Search:
From the Archive
The Holy Quran and the Destruction of the Al-Saud Family:
Two Christians Freed; Two Peoples Held Captive
Fatwas Part Sixty-Four
Quranic Terminology: The Absolute Truth
Quranic Terminology: Awra
The difference between
We said it before:
Enjoin Good.....Forbid Evil
Chandra Muzaffar on Islamic Inclusivism and Muslim Exclusivism
Fatwas: Part Twelve
Quranic Terminology: Being (Un)Thankful to the Lord God (2):
The Ability to Renounce: You Either Worship God Alone or Be a Slave to your Fancies
The Interview of Dr. A. S. Mansour with Al-Arab Newspaper
How to Reform the Egyptian Armed Forces to Raise its Level to ýBetter
Bosnian Religious Leaders Fill Political Void
Defending the Prophet Mohammed against offenders
MATIERE A REFLEXION
The Repentance of Hypocrites
Immigrating to the USA (1)
Fatwas Part Seventy-Two
The Usury Battle

 

                     In The Name Of God The Merciful The Compassionate                      
 
 
                                                                 The Usury Battle
 
 
Originally published on December 22-2006
Translated by Mohammad Dandan
(1)
The Egyptian State was suffering from a sustained organized plunder of Egyptian wealth, through what was referred to as money investment wave, which contributed to the desolation of banks after being accused of dealing in usury, enticing people to withdraw their monies, their lifesavings and in some cases, to sell theilt;/span>
Translated by Mohammad Dandan
(1)
The Egyptian State was suffering from a sustained organized plunder of Egyptian wealth, through what was referred to as money investment wave, which contributed to the desolation of banks after being accused of dealing in usury, enticing people to withdraw their monies, their lifesavings and in some cases, to sell their real estate holdings, giving it all to Ar-Rayyaan, Ash-Sherif and others (Investment Co.). Some influential figures in the government, along with many religious notables, like Sheikh Sha’raawi and Sheikh Abdussabour Shaaheen, and numerous other Sheikhs from Al-Azher took part in this process of looting and plundering, with concerted mass flooding of advertisement promoting that type of investment. Against this storm, there was me and my friend Dr. Faraj Fouda, who wrote a small pamphlet called it, (the scam), also published few articles in Al-Ahrar newspaper, tackling the issue from purely economical aspect, whereas I dealt with the aspect of conformity to Islamic principles….But the Sheikhs’ influence prevented me from publishing but three articles.
Al Akhbar newspaper used to publish, timidly, some articles for me, in the page titled (People’s Say), under the column,(The Quran is the solution) ,and the credit for this opportunity should go to Mr. Abdul Waarith Eddesouqi, one of the great Egyptian journalists in the twentieth century, and I know how hard he had to fight to allow me to publish an article every month or two. Out of those articles, two were connected to usury, the first one of which is the following, published on June 29th 1989:
 
Which one is lawful and which is not
The banks or the investment brokerage houses?
There are two types of usury, the one offered by the loan shark in lieu of charity, and the commercial usury. This definition is based on the type who is in need of a loan. There is a hungry person, deserving of charity, who goes to the loan shark, and instead of giving him charity, he gives him a loan with interest. This is different than another person who needs money to start up a business or expand on one, expecting gain and profit out of it. It is rightful for the lender to share in the profits, because his money contributed to that.
During the Meccan period, the focus of revelation was the integrity of religion to Almighty Allah, and to the purification of doctrine of any polytheism. Nonetheless, injunctions were sent encouraging giving charity to the needy rather than loaning with interest. Almighty Allah says, confirming the right of the needy, in Chapter 30-Ar-Room
SHAKIR: Then give to the near of kin his due, and to the needy and the wayfarer; this is best for those who desire Allah's pleasure, and these it is who are successful
SHAKIR: And whatever you lay out as usury, so that it may increase in the property of men, it shall not increase with Allah; and whatever you give in charity, desiring Allah's pleasure-- it is these (persons) that shall get manifold 
 
This close connection between encouraging the giving of charity to the needy versus giving him a loan with interest makes it clear to us that the intended banned usury is the one offered in lieu of charity to those in need.
In Al-Medina, most of the rich folk were hypocrites, who used to lend money to the needy with interest, so the Al-Baqara verses (Chapter 2) came down condemning this behavior, and instead calling to replace interest bearing loans with charity to the hungry and needy.
It is important to know that the Quran, before prohibiting usury, mentioned the rewards of giving charity and encouraged doing so in thirteen instances starting with Chapter 2   verses 261
SHAKIR: The parable of those who spend their property in the way of Allah is as the parable of a grain growing seven ears (with) a hundred grains in every ear; and Allah multiplies for whom He pleases; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing
and 262
SHAKIR: (As for) those who spend their property in the way of Allah, then do not follow up what they have spent with reproach or injury, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve
 
