IS RIBA PROHIBITED ONLY IN ISLAM?
As outlined in our previous article, Riba is strictly prohibited in Islam. It is also prohibited in other religion.
There is evidence of its prohibition in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Budhism as well.
Riba is called by different names in different societies. In Arabic it’s called Riba, Ribbit in Hebrew, Usury in English, Sud in Urdu and in Bangla.
RIBA IN CHRISTIANITY AND JUDAISM
From the perspective of the bible, Riba is prohibited both in the old and new testament.
In Exodus 22 verses 21 to 25 Riba is prohibited in general. The verses in part read; “If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him.”
Leviticus 25 verses 35 to 37 forbade Jews from taking usury from poor non-Jews living with them. The verses comprise direct prohibitions; “…do not take interest of any kind from him but fear your God that your countryman may continue to live among you. You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit”. Similar prohibition is found in Proverbs 28 verse 8.
Riba is further prohibited in Deuteronomy 23 verse 19. In the verse, Jews are prohibited from taking usury from fellow Jews but allowed to take from non-Jews. Psalms 15 verses 1, 2 & 5 further commands that we should neither lend money on Usury nor take reward against the innocent.”
The Lord God says in Ezekiel verses 5 to 18 that if a man is righteous and does what is lawful and right, does not lend at interest or take any increase he is righteous, he shall surely live.
Jesus Peace and Blessings Be Upon him asked us to lend to both friends and foe. He even went a step further to ask us forgo even the principal as evidenced in Matthew 5 verse 42, Luke 6 verses 34, 35 & 38
The early Christians took these sayings very seriously and interest was banned by the Church for nearly 1500 years.
As outlined partly above, loans and interest in Judaism is a complicated and detailed subject.
The biblical Hebrew terms for interest are neshek, literally meaning a bite, in reference to its painfulness to the debtor, and marbit/tarbit, which specifically refers to the gain by the creditor; neshek referred to interest that was charged by deducting it from the loaned money itself, before the loaned money was handed over to the debtor, while marbit/tarbit referred to interest that was charged by adding it to the amount due to be repaid.
The word marbit/tarbit, which referred to the form of interest more familiar in modern times, became ribbit in later Hebrew and hence in Modern Hebrew.
The Torah expresses regulations against the charging of interest in the Covenant Code, Holiness Code and Deuteronomic Code.
The Holiness Code encourages loans themselves, whether of money or food, emphasising that they enable the poor to regain their independence, but, like the other two codes, forbids the charging of interest on the loan.
All three codes state that the charging of interest is exploitative, but the Covenant Code and Deuteronomic Code made it acceptable to charge interest on any loan to a non-Israelite.
The Torah and Talmud encourage the granting of loans, but only if they do not involve interest, with certain exceptions. Charging interest is classed in the Book of Ezekiel as being among the worst sins and is forbidden, according to Jewish law.
The Talmud dwells particularly on Ezekiel’s condemnation of interest, where Ezekiel denounces it as an abomination and metaphorically portrays usurers as people who have shed blood.
Read what Pope Francis said about Riba here https://tijara.co.ke/2018/03/13/riba-usury-humiliates-and-kills/
USURY IN HINDUISM AND BUDDHISM
Usury was also prohibited in Hinduism and Buddhism. Among the oldest known references to usury are those to be found in ancient Indian religious manuscripts.
The earliest such record derives from the Vedic texts of Ancient India (2000-1400 BC) in which the “usurer” (kusidin) is mentioned several times and interpreted as anyone who lent at interest.
More frequent and detailed references to interest payment are to be found in the later Sutra texts (700-100 BC) as well as the Buddhist Jatakas (600-400 BC).
It is during this latter period that the first sentiments of contempt for usury are expressed. For example, Vasishtha, a well-known Hindu law-maker of that time, made a special law which forbade the higher castes of Brahmanas (priests) and Kshatriyas (warriors) to be usurers or lenders at interest.
In the Jatakas, usury is referred to in a demeaning manner: “hypocritical ascetics are accused of practicing it”.