The chapter of Riba in the religion of Islam is of a sublime significance. For a believer to stay away from this, one has to know about it in a detail. The evil tree of usury is getting watered day by day by the followers of all religions; be it Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The monster is growing at a hell pace. Though the true teachings of all these religions strongly condemn and prohibit usury in their original versions. Later the clerics of Jews and Christian churches abandoned the prohibitions relating to Riba (interest, usury).
The present world is filled with the filth of Riba. It has become almost impossible for an individual to stay away from this evil. Over 90% of the financial transactions that are carried in today’s world contain partial or complete essence of riba in it. Prophet Sallallahu alaihe wasallm had warned 1400 years ago: A time will certainly come over the people when none will remain who will not devour usury. If he does not devour it, its vapors will overtake him. (Ahmed, Abu Dawood, Nisai, Ibn Majah).
In simple words Riba can be defined as a loan with the condition that the borrower will return to the lender more and better than the quantity borrowed. (Shah Waliullah Dehlvi). The literal meaning of interest or Al-RIBA as it is used in the Arabic language means to excess or increase. In the Islamic terminology interest means effortless profit or that profit which comes free from compensation or that extra earning obtained that is free of exchange.
The Holy Quraan is also very tough on the chapter of usury. Quraan says “Those who devour usury will not stand except as stands one whom the Satan by his touch has driven to madness. That is because they say, “trade is like usury”, but Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden usury”, (Surah Al-Baqarah verse no.275)
“Oh who believe! Devour not usury doubled and multiplied; but fear Allah that you may prosper.” (Surah Al-Imran, verse no.130)
“That they took usury though they were forbidden and they devoured people’s wealth wrongfully; we have prepared for those amongst them who reject faith a grievous chastisement.” (Surah Al-Nisaa verse 161)
Allah never said that He and His messenger would wage war against one who commits any evil deed except Riba. Allah SWT says “If you do not, take notice of war from Allah and his Messenger but if you repent you shall have your capital sum. Deal not unjustly and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.”(Surah Al-Baqarah verse no.279).
One can easily understand the magnitude of the crime through the above mentioned verses of Holy Quraan.
Hazrat Abu Hurairah Radiyallahu anhu reported that the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu alaihe wasallm said: Usury has seventy divisions. The easiest division of them is like a man marrying his mother (Ibn Majah). Again in another tradition Prophet Sallallahu alaihe wasallm said: A dirham of usury that a man devours and he knows, is greater than 36 fornications (Ahmed).
In one tradition prophet said, “This night I dreamt that two men came and took me to a Holy land whence we proceeded on till we reached a river of blood, where a man was standing, and on its bank was standing another man with stones in his hands. The man in the middle of the river tried to come out, but the other threw a stone in his mouth and forced him to go back to his original place. So, whenever he tried to come out, the other man would throw a stone in his mouth and force him to go back to his former place. I asked, ‘Who is this?’ I was told, ‘The person in the river was a Riba-eater.”
Apart from the one who gives and one who accepts interest, the person who writes the transaction or the one who bears the witness are also equally culpable. Hazrat Jabir R.A. has reported that the messenger of Allah PBUH cursed the devourer of usury, its payer, its scribe and its two witnesses. He also said that they were equal (in sin).
Apart from the verses of Quraan and traditions of prophet PBUH there are many more which I refrained to mention here due to constraint of length. It is obligation on every Muslim to know what is halaal and what is haram?
One fact that we must always remember is that ALLAH has bestowed us a very short life in this world and within this period, we have to achieve milestones. The biggest of all the milestones is paradise, which is our ultimate goal. Riba, for sure puts one into hell forever.