During the past few years an unprecedented number of Muslim businesses closed their doors forever. While the adverse economic situation has generally affected most businesses countrywide, according to informed sources the tragic common factor among the bulk of those who became insolvent was that they were interested. Interested here simply means that they were involved in interest, whether in the form of paying interest on OD’s (overdrafts), bonds, private loans or in any other form. Finally the respite of Allah Ta’ala was over and suddenly everything crashed.



Apart from kufr and shirk, few sins in the Shariah are as loathsome and hated as interest. According to some scholars the severest aayah of the Qur’an-al- Kareem pertains to interest. Allah Ta’ala says: “If you do not (forsake interest) then beware of WAR with Allah and His Rasul” (2:279). Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “Consuming one Dirham of interest knowingly is worse than committing zina thirty three times” (Musnad Ahmad).



The aversion for interest in the Shariah is not restricted to consuming it. Rather, all parties associated with the transaction are engulfed in the curse of interest. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “The curse of Allah Ta’ala is upon the one who takes interest, the one who pays it, the witness of the transaction and those who record it — and all are equal in the sin” (Sahih Muslim).



An indication of the sheer weakness of Imaan is that the aversion and hatred for involvement in interest, in any form, to a large extent is non-existent. Instead of aversion, many Muslims coolly and casually consider, and even advise one another with regard to taking bonds and OD’s. A Muslim will be overheard saying: “The bank manager is my close friend. I will arrange the bond for you over the counter!” What one should remember is that no bank manager is anyones friend. He is merely a friend of your money. When there is no more money to squeeze out of you, he will dump you and “befriend” another client.



Another example of the aversion of interest having diminished greatly is insurance. If somebody has had an accident or any mishap, the first question that many, even apparently pious people, ask is: “Is everything insured?” Insurance in reality is a combination of gambling and interest but due to the aversion having left the hearts, hardly anybody bothers about is evil. In fact the aversion has decreased to such an extent that some even console the person by saying: “Masha-Allah. You have nothing to worry about. Everything is insured!” One shudders to think how quickly this statement could draw down the wrath of Allah Ta’ala.



While many people indulge in interest but realize that they are sinning, some regard it as impossible to conduct business without messing their hands in the muck of interest. They even openly declare such nonsensical ideas. This is tantamount to saying that Allah Ta’ala has prohibited something which is impossible to refrain from, hence the prohibition should be uplifted — Allah forbid! While Shaitaan has engulfed the hearts of these people to the extent that they feel it is impossible to do business without OD’s and the like, there are many conscious Muslims who are running multi-million rand businesses but have never borrowed on interest. Nor have they received major financial backing from some interest free source. In their small way they operated within the boundaries of Shariah and Allah Ta’ala granted immense barakah in their businesses. All that is required is a firm committment to remain free from this filth and a genuine effort to conduct one’s business strictly according to Shariah. Allah Ta’ala then opens up the path ahead. Thus one definitely can avoid interest totally. As we often say: “Where there is a will, there is a way!”



Presently, the interest rates in South Africa have dropped to a level not witnessed for many years. Many Muslims are once again diving headlong into the curse of Allah Ta’ala by borrowing from banks and building societies. The curse of Allah Ta’ala manifests itself in various ways. Sometimes it is in the form of the interest rates suddenly soaring which results in many millionaires becoming paupers. At times it comes in the form of a drop in business, or in any other form. The apparent reasons will be many. The real reason is that the curse of Allah Ta’ala has manifested itself. Allah Ta’ala declares: “And when they forgot that which they were reminded about, we opened up the doors of everything to them. Then when they became elated with what they were given we suddenly seized them and they were left in utter bewilderment” (6:44).



Thus it is vitally important that the severe aversion for interest should once again permeate the heart of every Muslim. Not only must one refrain from taking or giving interest, one must also endeavour to refrain from the “fumes” of interest. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “A time will come when every person will consume interest. If he who does not consume the interest (directly) the fumes will still reach him” (Mishkaat). Income earned by using money borrowed on interest carries with it the fumes of interest. Likewise the fumes of interest come along in the form of “gifts” from banks and building societies, etc. — institutions whose major source of income is interest. Thus the pens, diaries, calendars, clocks and other gifts that banks give to their clients are indeed the “fumes” of interest. Our aversion for interest should cause us to shun these items totally. The aversion for interest and its “fumes” must be total.
May Allah Ta'ala fill our hearts with hatred for interest — and every other sin — and enable us to refrain from them. Aameen.

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