30 Riba Needs To Be A Part Of This Discussion

30 Riba Needs To Be A Part Of This Discussion

The importance of knowing about Ribaa

Under normal circumstances, this topic would essentially not be related to our conversation on Bitcoin, because by its very nature, it does not involve Ribaa. You have to engage in Ribaa transactions specifically in order to fall into it. However, in our discussion of talking about the Islamic legality of Bitcoin, it would be an injustice to talk about Bitcoin without first being aware how evil the sin of Ribaa is, and exactly how much Ribaa is involved in our current system. So we’ll begin talking about the evils of Ribaa from the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and then make it clear exactly how deeply woven Ribaa is into our society. I have taken part of a book from Muhammad ibn Saalih al Uthaimeen, and translated verbatim his words. All that is from him is in coloured text. Also, we have a separate blog that goes into further detail about the permissible and impermissible ways to lend money, also taken from he works of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al Uthaimeen, link is here.

Eating of Ribaa

In the Qur’aan and Sunnah, the phrase and analogy of ‘eating’ Riba is often used. Analogies are often overlooked, or the meaning is sometimes understood only on the surface. In order to understand the true meanings of the verses of the Qur’aan, and Hadeeth, let’s break down the analogy. If one were to give a loan of £100 to Sufyaan, and then told Sufyaan to pay back in a weeks time £120, that £20 is an ‘increase’/‘Ziyaadah’, and that is the meaning in Arabic of Ribaa in the language. That ‘increase’ will be consumed by the lender. Most consumption is via eating. So it’s like a banquette prepared by the borrower, for the lender to take a seat and eat. The one who gives the ‘increase’ gives this ‘food’ and the lender who takes it, and fundamentally has the option to take or not, eats it. Allaah says in the Qur’aan:

یَـٰۤأَیُّهَا ٱلَّذِینَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَذَرُوا۟ مَا بَقِیَ مِنَ ٱلرِّبَوٰۤا۟ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤۡمِنِینَ  

“O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah and give up what remains (due to you) from Riba (usury/interest) (from now onward), if you are (really) believers.”

فَإِن لَّمۡ تَفۡعَلُوا۟ فَأۡذَنُوا۟ بِحَرۡبࣲ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦۖ وَإِن تُبۡتُمۡ فَلَكُمۡ رُءُوسُ أَمۡوَ ٰلِكُمۡ لَا تَظۡلِمُونَ وَلَا تُظۡلَمُونَ ٢٧٩ 

“And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger but if you repent, you shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly (by asking more than your capital sums), and you shall not be dealt with unjustly (by receiving less than your capital sums).”

Al-Baqarah, Ayah 278-279

In these Aayah, there is a severe threat of punishment for the one who does not leave off Ribaa, and that is because they are engaging in war with Allaah and His messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم, and which sin in our interactions between us has been described as being at war with Allaah and His messenger. It’s so severe to the point that it has been said by one or some of the Salaf that: “Whoever is established upon interest and does not repent from it, then it is the right of the Imaam of the Muslims to arrest him and then to compel him to repent to Allaah. If they repent then they are left, but otherwise, their neck should be hit” “And leave off what is remaining of the Ribaa if you are truly believers.” This part of the Aayah points to the fact that if the one who consumes the Ribaa was truly a believer in Allaah and His messenger as they should be, hoping for Allaah’s hereafter, fearing his punishment in the hereafter, they would not continue consuming that Ribaa, may Allaah protect us. Allaah said:

ٱلَّذِینَ یَأۡكُلُونَ ٱلرِّبَوٰا۟ لَا یَقُومُونَ إِلَّا كَمَا یَقُومُ ٱلَّذِی یَتَخَبَّطُهُ ٱلشَّیۡطَـٰنُ مِنَ ٱلۡمَسِّۚ ذَ ٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمۡ قَالُوۤا۟ إِنَّمَا ٱلۡبَیۡعُ مِثۡلُ ٱلرِّبَوٰا۟ۗ وَأَحَلَّ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡبَیۡعَ وَحَرَّمَ ٱلرِّبَوٰا۟ۚ فَمَن جَاۤءَهُۥ مَوۡعِظَةࣱ مِّن رَّبِّهِۦ فَٱنتَهَىٰ فَلَهُۥ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمۡرُهُۥۤ إِلَى ٱللَّهِۖ وَمَنۡ عَادَ فَأُو۟لَـٰۤىِٕكَ أَصۡحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِۖ هُمۡ فِیهَا خَـٰلِدُونَ 

"Those who eat Riba will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaitan leading him to insanity. That is because they say: "Trading is like Ribaa," whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Ribaa. So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Ribaa shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns [to Ribaa], such are the dwellers of the Fire - they will abide therein.”

