What is usury? It is the practice of making immoral or unethical monetary loans that benefit the seller but not the buyer, essentially taking advantage of the buyer. In easier terms, its the practice of lending out money at unreasonable high rates of interest. In Islam, this is highly condemned. Even in the final sermon of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), he specifically mentioned : “Allah (s.w.t) has forbidden you to take usury, therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. You capital is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequality.” Other examples of condemning usury is in the Quran :
“Those who consume interest (usury) cannot stand [on the Day of Resurrection] except as one stand who is being beaten by Satan into insanity. That is because they say, “Trade is [just] like interest (usury).” But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden interest. So whoever has received an admonition from His Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with Allah. But whoever returns to [dealing in interest or usury] - those are the companions of Fire; they will abide eternally therein.” (2:275, The Holy Quran).
It is obvious that usury is not permitted and it is highly disliked by Allah (s.w.t), but in the economy that we live in : how do we avoid from such usury? Surely it may seem difficult, but always remember that you are living for the sake of Allah (s.w.t). Therefore let the words of the Quran speak to you. Here are some tips to avoiding usury :
First and foremost : you have to make sure that you are trusting Allah (s.w.t) in all of your affairs. You have to ensure that whatever you do, you are actively choosing to trust Allah (s.w.t). There are two parts to tawwakul : there is hard work and there is faithfully trusting. You do need to put in the effort and the work for something that you want, that is using your physical being. However, your soul and your heart needs to constantly be focused on “whatever I do, it is by the permission of Allah (s.w.t) and indeed He will guide me”. When you have that mentality and you implement that into your life : then the worry of money will not be so daunting as it previously was. Our fortune is all dependent on what Allah (s.w.t) wants to give us. So remember that before you actively take out any loans or actively imply interest on your trade. Have tawwakul that Allah (s.w.t) will provide for you and your family.
- Live within your means
Another way to avoid usury is to live within your means. Most of the time the money that we need is to purchase things that are not really necessary to you. If they are necessary, then Allah (s.w.t) will guide you and pave you a way in which you will be supported. However, if you are looking for money to buy a new iPhone, then it’s important that you do not fall into usury in search of that capital. It is very easy to get caught up in the newest, most shiniest things however, if you are not able to afford it and you have no essential need for it, then you do not need to sin for it.
- Halal investments
The stock market is full of ups and downs. It is also full of interest. The whole monetising capital is made through interest, passive income type situations. Therefore, in Islam it is recommended that you make investments in other ways. Such as gold and silver. These are safer options when it comes to making capital investments.
- Islam compliant banks
Banks are probably the scariest place and riskiest places of usury. However, it is important to note that there are many Islam-compliant banks. In Malaysia, we have a whole bunch to choose from. These include : Maybank Islamic, Bank Islam Malaysia, CIMB Islamic, Alliance Islamic RHB Islamic and more. Many branches of established banks have their sectors of Islamic banking. If an Islamic bank is not available to you, then opt to make more conservative choices in your banking. For example using cheque books, which avoid interest.