Religions & Usury

Why are Interest Bearing Transactions (Usury) forbidden in Islam, Christianity & Judaism?

The taking of interest implies taking over somebody else’s property without giving anything in exchange because one who lends one pound and gets two back gets an extra pound for nothing.

Dependence on interest prevents people from working to earn money, since the person with the pound can earn an extra pound through interest, either in advance or at a later date, without working for it. The value of actual labour will be reduced in the sight of this person and will not bother to take the trouble of running a business or risking his money in trade or industry. This will deprive people of benefits from money being invested and the reduction of employment, healthy trade and commerce which all needs capital at risk.

Interest discourages people from doing good towards one another. Interest requires the needy person to pay back more than he has borrowed thereby increasing the wealth of rich lender and decreasing the wealth of the poor borrower. In desperate situations the lender can exploit the weakness of the poor, giving rise to feelings of envy and hatred among the poor towards the rich, and contempt and callousness among the rich toward the poor.

The taking of interest implies taking over somebody else’s property without giving anything in exchange because one who lends one pound and gets two back gets an extra pound for nothing.

Dependence on interest prevents people from working to earn money, since the person with the pound can earn an extra pound through interest, either in advance or at a later date, without working for it.

The value of actual labour will be reduced in the light of this person and will not bother to take the trouble of running a business or risking his money in trade or industry.

This will deprive people of benefits from money being invested and the reduction of employment, healthy trade and commerce which all needs capital at risk.

Interest discourages people from doing good towards one another. Interest requires the needy person to pay back more than he has borrowed thereby increasing the wealth of rich lender and decreasing the wealth of the poor borrower. In desperate situations the lender can exploit the weakness of the poor, giving rise to feelings of envy and hatred among the poor towards the rich, and contempt and callousness among the rich toward the poor.

Interest or usury destroys the very fabric of human love, brotherhood, fellow-feeling and undermines the welfare and happiness of human society. Interest breeds meanness, selfishness, apathy and suffering of the weak. As a result the rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer, creating socio-economic classes in the society separated by wide gulfs.

The above Qur’anic verses leave no doubt as to the command forbidding interest related transactions. In Islamic States interest related business and transactions are punishable offences. Even non-Muslims in an Islamic State are not permitted to conduct such business. E.g. the Christians of Najran were told that if they continued to deal in interest the agreement with them will be considered void and their action an act of belligerency.

Ibn Abbas and others go as far as saying that in an Islamic State people who persist in interest related transactions should be put to death. Other jurists consider prison as sufficient punishment till they renounce and stop their actions.

Hadith “ wish for your brother what you wish for yourself”