The eighth among the Greater Sins is to usurp the property of an orphan who has not attained maturity.
This is categorized as a Greater sin by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Reza (a.s.), Imam Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Taqi (a.s.). It is a sin, the punishment of which is fixed by Allah to be the fire of Hell.
The Quran says,
"(As for) those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, surely they only swallow fire into their bellies and they shall enter burning fire."
(Surah Nisa 4:10)
It is mentioned in Tafsir-e-Kabir that one who cheats an orphan of his property will be raised on the Day of Judgement in such a condition that the flames of fire will be protruding from his mouth, nose and ears. By looking at him people will recognize that he is the one who in his lifetime had usurped the property of the orphans. The last phrase, "They shall enter burning fire" indicates that one who deprives an orphan of his rightful property will be liable to be burnt in Hell-fire, even if he has not committed any other sin.
The Almighty Allah says,
"And give to the orphans their property, and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones) and do not devourtheir property (as an addition) to your own property; this is surely a great sin."
(Surah Nisa 4:2)
The above verse gives clearcut instructions to those who are guardians and caretakers of the orphans, on how to fulfill their responsibility. They should spend the property in their trust in a correct manner for the benefit of the orphan and without stinginess. A caretaker should be very cautious not to spend any of the orphan's money on himself. This is a very serious offence that will cause his entire Halaal wealth to become Haraam. Under no circumstances should an orphan's valuable possessions be substituted with anything inferior. Finally, when the child reaches maturity, all his property should be returned to him with complete honesty.
In the same chapter of Surah Nisa, Allah says in verse number nine:
"And let them fear who, should they leave behind them weakly offsprings, would fear on their account, so let them be waryof (their duty to) Allah, and let them speak right words."
(Surah Nisa 4:9)
It is mentioned in Tafsir-al-Mizan that whoever betrays the trust of orphans and oppresses them, their children will suffer a similar fate. This is an amazing reality that is revealed by the Holy Quran. Similarly in other numerous verses, the Quran informs us that the returns of our deeds are evident in this world itself. We will witness the results of our own actions. Every action has an effect on one who performs it, and we should be fully conscious of the fact that our sinful acts are not restricted to the sinner, but they come to bear on our children as well.
It is our confirmed duty to wish for others as we wish for ourselves. A good or bad action directed towards others therefore implies that we wish the same for ourselves. So, by carrying out these actions, we, in effect have prayed for it for ourselves. This prayer will not be rejected and we will be recompensed as we deserve.
The marvellous functioning of our body is the result of the co-ordination between the various composite parts and organs. We as individuals are also composite members of a large body, which is our community. Just as the malfunction of one organ in the body, causes distress in the other organs, so also whatever hurt or misery that we may inflict on another is bound to take us also in its grip. So it is, that the injustice we do to another's child will cause our own children to suffer the repercussions of our actions. It is of course another matter that the Almighty in his Infinite Mercy allows some of our good deeds to compensate for the bad actions.
"And whatever affliction befalls you, it is on account of what your hands have wrought, and (yet) He pardons most (of your faults)"
(Surah Shuara 42:30)
Undoubtedly, we must dread Allah's punishment and refrain from oppressing the orphans. We have to have kind and tender feelings for them as we have for our own children. If we trample upon the rights of an orphan or do any injustice to him or her, we can rest assured that the same fate will befall our own children after our death. The verse of Surah Nisa unequivocally states that oppressing an orphan is a Greater Sin. The horrible consequences of this sin are also mentioned clearly.
Punishment for Usurping the Orphan's Property is Meted Out in This World
It is recorded from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that Allah has ordained two penalties for appropriating the wealth or property of an orphan:
"The first punishment is in the Hereafter, and that is the fire of Hell. The second one is in this world itself. As indicated by the following verse of Quran:
"And let those fear who, should they leave behind them the weakly offspring, would fear on their account, so let them be careful of (their duty to) Allah, and let them speak right words." (Surah Nisa 4:9)
Whatever has been mentioned in the Holy Quran, the same has been emphasized by Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.). Other Tafsirs of Quran also give the same explanation. Imam Ali (a.s.) states: "Certainly one who usurps the orphan's property, his own children shall be similarly dealt with in this world in the near future and he will suffer for it in the Hereafter."(Behaarul Anwaar)
Ali (a.s.) has also mentioned:
"Do good to the children of others so that good may be done to yours (after you are dead)."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has informed:
"If one oppresses someone, Allah will appoint an oppressor upon him or upon his children."
