Report No. 63
2A.15. Muslim law as to usury.-
The position under Muslim Law is of interest. In the Dictionary of Islam, T.P. Hughes1 deals with usury as follows:-
"Usury, Arabic RIBA.-A word which, like the Hebrew neshek, includes all gains upon loans, whether from the loans of money, or goods or property of any kind. In the Mosaic law, conditions of gain for the loan of money or goods, were rigorously prohibited: 'If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury2'. 'If any brother be waxen poor take no usury of him or increase: but fear the God; that the brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him the money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase3.'"
1. T.P. Hughes A Dictionary of Islam, (1973) (Oriental Publishers) pp. 656-657.
2. Exedus, xxii, 25.
3. Leviticus xxv, 35-37.
2A.16. The following further points are made in the same works:1
(1) The teaching of the Quran on the subject is given in Surah ii 276-"They who swallow down usury, shall arise in the Last Day only as he ariseth, whom Satan has infected by his touch." This for that they say "Selling is only the like of 'usury', and yet God has allowed selling and forbidden usury; and whosoever receiveth this admonition from his Lord, and abstaineth from it, shall have pardon for the past and his lot shall be with God. But they who return to usury, shall be given over to the fire-therein to abide for ever."
(2) In the Traditions, Muhammed is related to have said:-
"Cursed be the taker of usury, the giver of usury, the writer of usury, and the witness of usury, for they are all equal."
"Verily the wealth that is gained in usury, although it be great, is of small advantage."
(Sahihu Muslim, Babu'r-Riba).
(3) RIBA, in the language of the law, signifies 'an excess' according to a legal standard of measurement or weight in one of two homogeneous articles (or weight or measurement of Capacity) opposed to each other in a contract of exchange, and in which such excess is stipulated as an obligatory condition on behalf of the parties, without any return, that is, without anything being opposed to it.
(4) Usury, as an illegal transaction, is occasioned (according to most Mohammedan doctors) by rate, united with species. Here, however, it must be observed, that rate amongst the Musalmans, applies only to articles of weight or measurement of capacity, and not to articles of longitudinal measurement such as cloth etc., or of articles like eggs, dates, walnuts etc. when exchanged from hand to hand.
(5) Usury cannot take place between a master and his slave. Nor can it take place between a Muslim and a hostile infidel in a hostile country, in accordance with the saying of the Prophet; "There is no usury between a Muslim and a hostile infidel in a foreign country", and on the further ground, that the property of a hostile infidel being free to the Muslim, it follows that it is lawful to take it by whatever mode may be possible, provided there be no deceit used.
1. T.P. Hughes-A Dictionary of Islam (Oriental Publishers, 1973), pp. 656-657.
2A.17. The testimony of a person who receives usury is inadmissible in a court of law. It is recorded in the Mabsut, however, that the evidence of an usurer is inadmissible only in case of his being so in a notorious degree; because mankind often make invalid contracts, and these are in some degree usurious1.
1. Hidayah, Grady's Edn., p. 362; cited by T.P. Hughes-A Dictionary of Islam (1973) under "Evidence".