الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي آذن بالحرب على الربا، وحفِظها في المدينة المنورة، نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير، ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع
الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر. قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يأتي على الناس زمانٌ لا يبقى أحد إلا أكل الربا ومن لم يأكل الربا أصابه غُبَاره
The Messenger of Allah said, “There will come a time when no person will remain alive except that he consumes riba. And even if he does not consume it, he will be covered by its dust.” There is no doubt that the disease of the age in which we live is riba, is usury. It is the pestilence that strips families and countries of their wealth and sucks economies dry. Like the cancer, it appears to the untrained eye to be growth, but it is malignant growth, growth that brings disruption to the finely balanced ecosystem of the body of the world, and brings misery, death and devastation in its wake, not energy, life and prosperity. In the neverending and unsustainable quest for growth, the environment is getting more and more polluted, hundreds of species of animal, many vital to preserving the balance of the planet’s ecosystem, are becoming extinct every moment, and the divide between rich and poor is becoming larger and larger at a faster and faster, almost exponential, rate. People are being left homeless while whole neighbourhoods of houses lie empty, people are being left starving while mountains of uneaten food are thrown away – all of these are symptoms of a society built upon ribā.
Why is this such an issue for us, the Muslim umma? Because we are responsible not just for what we do, but for what happens within our societies and in the places and countries in which we live. Allah says,
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاس
the translation of which is, “In that way, we have made you a middlemost community so that you can witnesses over the people.”
We look over the rest of mankind – we are the overseers. We are tasked with the protection of this world – with safeguarding, preserving and commanding what is right and combatting and removing what is wrong. Allah says,
هُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلَائِفَ فِي الْأَرْضِ
the translation of which is, “It is He who has made you khalifas/vicegerents upon the Earth.” It is not for us to sit idly by and let this state of tumorous corruption continue – to do that would in itself constitute the highest levels of disobedience. In a hadith narrated by Aisha, the Prophet said,
عُذِّبَ أهل قرية فيها ثمانيةَ عشرَ ألفاً عملهم عمل الأنبياء قالوا يا رسول الله كيف قال لم يكونوا يغضبون لله ولا يأمرون بالمعروف ولا ينهون عن المنكر
“The people of a town among whom were 18,000 people doing the right actions of Prophets were punished.” “How is that, Messenger of Allah?” he was asked. He replied, “Because they did not become angry for the sake of Allah and command the people to the right and forbid them from the wrong.” In other words, they permitted the wrongs of their age to continue unabated. They did not speak out against them nor take a stand.
The predominant wrong of our age is ribā. This is clear if one looks at the world around us and is clear if one looks to the Quran and Sunna. Among the very last ayats revealed to our Messenger were the ayats relating to the prohibition of riba, revealed only nine days or so before his death, namely ayats 275-277 of surat al-Baqara, beginning, ‘al-ladhīna yakulūna-r-ribā’. And among the final warnings and instructions given by our Messenger to this umma were ones relating to ribā. Indeed, he was very clear in his instruction that no form of ribā should be allowed to persist after his time, saying in his khuṭba al-wadā‘ during his final hajj,
ألا إن كل رباً موضوع
“Every form of ribā is finished with/ is forbidden.” The ayats in Surat al-Baqara, to which I alluded above, are extraordinary in their force. Allah says,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَذَرُوا مَا بَقِيَ مِنَ الرِّبَا إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلُوا فَأْذَنُوا بِحَرْبٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ
the translation of which is, “You who believe! have taqwa of Allah and forgo any remaining ribā if you are believers. If you do not, know that it means war from Allah and His Messenger.” In the entire Quran, no other thing is subject to war. War is declared against people, yes, people engaged in certain acts reprehensible to Allah, especially that of shirk, but never against a practice itself, aside from ribā. In his commentary on this ayat, al-Qurtubi transmits the following account narrated by Ibn Bukayr,
“A man came to see Malik ibn Anas and said to him, ‘O Abu Abdallah, I saw a drunkard, seeking to take hold of the moon, so I said, “May my wife be divorced if there is anything that a person may consume more evil than alcohol!” [Is divorce binding upon me]?’ Imam Malik replied, ‘[I cannot give you a position immediately.] Rather go home and leave me to look into the matter.’ So the man returned to him the next day, but Imam Malik told him that that he not finished researching into the matter and bade him come back the next day. When the man returned the following day, Imam Malik said to him, ‘Your wife is divorced! For I have examined the Book of Allah and looked into the Sunna of His Prophet and have seen nothing in it more evil than ribā, [not alcohol], for it is only upon it that Allah has declared war.”
