What is meant by Riba?


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

Question:- What is meant by Riba? Define kinds of Riba?

Answer:- To elaborate upon the foregoing , it should be noted that the dictionary meaning of Riba is increase, gain or height. In the context of shariat, such increase is called Riba which is obtained without any financial consideration.
“The dictionary meaning of Riba is increase and the reference in the verse is to every increase against which there is no exchange or consideration” (Ibn-e-arabi, Ahkam ul Quran).
This includes the increase which is obtained by offering money on credit because repayment of the principal is obtained against the amount originally lent. The increase called Sood Or interest is without any exchange or financial consideration. Kinds of sale, purchase are also included in Riba where any increase is obtained without offering anything in exchange, for which the details will be discussed. In the period of ignorance, the word Riba was used only for the transaction of the first kind. The other kinds were not considered Riba.
Various forms of Riba were in vogue in Arabia when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent. Most common practice was to lend a specific amount for a specific period and at an agreed rate determined in advance. If the borrower repaid at the agreed time then only the agreed amount of interest was charged. If he was unable to repay at that time, then the amount of interest would be increased. In any case, even before the revelation of Quran, the essence of riba was considered to be the gain, made out of loaning of money. This very aspect has been highlighted in the saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),
“Every loan which brings a gain is a riba based loan”
The above quoted saying has been mentioned by Allama Sevti in Jama-e-Sagheer. In Faizul Qadeer, the commentary on Jama-e-Sagheer, the reporting chain has been criticized and considered fake. In other commentary of Jam-e-Sagheer, Sirajul Meunner, Azizi has remarked, “ The Sheikh said that this saying is good and acceptable because it is supported by other sayings and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In any case, this saying is acceptable to those who engaged themselves in the collection of sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and can form the basis of argument against riba. The gist of the matter is that the connotation of riba- loaning of money to make profit- was commonly and well known in Arabia even before the Quran was revealed. Even if this saying had not existed, the dictionary meanings of riba would have been sufficient to specify its meanings.

An objective study of Qurani’c verses dealing with riba

Related Posts

1- In Surah AL-Rum (30:39), a Makkan Surah wherein the term Riba finds mention in the following “(And whatever riba you give so that it may increase in the wealth of the people, it does not increase with Allah). (30:39)
2- The 2nd verse is of Surah Al- Nisa (4:161) where the term riba is used in the context of sinful acts of the jews in the following words: (And because of their charging riba while they were prohibited from it), {4:161}

3- In the 3rd verse of Surah Al-Imran (3:130) the prohibition of riba is laid down in the following words: “(O those who believe do not eat up riba doubled and redoubled)”. {3:130}

4- The forth set of verses is found in the Surah Al- Baqrah in the following words:
“( Those who take riba [usury or interest] will not stand but as stands the one whom the demon has driven crazy by his touch. That is because they have said: ‘ Trading is but like riba. So, whoever receives an advice from his Lord and stops, he is allowed what has passed, and his matter is up to Allah. And the ones who revert back, those are the people of fire. There they remain forever. Allah destroys riba and nourished charities. And Allah does not like any sinful disbeliever. Surely those who believe and do good deeds, establish Salah and pay Zakah, have their reward with their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall the grieve. O those who believe fear Allah and give up what still remains of the riba if you are believers. But if you do not, then listen to the declaration of the war from Allah and His Messenger. And if you repent, yours is your principal. Neither you wrong, nor be wronged. And if there be one in misery, then deferment till ease. And that you leave it as alms is far better for you. If you really know. And be fearful of a day when you shall be returned to Allah, then everybody shall be paid, in full, what he has earned. And they shall not be wronged)”.

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