Suggestions for the Elimination of Ribā
Economic Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Asif Iftikhar

If you are of the view that all the forms of interest are prohibited by Shar’īah, then what procedure will you suggest for eliminating it from the economy? If you prefer a gradual process, what strategy do you suggest for the purpose which may fulfil the requirements of the Holy Qur’ān and the Sunnah?


The way the Qur’ān eradicated evils as intoxication and slavery is an ample proof of the fact that in case of an evil that has pervaded the society to the extent that immediate abolition carries the risk of causing further evil at individual or collective levels, gradual process of reform is in consonance with the spirit of Islam provided that this allowance is not misused (2:173; 6:140 & 16:115).1

For some suggested strategies in this regard see Appendices 1&2. These strategies are suggestions at best, and any better strategy, so long as there is no conflict in it with the principles of Islam, may be adopted.

It must be stressed again that upholding moral values entails some material sacrifice. This sacrifice is rarely, if ever, detrimental to the interests of a nation. In fact, when the affluent in the society make sacrifice to ensure that moral values prevail, the whole society benefits.

It is only when these men, who are in authority and who have the power, are men of God that progress can be made in society without the exploitation of man by man. Although no claims are made in relation to the suggestions given in Appendices 1&2, it is indeed stressed that perhaps what the nation needs more than mere systems for elimination of Ribā is a team of men of God and men of sagacity at the helm of affairs. Men who are not only pious but also aware of the fact that the ability of a nation to produce wealth depends not on the self-interest of a few individuals, but on a culture conducive to the production of wealth.

Among the required productive forces for the production of wealth are a variety of natural resources, science and technology, appropriate laws, law and order, a congenial environment for industry, commerce and services, a sense of proportion, and, above all, moral values. Setting up high-tech industries on borrowed funds, which industries benefit few at the cost of the interests of the majority can never be conducive to the progress of a nation, and no educated person should be fooled into believing that ensuring the nation the required assortment of resources at the cost of the interests of the selected few would be detrimental to the interest of the nation as a whole. Blocking resources through the requirement of collateral security and restricting them through interest rates not only kill true and indigenous entrepreneurship but also destroy the more elementary cultural and material advances that must pervade the economy to make good use of available facilities. As George Soule has put it:

Again and again, it has been discovered that a nation cannot much benefit by attracting large foreign loans and putting up highly mechanical factories, unless more elementary and cultural advances have created the readiness to make good use of these facilities. Education, health, desire for improvement, reasonably honest and orderly government, a harmonious interrelationship among agriculture, manufacture, commerce, and good transportation, are all found to be necessary….2

In relation to these general principles, the suggestions presented may be of some use even if they do not serve as a panacea for all economic ills.



1. For further details, see Shehzad Saleem, ‘The Condemnation of Slavery by Islam’, Renaissance, V (March 1995), 3-8.

2. George Soule, Ideas of the Great Economists (New York: The New American Library of World Literature, Inc., 1960), p. 78.


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