This is not Against Divine Justice
We may wonder as to why the innocent children who are not at fault and in no way responsible for the misdeeds of their parents should be the target of oppression and injustice meant for their parents. Is this not against Divine Justice?
The answer to this objection is simple. Allah does not appoint any oppressor but when someone oppresses the children, Allah does not restrain him. Allah witholds His Mercy and favour.
Bad behaviour towards the children implies that the father wishes the same for his children and also that he has not wished Allah's Mercy and favour upon his children.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has stated:
"If the father is virtuous the Almighty Allah protects the children."
As mentioned in the Quranic verses of Surah Kahf:
"And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure belonging to them, and their father was a righteous man, so your Lord desired that they should attain their maturity and take out their treasures, a mercy from your Lord..."
(Surah Kahf 18:82)
Thus it is clear that the Mercy and favour of Allah upon the orphans is due to the righteousness of their father. On the other hand if their father had oppressed others than this would have caused them to be deprived of Divine Mercy and favour.
Tradition that Denounces the Usurpation of Orphan's Property
Umar bin Zurarah says that he enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the Greater Sins. He said:
"One of the Greater Sins is illegal appropriation of the orphan's property."
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) narrates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"On the day of Qiyamat some people would arise from their graves in such a condition that flames of fire would be protruding from their mouths."
The people asked, "O! Messenger of Allah who are these people?"
The Prophet replied:
"Those who have illegally appropriated the property of the orphans."
Imam Reza (a.s.) was asked, "What is the smallest quantity of the orphan's property the appropriation of which causes one to enter the fire (of Hell)?"
"When one consumes something belonging to the orphan without the intention of returning it to him. There is no question of less or more."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"On the night of ascension (Meraj) when I was taken to the skies I decried a group of people whose bellies were being stuffed with fire. And the fire was spilling from their anal openings. I asked Jibraeel, who they are? Jibraeel replied, 'They are those who used to usurp the property of the orphans unjustly'."
The Death of a Creditor and His Minor Children
A person who has minor children and had given loans to others, and dies without making any arrangement for their recovery, will be counted as one who has misappropriated the wealth of orphans. Because after the death of the father the children become the owners of his property. However, the dead father would only be accountable for that portion of the loan which is the share of the children.
Severe Pain in the Eyes of Amirul Momineen (a.s.)
Once Hazrat Ali (a.s.) had sore eyes. The pain was so severe that he was groaning loudly. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) came to visit him and said:
"Is this sighing and groaning due to the restlessness or due to severe pain?"
Ali (a.s.) replied:
"I have never had such severe pain."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) related to him a tradition which was so frightening that Ali (a.s.) forgot his pain. The tradition is as follows:
A Frightening Tradition
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"O! Ali, When the Angel of Death (Israel) comes to a disbeliever he will come wme wa mace of fire. He will extract his life painfully. Seeing this, Hell will scream loudly (so that it may take this disbeliever to itself soon)."
Hearing this Ali (a.s.) sat up abruptly and said:
"O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.), repeat to me this tradition. I have forgotten my pain after listening to it." Then he enquired, "Will anyone's soul from your Ummat be also extracted in this way and will anyone be subjected to such a severe punishment?"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Yes! There are three types of people among the muslims whose souls shall be taken out this way. First group is of the unjust rulers. The second is of those who unjustly appropriate the wealth of orphans and the third is of those who give false witness."
