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Friday 16 February 2018



The word al-riba الرِّبَا has been contextually misinterpreted by the traditional interpreters of the book Quran. They have simply confined its meaning to only usury / interest. The meaning of many resounding Arabic words are fixed to some specific rituals / actions or some practices thus depriving the sincere readers to taste the essence of the charismatic message of the book Quran. The word al-riba is one such word among the many vibrant words whose more enriching meanings are suffocated due to wrong beliefs. The root word of riba is ر ب و , the basic meaning simply means to be increased or augmented. It also means to swell, rise, magnify, became high, become large, inflated, elevated ground, exceeded, multiply, myriad, superiority. 

In Quranic sense al-riba is an opposite of al-zakah. In zakah mental growth happens in a pure and positive way whereas in al-riba one desires / expects to grow without contributing enough or contributes in an unscrupulous way. Al-riba has a negative effect on the mind whereas al-zakah helps to develops the mind in a positive and peaceful way. Both these are mental thought process which have negative and positive impact on our consciousness / mind. 

Even if we confine the meaning of al-riba as interest on lending or loans, there is no clear-cut definition or explanation of usury in the entire Qur'an. It is said that the message of the book Quran is equal and clear for all mankind but the subject of Riba is not at all clear and open to lot of debate. If we take the meaning of Ar-Riba as interest or usury, what does it have to do with primitive people living in Amazon, African, Indian and Australian jungles.

Please note the subject of the book Quran is not for social or cultural issues relating to society, family or distribution or accumulation of wealth or feeding the poor or the new born baby or taking care of orphans. It is neither a book of rituals, worship, history, science, war or killing of "infidels". There are no specific or general instructions given about charity or to be kind to parents, relatives or friends either. These are matter of empathy which are embedded in every human being hence there is no need for such extra instructions or books from anyone to guide us on charity, helping others or kindness, love and respecting. Empathy is a natural inherent process which everyone one of us follow according to their own understanding or level of realization. Social issues are to be solved by various individuals of the societies in which one lives. Common sense, level of knowledge and circumstances of individuals are considered while dealing with issues like interest on lending, marriage, divorce, law of inheritance or other civil and criminal laws. It is an irrational or wishful belief to look out or search for all our problems from a single book ethereal language, just because that book is sacred to everyone of us. 

I understand Quran the book as a masterpiece of human psychology and all my interpretation of the book Quran is based in that context only. The study of the human mind-set and its functions is the most complicated subject of all times as it deals with human mind, the most complicated of all complicated machines. The study of psyche and those affecting the behavior in a given context is called psychology. This is the reason why the book Quran was so important and dear because it dealt with the mental characteristics / psyche or attitude / behavior of every individual. Its appeal can affect the overall growth of every person provided it is perceived in its right essence. 

Psychology is the study of how the mind behaves with certain thoughts or attitudes. We are unable to physically see mental processes such as thoughts, memories, dreams and perceptions. All these mental processes come under the ambit of the unseen and in Quranic terminology, it is called bil-Gayab; the foundation of all Quranic narratives. The entire Quranic wisdom is narrated in parables because the narration of the Quran is metaphysical [bil-gayab] that can only be experienced or felt by the visceral senses but not having any physical or concrete existence. The mind is highly complex and enigmatic. Many wonder how psychologists can study such an intricate, seemingly abstract and extremely sophisticated thing. Even if scientists look inside the brain, as in an autopsy or during a surgical operation, all they see is gray matter (the brain). Thoughts, cognition, emotions, memories, dreams, perceptions, etc. cannot be seen physically, like a skin rash or a heart defect. The main charm of the book Quran is not its poetry or rhyme but its powerful message which
 challenges its reader to experience, feel and witness its narratives touching their very souls, in spite of having no physical or literary evidence of it. The respected author of the book Quran brings to life what is metaphysical [gayab] by illustrating it in the form and attributes of human beings. I strongly believe that this is the only scripture if rightly understood can change or develop our core personality. 

