Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
I will be honest with you and say that I am confused as to this whole issue on using riba in the U.S. Now, I understand and recognize what you have told me in saying that the fatwas proposed on this list serv all are indicative of the traditional fact that the use of riba here in the states, whether for buying a house, car, business, etc are all impermissible. And that the only reason it could be allowed in is if it was a dire situation analogous to the permissibility of eating pork after going without any food for 3 or more days. And this all makes sense to me and I have no qualms with the legal judgments passed on this list serv at all. However, in light of what some Hanafi scholars, such as ___ and ____ have said, I’m beginning to have second thoughts and I am wondering if there is legitimate difference on this issue even within the hanafi school or not? Is the difference on this issue such that if one were to indulge in riba in the U.S. then he will not be questioned about it on the day of judgment? I remember two things that Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller said when he came to Virginia in ’01:
a.) Any common Muslim who follows the judgments passed by *qualified scholarship* will not be questioned about that which he practiced if it came to be that which he was practicing was an err on the part of that *qualified scholarship.*
b.) (My friend told me that Shaykh Nuh said)…that anyone who says that riba is allowed in the U.S. is “leading others to error” [or something like that]
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
I am really rushed for time, but just a few quick points:
1. There is a difference between the soundness of following acknowledged Sunni mujtahid imams, which is doubtless permitted, and between following contemporary fatwas which have been sound and unsound in all ages, and this is more true in our troubled and volatile times.
2. The proper duty in each age is to refer new issues to the biggest and best fuqaha, according to the fuqaha themselves, while being careful to follow those of known taqwa.
3. It is notable that base their fatwas on positions of the likes of Sh. Muhammad al-Ghazali (al-Azhari), Sh. Qaradawi, and Sh. Zarqa, who though major scholars (especially Sh. Zarqa) are all cautioned about by traditional scholars around the world as being lax beyond limits in their fatwas.
4. None of the reasoning given by these scholars is sufficient to condition the absoluteness of the primary texts, and is not sound when weighed on the scales of sound scholarship.
Thus, it is the position of my teachers, and of scholars who weigh benefits in terms of both dunya (worldly) and akhira (next-worldly) benefits, that:
Engaging in any form of riba is absolutely haram, even when it entails some difficulty, except in cases where it becomes a situation of absolute necessity, akin to the necessity of consuming pork or drinking wine out of fear for one’s life.
Allah Most High says in the Qur’an:
“Those who swallow usury cannot rise up save as he arises whom the devil has bewildered by (his) touch. That is because they say: Trade is just like usury; whereas Allah permitted trading and forbidden usury.
Remember the words of Shaykh Muhammad Sa`id Ramadan al-Buti of Damascus, Syria, one of the greatest scholars alive:
“The necessity which allows usurious loans is the same necessity which allows eating the meat of a dead animal, pig and the like, in which case the one necessitated is exposed to perish from hunger, nakedness or losing lodging. Such is the necessity, which makes such prohibitions lawful.”
Allah Most High Himself as told us in the Qur’an,
“Allah has blighted usury and made charity fruitful. Allah loves not the impious and guilty.” [2.276]
The scholars of Qur’anic interpretation, such as Imam Alusi (Allah have mercy on him) have explained ‘Allah has blighted usury,’ as meaning that Allah,
“Removes all baraka (blessing) from it, and destroys the wealth of the one who enters into it.” [Alusi, Tafsir Ruh al-Ma`ani, 3.51]
Ibn Mas`ud (Allah be pleased with him) related that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,
“Usurious money, even if much, becomes paltry in the end.” [Ahmad, Ibn Maja, and Hakim, with a rigorously authentic chain of transmission]
And Allah alone gives success, dignity, and direction.