Kindness Towards Orphans
Injustice and oppression to the orphans brings severe punishment in this world as well as Hereafter. In the same way kind and gentle behaviour towards them earns countless rewards in this world, as well as the Hereafter. Especially blessed by Allah are those who protect the orphans and take the responsibility of being guardians to them. Numerous traditions have been recorded concerning this. A few of these are quoted below.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"One who maintains the orphans, Allah makes Paradise Wajib upon him, in the same way as he makes Hell Wajib upon those who usurp the property of the orphans."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"I and one who maintains an orphan would be together in Paradise in the presence of Allah, in the same way as these two fingers are together."
And he pointed out to his index and the middle finger joined together.
According to a tradition, The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and one who maintains an orphan, will not be separated nor would there be any barrier between them in Paradise.
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also stated:
"If anyone from you becomes the guardian of an orphan and deals kindly with them, and he fulfills these actions satisfactorily, and he strokes the head of the orphan with sympathy, then Allah necessarily writes good deeds equivalent to the hair covered by his hand and forgives sins equal to the number of hair, and raises his position in grades equal to the hair of the orphan's head."
Elsewhere the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has been reported to have said:
"When an orphan cries the Heaven shudders, then Almighty Allah says, 'O Angels, Is this the same orphan whose father has been buried in the earth?' The Angels reply, '(O Allah) you are the all-knowing.'
Then Allah would say, 'O My Angel be a witness. Whoever consoles this orphan and makes him happy, I will make him happy on the day of Qiyamat.'"
The caressing of an orphan's head removes callousness from the heart. There are many tradition which indicate this. However, only a few shall suffice for our discussion.
Guardian of Minor Children
The boy who has not reached the fifteenth year cannot spend from his wealth. In the same way the girl who is not yet nine years of age cannot spend from her property. A minor boy or a girl cannot spend from their wealth in any way. Only their guardian has the right to spend from their wealth for their upkeep. The foremost guardians, according to Shariat are the father, grandfather, mother and grandmother. The next in order is the one who is appointed a guardian after the death of the father and grandfather. He has the right of maintaining the orphans.
If the father and the grandfather die without appointing a trustee for the children, the legal guardian is the ruling Mujtahid or someone appointed by the Mujtahid. In a situation where a ruling Mujtahid is also not present, the Momineen shall maintain the orphans. (This is called Udool-al-Momineen in religious terminology). It would be explained at an appropriate place.
The Affairs of the Orphans Should be Conducted With Care
The guardian of an orphan shoulders a very serious responsibility. He should judiciously spend for all the needs of the orphan, neither being miserly nor extravagant.
The guardian should strictly maintain the account of the orphan's expenditure separately and club it with his own family expenses. Since it would be more convenient and economical to cook the orphan's food along with the food for the rest of the family. But the expenses incurred for the orphan must be accurately calculated. It would be highly commendable if the guardian took a little less as the orphan's share than the calculated amount. He would indeed gain Allah's immense pleasure.
At times, however, due to the dietary requirements of the orphan, it may be necessary to cook his food separately. This would certainly pose some problems. But the main thing the guardian has to keep in mind is the wellbeing of the orphan and an honest assessment of his expenses.
This has been permitted because it is easier and much more economical then having food cooked separately for the orphan. However, if there is a great difference between the dietary requirement of the orphan child and other family members, it would be very difficult to adhere to this arrangement. For example, if a child does not eat meat and rice, then it would be difficult to have his food cooked together with the main dish. The thing to be taken care of, is that the well-being and property of the orphan is maintained.
A verse of Surah Baqarah says:
"And they ask you concerning the orphan's; say: To set right for them (their affairs) is good, and if you become co-partners with them, they are your brethren; and Allah knows the mischief-maker and the peace-maker..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:220)
The above verse was revealed at a time the people were confused as to how they should handle the money of their orphan wards. The verse revealing the severe punishment for those who misappropriate an orphan's property had struck such fear into the hearts of guardians that they started cooking the orphan's food separately. They would not even touch the leftovers and allowed them to rot. They then approached the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in a dazed state of mind and the above verse was revealed.
It is evident that we must live together with the believing brother. The Omniscient Allah knows what is in our heart, and isaware of our intentions. He knows who intends to misappropriate the property of the orphans and who wants to put right their affairs.
