Riba means “increase”, “excess”, or “growth”. It is an Arabic word that is equal to the financial terms ‘interest’ or ‘usury’ in English. It is indeed the charging of unreasonably high-interest rates on a loan until it is repaid.
Riba is prohibited by Islam for couple of reasons;
1- It is meant to ensure equity in exchange.
2- It is meant to ensure that people can protect their wealth by making unjust and unequal exchanges illegal.
3- It is thought to be exploitative.
4- It promotes inequality.
5- It increases the gap between the rich and poor in society
6- It can lead to debts and financial insecurity, exploiting people on low incomes and without a financial safety net.
Riba is an Arabic word used in an Islamic context for the word Interest and there is no difference between them.
Islamic scholars has mentioned two types of Riba;
1- Riba al-Nasiah: It is an interest on a loan.
2- Riba al-Fadl: It is an interest in the exchange of unequal quantities or qualities of a given commodity.
Muslim scholars recommend to give the interest money to a charity organization to help the poor and needy. Although one will not receive a reward by donating the interest money for a charitable cause, it will help clean the wealth from riba. However, the donated interest money should not be used by anyone for projects such as the construction of mosques or the printing of the Holy Quran.
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The Holy Quran has made forbidden riba/interest in many verses.
وَمَآ ءَاتَيْتُم مِّن رِّبًۭا لِّيَرْبُوَا۟ فِىٓ أَمْوَٰلِ ٱلنَّاسِ فَلَا يَرْبُوا۟ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ۖ وَمَآ ءَاتَيْتُم مِّن زَكَوٰةٍۢ تُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَ ٱللَّهِ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْمُضْعِفُونَ (٣٩)
And what you give in usury (riba), that it may increase upon the people’s wealth, increases not with God; (Surah Ar-Rum, 30:39)
ٱلَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ ٱلرِّبَوٰا۟ لَا يَقُومُونَ إِلَّا كَمَا يَقُومُ ٱلَّذِى يَتَخَبَّطُهُ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ مِنَ ٱلْمَسِّ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّمَا ٱلْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ ٱلرِّبَوٰا۟ ۗ وَأَحَلَّ ٱللَّهُ ٱلْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ ٱلرِّبَوٰا۟ ۚ فَمَن جَآءَهُۥ مَوْعِظَةٌۭ مِّن رَّبِّهِۦ فَٱنتَهَىٰ فَلَهُۥ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُۥٓ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ ۖ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ أَصْحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَـٰلِدُونَ (٢٧٥)
Those who consume interest will stand ˹on Judgment Day˺ like those driven to madness by Satan’s touch. That is because they say, “Trade is no different than interest.” But Allah has permitted trading and forbidden interest. Whoever refrains—after having received warning from their Lord—may keep their previous gains, and their case is left to Allah. As for those who persist, it is they who will be the residents of the Fire. They will be there forever. (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:275)
يَمْحَقُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلرِّبَوٰا۟ وَيُرْبِى ٱلصَّدَقَـٰتِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ كَفَّارٍ أَثِيمٍ (٢٧٦)
Allah has made interest fruitless and charity fruitful. And Allah does not like any ungrateful evildoer. (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:276)
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَذَرُوا۟ مَا بَقِىَ مِنَ ٱلرِّبَوٰٓا۟ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ (٢٧٨)
O believers! Fear Allah, and give up outstanding interest if you are ˹true˺ believers. (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:278)
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا تَأْكُلُوا۟ ٱلرِّبَوٰٓا۟ أَضْعَـٰفًۭا مُّضَـٰعَفَةًۭ ۖ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ (١٣٠)
O believers! Do not consume interest, multiplying it many times over. And be mindful of Allah, so you may prosper. (Surat Aal ‘Imran, 3:130)
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