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Interest or Usury or Riba



Riba is one of the seven deadly and major sins. Its classification with sins like Shirk, murder etc is an alarming message for all of us. Riba in its common sense translated as interest but it is very broader term actually. Riba was predominantly prevailed in the pre Islamic societies as well. The most common type of Riba is interest but there are some other types as well. Islam says that dealing in Riba is equivalent to declaring a war against Islam and Allah. Not any other sin in Islam comes with this type of description. Why it is so bad and prohibited, let us elaborate.

Meaning of Riba

The word Ribba means to increase or the surplus value. In Islamic perspective, it means unjustified gains in business or trade. It is anything over and above the actual value.

History of Usury

Ribba was always prevailed in other societies and condemned in other scriptures. In pre Islamic times, it was also prevailed but then condemned by Allah. Some centuries ago, it was also considered a sin in west but then eventually people started spreading it on smaller scale and now it’s the foundation of western economic system.

Types of ribba

According to a hadith , there are above 70 types of Ribba and the lowest kind is equivalent to doing Zinna with one’s own mother. But in this hadith the types are not described. Islamic scholar tells us about some kinds which are as under

  1. Riba an Jahiliya

This is a type which was prevailed in pre Islamic history.

  1. Riba al Fald

In this type, the quality or quantity of a certain thing is simultaneously and unequally exchanged between the parties. This is a hidden type of Ribba. There is no exchange of money in it but the commodities.

  1. Riba an Nasiya

This is a very clear Riba which is made clear between the parties. Like, now a days banks gives one loans on interest basis.This is a type of Ribba in which interest is applied only when two items are exchanged between the parties and they do not manage to pay for the item.

Trade and interest

Some people consider that while trading one pays others some profit so it is permissible on money trading too. But this is not the fact because Allah says that profit on money is of no good but it is cursed.

Quran and Ribba

The word Ribba is used in Quran for 8 times. It is only sin which is equivalent to war against Allah and His Prophet (PBUH).

Those who consume interest cannot stand except as one stands who is being beaten by satan into insanity. That is because they say that trade is like interest but Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past and his affair rests with Allah. But whoever returns to those are companions od the fire. They will abide eternally therein.   Surah Al Bakarah verse 275

Allah destroys interest and gives increase for charities and Allah does not like every shinning disbeliever  surah al Bakarah verse 276

O you who believed, fear Allah and give up what remains of interest if you should be believers.  Surah Al Bakarah verse 278

And if you do not then be informed of a war from Allah and his messenger. But if you repent you may have your do no wrong nor are you wronged.  Surah al Bakarah verse 279

The economic system of today

The economic system now a days revolve around the Riba or interest system. It was narrated by our beloved prophet (PBUH) that there will a time when a person whether not dealing in Riba but he will be touched by the dust of riba. This is the same time. There is actually a difference between direct and indirect Riba. A factory or business running on the money of Riba is indirectly consuming Riba. Direct Riba is bank investment, loans for homes or cars,

Islamic economical system

If one keenly observes the Quranic verses about riba in Surah Al Bakarah, there is a sequence one verse about riba and other about Sadaqah. This shows that a system can survive even without Ribah or interest system. If one talks with an economist, they will claim that now a days, it’s impossible to run the system without interest or Ribah system but the successful Islamic economical systems in some countries denies this very fact.

Islamic opinion about wealth circulation

In Islam, the concept of wealth circulation is different. The wealth should not be a play item amongst rich but it should be trickled down to the poor so it benefits everyone.

Usury in previous scriptures

Usury was also prohibited in old scriptures as well. In Bible it is totally prohibited like Islam but in Torat it was partially prohibited that a person cannot take Riba or give Riba to his brother or closed ones but for others it is permitted.

Working in banks and places based on interest

It is also prohibited to work with banks or companies which are based on working of interest.

Interest through savings account

There are normally two options in bank, a current account and a savings account. If one opts for savings account on purpose then the interest coming from that is also Haram and giving this interest money to poor does help them but do not save the person from punishment. If a bank only offers savings account and current accounts are not available then the interest money is still haram to be consumed so it is better to give it to someone poor and this action will save one from punishment.

Interest based loans

These are also prohibited in Islam in any way. Those who gave, take, registered, witnessed are all cursed by Allah.

Wisdom behind its prohibition

Buying and selling by the way of Ribba is a process through which the wealth remains amongst the rich people. It is in fact the economic injustice against the poor. The rich person is getting benefited just because he is rich. This is actual Zulm or injustice to the poor people who needs the money for some work or house or any other thing.


If you find any mistake in this article please feel free to contact us and point it out. We will try to correct it in the light of Quran and Sunnah. May Allah bless us all with the authentic knowledge of Islam. May this effort of ours ease the way of jannah for our family.




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