Then the verses follow with admonitions to loan sharks who exploit starving needy-
275-
SHAKIR: Those who swallow down usury cannot arise except as one whom Shaitan has prostrated by (his) touch does rise. That is because they say, trading is only like usury; and Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury. To whomsoever then the admonition has come from his Lord, then he desists, he shall have what has already passed, and his affair is in the hands of Allah; and whoever returns (to it)-- these arc the inmates of the fire; they shall abide in it.
The verse calls on them to cease and desist from using usury and for the loan shark to limit himself to his original capital, and threatened him with permanent abode in hellfire if he were to return to his old ways, then the following verse urges him to give charity instead loaning with interest.
 276.
SHAKIR: Allah does not bless usury, and He causes charitable deeds to prosper, and Allah does not love any ungrateful sinner.  
Then the following verses stress the importance of refraining from indulging in this type of usury-
278
SHAKIR: O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and relinquish what remains (due) from usury, if you are believers,
279,
SHAKIR: But if you do (it) not, then be apprised of war from Allah and His Messenger; and if you repent, then you shall have your capital; neither shall you make (the debtor) suffer loss, nor shall you be made to suffer loss
280
SHAKIR: And if (the debtor) is in straitness, then let there be postponement until (he is in) ease; and that you remit (it) as alms is better for you, if you knew.
It commands patience with debtor who fell on hard times, even being charitable towards him, by writing off the loan or part of it. It is a condition so grave, to the extent that Allah declares war on loan sharks, who exploit the hardships of the needy hungry ones. For those reasons, Almighty Allah urged the giving of charity before and after prohibiting usury.
The question here, does that apply to commercial usury?
The Quranic provision is very clear that usury in general is prohibited.(Allah has decreed that selling is lawful and usury is forbidden).Selling is defined as a product in return for money, but usury is selling money for money, which differs than the customary form of selling. The Quranic precept distinguished between lawful selling and unlawful usury. The verses hinted, while urging giving of charity to the needy rather loaning him with interest, that there is an exception as far as the other type of usury, when the one in need for a loan with interest is neither poor or destitute, but rather a merchant or an investor, this exception or exemption came clearly in His sayingChapter 3: 130-
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not devour usury, making it double and redouble, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful
So compound interest is prohibited, which is usually found in commercial usury, when high hopes in profits prevail to compensate for high rate interest.
Allah says in Chapter 4 verse 29
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not devour your property among yourselves falsely, except that it be trading by your mutual consent; and do not kill your people; surely Allah is Merciful to you.
Usury in commerce is included in squandering money between you in vanity that was prohibited, but the exemption that made it lawful, is when it is in mutual consent. From these two verses, we conclude that the Quran exempted commercial usury from usury in general if it was by mutual consent and void of compound interest.
The Quran stresses this point by prohibiting hoarding of money, and that the Muslim is required to circulate his wealth and not be stingy with it or hoard it. So if a Muslim could not find a trustworthy person to partner with in investing his monies, then there is no harm in utilizing the services of a bank with a mutually agreed upon rate of interest, all subject to the rules of percentages in profits and interest, supply and demand and deposits and withdrawals.
People ignored or neglected the Quranic solution to the problem of usury because they believed in some narrations coined during the second Abbasid period prohibiting usury all together with no distinction, disregarding the exemption brought about in the Quran. Most popular among those Ahadeeth is the one that curses the lender and the debtor, those who write it down and those who witness for it, which means that even the debtor who is in need is accursed too, which contradicts the Quranic principle in prohibiting usury, for it was banned because it brought hardship on the needy, so how can it be the needy becomes accursed? Besides it contradicts the Quranic legislation, which allows the compelled to eat the meat of the dead and pig meat.
Those Abbasid scholars came up with a general juristic maxim that any loan that entails profit is usury and any usury is prohibited. This generalization contradicts the exception mentioned in those two verses, also how can we say that every loan that bring s a profit is prohibited and Almighty Allah says in the Quran chapter 64 verse 17
SHAKIR: If you set apart for Allah a goodly portion, He will double it for you and forgive you; and Allah is the Multiplier (of rewards), Forbearing
Is this loan usury too?
Some people exploited those fabricated ahadeeth, of which Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was innocent, manipulated Muslims emotions, went on a campaign of tarnishing the reputation of a banking system that is unquestionably irreproachable as long as it did not force anyone to use its services or use compound interest in its dealings. The result was banks and some branches of existing banks operated under the title of Islamic banking, but in reality it was part and parcel of national and international banking system that it could not escape. Then the worst possible scenario happened, when those investment companies were established over the ruins of Egyptian banks, took hold of peoples lifesavings, manipulated it, causing prices to skyrocket, corrupted officials consciences, bought their honors, offering bribes, enabling them to impose their publicity on the general public took advantage of their savings and their dreams, resulting in prosecution for them and those officials they collaborated with and fell victims to their temptations. Those investments companies are in consistence with the Quranic description
 2-188
SHAKIR: And do not swallow up your property among yourselves by false means, neither seek to gain access thereby to the judges, so that you may swallow up a part of the property of men wrongfully while you know
 
