Ribā and Non-Muslims
Economic Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Asif Iftikhar

Is there any difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim in the matter of prohibition of Ribā? Can the prohibition of Ribā be extended to the loans obtained from non-Muslims, or for that matter, from Muslim foreign countries whose laws and national policies, together with international monetary laws and policies, are not within the control of the State of Pakistan?


There is no difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim in the matter of prohibition of Ribā. But there is a difference in the one who charges Ribā on the loan he gives and the one who gives Ribā on the loan he receives.

Essentially, it is taking Ribā, rather than giving it, that has been prohibited and condemned in the Qur’ān (for example, 2:275-280; 3:130 & 30:39). In none of the related verses, the borrower has been condemned. In fact, the Qur’ān strongly urges the lender to deal leniently with the borrower who is in straitened circumstances.

When the borrower has no reasonable excuse to borrow on Ribā and he does that deliberately, merely to get an edge, even he is guilty of co-operating in an evil.1

It follows from the points made above that:

a)      The Government of Pakistan should fulfil the international financial obligations made in the past as fulfilling the covenant is a religious obligation (5:1), and Pakistan, in its present situation, is not ‘co-operating’ in Ribā, rather as a borrower in dire straits is forced by circumstances to borrow on Ribā.

b)      The government should gradually try to bring the country out of the situation where it has to borrow on Ribā, or even borrow for that matter.

c)      The government should also try to reform the society and its institutions to such an extent that no reasonable excuse is left for any one to borrow on Ribā.

d)      Charging or taking Ribā, whether from a Muslim or a non-Muslim, cannot be allowed in any case.




1. The following statement attributed to the Prophet (sws) should also be understood in the light of the same principle, that is in the absence of a reasonable excuse even the borrower and all others who are involved in a Ribā bearing transaction are guilty of co-operating in evil, which is something the Qur’ān has stopped the believers from doing (5:2):

The Prophet of Allah strongly condemned the one who takes Ribā and the one who pays it and the one who writes [the agreement of the loan related to] it and the two who are the witnesses to it, and he said: They are all equal.  (Muslim, Kitābu’l-buyū‘)

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