The Wealthy Guardian of the Orphans
It is recommended that a wealthy guardian should maintain an orphan. He will enjoy boundless blessings of the Hereafter fixed by Allah for this gracious act.
As the Holy Quran states:
"...And whoever (of the orphan's guardian) is rich, let him abstain altogether (from spending of the orphan's wealth)..."
(Surah Nisa 4:6)
The Impoverished Guardian of the the Orphans
If the caretaker of the orphan is poor, he can charge for his services. Concerning the remuneration of these services there are three legal opinions. Some scholars are of the opinion that he can charge an amount generally believed to be appropriate. The second opinion is that he must take only as much as is necessary for his own upkeep, and no more. The third view point is that he must find out the generally accepted remuneration and the expenses of his own upkeep; and charge the amount which is less. This is a precautionary measure and the most recommended one.
The Property of the Orphan Must Be Guarded Till He Attains Maturity
It is not permissible to hand over an orphan's money to him before he reaches maturity. The guardian will be held liable, if he is careless in this matter and the orphan suffers a loss as a result. On the other hand an orphan's property should be restored to him immediately, once he reaches maturity.
Signs of Puberty
Maturity is recognized by any one of these three signs:
1) The completion of fifteen lunar years for the boy and nine lunar years for the girl.
2) Growth of pubic hair.
3) Discharge of semen in boys.
What is the Meaning of Rasheed?
The Quranic verse says,
"And test the orphans until they attain puberty; then if you find in them maturity of intellect (Rasheed), make over to them their property..."
(Surah Nisa 4:6)
The maturity of intellect (Rasheed) in this connection means maturity in the financial affairs. This maturity is reflected in the child's capacity to handle his day to day needs without there being any risk of loss and wasteful expenditure. At this stage it is Wajib to hand over to the orphan his wealth and property.
In other words it is Wajib to restore the wealth and property of an orphan when he attains puberty and maturity of intellect.
The ninth Greater sin is usury. That it is classified as a Greater Sin is clear in traditions recorded from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), and Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s.).
According to the glorious Quran, taking interest is a sin that incurs severe Divine punishment. The punishment for usury as mentioned in the Quran is far more severe than the punishment for other sins. It is announced in Surah Aale Imran:
"O you who believe! Do not devour usury, making it double and redouble and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful. And guard yourself against the fire that has been prepared for the unbelievers.
(Surah Aale Imran 3:130-131)
It means that the fury of the fire that is prepared for those who take interest will be just as intense as the fire prepared for the unbelievers.
The verse of Surah Baqarah says,
"Those who swallow down usury cannot arise except as one whom Shaitan has prostrated by (his) touch does rise. That is because they say, trading is only like usury; and Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury. To whomsoever then the admonition has come from his Lord, then he desists, he shall have what has already passed, and his affair is in the hands of Allah; and whoever returns (to it) - These are the inmates of the fire; they shall abide in it."
(Surah Baqarah 2:275)
The above verse confirms that the usurer will remain in Hell eternally and there is no salvation for him. Allama Muhammad Husain Tabatabai, in his Tafsir, 'al-Mizan' says that the punishment ordered by Allah for usury is so severe, that such severity is not mentioned even for disobedience to any of the Furu-e-Deen. Another equally serious offence is to nurture friendship with the enemies of Islam. The direct ill-effects of usury are clear and evident. Hoarding of wealth increases the disparity between the rich and the poor. Poverty is a malady that can degrade and humiliate its victims, erode his values and destroy his morals. This in turn leads to corruption, theft and murder. Those directly responsible for destroying the social equilibrium, are the hoarders, who amassed wealth and thus it was unavailable to those who needed it. The total disintegration of the social fabric can precipitate a civil war and further a world war which brings with it only death and destruction. In the world of today with the advances of the nuclear and chemical weapons, war does not only bring death to the humans, but leaves them a caricature, sick and maimed and deformed for generations to come.