It was due to one Hadith or two that investment companies came into existence, and it was the basis for the loss of hundreds of millions of Muslims sweat.
 Is it not imperative on us all, to read the Quran carefully to judge most of those sayings that did the prophet (PBUH) a lot of injustice and caused the Muslims to remain backward for centuries?
(2)
After publishing this article, Mr. Abdul Waarith Eddesouqi was surprised to receive an official letter, accompanied by an article sent from the office of Dr. Abdul Mu’ti El- Beyyoumi, Dean of one of the Al-Azher colleges back then, demanding that it be published, in a manner that did not sit well with Mr. Abdul Waarith, whom I was with then, you could tell how upset he was while reading the letter. He was very angry, although he was known for being patient and tolerant. He refused to publish the article. Mr. Abdul Mu’ti El-Beyyoumi sent the article to Jamal Badawi, at Al-Wefd Paper, who promptly published it. It was no secret that Mr. Badawi and I had a public antagonism before hand. After Dr. El-Beyyoumi’s article was published in Al-Wefd under the title (Beware of this man’s lies published in Al-Akhbar), Mr. Abdul Waarith Eddesouqi did not feel quite at ease with all its defamation accusations of blasphemy of my person, he asked me to reply, and I said, it has been my habit to say my word and keep on, never to bother with those who curse or accurse me. He insisted that I reply, for no reason more than, where the aftereffect of my previous article would not go to waste. The next day, on his desk was the following article in response to Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti, which Al-Akhbar published on September 6th 1989
 
Fear God…Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti
 
Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti El-Beyyoumi jumped into my memory twice,
First time when he attacked me on the pages of Minberul Islam magazine, January 1988 issue, calling for me to be crushed and murdered, at the same time calling for leniency and tolerance for various religious groups that allow bloodletting. At that time, Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti succeeded in putting a smile on my face, for he reminded me of the great poet, Al-Mutanebbi’s saying: How many things in Egypt that cause you to laugh , but a laughter more like a weeping.
The second time around, when Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti attempted to rebuttal my article about usury, and it was obvious in his reply published in Al-Wefd on July 28th 1989, that he did not read my article ,or started to read the introduction, then commenced in his attack before finishing reading the article.
In my article about usury publish in Al-Akhbar on June 29th; I emphasized the Quranic dictum that usury is unlawful, but that the Quran exempted from the unlawful usury, the commercial usury, provided that it is consensual and void of compound interest, and quoted the Quran
 4-29
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not devour your property among yourselves falsely, except that it be trading by your mutual consent; and do not kill your people; surely Allah is Merciful to you
 and
3-130
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not devour usury, making it double and redouble, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful
 
