Journal of Islamic Business and Management

Qur’an, Hadith and Riba Connotation

Muhammad Ayub
Published Online: December 2012
DOI: 10.1111/jibm

The Qur’an categorically prohibits riba and provides a comprehensive principle with regard to its connotation so that the divine tenet could be appropriately implemented. Qur’anic verses on riba pertain to loans and debts. The Hadith extends the point in the Qur’an to cases that fall in the domain of trading but are, technically speaking, special cases of exchange. Hence, Hadith further explained the term with practical manifestations for effectively taking care of the strict commandment by the Qur’an. For centuries, it was believed that the rental for the use of money in any form or any amount is riba. But the circumventors adopted stratagems time to time to circumvent the divine prohibition and offered different arguments and rationale for validity of interest. A number of scholars have been interpreting riba in a manner which is radically different from the understanding of the majority of the Islamic scholars throughout the history of Islam and also sharply in conflict with the categorical statements of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). After lengthy discussions and debate, general consensus was achieved in 1970s and efforts were started to introduce riba free financial system in the light of academic leadership of Fiqh Council of the OIC as also of Rabitah al-Islami, supplemented by AAOIFI. In the meantime the problem created by the conventional interest based system became so severe that even some of the Western economists and finance experts emphasized the need for any value based / ethical alternative to the present system. But, still there are a few scholars among the Muslims who continue raising the issue of definition of riba and whether the commercial interest is covered under riba. In recent years, Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq is the most vocal among them, writing a number of articles for Journals and as also discussing on IBF Net to highlight the lack of any solid explanation of the term riba. Below is a critique to one of his articles published in a London based academic journal of repute to highlight the issue of defining riba in the light of different Ahādith with reference to six Ahādith discussed by Abdulkader Thomas in his book. The critique may indirectly cover most of his similar write-ups on the subject.


Qur’an; Hadith; Riba Connotation; Riba al-Fadl; Riba al-Basa; Interest; Usury; Six Commodities; ‘Illah.