But what is it that is so wrong with it? Does it not create wealth? No, as I mentioned in the beginning of the khutba. It is growth, but malignant growth. It creates the illusion of wealth but in reality impoverishes. Yes, the tumour has more cells, but the rest of the body is sickened and weakened as a result. And while that tumour may temporarily thrive, the rest of the body upon which it depends will die, taking it with it. Ribā creates deserts out of verdant valleys and shells and empty husks out of people. Many people work harder today to stay still and not succumb to the mountains and debt and bills that pile up on top of them than their forefathers worked to acquire great wealth. A lifetime of toil for no reward – often not even able to leave their children a place to stay.
It is our task as Muslims to join Allah and His Messenger in their battles and declare war upon that upon that which they declare war. As the Anṣār said to the Messenger of Allah, “We will not be like the Banu Isra’il who said to Musa, ‘You and your Lord go fight, we will stay here’, rather we say,
فاذهب أنت وربك فقاتلا إنا معكم مقاتلون
“You and your go fight, and we will be there fighting alongside you.”
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو الغفور الرَّحيم
الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته
But how do you fight against a practice? The method that a great many of the Muslims have come up with in the present era is that of Islamicisation. Indeed, that has become their approach to dealing with pretty much any problematic area they encounter. They take a practice that has become prevalent and then scour through the books of fiqh and hadith to try and find some way of making that practice conform with the laws of Islam, whether through making surface modifications or through swapping around a few names and terms. This is a mockery of the deen.
The concept of Islamicising anything is complete nonsense. The Messenger of Allah famously said,
الحلال بين والحرام بين وبينها أمور مشتبهات
“The lawful is clear and the unlawful, and between thw two of them are some matters which are doubtful.” You cannot take something that is intrinsically impermissible and dress it up in new clothing and thereby suddenly make it permissible. There is a reason the term Islamic is used and that is because the concept on its own conveys to us that it is not acceptable. I dislike the use of this term intensely – it is intentionally deceptive. It is not something that the traditional scholars have used. Look in the books of fiqh – are practices divided up according to whether they are Islamic or non-Islamic? No, at the most basic level, they have a much less emotive way of describing something’s ruling, as in the hadith above – whether it is ḥalāl or ḥarām. And at a more detailed level, they break it down further into whether it is obligatory, encouraged, permitted, discouraged or forbidden.
Banking is something which at its core is inherently forbidden. The word bank derives from the bench from which the money changers and lenders would operate. They would profit from transactions involving like money for like money, or would engage in loans that bring manfa‘a – financial gain, both of which are inherently impermissible. Profit is only permissible from trade – goods for goods, goods for services, services for services, money for services and money for goods. The purpose of a bank, however, is to make money from money, something no clever use of language can mask. An Islamic bank is set up with the same aim – just because the financial instruments it uses have the names of transactions which are valid does not change that. Its purpose was not originally to facilitate those transactions – those transactions were chosen because they most closely mirrored the practices conducted by conventional banks. They are a stratagem/ a ḥīla – and regardless of whether every element of the transaction is legally acceptable or not, such contracts are not allowed. As Ibn al-Qayyim said, “What matters in contracts is substance, not words and structure.”
