Reflections on the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Riba

Interest-RibaRiba or interest is the term that every sane adult living in this age is well-aware of; it is a significant matter of debate in the Islamic societies due to the fact that it has been prohibited strictly in the Quranic laws. It must be understood vividly that raison d’être of abolition of interest is not only the exploitation but actually the consequences brought about by this. Jurists of all times agree upon the definition of Riba as follows:

When a transaction occurs between two parties, and an asset that may include commodity, currency, or even shares of a company are traded with an asset of the same quality in different quantities, the inequality in quantities exchanged is taken as Riba, which is prohibited in the Quran.

The Quran mentions: “Those who eat Riba (usury) will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaitan (Satan) leading him to insanity. That is because they say: “Trading is only like Riba (usury),” whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba (usury). So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Riba (usury) shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns [to Riba (usury)], such are the dwellers of the Fire – they will abide therein.” (Al-Baqarah 2:275)

“Allah will destroy Riba (usury) and will give increase for Sadaqat (deeds of charity, alms, etc.) And Allah likes not the disbelievers, sinners.” (Al-Baqarah 2:276)

“O you who believe! Eat not Riba (usury) doubled and multiplied, but fear Allah that you may be successful.” (Al-Imran 3:130)

“And their taking of Riba (usury) though they were forbidden from taking it and their devouring of men’s substance wrongfully (bribery, etc.). And We have prepared for the disbelievers among them a painful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:161)

History of Riba in Islamic Republic of Pakistan

The debate over whether interest is as same as Riba has been ongoing in Pakistan since 1969 when the State Bank of Pakistan led an enquiry; the  Islamic Advisory Council in its December 1969 session held in Dhaka ruled out the interest on bank loans and prize bonds as Riba. The council advised for a Committee to be formulated in order to work towards founding an interest-free economy. Later on, Article 37 of the constitution of Pakistan in 1973 stipulated interest-removal as the official responsibility of the Government. Further, intense research work was carried out under President Zia-ul-Haq by the Islamic Ideology Council to establish transactions which were free from interest.

Dr. Israr Ahmed began his campaigning for the ban on Riba in 1980. He attempted a great struggle to make the report formulated by Islamic Ideology Council appear in public. All the attempts from activists led the government to formulate the Federal Shariat Court but it was kept out of financial matters, deeming it useless in the matter. And as the alternatives to interest, mark-up schemes were introduced, which Ulema rightly termed as “old wine of interest being marketed in new.”

On November 14 1991, Federal Shariat Court equalized interest on bank loans as Riba and thus Pakistan became the first Islamic nation to declare bank loans as Riba. However quite ironically, this judgement was upheld by the Supreme Court for seven years and later nullified in the review carried out in 2002. The Court asked the Shariah Court to revisit this judgement, providing them with guidance and control. The passage of twelve years led to no concrete judgement being made by the Shariah Court.

Despite these historical affairs, it must be kept in mind that since Pakistan is still following the Constitution formulated in 1973, there cannot be any exception for the Article 38 that stated: “The State shall eliminate riba as early as possible”.

Current Decision Regarding Dealings of Riba

The crux of the matter is to discuss the absurd by-law passed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on October 6th, 2015, where Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani ruled out that those who are not willing to deal with interest shouldn’t deal with it, while the others dealing with it will be questioned by Allah.

This decision led to a public outcry in the country. The law is being ridiculed and denied openly on the social media. However, the most active party involved in the offense is Tanzeem-e-Islami which carried out a peaceful demonstration against the law. Shujjauddin Shaukh, a prominent member of the Tanzeem, has appealed to other Islamic political parties to support him in his mission to render this by-law inoperable.

He debates over the issue, quite rightly pointing out that Pakistan was supposed to be an Islamic state which makes it regulatory for the law-enforcers to stick adamantly upon the Islamic laws. The Objectives Resolution of 1949 promised to align all laws under the Quranic injunctions and no deviance towards the laws against will of Allah and His Prophet (sa).

Ironically, the Indian armies wait for a showdown at the borders dreaming to undervalue the Pakistan Army; the Muslim leaders in the Islamic state are preparing clever ploys to carry out a war with Allah and His Messenger (sa). Allah declares in the Quran:

“And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger but if you repent, you shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly (by asking more than your capital sums), and you shall not be dealt with unjustly (by receiving less than your capital sums).” (Al-Baqarah 2:279)

The deprived condition of Pakistan can hardly be revamped unless the affairs with the Divine Constitution are settled. Shujjauddin Shaikh earnestly asks the political leaders and Chief-of-Army-Staff to join their mission and abolish this preposterous law.