The direct ill effects on the Muslim society as a result of friendship with those opposed to Islam, are also clear and evident.
History has recorded that friendship with the enemies of Islam can only be bought at a price. The price in this case is to compromise. Compromise on the tenets, the culture and the spirit of Islam, till a time comes when the country loses its identity as an Islamic society.
Usury is Against Intellect and Shariat
The verse of Surah Baqarah which is quoted above, says that those who take usury (interest on loan) shall be counted among mad people (whom Shaitan has touched). On the Day of Judgement people will recognize them from their madness that they had been taking usury. Their sanity would be destroyed, because in this world they have acted against intellect and Shariat. They have been oblivious of humanity and the needs of humanity. They did not deal equitably with others and disobeyed the law of co-operation. Actually these people had been insane in the world, because they have followed the direction of Shaitan and performed such insane acts.
Is Trading and Usury One and the Same?
This argument is obviously foolish. There is nothing comparable between interest and trade. There is equity in business transactions because there is a mutual agreement between the two parties and both stand to gain or lose. In trading, a seller sells an article to the buyer at a price mutually acceptable to both, and the matter ends there. But taking interest is a clearcut case of exploitation. A person with surplus money, which he does not need, lends it to someone who is in dire need. The needy person agrees to pay interest which he can ill afford; not because it is acceptable to him but because of his compelling situation.
Interest and Inequality of Classes in Society
Undoubtedly, usury is an unjust and oppressive evil. It is against human nature and human dignity. It increases the riches of the wealthy and drives the impoverished to further depravation.
Understandably, the exploited poor begin to hate the rich. The pent-up hatred then finds an outlet in the form of violence and bloody revolutions.
In the book "Islam and World Peace" it is written, "Islam says that earning should be only in return of efforts and work. because capital itself cannot do any work and make any effort. Hence the wealth of the rich man should not be increased by taking usury."
Increasing wealth by usury is the easiest form of making money but Islam forbids it. Wealth cannot be accumulated by forcing the helpless poor into further destitution; and usury does just that, causing economic imbalance and trampling upon human rights, equity and justice. Maulana Sayed Abul Ala Maududi of Pakistan has written a comprehensive and interesting book on usury that describes its evil effects and the arguments are supported by statistics.
The needy person ends up returning not only the amount loaned to him but far in excess of it. The excess can even amount to more than the principal amount if the repayment is delayed. Taking interest imposes an excruciating financial burden on one who is already needy and it is nothing short of blackmail. Needy people should be given loans without interest. This promotes a feeling of friendship, co-operation and charity.
Interest for Goodly Loans
To give a loan on interest not only destroys the economic balance in the society, it also inflames the feelings of hatred, enmity and selfishness.
The One Who Indulges in Usury is Deprived of Goodness
There are too many disadvantages of taking interest. The earnings of one who takes interest, loses 'Barakat' (abundance andprosperity). Whereas the earnings of hard toil have much 'Barakat'.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says in one of his traditions:
"Worship consists of seventy parts. The most important is lawful earnings."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) also says:
"The truthful trader shall be counted among the prophets on the Day of Judgement. His face would glow like a full moon."
The Usurer Does Not Place Trust in Allah
Another misfortune of the usurer is that he loses trust in Allah. He does not pray to Allah to give him 'Barakat'. All his hopes are pinned upon the interest that he collects from his debtors and this is polytheism as discussed in the section on 'Shirk'.
Another point to be noted is that in normal business there is a possibility of both gain and loss. So the businessman not only puts in sincere efforts but prays to Allah for success and profit in his endeavour. An usurer has no fear of loss and feels no intuitive need to pray to Allah for his 'Rizq'. He is thus deprived of an important facet of religion.
The Reward of Giving a Loan is More than that of Sadaqah
One who takes interest is deprived of the rewards that are prescribed for giving a goodly loan. If there are ten merits in giving Sadaqah, the interest-free loan has eighteen merits. An interest-free loan is therefore more rewarding than Sadaqah in the way of Allah. A person who gives respite to his debtors and does not take interest is given a reward that is equivalent to charity of the said amount every day for the number of days that he extends. It is evident that the usurer does not qualify for such rewards. In fact he is afflicted with miserliness and greed, which only increase day by day. Surely the result of miserliness and greed is Hell.
