab al-musaqat, Bab la’ni akili al-riba wa mu’kilihi; also is Tirmidhi and Musanad Ahmad)

2- Jabir ibn’ Abdallah (R.A), giving a report on the Prophet’s Farewell pilgrimage, said: The Prophet (PBUH), addressed the people and said “All of the riba of Jahiliyah is annulled. The first riba that I annul is our riba, that accruing to ;Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib [the Prophet (PBUH) uncle]; it is being cancelled completely.” (Muslim, kitab al-hajj, Bab hajjati al-Nabi (PBUH), may also in Musnad Ahmad)

3- From Abdallah ibn Hanzalah (R.A) The Prophet (PBUH), said: “A dirham of riba which a man receives knowingly is worse than committing adultery thirty-six times” (mishkat al-Masabih, kitab al-buyu, Bab al-riba, on the authority of Ahmad and Daraqutni). Bayhaqi has also reported the above hadith in Shu’ab al-iman with the addition that “Hell befits him whose flesh has been nourished by the unlawful”.

4- From Abu Hurayrah (R.A) The Prophet (PBUH) said: “On the night of ascension I came upon people whose stomachs were like houses with snakes visible from the outside. I asked Gabriel who they were. He replied that they were people who had received interest.” (Ibn Majah, kitab al-tijirat, Bab al-taghlizi fi al-riba; also in Musnad Ahmad)

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5- From Abu Hurayrah (R.A) The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Riba has seventy segments, the least serious being equivalent to a man committing adultery with his own mother.” (Ibn Majah)
6- From Abu Hurayrah (R.A) The Prophet (PBUH) said: “There will certainly come a time from mankind when everyone will take riba and if he does not to do so, its dust will reach him.” (Abu dawud, kitab al-Buyu, Bab fi ijtinabi al-shubuhat; also in Ibn Majah)
7- From Abu Hurayrah (R.A) The Prophet (PBUH) said: “God would be justified in not allowing four persons to enter paradise or to taste its blessings: he who drinks habitually, he who takes riba, he who usurps an orphan’s property without right, and he who is undutiful to his parents.” (Mustadrak al-Hakim, kitab al-buyu)
The Holy Quran did not give any definition to the term for the simple reason that it was well known to his addressees. It is like the prohibition of pork, liquor, gambling, adultery etc. Which were imposed without giving any hard and fast definition because all these terms were well known and there was no ambiguity in their meaning. Similar was the case of riba. It was not a term foreign to Arabs. They all used the term in their mutual transactions. Not only Arabs but all the previous nobody had any confusion about its exact sense. The verse of Surah Al-Nisa where the Holy Quran has reproached the Jews for their taking riba while It was prohibited for them. Here this practice is termed as riba in the same manner as it is termed in Surah Al-Imran or Surah Al-Baqarah. It means that the practice of riba prohibited for muslims was the same as was prohibited for the Jews.

Riba in Bible:-

This prohibition is still available in the old testament of the Bible. The following excerpts may be quoted with advantage:
“Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of anything that is lent upon usury.” [Deuteronomy 23:19]
“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that putteth not out of his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent.” [Psalms 15:1,2,5]
“He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.” [Proverbs 28:8]

Other Bible verses
“ Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and rules and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them”. [Nehemiah 5:7]
“He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, Hath walked in my statues, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just,.
He shall surely live, said the Lord GOD. [Ezekiel 18:8,9]
In these excerpts of the Bible the word usury is used in the sense of any amount claimed by the creditor over and above the principal advanced by him to the debtor. The word riba used in the Holy Quran carries the same meaning because the verse of Surah al-Nisa explicitly mentions that riba was prohibited for the Jews also.

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