It is time for political leaders and religious scholars to stand united against un-constitutional elements disapproved inexorably by Allah and His Messenger (SA).

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Baqarah 2

pearls6We hope that the first fast of this blessed month of Ramadan has gone smoothly. When you feel the hours are too long think, of the places where people fast for eighteen or even more hours. May Allah (swt) allow us to make the best of this month, ameen. Let’s dive into some more pearls of peace from the Book of peace.

Tests for the best!

Allah (swt) informs us that He is definitely going to test us with different types of tests. He says, “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones etc.)” (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

Sometimes fear might over take us. Sometimes we might suffer loss in our business. We may not have enough wealth. We may lose our dear ones; our parents, our spouse and our children. Sometimes the production will be less. But who will have peace when being tested? Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” (Al-Baqarah 2:155-156)

Surrender to the will of Allah (swt)

They are those who are contented with the decree of Allah (swt). They know that ‘we belong to Allah (swt)’ and everything that we have belongs to Allah (swt). When a calamity strikes them, they are quick to say, “Inna lillahi wa-innailahi rajioon” and move on with their life. If we adopt this approach, we will achieve peace. But if, we are someone not prepared to be tested, then what will we do in the hereafter? How will the believers be distinguished from the disbelievers if we are not prepared to be tested?

It is similar to going to school every day, attending classes and taking lectures. But when exams come we walk out of the examination hall saying, “I don’t want to be tested.” That indicates we wasted our time at school.

Quran’s main addressee is human being; therefore it holistically attends to every topic that is related to human life. If we follow the instructions laid out in the Quran, we will acquire the peace that we are searching for.

Thank Allah (swt) and eat from what is lawful

In this Surah, Allah (swt) talks about what we should eat. He says, “O you who believe! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with, and be grateful to Allah, if it is indeed He Whom you worship.” (Al-Baqarah 2:172) Stay away from unlawful and impure things. Eat Halal (lawful) and Tayyab (pure) and be thankful to Allah (swt). This will be the quality of someone who truly considers Allah (swt) as his Lord, Nourisher, Provider and Sustainer. People are dying out of hunger and drought while our houses are stocked with food and water, Alhamdulillah. May He make us His thankful servants. Ameen. The more we appreciate Allah’s (swt) gifts upon us, the more thankful we would be.

Strict avoidance of the Haram

Right after this verse  He warns us to stay away from the Haram, “He has forbidden you only the Maytatah (dead animals), and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah (or has been slaughtered for idols, etc., on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering).” (Al-Baqarah 2:173)

This is just a small list of items that we are prohibited to eat. Haram affects our entire system, more details in the later section, Insha’Allah.

Fasting brings piety

Allah (swt) then mentions the month of Ramadan in the Quran, “O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun” (Al-Baqarah 2:185)

Ramadan – the month of the divine revelation

This is the only month of the Islamic calendar which is mentioned this way. This is the month in which the Book of guidance was sent down by Allah (swt). Thus during this month we dedicate specific time for Quran. The Quran recitors should try their best to recite the Quran in such a manner that every letter is clear while those who are still learning the Quran should search for places where they can go and learn the Quran.

Go fasting, go healthy!

In the month of Ramadan, we not only fast for the sake of Allah (swt) but also improve our health. Fasting helps us to detoxify our bodies, physically as well as spiritually; according to a finding supported by Science. In the 1960s, the Stanford University campus conducted an interested experiment at a pre-school. The ability of four-year olds to resist temptation was tested. A marshmallow was placed in a room and the children were told that they could have the marshmallow immediately, or if they waited until the tester had run an errand and returned, then they could have two marshmallows. Some children waited for two marshmallows, while others ate one immediately. These same children were followed over 14 years to see how they managed in life.

Those who had resisted temptation at four were now, as adolescents, more socially competent, personally effective, self-assertive, and better able to cope with the frustrations of life. The third or so who grabbed the marshmallow, however, tended to have fewer of these qualities and shared instead a relatively more troubled psychological portrait. Surprisingly, those who had waited patiently at four were far superior as students to those who acted on whim. Moreover, they had dramatically higher scores in their SAT tests. There is perhaps no physiological skill more fundamental than resisting impulse. It is the root of all emotional self-control, since all emotions, by their very nature, lead to one or another impulse to act. (Coleman, Daniel, Emotional Intelligence, London: Bloomsbury, 1996, pp. 81-82.)