I documented the falsehood of the Hadith that curses the one, who lends, borrows, witnesses or writes a usury based loan, because it clearly contradicts the Quran, where it curses the one who is in need to borrow with interest, yet the Quran allows the compelled to eat from a dead animal or pig meat, so how can it be that the compelled to borrow with interest is accursed? Knowing that the prohibition of usury is to avert the injustice imposed on that needy person, so how can it be that he is the accursed? We add to the argument that the Quran permits the compelled to utter the word of blasphemy under duress, as long as his heart is still content with Belief
16-106
SHAKIR: He who disbelieves in Allah after his having believed, not he who is compelled while his heart is at rest on account of faith, but he who opens (his) breast to disbelief-- on these is the wrath of Allah, and they shall have a grievous chastisement
. Moreover, that Hadith, curses the witness and the writer of a usury contract, although the Quran gave immunity to the witness and the writer, when it generally said:
 2-282.
SHAKIR: O you who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down; and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; and the scribe should not refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so he should write; and let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should be careful of (his duty to) Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it; but if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding, or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness; and call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned; and be not averse to writing it (whether it is) small or large, with the time of its falling due; this is more equitable in the sight of Allah and assures greater accuracy in testimony, and the nearest (way) that you may not entertain doubts (afterwards), except when it is ready merchandise which you give and take among yourselves from hand to hand, then there is no blame on you in not writing it down; and have witnesses when you barter with one another, and let no harm be done to the scribe or to the witness; and if you do (it) then surely it will be a transgression in you, and be careful of (your duty) to Allah, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things
In my article I quoted the Quran 27 times, Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti‘s reply to those verses: “Beware of that man’s lies in Al-Akhbar”…meaning that he considers the Quran to be lies. Furthermore, Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti directed another accusation to the Quran, when he repeated the oft mentioned accusation of former scholars who claimed that Quranic injunctions were revealed gradually, he says “Usury was prohibited in stages like wine.”. Claiming that there is graduation in Quranic legislation, indicates contradiction within Quranic verses, when legislation comes down with permissibility, then partial prohibition, to be followed by total prohibition. What I believe in, is that the Quran is void of aberrations, contradictions, or differences. That the concept of graduation in Quranic legislation was a rumor that grew during the Abbasid period, took on the air of legitimacy, since no one dared to challenge it, and survived among half learned men. There is no graduation in Quranic legislation when it comes to the lawful and unlawful; rather, it has brevity during the Meccan period, and detailed legislation in Medina. In Mecca, the focus was on purifying the doctrine in believing in God, with some generalities in legislation. In Medina, there was clarifications and in detail instructions. In Mecca, Wine consumption was prohibited inclusively and briefly, in chapter 7-33
SHAKIR: Say: My Lord has only prohibited indecencies, those of them that are apparent as well as those that are concealed, and sin and rebellion without justice, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down any authority, and that you say against Allah what you do not know
. Wine is part of and falls under (Sin, Offense), prohibited by Allah (SWT), no matter how small or large in quantity. When the prophet (PBUH) was asked about the rule concerning Wine, Allah’s decree came down in chapter 2-219
SHAKIR: They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit. And they ask you as to what they should spend. Say: What you can spare. Thus does Allah make clear to you the communications, that you may ponder
. So if in wine there is major offense, then it is prohibited, its prohibition was enacted in Mecca in brief statements, then in detail in Medina in numerous verses, like chapter 2-219 and chapter 5, verses 90
SHAKIR: O you who believe! intoxicants and games of chance and (sacrificing to) stones set up and (dividing by) arrows are only an uncleanness, the Shaitan's work; shun it therefore that you may be successful
 and 91
SHAKIR: The Shaitan only desires to cause enmity and hatred to spring in your midst by means of intoxicants and games of chance, and to keep you off from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you then desist?
.
The same case also regarding usury. Prohibition was ordained in brief statements in Mecca, chapter Ar- room 39
SHAKIR: And whatever you lay out as usury, so that it may increase in the property of men, it shall not increase with Allah; and whatever you give in charity, desiring Allah's pleasure-- it is these (persons) that shall get manifold
, and then came the details in Medina, explaining the principle of it, and setting the exceptions to the rule, with its conditions. Chapter 2-261
SHAKIR: The parable of those who spend their property in the way of Allah is as the parable of a grain growing seven ears (with) a hundred grains in every ear; and Allah multiplies for whom He pleases; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing  
and 281,
SHAKIR: And guard yourselves against a day in which you shall be returned to Allah; then every soul shall be paid back in full what it has earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly
 then chapter 3-130
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not devour usury, making it double and redouble, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful
. and
chapter 4-29