Al-Baqarah, Ayah 275

In this Aayah, Allaah describes the one who eats Ribaa as being resurrected from their graves on the day of judgement in front of the whole of mankind just as if shaytaan had abused them through possession. Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنهما said:

“The one who eats Ribaa on the day of judgement will be resurrected chocked out, insane”

Then Allaah made clear the doubts that have engulfed them and made them blind from the truth, unable to distinguish that from falsehood:

“That is because they say that Ribaa is the same as normal sale transaction”

This part of the aayah could potentially imply that they genuinely had a doubt that Ribaa was actually like any other business transaction, due to their corrupt interpretation that they depended upon, just like those who use various types of ruse to conduct Ribaa transactions. But it also implies that they only said that out of rejection and obstinance. Either way on both interpretations, it demonstrates that they are persistent upon their falsehood, are preoccupied with consuming Ribaa and arguing for it with more falsehood in their attempt to disprove the truth with that, may Allaah protect us from that. Allaah the most high said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا الرِّبَا أَضْعَافًا مُّضَاعَفَةً ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ** وَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ ** وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

“O you who have believed, do not consume usury, doubled and multiplied, but fear Allah that you may be successful. *** And fear the Fire, which has been prepared for the disbelievers. *** And obey Allah and the Messenger that you may obtain mercy.”

So in these Aayaat, Allaah forbade His believing slaves from eating Ribaa, then he warned them of Himself by saying “Fear Allaah”, He warned them of Hell fire that He has prepared for the disbelievers and then concluded that true piety is through obedience to Him, it being the cause for success and mercy:

 فَلْيَحْذَرِ الَّذِينَ يُخَالِفُونَ عَنْ أَمْرِهِ أَن تُصِيبَهُمْ فِتْنَةٌ أَوْ يُصِيبَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

“So let those beware who dissent from the Prophet's order, lest fitnah strike them or a painful punishment."

This is clear evidence from Islamic text related to the severe nature of Ribaa and that it is a reason for Allaah’s punishment and one entering into Hell fire, my Allaah protect us from that. Allaah also said:

وَمَا آتَيْتُم مِّن رِّبًا لِّيَرْبُوَ فِي أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ فَلَا يَرْبُو عِندَ اللَّهِ ۖ وَمَا آتَيْتُم مِّن زَكَاةٍ تُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَ اللَّهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُضْعِفُونَ

“And whatever you give for interest to increase within the wealth of people will not increase with Allah. But what you give in zakah, desiring the countenance of Allah - those are the multipliers."

Ribaa does not increase with Allaah, and it doesn’t draw anyone who indulges in Ribaa closer to Allaah. It is money that is earned through Haram, and therefore no good in it and has no blessing. Even if someone were to give it away in charity, it will not be accepted of him until he repents from that major sin.

On the authority of Abu Huriarah رضي الله عنه that he said that the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه و سلم said: 

“Stay away from the 7 destructive sins…[then he mentioned]…Ribaa”

On the authority of Samrah bin Jundub رضي الله عنه who said that the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه و سلم said:

“I saw that night two men who came to me and took me to the holy land, until I got to a river of blood, in it was a man standing on the bank of the river, he had a pile of stones in front of him, and a man who was standing in the river itself. As the man in the river approached the man on the bank, trying to escape from the river, the man on the bank threw a stone at the man in the river, hitting him in the mouth with such force that it sends him back into the middle of the river where he started. Every time he approached the bank, another stone is thrown back into his mouth sending him back into the river. I said “What is this that I’ve just seen in the river?” And they replied “The one who consumes and eats Ribaa””

On the authority of Jaabir ibn Abdillaah رضي الله عنه who said:

“Allaah has cursed the one who eats Ribaa, the borrower who gives the money lender the Ribaa to eat, the one who writes it down, and the one who witnesses. And he said: They are the same”

On the authority of al-Baraa ibn Aazib رضي الله عنه who said that the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه و سلم said:

“Ribaa has 72 doors/chapters/types, the lowest type is like a man who goes to his own mother [for sexual acts]”

There are many Hadeeths that make clear warning from Interest, and clarify its prohibition, stating clearly that it is from one the Major Sins, and from the greatest of them. So let the sincere Muslim take these warnings seriously, internalising the magnitude of the crime, and those who may have engaged in it make every effort to free themselves from its evil hooks.1

It’s existence in society and how its encouraged

The unfortunate reality today is that money lending and Ribaa has become the de facto norm in society. It is so interwoven into society that one can almost not move or even breath without it. So lets start from the top.

