Riba An Nasiyah - Explained

This is the real and primary form of Riba. Since the verses of Quran have directly rendered this type of Riba as haram, it is called Riba Al Quran. Similarly since only this type was considered Riba in the dark ages, it has earned the name of Riba Al Jahiliya. Imam Abu Bakr Hassas Razi has outlined a complete and prohibiting legal definition of Riba An Nasiyah in the following words:

“That kind of loan where specified repayment period and an amount in excess of capital is predetermined.”

One of the ahadith quoted by Ali ibn at Talib (RAA) has defined Riba An Nasiyah in similar words. The Holy Prophet said:

“Every loan that draws interest is Riba.”

The famous Sahabi Fazala Bin Obaid has also defined Riba in similar words:

“Every loan that draws profit is one of the forms of Riba”

The famous Arab scholar Abu Ishaq az Zajjaj also defines Riba in the following words:

“Every loan that draws more than its actual amount”

Riba An Nasiyah refers to the addition of the premium which is paid to the lender in return for his waiting as a condition for the loan and is technically the same as interest. The prohibition of Riba An Nasiyah is one of those issues which have been confirmed in the revealed laws of all Prophets (AS). Some of the old testaments has rendered Riba as haram (See Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:35-36, Deutronomy 23:20, Psalms 15:5, Proverbs 28:8, Nehemiah 5:7 and Ezakhiel 18:8,13,17 & 22:12). The Quran has also stated the prohibition of Riba in various verses, has warned those who persist in practicing it of a war which is certain to be declared on them by Allah Himself and His messenger and has seriously threatened those engaged as writer, witness and dealer in Riba transactions.

According to the above definition of Riba An Nasiyah, the giving and taking of any excess amount in exchange of a loan at an agreed rate is included in interest irrespective whether at a high or low rate. It has been proven through ahadith that the Holy Prophet paid excess at the loan repayment time but since this excess was not paid through an agreed rate, it cannot be called interest. This clarifies that the word “draws” in the hadith definition“ The loan that draws interest is Riba.” has been used to highlight the giving and taking of excess amount through an agreed rate in the loan contract. Due to this, Imam Abu Bakr Hasas has added the word “condition” to the definition.

The fact that Riba An Nasiyah is categorically haram has never been disputed in the Muslim community.

In short, the Riba of today which is supposed to be the pivot of human economy and features in discussions on the problem of interest is nothing but this Riba, the unlawfulness of which stands proved on the authority of the seven verses of the Quran, of more than forty ahadith and of the consensus of the Muslim community.

Wisdom behind the prohibition of Riba An Nasiyah

First of all, we should realize that there is nothing in the entire creation of the world, which has no goodness or utility at all. But it is commonly recognized in every religion and community that things which have more benefits and less harms are called beneficial and useful. Conversely, things that cause more harm and less benefit are taken to be harmful and useless. Even the noble Quran, while declaring liquor and gambling to be haram, proclaimed that they do hold some benefits for people but the curse of sins they generate is far greater than the benefits they yield. Therefore, these cannot be called good or useful; on the contrary, taking these to be acutely harmful and destructive, it is necessary that they be avoided.

The case of Riba An Nasiyah is not different. Here the consumer of Riba does have some casual and transitory profits apparently coming to him, but its curse in this world and in the Hereafter is much too severe as compared to this benefit. The Riba consumer suffers such a spiritual and moral loss that it virtually takes away the great quality of being ‘human’ from him. An intelligent person who compares things in terms of their profit and loss, harm and benefit can hardly include things of casual benefit with an everlasting loss in the list of useful things. Similarly no sane and just person will say that personal and individual gain which causes loss to the whole community or group is useful. In theft and robbery for example, the gain of the gangster and the take of the thief is all too obvious but it is certainly harmful for the entire community since it ruins its peace and sense of security.

Source: Dr. Muhammad Imran Ashraf Usmani, Meezan Bank’s Guide to Islamic Banking.

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