10. Dealing in usury.
The Bible describes the practice of dealing in usury as one of the worst sins:
He lends at interest and takes a profit. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he is to be put to death; his blood will be on his own head. [Ezekiel 18:13]Jews are forbidden from charging interest when lending money to other Jews:
If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest. [Exodus 22:25]How is it, then, that usury is permitted with non-Jews (referred to as “foreigners”):
You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a fellow Israelite, so that the LORD your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess.[Deuteronomy 23:20]Surely a sin is a sin, regardless of who is sinned against? By comparison the Qur’an comprehensively condemns the practice of usury:
Allah destroys interest and gives increase for charities. And Allah does not like every sinning disbeliever. Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds and establish prayer and give zakah will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. O you who have believed, fear Allah and give up what remains [due to you] of interest, if you should be believers. And if you do not, then be informed of a war [against you] from Allah and His Messenger. But if you repent, you may have your principal – [thus] you do no wrong, nor are you wronged. [Chapter 2, verses 276-279]Notice how the Qur’an not only declares unlawful all acts of usury going forward, it also commanded believers to give up what was owed to them in interest from past loans, with only the original sum of the loan being lawful and not a penny more. The Qur’an also criticises the Jews for practising usury when it had been forbidden for them in the original Torah, this seems to indicate that the verses which permit usury against non-Jews in the Torah have been falsified:
For wrongdoing on the part of the Jews, We made unlawful for them [certain] good foods which had been lawful to them, and for their averting from the way of Allah many [people], And [for] their taking of usury while they had been forbidden from it, and their consuming of the people’s wealth unjustly. And we have prepared for the disbelievers among them a painful punishment. [Chapter 4, verses 160-161]What should be fresh in our minds is the recent turmoil in the financial markets which was caused by unscrupulous practices such as dealing in usury.