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not devour your property among yourselves falsely, except that it be trading by your mutual consent; and do not kill your people; surely Allah is Merciful to you
.
Then we are confronted by Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti, who accuses us of blasphemy, giving A-ssuyooti’s opinion as evidence, “Be aware then, May Allah have mercy on you, whosoever denies the prophet’s Hadith (PBUH), verbal or in practice, within its criteria agreed upon in science of Al-Usool, as being a proof and evidence, then he committed blasphemy and left the domain of Islam.”
Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti does not realize that, along with me, he accuses the most prominent scholars of Hadith and jurisprudence with blasphemy.
 For he accuses Imam Abu Haneifa of blasphemy, since he did not regard authentic but few Hadiths, according to the most optimistic sources.
He also accuses Ibn Hanbal with blasphemy, who with a stroke of a pen voided three categories of Hadiths when he said: “three things are without foundation: explication (personal interpretation),tales of epics and tales of conquests “
He accuses Imam Al-Bukhari of blasphemy for authenticating 4 thousand Hadiths out of 6 hundred thousand Hadiths circulating during his time, which means he regarded as false, five hundred and ninety six thousand Hadiths.
 He also accuses Imam Muslim with blasphemy, who authenticated Hadiths in his book that were not considered as such by his teacher, Imam Al-Bukhari and likewise falsified Hadiths reported in Al-Bukhari that he ignored.
He accuses eminent scholars of Hadiths of blasphemy, for criticizing Al-Bukhari and Muslim, and for attacking 80 narrators in Al-Bukhari’s Books, and 160 in Muslim’s Books.
Finally, he accuses scholars of Sunni branch of blasphemy for spreading doubts about Shiite narrators, and the same concerning the latter ones, for as Az-Zeheby stated in his book, Balance of Moderation, scholars of Hadith did not come to a consensus concerning the reliability of a weak narrator or the unreliability of a trustworthy one. It was better off for Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti to leave this subject alone lest it reignites dormant fire.
Besides, who is this A-ssuyooti that you reference him against us, Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti? Let us get acquainted with A-ssuyooti based on what some of his contemporary scholars wrote about him:
Al-Imam Ash-She’raani in his book “Attabaqaat A-ssughra-The lesser Ranks of Scholars”, wrote that A-ssuyooti used to claim that he sees the prophet (PBUH) while awake, and that the prophet used to seek him to acquire knowledge, supposedly saying to him “teach us Sheikh of Sunnah or Sheikh of Hadith”
Also, Imam A-ssakhaawi, in his encyclopedic “The glittering light”, accused A-ssuyooti of plagiarism, and whoever dedicates his time and effort to studying A-ssuyooti’s writings, printed and manuscript format, like me ,could easily second A-ssakhaawi’s accusations, for it is obvious the difference in style of the author of (Al-Huma’) and A-ssuyooti’s in his pamphlets that found no one to publish to acquaint us with A-ssuyooti’s true intellectual capabilities.  The manuscripts at the Egyptian House of Books are full of these A-ssuyooti’s pamphlets filled with Hadiths that were never mentioned prior to the Memluk period, all of which are offensive and abusive to the prophet (PBUH), in addition to contradictions, superstitions and vulgarities, we refrain from giving examples of, yet some titles are enough to give a glimpse of how base this A-ssuyooti deteriorated to…..(The Healings in the benefits of the Flea)…(The Clear say in the evolution of the Saint) about the many transformations of the Sufi saint into different forms and his presence in many locations all at the same time….and (The pure fresh sipping of lawful charm)…a detailed descriptive narration of sexual relations on a wedding night….and likewise (Citron petals in subtlety of flirtation). The most tragic in those pamphlets is the Hadith that A-ssuyooti filled them with, attributing them to the prophet (PBUH).
After all this, O Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti, I say to you: (Allah said), and you say to me: (A-ssuyooti said)?
My advice to you Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti is to read profusely, perhaps Allah will open up for you an avenue for knowledge, whereby you will feel better and others will feel relief from you, and strive, O Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti, to comprehend what you read, instead of being insolent with the diligent scholars, and always, Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti, be conscious of Allah (SWT)
(3)
The article (Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti...Fear Allah) caused quite a stir inside Al-Azher and outside. Some of what went on in the corridors of the university reached me via some old friends, few of them were not too happy with its sharpness, others saw it deservedly fit to set the Sheikh straight, nonetheless all agreed that the article was a strong punch to Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti. Word came to me that they convened few meetings to discuss appropriate response to me, which soon enough came in the form of an article by Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti, published in Al-Wafd, titled , (Rather You Fear Allah and read what we have read)
Upon reading that article, Mr. Abdul Warith Eddesouqi chuckled asking me my opinion, I said the Sheikh failed the test, for when a believer is told to fear Allah, he should promptly ask Allah for forgiveness, not arrogantly become defensive. Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti, by responding in such a manner, committed himself to fall within the ranks of those described by Almighty Allah in this verse “?????”. Mr. Abdul Warith asked me to write a rebuttal entitled (Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti did not fear Allah),this time I vehemently refused , my point of view being that Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti will benefit from this bickering, turning him into a popular figure, and the matter will evolve into a personal vendetta , something I was not interested in. Instead, I ignored Sheikh Abdul Mu’ti and wrote the following article about usury published in Al-Akhbar:
 
