CLICK IMAGE: Tanzil Website

UNCOVERING the original message of the Arabic Qur'an by using Lexicons compiled more than 1,000 years ago.

ISOLATING Fact from Fiction.

RECOVERING Hope and regaining the perspective where Humanity is one, God's Message is one, and our Future CAN become one we all look forward to!


Image: 14th C. Qur'an, Mamluk origin, Library of Congress; Rights obtained.

A BREAKTHROUGH project which helps understand the Qur'an AS REVEALED -not just 'as explained.'


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 24; HQ 2: 275-282; pages 47+48

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!

In yesterday’s reading there was mention in verse 273 of people who deserve our help, those who are needy but cannot travel* or move freely to earn a livelihood.  Because they abstain from asking, they seem well-off to the untrained eye.  

People might be robbed of their land and livelihood, or lose it due to forces of nature; a person who believes in God would seek to mend such damage and help such victims even when they do not ask.

Today’s reading continues, showing us how BEST to spend ‘our’ wealth and the resources we may ‘control,’ and gives us an ultimatum:

Greed breeds catastrophe!

1.     Those who devour usury will not stand except as stands one by whom the Evil one has driven into madness…” Yusuf Ali.  Those who gorge themselves on usury behave as he might behave whom Satan has confounded with his touch…” Muhammad Asad. 
If we read these verses 275-281 with a view to what is going on in the world today, we’ll understand better the analogy of being, in effect, thumped down by the Deviant one- or trampled "يتخبطه الشيطان*" in a (vicious) manhandling "من المس". 
Usury is defined in English dictionaries as: “The practice of lending money and charging the borrower interest, especially at an exorbitant or illegally high rate; an excessive or illegally high rate of interest charged on borrowed money.”

In Arabic, the word ‘Riba’ is from the root verb ‘raba’ which simply means to heighten something, to climb atop something.  This is quite significant, for the word ‘Riba’ on its own does NOT mean ‘exorbitant or illegally high.’  This is why other verses such as HQ: 3: 130 specify ‘exorbitance,’ adding two adjectives: (أضعافاً مضاعفة) multiplied and re-multiplied.’

The lexicon of ‘Lissanel Arab’ below* explains the concept of ‘Riba’ as not being unlawful when loans are not conditional upon greater returns.

Both Yusuf Ali and Muhammmad Asad have good translations of this verse, as well as good arguments and notes that provide THEIR views on the entire subject of Usury.  In his note 324, Y. Ali condemns usury in the strongest possible terms, but states that the definition he would accept is “undue profit made, not in the way of legitimate trade”….and he goes on to say that his definition “would exclude economic credit which is the creature of modern banking and finance.”  Many Muslim Jurists disagree, which is why we may NOT find all his notes intact in certain editions*.  As for Muhammad Asad, read his note 35, which takes us back chronologically to when the Qur’an first spoke about ‘riba,’ in HQ: 30:39, (revealed before HQ 2: 275), the verse discusses making an increase out of ‘other people’s wealth.’  In his note Asad tells us that “Islamic scholars have not yet been able to reach an absolute agreement on the definition of ‘riba’…”  It is important for us to remember that Yusuf Ali’s translation was published in 1938, while Muhammad Asad’s was published in 1980.

At any rate, the Qur’an is absolutely clear on how Humanity should treat its children- we still remember the analogy (see January 26) of elderly parents suddenly finding all the gardens and wealth they’d left for their helpless children... going up in flames!  Such is the compassion we should we feel towards one another.
The following verses tell us more, HQ: 4:29:

“O YOU who have attained to faith! Do not devour one another's possessions wrongfully - not even by way of trade based on mutual agreement - and do not destroy one another: for, behold, God is indeed a dispenser of grace unto you! (29)

Interestingly, the vision the Qur’an gave almost 1500 years ago, of ‘devouring wrongfully’ or ‘gorging oneself’ is almost IDENTICAL to the description given just 5 months ago by one European magazine in its description of actions that perpetrated our current economic crisis!  They called what was committed a ‘cannibalistic orgy,’ and also stated:

“By its definition, strict prohibition on “usury” and interest driven lending, Islamic banking did not employ traditional leverage and thus fared substantively better in a recession marked by a sharp contraction of credit and liquidity.”

We can read all about ‘riba,’ and  Islamic Banking etc.. in Wikepedia. It seems that many are now looking to the Islamic model, and Wikepedia presents the Vatican’s view:

The Vatican has put forward the idea that "the principles of Islamic finance may represent a possible cure for ailing markets."