People stop eating certain foods to detoxify their bodies and go on a diet. Allah (swt) gives us an entire month to detoxify and get back in shape. But sadly, we treat the month of fasting as a month of feasting. Women are busy in the kitchen the entire day making delicacies for Iftar, leaving no time or energy to stand up in Taraweeh and worship the One Who provided them Rizq. It seems as if this is the only month when we get to eat something.

Yes, Allah (swt) has called cooking an act of worship when done with the intention of feeding one’s family. However, we also need to keep ourselves in check. When we begin wasting our time in decorating food then it is no more an act of worship. Most often, the decoration done so precisely and artistically goes to waste. No one eats the carved salad or the chocolate sauce sprinkled on the platter. We are wasting what we have been given in abundance while there are people dying out of hunger.

Make invocations before Fajr (at Sahoor)

Allah (swt) then mentions how close He is to us, “And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad (sa)) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge).” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

When one senses the closeness of Allah (swt), he is at peace. Allah’s (swt) closeness protects one from evil and sins. Allah (swt) continues, “I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright.”

Everyone is calling Allah (swt) at the same time for different things, and Allah (swt) is listening to each one us, giving us what we have invoked Him for, at the right time. Never underestimate calling out to Allah (swt). When you get up for Sahoor, remember Allah (swt). Keep your Dua list handy.

The hidden truth about our needs

An overlooked gift of Allah (swt) to us is that He keeps us in need. Had He not kept us yearning, would we have remembered Him? May Allah (swt) fulfill our needs. Ameen.

Bribery – a major sin

Allah (swt) then warns us of bribery, And eat up not one another’s property unjustly (in any illegal way e.g. stealing, robbing, deceiving, etc.), nor give bribery to the rulers …” (Al-Baqarah 2:188)

Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajid explains, “Bribery means giving money to someone through whom a person takes something that has no right to, such as bribing a judge to judge in his favour wrongfully, or bribing an official to give him preference over others, or to give him something to which he is not entitled. Bribery is a major sin, because the Prophet (sa) said: ‘May the curse of Allah (swt) be upon the one who pays a bribe and the one who takes it.’ (Ibn Majah) It must be known bribery is only permissible when a person cannot attain his rights in any other way. But in that case it is Haram for the one who takes it but not the one who gives it.”

Dishonest transactions/ dealings

Similarly, if you are selling something, do not deceive someone by misquoting the price or selling them a damaged good. If there is some defect be honest and let them know. Charge an honest profit because if the buyer finds out your products are over-priced, he is not going to return for another purchase and also give negative feedback to others.

Worse, the person can curse you because of your lying. Are you willing to risk your peace and contentment for a little amount of money? Honesty builds trust and strengthens relationships. It will also give you a competitive edge over others.

How do I Improve my Character?

CharacterHere are some tips for you. Foremost is to stop doing Haram. Stop doing bad things. Don’t talk about adding good until you get rid of bad deeds. You can’t talk about giving a medicine unless you stop bleeding. It doesn’t make any sense. So, first of all, stop the entertainment addiction. You’ve got to stop watching films. You’ve got to start lowering your gaze when walking on the street, because you become less of a human every time you stare at a woman. You stare at her, as if she is a piece of meat or an animal. That just means that you’ve lost the respect of a fellow human being.

Gain your humanity first, and then embellish and beautify your life with good deeds. These simple small things, such as perfecting prayer, memorizing few supplications, trying to be honest in the workplace, and being kind to your mother are not complicated things.

This is what the Creator asks from us. Someone asks, “Why does He want this from me? How does it benefit Him?”

Don’t talk about adding good until you get rid of bad deeds. You can’t talk about giving a medicine unless you stop bleeding.

It’s a good question. One of His names is Al-Ghani. Ghani means: “The One who doesn’t need anything”. There is a verse in which He has commanded us to do certain things. He is Ghani; He is free of need. You are the ones who are bankrupt. He doesn’t need anything, and we need everything because we are the bankrupt. And then, He told us to do a few good things. And if you do those few good deeds, He will make you Ghani; He will make you free of need. He will give you a shower of huge blessings. Good deeds are beneficial to us because they are like medicines. They bring with them bonuses in this world and the next world.

For example, you’ve been looking for a job and you are also mean to your mother. Then you start being kind to your mother. Mysteriously, they call you back. They want you to come in for an interview. Thus, you receive the blessings of being kind to your mother.
One good deed will open up other doors for you. That’s what Allah (swt) does in this world. Whoever becomes conscious of Allah (swt), He starts opening doors for him, making a way out for him. He will provide him in a way he couldn’t have even imagined. All this happens because this person has become conscious about Allah (swt). That’s all Allah (swt) is asking us. And He wants us to ask Him only, to make our lives better.

