Mohamed Talat Harb [d. 1941]
Mohamed Talat Harb, author, the Egyptian financier and founder of Bank Misr.
“Like many of his generation and class was a great admirer of the productivity and energy of Europe, its industrial might and technological innovation. … Harb’s admiration for capitalist enterprise was tempered by his fears about its European origins and values. Through Bank Misr he hoped to capture the entrepreneurial dynamism of the capitalist system whilst at the same time ‘taming’ it by embedding it in the dominant values of his own society, interpreted primarily as those of a distinctively Islamic community. He was thus critical of the dominant role of foreign capital in Egypt and claimed that it could have no concern for the welfare and solidarity of the Muslim community of Egyptians. It was on these grounds that he was critical of the interest charged on loans, rather than on grounds of its contravention – in being identified with riba – of one of the rules of the shariah. … In his view, the traditional and thus, for hi, Islamic rulings on the role and comportment of women guaranteed cohesion of the family, and thus of society as a whole.” [Tripp, op.cit., p. 30, referring to Muhammad Talat Harb, ‘Ilaj misr al-Iqtisadi, ed. Ra’uf Abbas Hamid (Cairo, 2002), pp. 31-3, 37-46]
Shaikh Muhammad Abu Zayd (1930)
He was a shaykh from Damanhur, Egypt. He earned the wrath of the orthodox establishment for his book Al-hidaya wal-irfan fi tafsir al-Quran bil-Quran (roughly: Guidance and Illumination in Proper Quran Interpretation). “Abu Zayd in 1930 tried to use Ijtihad in explaining current riba practices, maintaining that exorbitant interest alone is outlawed.” [Jansen, J.J.G., The Interpretation of the Koran in Modern Egypt, Leiden, E.J.Brill, 1980, quoted by Jay Smith – January 1996, at http://debate.org.uk/topics/history/interprt.htm] Also, see http://www.tau.ac.il/dayancenter/D&A-Egypt-ami.htm.
Dr. Marouf al-Daoualibi
Among others, “In the 1930s, Syrian scholar Marouf al-Daoualibi suggested that the Qur’an bans interest only on consumption loans, not investment loans, and in the 1940s Egyptian jurist al-Sanhuri argued that the Qur’an sought chiefly to ban interest on interest.” [Vogel and Hayes, p. 46]; also see Saleh, p. 29] Ban on interest on interest means compound interest.
Shaikh Mohammad Abd Allah Draz
Shaikh Mohammad Abd Allah Draz is a Member of the Body of the Grand Ulama, and Professor of Interpretation of the Quran at Al Azhar University in Cairo. Shaikh Draz, who received his doctorate at the Sorbonne, is recognized as one of the leading authorities in the Muslim world on the Quran and the life of the Prophet. http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=1656&C=1636. Saleh [p. 29] mentions about his position contradicting the Riba-Interest Equation. His position was among those who were referred to in the Appeal to the Pakistan Supreme Court against the prohibition of all interest in the country as part of the Shariah law.
Zaydan Abu al-Karim Hassan
Saleh [p. 29] mentions about the divergent position of this scholar in his book.
Abdullah Yusuf Ali [d. 1953]
Abdullah Yusuf Ali is best known for probably the most popular translation of the Qur’an into English (with his brief commentary]. He equated, not interest but, usury with riba and wrote in The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary [Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, 2nd ed., 1988] footnote #324:
“usury is condemned and prohibited in the strongest possible terms. There can be no question about the prohibition. When we come to the definition of Usury, there is room for difference of opinion. Hadhrat Umar, according to Ibn Kathir, felt some difficulty in the matter, as the Apostle left this world before the details of the question were settled. This was one of the three questions on which he wished he had had more light from the Apostle, the other two being Khilafat and Kalalat. … Our Ulama, ancient and modern, have worked out a great body of literature on Usury, based mainly on economic conditions as they existed at the rise of Islam. I agree with them on the main principles, but respectfully differ from them on the definition of Usury. As this subject is highly controversial, I shall discuss it, not in this Commentary but on a suitable occasion elsewhere. The definition I would accept would be: undue profit made, not in the way of legitimate trade, out of loans of gold and silver, and necessary articles of food, such as wheat, barley, dates, and salt (according to the list mentioned by the Holy Apostle himself). My definition would include profiteering of all kinds, but exclude economic credit, the creature of modern banking and finance.”