We can only touch upon the subject here, always bearing in mind that the Qur’an seeks general Good for humanity.  That is why we are supposed to help those in debt with our ‘Zakat’ as well as our ‘Sadaqat,’ as we recall from the meaning of 'fil riqaab'- 'those with yokes around their necks' (see January 16).  The following verse is quite explicit, calling people in debt ‘al gharimeen’:

The Sadaqaat (offerings given for the sake of God) are [meant] only for the poor and the needy, and those who are in charge thereof, and those whose hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, and [for] those who are over burdened with debts, and [for every struggle] in God's cause, and [for] the wayfarer: [this is] an ordinance from God - and God is all-knowing, wise. (60)

2.     Verse 279 warns of grave consequences for usury, something we have brought on ourselves that is so overpowering it might indeed be called a veritable ‘Divine Assault.’  The only way to avoid that is to be content with our capital, neither wronging others nor being wronged.

3.     Verse 280-281 tells us that lending the needy should be with a view to forgiving the loan and considering it a ‘sadaqah’ when they are under duress to repay it, even as we think of the Day of our Return unto God.

4.     Verse 282 is the longest verse in the longest Chapter in the Qur’an!

It is also about the Loan, mandating that everything should be in writing with the presence of two witnesses. 

The Qur’an mentions two witnesses and does not specify gender in 5:106, 65:2; 24:4, 24:6, also for the sighting of the moon for the beginning and end of Ramadan.  

It is only in this case here (loans) that the Qur’an stipulates two men witnesses, or one man and two women.

Enough said!

Tomorrow’s reading is from HQ: 2:283-HQ: 3:9.  YES! 

Our next reading indeed completes the longest Chapter in the Qur’an, and starts us on the next!

Peace unto all!

*The verb ‘daraba fil ard’ literally means means ‘hit the earth- hit the road,’ ie. to travel.

من معجم المقاييس في اللغة:

* خبط:   يدلُّ على وطْءٍ وضَرب. يقال خَبَط البعير الأرضَ بيده: ضربَها. ويقال خَبَطَ الورَقَ من الشَّجَر، وذلك إذا ضربَه ليسقُط.

 * ربي: الزِّيادة والنَّماء والعُلُوّ. تقول مِن ذلك: ربا الشّيءُ يربُو، إذا زاد. وربَا الرّابيةَ يَربُوها، إذا علاها. ورَبَا: أصابه الرَّبْو؛ والرَّبْو: علُوُّ النفَسِ. والرَّبوة والرُّبْوة: المكانُ المرتفع.  والرِّبا في المال والمعاملة معروف.

من لسان العرب:

ربا: رَبا الشيءُ يَرْبُو رُبُوّاً ورِباءً: زاد ونما. وأَرْبَيْته: نَمَّيته. وفي التنزيل العزيز: ويُرْبي الصدَقات؛ ومنه أُخِذَ الرِّبا الحَرام؛ قال الله تعالى: وما آتَيْتُم من رباً ليَرْبُوَ في أَموالِ الناسِ فلا يَرْبُو عند الله؛ قال أَبو إِسحق: يَعني به دَفْعَ الإِنسان الشيءَ ليُعَوَّضَ ما هو أَكثرُ منه، وذلك في أَكثر التفسير ليس بِحَرامٍ، ولكن لا ثواب لمن زاد على ما أَخذ، قال: والرِّبا رِبَوانِ: فالحَرام كلُّ قَرْض يُؤْخَذُ به أَكثرُ منه أَو تُجَرُّ به مَنْفَعة فحرام، والذي ليس بحرام أَن يَهَبَه الإِنسان يَسْتَدْعي به ما هو أَكْثَر أَو يُهْديَ الهَدِيَّة ليُهْدى له ما هو أَكثرُ منها.. والأَصل فيه الزيادة من رَبا المالُ إِذا زاد وارْتَفَع، والاسم الرِّبا مقصور، وهو في الشرع الزيادة على أَصل المال من غير عَقْدِ تبايُعٍ ، وله أَحكام كثيرة في الفقه..."

“Modern editions of his work remain in print, but with modifications such as "God" altered to "Allah" and with controversial modifications of the opinions that Ali expressed in footnotes and of short historical articles that were included with the original text.  For instance, Ali's liberal views on credit and interest do not appear in some editions, as they are considered to run contrary to some schools of Islamic economic thought.”

Let's TWEET this!

Tweet me!