The Fate of the Usurer
We have already seen from the verses of the Holy Quran, the sayings of our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and of our Imams (a.s.) that the punishment for usury in more severe than that of other sins. We have also discussed the reasons for this. Islam classifies usury as the greatest of the Greater Sins and its punishment is the severest of all punishments. If the usurer does not repent for his acts, his end will be with the disbelievers and those whose eternal abode is Hell. The usurer shall never be released from Hell.
"To whomsoever then the admonition has come from his Lord, than he desists, he shall have what has already passed, and his affair is in the hands of Allah, and whoever returns (to it) these are the inmates of the fire, they shall abide in it."
(Surah Baqarah 2:275)
However there are certain ways to compensate for this sin and pray for forgiveness. Certain sinful acts are forgiven by just repenting sincerely. If a Polytheist repents for his sins and becomes a Muslim, a great sin like 'Shirk' is forgiven. He does not have to do anything more than that. But there are some sins that require compensation in addition to sincere repentance i.e. like the one who has Qaza prayers and fasts. Along with repentance he must perform all the prayers and observe all the fasts due on him. Similarly in the case of interest, the penitent should give back the amount that he has taken as interest from his debtors.
No Barakat in Interest
The above Quranic Ayat continues:
"Allah does not bless usury, and he causes charitable deeds to prosper, and Allah does not love any ungrateful sinner."
(Surah Baqarah 2:276)
Charity spreads peace, promotes beneficence and love in society, whereas usury destroys peace and hardens the hearts of the people.
When usury spreads its roots in society, people have no hesitation in usurping each other's rights. They are only driven by a feeling of enmity, hatred and a passion of revenge. A society devoid of harmony and co-operation cannot progress, it destroys itself with its own corruption. Charity and Sadaqah on the other hand promote feelings of friendship, love and brotherhood. An atmosphere of peace and prosperity prevails which inspires people to further good deeds.
War With Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)
The Noble Quran says,
"O You who believe! Be cautious of (your duty) to Allah and relinquish what remains (due) from usury, if you are believers. But if you do (it) not, then be appraised of war from Allah and His Apostle..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:278-279)
The proof of one's belief is in obedience of Divine orders. The same verse continues,
"...And if you repent, then you shall have your capital, neither shall you make (the debtors) suffer loss, nor shall you be made to suffer loss."
(Surah Baqarah 2:279)
One who does not obey this command must be prepared for war with Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.).
Tafsir Minhajus Sadeqeen gives an explanation of this verse. It could mean that the severity of the sin of usury is such that if in this world a usurer were to come face to face with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), the Prophet's (s.a.w.s.) sword would be against him and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) would be prepared to fight him. In the Hereafter the fire of Hell shall keep him in torment by the order of Allah. The usurer must be fought till he submits to the Divine orders and refrains from taking usury. Traditional reports state that after the revelation of this verse, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) informed the Commissioner of Makkah that if the tribe of Bani Mughaira does not desist from taking usury, they must be fought against.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) also said inter alia in a sermon at Makkah: "Know that the usury which has been accumulated in the period of ignorance is now condoned completely. First of all I condone the interest (that is upon your neck) of (my uncle) Abbas Ibne Abdul Muttalib."
Traditions Denouncing Interest
It is reported from Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Taking a Dirham as interest is worse in the eyes of Allah than doing illegal intercourse with Mehram women."
Imam Ali (a.s.) says:
"The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has cursed one who accepts interest, one who pays interest, one who buys interest, one who sells interest, one who writes the contract of interest and one who is the witness of this transaction."
Ibne Baqeer relates that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was informed about the person who took interest and considered it as permissible as mother's milk. Imam (a.s.) said:
"If Allah gives me power over this man, I would strike off his head."
It is clear that to consider interest Haraam is an article of faith. One who disregards this and says that interest is not Haraam becomes an apostate. The Imam (a.s.) can also have him killed.