Usury and the dilemma of Ijtihad (independent judgment in a legal or theological question)
 
1-
In a Muslim country, a person wanted to add another floor to his existing home. He went to the bank for a loan. The bank agreed to loan him the 100 thousand needed at 10 % interest. The man refused this kind of usury, instead went to an Islamic financial institution. He was told by an official there that they do not deal in unlawful usury; rather, they buy and sell. A deal was struck whereby the institution would buy his house for 100 thousand, nominally, then a year later, would resell it to him for 150 thousand. The man left very happy with the deal, before realizing his loss. For he has sold his home in lieu of a loan to build an addition that will cost him 50 % interest within a year’s time, and the institution secured his legal ownership of the man’s house…but too late for that borrower, the bank would’ve charged him only 10 % interest, compared to the 50 % charged by that Islamic Institution.
The story is oft repeated in oil producing countries. Deals are struck in mosques, being careful not to use the terms interest or usury. Through misuse of terminology, trickery, nominal buying and fake selling, simple innocent religious people are unlawfully cheated out of their monies. The outcome of such behavior, which Islam has nothing to do with, is to circumvent Allah’s canonical Laws and to go to great lengths in misuse of words and terminology. Manifestations of such interpretation and application are abundant in terms and expressions used in  such establishments displaying banners of Islamic banking and investment firms, always clinging to and quoting “Allah permitted selling and prohibited usury” ,leading their clients in a maze of conditions and terms of contracts, coined and formulated in such a way to defraud and to deceive .
 