We have examples in the Qur’an of people who used ḥīla in order to make something permissible that was not, such as the Banu Isrā’īl who were forbidden from fishing on the Sabbath, so set their nets up on Friday night to catch the fish on the Saturday, or were forbidden from consuming shuḥūm, so consumed profits from it by selling it instead. These stratagems did not benefit them. The Prophet said,
لعن الله اليهود، حرمت عليهم الشحوم فباعوها وأكلوا أثمانها
And these same stratagems will not benefit us. Firstly, they are invalid, for the fiqh sees through such trickery and sees it for what it is and ignores it. For example, someone who gives a gift to another on the day before zakat is due, and then is given it back after that must still pay zakat, even though the ḥawl was not strictly completed with the niṣāb in his possession. And secondly, such deception is hateful to Allah and opens you up to His wrath, as is clear from the hadith above. Ḥīla is deception, pure and simple – and not just any deception but seeking to deceive Allah. It is trying to make what ḥarām appear ḥalāl. The Prophet said,
لا ترتكبوا ما ارتكبت اليهود فتستحلوا محارم الله بأدنى الحيل
Let us look at one example, a well-known type Islamic banking transaction known as murabābaḥa, which in simple terms is person A buying something from person B and then selling it to person C at a mark-up, disclosing to him the amount of that mark-up. This classical transaction is used by Islamic banks in lieu of fixed-rate mortgages. On the surface, such a transaction seems fine, but not when you take into account when the contract is signed. For one of the main rules of a transaction is that a person not sell what he does not possess. The Prophet said, discussing impermissible transactions,
وَلاَ بَيعَ ما ليس عندك
“And [it is not permissible] to sell what you do not possess.” And in such mortgages, one of the conditions that the bank stipulates is that person C in the transaction above, eg the one who will buy from the bank, signs a document guaranteeing that they will buy from the bank at the agreed price. For example, in a 1998 mortgage offer letter from the United Bank of Kuwait, it states, “We [UBK] will not buy the Property from the Vendor or sell it to you [the Client] until all the matters set out in the Schedule of Offer Conditions have been completed to our satisfaction.”
The scholars who back Islamic banking try to explain away these documents by saying they are simply promises, and a person is duty bound to fulfil his promises, both in terms of the deen and the dunya, and he is liable if he breaks them. But this is mere semantics, for a promise is something undertaken unilaterally by one party towards another, whereas in this case, each party agrees to do something in exchange for the other party doing something, and that is the very definition of a contract. So, in reality, this a contract wherein both the goods and the money are delayed, and that is not permissible, for it is a debt for a debt which is prohibited.
In reality, the whole contract is structured in such a way as to avoid a situation whereby the goods or property reside in the hands of the bank for any significant period of time. It is simply a money now for more money later transaction – a means of justifying lending money at interest. When Ibn Abbas was asked about a similar form of transaction – the selling of a piece of silk for a deferred price of 100 and re-purchased for a cash price of 50, he said, “It is dirhams for dirhams with a piece of silk in between.”
In other words, it is ribā in its most pure of forms. And the same is true of all the other so-called Islamic banking instruments – they are just ribā in a different guise. This whole Islamicising movement have done a gross disservice to the Muslims. Not only have they have they got the Muslims to engage in haram but have deceived them into thinking it is halal. They are like the one who repackages pork and sells it as beef. What they do is far worse than what the conventional banks do. At least when you know something is unlawful, you can take steps or make plans to do what is lawful. But when you are told by people you trust that it is lawful, you believe them and go on blithely with your lives in the belief that everything is good and everything is fine. The unlawful becomes quotidian and normal, while the drive to set things right becomes removed. It is better to go through life with your eyes open than closed.
Islamic banking is not the lesser of two evils, it is the greater, combining as it does wrong action and deception. So, if Islamicising is not the answer, then what is? How do we go about combatting ribā? The answer is not by modifying the ḥarām, it is by restoring the ḥalāl. The Prophet said,
طلب الحلال جهاد
The Prophet said, “Seeking the halal is a form of jihad.” The answer lies in restoring correct forms of transactions. Allah says,
أَحَلَّ اللهُ الْبَيْعَ وحَرَّمَ الرِّبَا
the translation of which is, “Allah has made trade lawful and usury unlawful.” It is necessary for us to be able to recognise ribā and differentiate between it and trade, we must recover our knowledge of and implementation of acceptable business practices. The deen did not come to impoverish people or stand in the way of profit – it did not come to make business narrow and constrained and forbid all viable ways of making money. It simply looks to see what is beneficial and harmful and blocks the one and permits the other. The basis is balance or justice in the transaction and the rulings are clear and expansive. Return to Allah and He will return to you, seek to deceive Allah and He will deceive you and you will end up one of the losers in this world and the Next.
We ask Allah to purify our transactions and rid them of ḥīla and deception. We ask Him to open our eyes to the reality of our dealings and the reality of the dealings that are offered to us, and give us the courage, strength and furqan to distinguish between what He permits and what He forbids. We ask Him to forgive from the things we do in ḍarūra and ask Him to move for a state of ḍarūra to one of choice. We ask that He establish this great deen in all its glory and all its aspects in our lifetimes and place us at the forefront of the efforts to bring that about.
إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً.
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ. وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وعن أم المومنين عائشة التي أمرنا الله في سورة النور أن ندافع عنها، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.
اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ، وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.
إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.