Interest is Denounced in the Holy Quran
Samaa says that he asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as to why Allah has mentioned the illegality of usury at various places. Imam (a.s.) replied:
"So that people may not forgo acts of charity (like giving interest-free loans)."
Imam Baqir (a.s.) said:
"The worst transaction is that which involves interest."
The Sinner is Deprived of Religious Faith
Zurarah says that I asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) concerning the Quranic verse:
"Allah does not bless usury, and he causes charitable deeds to prosper..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:276)
"But I see that wealth of usurers goes on increasing?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"What could be a greater loss? That in return of a Dirham of interest he loses his faith. And if he repents of his deeds in the world all his wrongfully earned wealth comes to an end and he becomes a destitute."
The Belly of the Usurer Shall Be Filled With Fire
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"One who takes interest, his belly shall be filled with an equal quantity of fire by Allah. If he has earned more from the interest money, Allah will not accept any of his deeds. And till even a grain of interest remains with him, Allah and his angels will continue to curse this man."
Punishment of Usurers in the Barzakh
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also stated:
"On the night of ascension (Meraj) I saw some people trying to stand up but did not succeed because of their huge bellies, I asked, O Jibraeel, who are these people?"
Jibraeel replied, "They are those who have taken usury. Now they can only stand up like those who have been possessed by the Devils."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) continues,
"Then I saw them herded upon the path of the followers of Firon. Seeing the extreme heat of the fire they exclaimed. O God! Then when will be Qiyamat?" (It is clear that the fire mentioned in the tradition is of the punishment of Barzakh).
Usurers Under the Feet of Firon
In another tradition it is said that when these people saw the followers of Firon they tried to get up and run away. But due to overlarge bellies they could not rise up and consequently the followers of Firon trampled them under their feet and moved on.
It is narrated from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"When adultery and interest becomes common in a town the angels are given permission to destroy its inhabitants."
Another Prophetic tradition in the same vein says:
"When the people of my Ummat start taking interest, tremors and earthquakes will be frequent."
Usury is Worse Than Adultery
The Noble Messenger of Allah says:
"If a man commits adultery with his mother in the Holy Kaaba this act shall be seventy times lighter than the act of usury."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"In the eyes of Allah, taking one Dirham of interest is worse than thirty incestuous acts."
A previous tradition describes this sin to be seventy times more than adultery. There is one more report where taking a Dirham is equated with twenty such acts.
Even in today's world, the scourge of interest has spread to such a magnitude that economies are on the verge of collapse. Some economists say that interest is necessary for development. If this had been true then Islam would not have prohibited it. At the present time there are two schools of economics whose ideology is not based on interest. One is Communism and the other Islam. Whereas the foundation of imperialist economy is based upon interest. Even the Communist and the Islamic schools of economies differ greatly.
Unlike the Communists, Islamic government has never felt the compulsion to accept interest as inevitable, in order to fit the logistics of economy. And yet, Islamic economy is not known to have weakened because it does away with interest.
Yes, it is a necessity for the few selfish and greedy people who wish to add to their already enormous wealth, by increasing the miseries of the poor and the destitute. Their aim is to enslave the deprived people. We are well aware of the logic of these hoarders.
Loan On Interest
A loan on interest is one whereby a person lends something with the precondition that it would be returned with fixed increment at a fixed time. The loan given may be money or any other article, say, one loans five Mounds of rice and expects to get back six Mounds. The increment demanded may be in the form of cash or kind, labour or even a favour.
For example, one may lend money with the condition that the borrower will return the money and also carry out some household chores for him. Or a lender may lend a sum of money for a year and in return stay in the house of the borrower for a year without paying any rent. Or a person may give gold as a loan and expect the borrower to make some jewellery free of cost. Whatever is taken in excess of what was given, irrespective of its form, is interest and is Haraam. Also it does not matter whether such conditions for giving loan were stated in the beginning or decided later. It is Haraam in any case.