Money creation

As we’ve covered in our previous blog post, Fiat money is essentially: “Money that came into existence for one single purpose of servicing an interest bearing loan” All government spending essentially comes through a Ribaa loan. Its not, as people think, from taxation. Money is generated first and then taxation is used to pay off that debt. Let’s put it into layman’s terms:
  1. Government have no money, £0
  2. They issue bonds, which are fancy ways of saying debt certificates, and promise to pay the one who holds this bond interest.
  3. This bond is purchased and now the government has money
  4. Central banks then buy up these bonds with money that does not exist. They have £0 in their bank account and they use their £0 to buy the bonds.
  5. The government collects tax and then pays that to cover the debt in those bonds.
Thats how money is created in our current system, through Ribaa loans, not through hard work mining gold or some other precious metals.

Further Money creation

After the initial supply of money is created, there is another process that creates more money. This is achieved via your normal high street banks. The steps are similar as above, but just with people and not government.
  1. You walk into a bank asking for a loan, £10
  2. The bank says ‘cool, here you go’ and they give you £10
  3. This £10 did not come from someone else’s saving which is what most people think, it mostly came from nothing.
  4. There is now £10, or near that amount, that didn’t exist before, and now it does. Every time a person takes out a loan, they are mostly creating money out of thin air, once again, and this money came into existence due to Ribaa.
  5. Just like with central banks, they reason why they can do this is because although you have created money out of thin air, you can also destroy it by paying back the debt.
  6. This means every mortgage on a house, every student loan for uni, every car financed, every credit card used, creates money out of thin air, and IF the loan is paid back then that money is destroyed, plus interest

What does this mean?

It means that our current system of money only exists due to Ribaa. If everyone attempted to settle all their debts by the end of this year, all the money in the world would run out before the debt is settled, because with all these loans, you pay back more than was given. Unlike Gold, Silver or other forms of money that has existed, once created, it now exists. Once you mine gold, it’s not there. The only way to destroy it is to literally somehow get rid of it. Maybe shoot it into space, throw it into the ocean or bury it under the ground and forget where you put it. But with Fiat money, our current system is built entirely on the concept of Ribaa, and the very money in our hands does not exist without it.

How far does this go?

Because of this evil foundation, the governments reward you for Ribaa, and punish you otherwise. They, by every aspect of their system, incentivise Ribaa, and you find that those who are generally filthy rich, manage to save a lot of money in taxation and other benefits due to the amount of Ribaa they can take. Let’s look at a few examples. If you bought £10,000 worth of silver 10 years ago, and now the price of silver has gone up so much that its now worth £1,000,000 (for example). You now have enough wealth to purchase a house. But if you sell your silver to pay for the house, you have to pay tax for the ‘profit’ made on that silver. But if you get a loan and use the silver as collateral, you can buy the house and keep your silver. The interest you pay back on the loan would be less than the tax you would have paid if you just sold it, and to make it worse, you can still make more money if the price of silver continues to go up. Apple, the company, has $100’s of billions in profits gained abroad outside of USA. If they bring that money back into the USA, they have to pay taxes on it. But they can keep the money, get a loan in the US, and do what they want. They get to keep the cash they have abroad, get the money they wanted, and the interest they would have to pay on that loan is less than the tax they would have paid if they just used the money they already have. In London, if you wanted to rent a flat, you would pay around £1000-£2000 depending on location and size to live there on a monthly basis. But if you got a mortgage on a property, bigger than the flat, and you get to build on the equity over time in that property, you would actually pay less monthly on average than just flat rent. This is partly due to the fact that so many people purchase a house and then just rent it out. So the rent you’re paying mostly goes to paying their mortgage. From this we can see that due to how deeply rooted Ribaa is in our society, it has affected everything and everyone, and to live without it is just no longer feasible for most people. Why is this? Because the roots are rotten, and therefore all the fruits are also rotten. Only if we return to a system that does not have the fake inflated Ribaa money can things across the board begin to return to some level of normality, or at least try.

Conclusion

So it is extremely important for all, that when we discuss a world using a currency that cannot be created out of thin air, created in banks and from loans, we need to have in our minds what we currently have. Yes, if you feel, after all that you’ve learnt, that Bitcoin is in fact haraam, the next question would be, is it more Haraam that what we currently have?

Footnotes

1) Money Lending, By Muhammad ibn Saalih al Uthaimeen.

Further Reading

No Further reading available.

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