Abd al-Razzaq Sanhuri [d. 1971 AD]
Sanhuri is regarded as “the Arab world’s most distinguished scholar of modern jurisprudence, with the regeneration of Islamic law figuring prominently in his work.” [El Gamal] His views were similar to ‘Abduh and Rida. [also, see Saleh, pp. 28-29; Netzer, 2004] “In the 1940s Egyptian jurist al-Sanhuri argued that the Qur’an sought chiefly to ban interest on interest”, i.e., compound interest. [Vogel and Hayes, p. 46]
Muhammad Asad [1900-1992]
Muhammad Asad, the well known author of The Message of the Qur’an, equates, not interest, but usury with Riba. His commentary in this regard is given in the note for 30:39:
This is the earliest mention of the term and concept of riba in the chronology of Qur’anic revelation. In its general, linguistic sense, this term denotes an addition to or an increase of a thing over and above its original size or amount; in the terminology of the Qur’an, it signifies any unlawful addition, by way of interest, to a sum of money or goods lent by one person or body of persons to another. Considering the problem in terms of the economic conditions prevailing at or before their time, most of the early Muslim jurists identified this unlawful addition with profits obtained through any kind of interest-bearing loans irrespective of the rate of interest and the economic motivation involved. With all this – as is evidenced by the voluminous juridical literature on this subject – Islamic scholars have not yet been able to reach an absolute agreement on the definition of riba: a definition, that is, which would cover all conceivable legal situations and positively respond to all the exigencies of a variable economic environment.
In the words of Ibn Kathir (in his commentary on 2: 275), the subject of riba is one of the most difficult subjects for many of the scholars (ahl al-ilm). It should be borne in mind that the passage condemning and prohibiting riba in legal terms (2: 275 – 281) was the last revelation received by the Prophet, who died a few days later (cf. note on 2: 281); hence, the Companions had no opportunity to ask him about the shari implications of the relevant injunction – so much so that even Umar ibn al-Khattab is reliably reported to have said: The last [of the Qur’an] that was revealed was the passage [lit. the verse] on riba; and, behold, the Apostle of God passed away without [lit., before] having explained its meaning to us (Ibn Hanbal, on the authority of Said ibn al-Musayyab). Nevertheless, the severity with which the Qur’an condemns riba and those who practice it furnishes – especially when viewed against the background of mankinds economic experiences during the intervening centuries – a sufficiently clear indication of its nature and its social as well as moral implications. Roughly speaking, the opprobrium of riba (in the sense in which this term is used in the Qur’an and in many sayings of the Prophet) attaches to profits obtained through interest-bearing loans involving an exploitation of the economically weak by the strong and resourceful: an exploitation characterized by the fact that the lender, while retaining full ownership of the capital loaned and having no legal concern with the purpose for which it is to be used or with the manner of its use, remains contractually assured of gain irrespective of any losses which the borrower may suffer in consequence of this transaction. With this definition in mind, we realize that the question as to what kinds of financial transactions fall within the category of riba is, in the last resort, a moral one, closely connected with the socio-economic motivation underlying the mutual relationship of borrower and lender; and, stated in purely economic terms, it is a question as to how profits and risks may be equitably shared by both partners to a loan transaction. It is, of course, impossible to answer this double question in a rigid, once-for-all manner: our answers must necessarily vary in accordance with the changes to which mans social and technological development – and, thus, his economic environment – is subject. Hence, while the Qur’anic condemnation of the concept and practice of riba is unequivocal and final, every successive Muslim generation is faced with the challenge of giving new dimensions and a fresh economic meaning to this term which, for want of a better word, may be rendered as usury.