Sometimes, because the truth is difficult to face, we create an ‘alternate truth’. An ‘alternate truth’ is basically a lie we tell ourselves so we can do what we desire without guilt, shame or accountability. This psychological process is subtle and we do not easily realise we are guilty of it.
One example of this is the issue of ‘interest’. There are those out there, albeit a minority, who are propagating that ‘interest’ is permitted when there is a dire need. For those of you unfamiliar with the topic, ‘interest’ (‘riba’ in Arabic) refers to ‘an increment in wealth as part of a borrowing/lending process’. Islam forbids Muslims from giving it, taking it and even being part of the transaction.
Allah says in Surah Al Baqarah, verse 275:
الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ الرِّبَواْ لاَ يَقُومُونَ إِلاَّ كَمَا يَقُومُ الَّذِى يَتَخَبَّطُهُ الشَّيْطَـنُ مِنَ الْمَسِّ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُواْ إِنَّمَا الْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَواْ وَأَحَلَّ اللَّهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَواْ فَمَن جَآءَهُ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِّنْ رَّبِّهِ فَانتَهَى فَلَهُ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ أَصْحَـبُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَـلِدُونَ
275.Those who eat Riba will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaytan leading him to insanity. That is because they say: “Trading is only like Riba,” whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba. So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Riba, shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns (to Riba), such are the dwellers of the Fire ـ they will Abide therein.
And in the same Surah, verses 278 and 279:
يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ وَذَرُواْ مَا بَقِىَ مِنَ الرِّبَواْ إِن كُنتُمْ مُّؤْمِنِينَ
فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُواْ فَأْذَنُواْ بِحَرْبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَإِن تُبتُمْ فَلَكُمْ رُءُوسُ أَمْوَلِكُمْ لاَ تَظْلِمُونَ وَلاَ تُظْلَمُونَ
278. O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah and give up what remains from Riba, if you are (really) believers. 279. And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger but if you repent,you shall have your capital sums.
The Quran is very clear on ‘interest’. It is categorically forbidden and the punishment for it is Hell. Taking it/giving it is asking for Allah to wage war against you.
Yet, despite this clear evidence, we have those who misconstrue and misinterpret evidence to falsely claim that interest is permitted in cases where there is a necessity. They cite buying a house to live in as an example of necessity.
They use evidence such as, ‘…..He (Allah) has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion or necessity….’ and claim this is proof ‘interest’ is permitted if necessity exists. They are misconstruing a PART of a verse from Surah Al An’aam (119). Look at the complete verse down below and the one before it – It is specific to food and has nothing to do with ‘interest’.
فَكُلُواْ مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِن كُنتُم بِآيَـتِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ
وَمَا لَكُمْ أَلاَّ تَأْكُلُواْ مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَقَدْ فَصَّلَ لَكُم مَّا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِلاَّ مَا اضْطُرِرْتُمْ إِلَيْهِ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا لَّيُضِلُّونَ بِأَهْوَائِهِم بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ إِنَّ رَّبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُعْتَدِينَ
118. So eat of that on which Allah’s Name has been mentioned, if you are believers in His Ayat. 119. And why should you not eat of that on which Allah’s Name has been mentioned, while He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity And surely, many do lead astray by their own desires through lack of knowledge. Certainly your Lord knows best the transgressors.
Those who claim ‘interest’ is permissible in certain situations also use Allah’s words from Surah Al Ma’idah, verse 6: ‘….Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour to you that you may be thankful.’ Again, taking parts of verses is extremely dangerous and leads to misguiding not only ourselves but others too. The verse actually reads:
يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلوةِ فاغْسِلُواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُواْ بِرُؤُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَينِ وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُباً فَاطَّهَّرُواْ وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَى أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَآءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنْكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَـمَسْتُمُ النِّسَآءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُواْ مَآءً فَتَيَمَّمُواْ صَعِيداً طَيِّباً فَامْسَحُواْ بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُمْ مِّنْهُ مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَـكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
6. O you who believe! When you stand (intend) to offer the Salah (the prayer), then wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. If you are in a state of Janaba, purify yourselves (bathe your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey or any of you comes from the Gha’it (toilet) or you have touched women and you find no water, then perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favor to you that you may be thankful.
This verse tells us about ‘tayammum’ (purification when there is no access to water). It is very specific and is not connected to ‘interest’.
So, ‘Interest’ is clearly forbidden in Islam. When we look at the evidence with open hearts, the truth becomes apparent – We just have to find the strength to live by it.