Riba according to the Quran

Riba is a general practice that consists in making money with money, and its most popular form is known as interest-bearing loans. Muslims believe that God has completely prohibited interest-bearing loans, but this is not exactly what the Quran legislates. Indeed, the true rule in this matter is that the Quran allows to take out a loan, but forbids to lend money with interest.

We have clear proof of this in the Quran since all the verses which deal with Riba only talk about lending money with interest, but never talk about borrowing money with interest.

O you who believe ! Fear God and give up what you have left of Riba if you are believers. And if you don’t, then receive the tidings of war from God and His Messenger. And if you repent, you will have your assets left, thus you neither wrong nor be wronged. Whoever is in financial difficulty, give them a reprieve until they are comfortable. But it is better for you to cancel the debt out of charity ! If only you knew! And fear the day when you will be returned to God, when every soul will be fully rewarded for what it has acquired. And they will not be wronged. S2:V278-281

Whatever you invest in Riba to increase your wealth on the backs of the people will not increase it with God, but what you give as Zakat in search of the Face of God, this will be multiplied for them. S30:V39

O you who believed ! Do not practice Riba by intending to multiply your capital disproportionately. And fear God, maybe you would succeed ! S3:V130

God authorizes the trade of goods, but prohibits the trade of money, namely Riba, and we all know today that the world of finance has absolutely nothing to do with that of entrepreneurship. Indeed, one is based on the concrete production of wealth, while the other simply makes money with money, without any production of wealth in the process. This is why God allows trade in all its forms and prohibits Riba in all its forms.

Those who consume Riba will only stand [on Judgment Day] as the one who is excited by the touch of the Devil. This, because they say : “Trade is the same as Riba”. Now, God authorized trade, and prohibited Riba. He, therefore, who ceases as soon as an exhortation from his Lord has come to him, can keep what he has previously acquired, and his case depends on God. But whoever returns to it (Riba) … such are the dwellers of the Fire ! They will stay there forever. S2:V275

For those who still want to invest their money in a good business, God recommends charity instead.

God annihilates Riba and makes the alms fruitful, and God does not love every great denier and sinner. S2:V276

Indeed, those who give their money for the cause of God will be the winners in both this terrestrial world and in the hereafter. For, God will bless all they have so that their riches will seem stretchy to them and they will constantly have unexpected inflows of money and less expenses than expected. In addition to that, they will find all that they have invested present with God in the hereafter, and multiplied a hundredfold.

Those who spend their wealth in the way of God are like a grain which produces seven ears, each ear bearing a hundred grains. And, God multiplies the reward of whoever He wants, and God is extremely generous and is the Knower of all things. S2:V261

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What God condemns in Riba is the act of multiplying one’s capital disproportionately without any link to any production of wealth, which is absolutely not the case with trade.

O you who believed ! Do not practice Riba by intending to multiply your capital disproportionately. And fear God, maybe you would succeed ! S3:V130

“Riba” etymologically means “that which grows” and, therefore, does not only apply to interest-bearing loans but more generally to all that grows like cancer in the money of others, to devour all their wealth and ultimately intends to leave them with nothing. Riba is the practice that consists in making money with money, without this being accompanied by real wealth production. Let me give you a very simple example: buying a share in Renault is Riba, because there is no concrete production of wealth behind this, whereas buying a car from Renault does indeed create wealth, given that this transaction allows the production of a real object which has a real utility for society, in this case, a car. Riba consists in no more and no less than stealing a part of the profit of people’s work, without bringing anything in return. Taken to extremes as is the case today, those who indulge in this heinous practice even grab the biggest slice of the pie, leaving the true producers to work for almost nothing. God forbids only what is bad and allows all that is good, that is why He forbids this perverse and harmful practice that is Riba, because making money with money is harmful to the whole of society, including those who indulge in it. Indeed, it only creates more poverty and inequality in the world and roots materialism and greed in people, which results in them moving away from God and heading straight to Hell.

Indeed, we all know how this perverse capitalist system based on finance outrageously benefits only the small handful of men who have the biggest fortunes today, to the detriment of the rest of the world. Those who build their fortune on finance, their fortune will benefit them neither in this world nor in the Hereafter, while those who give their money as Zakat for the Face of God, will win both in this present life and in the hereafter.

Whatever you invest in Riba to increase your wealth on the backs of the people will not increase it with God, but what you give as Zakat in search of the Face of God, this will be multiplied for them. S30:V39

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These people who practice Riba excessively have accumulated colossal fortunes on the backs of billions of their fellow human beings, thus accentuating poverty all over the world. Their greed knows no bounds, knowing that it would take them millions of lives to spend their fortune. But, God makes it so that they do not take advantage of it as they would like and that their fortune is only there to increase their pain.

Conversely, the Quran does not explicitly prohibit taking out interest-bearing loans, and we can understand why, given that we know that it is almost impossible today to acquire real estate or buy a car without having to go through a loan. God forbids this dirty practice of Riba to believers and leaves it to criminals, along with all the other practices that He does not condone, such as prostitution, the alcohol and drug trade, and any business based on what God forbids.

However, this does not mean that one can take out as many loans as he wishes, because it remains a dangerous practice that must be avoided as much as possible in order not to fall into materialism, not to put oneself at risk by spending the money that one does not have, and also not to play the game of those who get rich through this means. On another note, it is perfectly understandable that a financial institution can charge an interest rate when it lends money to people, given the risk it takes, the rise in the cost of living, the administrative costs, and the necessity to make a profit.

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Conclusion

The Quran allows the trade of all commodities, but prohibits the trade of money. Therefore, the believer is not allowed to get rich by means of Riba, namely anything that involves making money with money, such as loans with interest or any form of financial speculation like trading, cryptocurrencies, stocks, sports betting, lotteries, etc.

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Rather than being greedy and seeking earthly gains by aiming at increasing our welath without limits, God recommends that we instead donate our money to overcome our own greed, and put our wealth at the service of His cause in order to obtain his satisfaction, and thus be a winner in both this terrestrial world and the hereafter.

Once again, no verse in the Quran formally prohibits taking out a loan with interest, and this is not surprising, given that today it is almost impossible to do without, in most cases. However, we should not overuse it, so as not to put ourselves in difficulty, not to fall into materialism, and also not to promote this practice among others through our own example.

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