Some Important Points
1) A transaction involving interest is Haraam. Charging interest is Haraam and paying interest is Haraam too. So if the borrower takes money on interest and uses it and earns some profit, the actual owner of the profit is the lender. For example, if he borrows some wheat and plants a crop, the crop that grows from this, rightfully belongs to the lender. However, if the lender has agreed that his loan can be utilised in such a manner, then the profit from it is the right of the borrower.
2) If one gives an amount to a trader with the understanding that he can return a lesser amount, it is permitted. For example, he gives a thousand Tumans to a trader in Shiraz and agrees to take nine hundred and ninety Tumans in Tehran, he is allowed to do so. This type of transaction is knows as 'Sarf-e-Baraat', since there is no involvement of interest.
3) If at the time of disbursement of the loan there had been no mention of interest and the loanee wishes to return the loan amount with an increase out of his own wish, it is not Haraam. In fact it is Mustahab. It is also Mustahab to repay the loan, if possible, before its due-date or before the lender demands it. It is also Mustahab for the debtor that when repaying the loan he should add something to it with the intention of giving it as a gift to the creditor. But the intention must be of 'gift'. It must not even remotely be thought of as interest. Similarly, it is Mustahab for the creditor to accept whatever extra is given to him as a gift, not think of it as an interest, and accept it as a goodwill.
Transaction Involving Interest
If any of the following conditions are present in a transaction, it becomes a transaction of interest, and is Haraam:
1) Whatever is taken and whatever is given back are of the same material but the quantities are unequal. Or if the quantities are equal, there is disparity in quality etc.
2) When only one standard of measure and weight is employed, the amount taken and given back is of unequal measure or weight. However, at the time of borrowing if the measure of weight is kilogram but while returning it, it is Seer or Pound it is allowed. In the same way whatever was taken by the unit of measurement as metre and returned by the units of measurement as foot or yard, is valid too.
In the same way it is Haraam for a person to lend one Mound of wheat for a month and in return borrow one mound of wheat for two months from the same person. Even though the quantity is the same, the transaction is Haraam because time is also a significant factor.
Three Important Points
1) In the matter of interest, wheat and barley are considered equivalent. Then if one gives a Mound of wheat and takes one and-a-half Mound of barley, it is interest, and thus Haraam.
Similarly, whatever constitutes the same basic material is regarded as equivalent. As an analogy one may think of the roots, branches and leaves of a tree as equivalent. For example, milk and curd are equivalent, grape-vinegar and grapes are equivalent, sugar and sugarcane are equivalent too. All these have to be loaned and given back in equal quantity or it will constitute interest and will be Haraam.
2) If a person gives one Mound of wheat and a handkerchief and takes back one and-a-half Mound of wheat, it does not constitute interest and is not Haraam. In this transaction one Mound of wheat shall be considered in lieu one Mound of wheat that is returned. And the remaining half a mound of wheat shall be in the lieu of the handkerchief. It is also possible that a person may give one Mound of wheat and a handkerchief and take back one Mound of wheat and some other article, for example, soap. In this way too he has not committed usury.
3) If a person first sells one Mound of his wheat for two Tumans and later purchases one and a half Mound of wheat for two Tumans, it is permitted. Since both these transactions are separate. It does not constitute usury.
It may be possible that Zaid sells a Mound of wheat to Khalid, and Khalid gives half a Mound of his wheat to Zaid as a gift. This is also permitted.
When taking interest is permitted
There are three types of people between whom the taking and giving of interest is allowed:
(1) Father and son: The father and son can enter into a transaction of interest. But a transaction of interest between mother and son is Haraam.
(2) Husband and wife: The husband and wife can charge interest from each other. For example one of them gives a hundred rupees and demand one hundred and fifty rupees in return. It is permitted.
(3) The Kafir who is not staying in an Islamic country: A Muslim can take back more but he cannot give him more. As far as the Zimmi Kafir (one who is staying in an Islamic country) is concerned it is Haraam to enter into a transaction of interest with him. Taking and giving of interest both are Haraam in this case.
source : GREATER SINS by Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)