And if you do those few good deeds, He will make you Ghani; He will make you free of need. He will give you a shower of huge blessings.

People ask: “What does Allah (swt) want from us?” That’s a really fundamental question. There are a few verses that tell us the answer. One of them is:

“Allah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak. ” (An-Nisa 4:28)

A Clean Slate

islami parenting- 1

Being raised in a society of ‘liberal’ and ‘moderate’ Muslims that believe in the freedom of expression, one is obliged to respect and tolerate matters that are against the teachings of Allah and His Messenger (sa). Those who dare to disagree are accused of being rigid, backward, fanatic, extremist, or narrow minded, depending on the category the individual best fits, according to their level of acceptance and their intensity of reaction.

An average Muslim’s goal in life has become finding happiness by submitting to his own Nafs (the base self) and keeping it satisfied at any cost. This contagious disease of wanting to acquire Dunya, is what we strive to pass on to our children too.

We can bring a change, primarily, by taking charge of our Nafs and then passing on the Khair of this Deen through actions and speech to our offspring. 

Parents take pride in getting their daughters married to a well to do man regardless of where the money is coming from. Similarly, some others take pride in their sons earning a lot of money through any means. We are in danger of forgetting what is  Halal or Haram.

We need to ask ourselves, what kind of society do we want to give our children? How many people seriously worry about their sons not praying Salah, or daughters not wearing  Hijab or husbands earning Haram wages or parents not doing proper Tarbiyah (raising) of their children? Whose worshippers do we want them to be? Worshippers of The Most Merciful or worshippers of the most wretched, Iblis. This is one of the things we as parents will be held accountable for. Rasool Allah’s Hadith affirms the influence of parenthood as he (sa) said:

“No baby is born but upon Fitrah (inclination towards Islam). It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist.” (Muslim)

Anticipating our children approaching a fire, would we sit back and only warn them by saying, don’t go near it, it will harm you.’ No, we would take drastic measures and would do anything to stop them from being harmed. Then why do we settle on mere suggestions about preparing for Akhirah? Why do we lack the extensive measures? Is it not inevitable? Does it not need a severe action/reaction? How can we not be anxious about it while surrounded by  Fitnah (trials/mischief)? Do we possess a family visa for Jannah? Allah (swt) says in the Quran:

O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded. (At-Tahrim 66:6)

Ironically, instead of preparing our children for Akhirah from childhood and providing them with favourable conditions where they can embrace their Deen with confidence, we adopt a relaxed approach. After providing them with various distractions and Fitnah throughout childhood and getting them used to a worthless and aimless lifestyle, we expect them to focus on the real goal as grown-ups.

After death, our children will either be a reason for our comfort or torment.They are sent to as clean slates for us to decide what we want to write on them. Therefore, they will either escort us to Jannah or push us into hellfire.

This is similar to plunging someone in filth while expecting them to remain clean. Have we ever pondered on the fact that we will be questioned for every blessing sent to us? How can we assume that we will not be held accountable for bringing up of the worshipper of Allah, being one of the most significant blessings?

After death, our children will either be a reason for our comfort or torment.They are sent to as clean slates for us to decide what we want to write on them. Therefore, they will either escort us to Jannah or push us into hellfire.

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said:

“When a man dies, all his good deeds come to an end, except for three cases; the charity of continuous blessings, beneficial knowledge which he leaves behind and a righteous child who prays for him.” (Muslim)

Sorrowfully, we believe that as long as we get worldly prosperity, tangible benefits, respect, validation, appreciation and happiness, we’ve reached our goal.

People openly disobey Allah and it affects very few and those who are genuinely concerned are mocked and ridiculed with nasty names. Such type of mind-set is encouraged by Shaitan, as he wants to make us act like him.

The question is, do we want such a society for our future generations where their motives are questioned and are directed by the masses, where our children and we are embarrassed to embrace our beliefs and values with conviction and confidence? After what our generation has seen and gone through, do we want to allow this Fitnah to pass on to our children? This becomes a reason for our failure in this life and the next.

We can individually and collectively resolve to reform ourselves. We can bring a change, primarily, by taking charge of our Nafs and then passing on the Khair of this Deen through actions and speech to our offspring. The need of the day is to rectify our lives by reshaping our beliefs, perspectives, and ideas and to redirect our focus to the correct source, Allah (swt). Why? Because, we want to be liberated from the shackles of Iblis and his allies and we want the eternal success and everlasting bliss, through complete submission to the will of Allah (swt). This my friend, is the solution.

May Allah (swt) help us remember Him, repent and rectify ourselves, individually and socially. Ameen.