2-
All this would have been avoided if we were diligent in studying and comprehending the Quran, which in itself is an Islamic religious duty. Allah, glory be to Him, says in chapter Mohammad -24…The Quran excluded, as not being a prohibited usury, commercial transactions void of compound interest, as in chapter 2-130,also in 4-29(Quoted previously)
In the rest of verses banning usury, the context has always been clear that the type banned was the one offered to the needy deserving of charity, whereby the usurer gives the needy a loan with interest, as explained in detail in a previous article published in Al-Akhbar titled “Which is lawful and which is unlawful: Banks or Investments brokerage houses?”
 
3-
Allah’s words in 4-29 establishes a legal precept permitting all commercial transactions based on mutual acceptance between buyer and seller, or based on accepted man-made laws or what people in a society grew accustomed to, even if some scholars and jurists were apprehensive about such transactions, for how can anyone justify those apprehensions, if the Quran states: “to consume people’s money unlawfully”, if it was based on mutual acceptance, as it is clearly expressed in that verse, which allows bank interest, fixed or variable, provided it is not compounded. In addition, it also allows all types of commercial dealings which are part of our contemporary life, like certificates of investments, installment selling, life and property insurance, stocks, bonds and all sorts of
Companies, as long as there is mutual acceptance and full knowledge by both parties of rules and conditions governing the transaction, with no place for trickery or playing on words or slogans.
4-
 Some jurists and scholars were of the opinion of the permissibility of bank interest; they had their plausible justifications and their praiseworthy courage. Others adhered to
Jurisprudence dictums written centuries ago, thereby igniting a war of terror, intimidation and accusation of blasphemy and infidelity, they labored and worked hard at being presumptuous with those who tried honestly to find answers and solutions, knowing well that they will be responsible before Allah, glory be to Him, on judgment day for what they have issued of edicts or legal opinion. That wrangle revealed an inquiry that unmasked the hidden and put us on a crossroad: what would happen if, God forbid, a theocracy were to take over, with its legislative source founded on those Sheikhs’ religious interpretations?
The result would be that in one hand, they would hold their yellow books, and in the other, they would wave the penalty for apostasy and blasphemy, and for those new diligent, assiduous religious legislators and jurists, who were trying to come up with solutions, they would hold collective massacres in At-Tehreer Square, which they would probably change its name to “Al-Hajjaj Bin Yousuf” Square, and next in line would be the Leftists then the Copts then the rest…..
5-
Believe me; the dictatorship of the military is bad, but it is nothing compared to a theocracy, which will spare none or preserve any.
(4)
The issue of usury became controversial more than I expected due to this article, which Sheikh of Al-Azher then, Sheikh Jad El-Heqq, regarded it as a blow directed against him, under the belt, below the cloak and beneath the caftan, he hurried to those in power to put a closure to the subject. This was what I found out and what happened to me afterwards:
1-      It was agreed upon that the Grand Mufti, then, Dr. Mohammad Sayyid Tentaawi, would issue a fatwa allowing the dealing in certain investment certificates as a prelude to, later on, permitting dealing in bank interest. Consequently, Sheikh Tentaawi issued the Fatwa, along with some articles by Minister of religious affairs, Dr. Mehjoob, who relied in arguing with those opposed to the Fatwa, on the same verses I quoted in my articles….and sure enough gradually, dealings with banks were allowed, thereby fulfilling what I have been calling for.
2-      In return for that concession on their part, they struck a deal with the system, to send me, along with Dr. Faraj Fouda, for interrogation by the public persecution office, at different times. In the interrogation of Dr. Fouda, published by Al-Ahali newspaper, the stress was upon his relationship with that (denier) of Sunnah, Ahmed Subhy Mansour, to frighten and terrorize him, where he would cut off his relationship with me. Because of the two previous articles, I was interrogated by Justice Yasser Al-Hawwari, I asked him to bring along Sheikh of Al-Azher as a co-defendant, since he accepts his salary from the government in Egyptian currency, issued by the Egyptian Central Bank which, in their view, is a bank dealing in usury, so how can he deal in usury contaminated Egyptian money, then accuses me of the same? Besides, I do not have any bank account with any bank, not because I prohibit dealing with banks, but because I am poorer than being able to do so, but Sheikh of Al-Azher, has accounts in Egyptian and other currencies, in Egyptian banks as well as foreign ones. They set me free. It was obvious, the system concluded a deal with the Sheikhs, whereby they applied pressure to terrorize me to keep me quiet, in return for the Sheikhs to legalize bank interest.
3-      I did not surrender. Instead, I drafted another article, a cynical one, in a narrative form, to answer them, entitled (The issue of usury and the dilemma of morals), only to be surprised by Al-Akhbar refusal to publish it. I remained for a prolonged period, banned from publishing at Al-Akhbar. 7 years later, I was able to publish the same article ,refused by Al-Akhbar, in Al-Bayaan newspaper, on September 15th 1996, and here it is:
The Issue of Usury and The Dilemma of Morals
 
