Saturday, 14 August 2010

"Interest and Usury are clearly different"

Just for completeness, below is latest letter on Sharia finance, which was started off by mine and then an answer from the chief imam of Hong Kong.

Interest and usury are clearly different

I refer to the letter by Muhammad Arshad, Chief Imam Hong Kong ("Why HK banks should offer facilities for Muslim residents", August 1). He was replying Peter Forsythe's letter ("It is radical sharia law which has ruled against interest for Muslims", July 11).

I agree with Mr Forsythe that there is a day and night difference between the terms usury and interest. However, I do not agree that sharia law rules against the concept of bank interest. It is just that some people have narrowed the differences between these terms to make sharia law applicable to simple bank interest.
Before banks and interest you only had moneylenders and usury. Farmers handed over the title deeds of their land to moneylenders to borrow a pittance so they could buy cattle or seeds. They would be in debt for several generations. The Prophet [Mohammed] having seen this evil concept destroy people's livelihoods, banned usury which is now being interpreted as common bank interest.
If the Prophet was alive today he would not be bothered by the negligible interest bank gives to clients. But he would caution Muslims against borrowing from credit card companies and be sucked into paying usury.

D. Kamlesh, Tsim Sha Tsui