Mr. Memdouh is a practicing Muslim man. He inherited a small fortune, ten thousand pounds. He entered into a business partnership with some trusted people. The partnership ended with a certain loss. He lost the friendship of a close person, along with two thousand of his monies. Memdouh returned with the remainder, confused and perplexed, not knowing how to manage it. He had eight thousand pounds more than he needs; he is an employee, no time at hand, nor financial or business experience, besides, he is a pious practicing Muslim, memorized the Quran, and does not want to earn Allah’s displeasure because of that money he has, but does not know how to manage it, and cannot find a trustworthy person to invest it for him. Memdouh thought long and hard. If he were to hide it under the mattress, his destiny would be to face Allah with the offense of hoarding wealth and he recited to himself At-Tawwba 34
SHAKIR: O you who believe! most surely many of the doctors of law and the monks eat away the property of men falsely, and turn (them) from Allah's way; and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah's way, announce to them a painful chastisement
and-35
SHAKIR: On the day when it shall be heated in the fire of hell, then their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it; this is what you hoarded up for yourselves, therefore taste what you hoarded
 
. His skin quivered as he thought of what would happen to him if he hoarded his money and did not circulate it. Besides, he does not want to spend it on unnecessary luxuries, for he considers spending it on such things makes him a squanderer, and he recalled Allah’s saying in this regard Al-Israa’ 26
SHAKIR: And give to the near of kin his due and (to) the needy and the wayfarer, and do not squander wastefully
and-27
SHAKIR: Surely the squanderers are the fellows of the Shaitans and the Shaitan is ever ungrateful to his Lord
. Mr. Memdouh sought refuge in Allah against the accursed devil. It occurred to him to donate all of his monies in the cause of Allah, but then, he knew the Quranic injunction regarding spending in moderation even in the cause of Allah, repeating Allah’s words in Al-Furqaan 67
SHAKIR: And they who when they spend, are neither extravagant nor parsimonious, and (keep) between these the just mean
 and Al-Israa’29
SHAKIR: And do not make your hand to be shackled to your neck nor stretch it forth to the utmost (limit) of its stretching forth, lest you should (afterwards) sit down blamed, stripped off
,then he wondered to himself how one can be sure that the recipient of such amount be trustworthy with it . Mr. Memdouh always purifies his income from his salary and other sources by giving for charity and Zakat, so the 8 thousand pound will remain a problem with no solution. The only available way out was to put the money in the bank, but the vicious barbarian assault on Egyptian banking industry tarnished its reputation in his eyes, especially with flowing fatwas prohibiting bank interest. Mr. Memdouh, being religious oriented who avoids suspicions and/or doubts, opted to stay away from those banks, preferring safety and security in his religion and his afterlife.
But Mr. Memdouh read about a new opinion backed by verses from the Quran that allow dealing with commercial banks, based on Quranic injunction excluding from prohibited usury, any commercial transaction executed with mutual consent and void of compound interest, evidenced by 3-130 and 4-29(Quoted above). Mr. Memdouh memorized both verses by heart, but never thought of them in this manner before.
Mr. Memdouh’s perplexity multiplied, though he was comfortable with the new approach backed by the Quran, for it provided a suitable solution to the excess monies that he had, which he did not want to hoard or to waste on unnecessary purchases, yet the vicious press campaign conducted by the Sheikhs against Egyptian banks intensified, threatening those patronizing them with eternal hellfire and accusing the person with the new understanding of apostasy and blasphemy. Mr. Memdouh wanted to reach firm grounds and decisive rule, where he would feel secure and his doubts would vanish, so he heads toward that Sheikh championing those campaigns of terror and accusations of apostasy. He sat in his presence, subdued and submissive, and divulged all his concerns and doubts, asking him for a solution. The sheikh spoke for a long time, and Mr. Memdouh listened attentively, after hours of headache, yelling, screaming, warnings, cajoling, threatening and accusations of blasphemy, Mr. Memdouh walked out confident that that Sheikh is not adapt at conducting a conversation, and cannot find a proof or an evidence except when he is talking about things that nullifies ablution, things that require complete overall bathing and how and what happens when both genitals meet. Throughout the hours the Sheikh kept talking, Mr. Memdouh did not hear one single evidence or clear cut proof, all the Sheikh did was take him into one maze and out of another, of jurisprudence theories, conflicts of legal jurists, avoidables, ascriptions, severed Hadith and incompletely transmitted Hadith, the Sheikh panting, gasping among yellow books just to prove that ALL bank interest are forbidden. Mr. Memdouh all along, well aware that the authors of such yellow books were dead and gone centuries ago, and did not know any thing about banks or their interests, and if one of them were to be reincarnated and walked the streets of Cairo, he would instantly drop dead out of fear and bewilderment seeing the many manifestations of the 20th century.
Mr. Memdouh exited the presence of the Sheikh, certain that it was the last visit, for he felt that he has lost him forever, feeling the Sheikh is still living the past and determined to force it upon our present, or may be he came to our times by way of employment placement to add a new yellow copy of books of traditions.
On his way back, he felt this profound urge to meet up with his friend Sameh, the proponent of this daring new approach in religious reasoning, who with his courage and boldness, which Memdouh himself sometimes exhibit, seems to be a reasonable rational practicing Muslim, who revels at dialogue, never hesitates in consulting the Quran in dealing with contemporary issues facing him, which the Sheikhs are helpless to delve into. Mr. Sameh, even with his well grounded religiosity, does not pay attention to what is being said about banks, since he works at one of them like many other Muslims who follow the tenets of their faith. For Mr. Sameh realizes, though he is practicing and with a beard, that the mercy of Islam is by far more spacious and wide open, compared to the limited and confined perimeter that some try to impose on people in the name of Islam.
During the midday break, they sat together conversing. Memdouh was convinced that the Quranic solution to his problem was to deposit the excess money he had, at the bank where his friend Sameh worked. They continued their dialogue. Sameh said to him, did you know, if you were to waste your money on non-essential, trivial product that you do not need, may be you would become a candidate to be labeled as a fool or mentally incompetent, hence liable to be quarantined for the benefit of society at large. Memdouh smiled and said after all these years and the status I achieved; I am to be considered mentally incompetent? Sameh then recited the verse pertaining to that meaning: Chapter 4- Verse 5
SHAKIR: And do not give away your property which Allah has made for you a (means of) support to the weak of understanding, and maintain them out of (the profits of) it, and clothe them and speak to them words of honest advice
Memdouh’s mind went into a wandering mode, reflecting upon the verse as if he heard it for the first time. Sameh said, from the context of the verse, we understand that the money is yours as long as you demonstrate good judgment in dispensing it, but if you fail to do so, then the wealth resort back to society through an assigned overseer who would be charged with investing and cultivating that sum. What you are entitled to, is the return on the investment, and not the investment itself. We deduce that from the verse itself, where it says “provide for them out of it”, meaning from the proceeds, and not “from it” meaning the capital itself. This leads us to conclude that investing is a social responsibility ordained by the Quran which permits all kinds of investments based on mutual acceptance with no grievance, inequity or compound interest to hinder development.
During the conversation, Sameh whispered in his friend’s ear;” look who is coming in”. Memdouh was taken back to see the new comer receiving all kinds of hospitable receptions indicating his importance as a client. Memdouh whispered, not believing his eyes: “It is his eminence the Sheikh, flesh and bone”. He turned to his friend, wiping his eyes with astonishment, “did he come here to condemn you as apostates and to damn you?”
Sameh smiled and said, “His eminence has accounts with us both in hard and in local currencies, Cheques are sent to him from around the world in Dollars, in Dinars, in Riyals and in Dirham thereby, his wealth is multiplied and interest paid to him is increased many folds. Memdouh rubbed his eyes again and said “But you have not seen him screaming with me, cursing and condemning bank interest and how it is filth of the devil’s doing, and whoever does not avoid it, his final abode will be hellfire and the worst recompense.
Sameh laughed to himself and said, “If he was honest with himself, he would not have held that Egyptian currency, issued by Egyptian Central Bank, knowing that it is a bank that deals in usury.
By then, his eminence finished his transaction at the bank, and departed with the same adulations he was received with.
Sameh exploded with laughter, “They follow Imam Ibn Hanash’s rule, “this is one beat, and that is another beat”.
Both friends painfully laughed with Sameh saying:
Many a thing in Egypt causes laughter, but closer to crying than genuine laughter.              
                                
         
.
 
           
 
           
      
 
                      
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
 
 

 


The views and opinions of authors whose articles and comments are posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of IQC.