The main theme of the Quran is developmental and evolutionary psychology through the impact of knowledge [ilm] or lack of knowledge on human psyche which promotes or demote our mental evolution. Developmental psychology is the study of how a person develops psychologically over the course of his life's journey. Evolutionary psychology examines how psychological adjustments during evolution affect human behavior. The message of the entire Quran is related to learning, guidance, intellect, intelligence, insight and wisdom, sense and thoughts so obviously all the interpretation of the book will be unfolded within these parameters only.

The subject of the entire book Quran is based on personal experiences that's why form iv verbs are very often used. The word Muslim is the one who experiences peace or submit peacefully, same way Momin is the one who experiences safety, security and tranquility. Mushrik is the one who experiences conflicting / impure ideas in his mind - Mutahir is one who cleanse himself, these all are form iv verbal nouns except Mutahir which is form ii verbal noun. Bliss of Jannah and fire of Jahannum are feelings through which everyone goes through. The peace of mind [Islam] is also an experience or a feeling of the mind. Peace of mind can only be attained by knowing the anomalous behavior of our own consciousness / mind. When we seek within ourselves, only then can we find that the peace of mind is waiting there. Peace of mind comes from not wanting to change others or not keep on fulfilling desires one after other. We will never find peace of mind until we listen to our own heart / intellect within our own limitations. We should set peace of mind as our highest goal, and organize our life around it. When we look deep within ourselves, we shall see peace and not conflict. We can only share the cup of peace to others only when we have peace in our cup.

We need to un-become that which we have become, as a result of excess or superficial layers of information or desires which we deemed as ultimate knowledge or gratification and finally it is firmly rooted in our belief system. When we remove all the excess baggage of superficiality from ourselves, what remains? Simplicity and Purity...  The artificial swelling up of knowledge or superficial desire that one possesses is termed as Ar-Riba in Quranic context. The effect of such superficiality is very harmful to our own system of consciousness. In the words of Quran it is a war from Allah and Rasul [2:279] against those who transact in excess superficiality [Ar-Riba]. We all know that Allah and Rasul are inside us. The Quran is talking about internal conflict / war in the minds of those who possess superficial knowledge or desires or exaggerations. Such people cannot achieve peace of mind [Islam], which is the core aim of the book Quran.

If we hold on to pure and untainted treasure of knowledge or desire and let it grow, we reach a state where only this purity exists. This becomes our nature and it oozes out of us, this process of growth is called Zakah in Quranic context. Then our external world changes too: there is no rush, no internal or external fight, nothing is done which is heavy or complicated on our nafs or mind. Then we will find that the world has changed, but in fact we have changed from within.

So anything external is but a manifestation of what is within us. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It all starts with us – you and me.

The term al-riba must be understood in the context of the theme of the book Quran. The entire Quran is about seeking and imparting knowledge or education that helps us to bring peace [Islam] to an agitated mind [An-Naas].The word education/knowledge [علم] and its derivatives have occurred 854 times in the entire Quran. The word Allah / Rabb / Rehman which signifies consciousness, nourisher and educator appeared more than 4000 times in the entire Quran. The word Rasul [inner voice / sense / transmitter of message / signs] and its derivative have appeared 513 times in the entire Quran. The word ayat [signs] and its derivatives have occurred 382 times in the entire Quran. The word kataba, he wrote [كتب] and its derivatives have occurred 319 times in the entire Quran. The word iqra / read / express [اقْرَأْ] and its derivatives is used 88 times in the entire Quran. The word guidance [هدي] and its derivatives has occurred 316 times. The word Mubin مُّبِينٌ [clarity] and its derivatives has occurred 524 times. The word حَكَمْتَ hikmat [wisdom] and its derivatives have occurred 210 times. The word كَلِمَاتٍ [words] and its derivatives have occurred 76 times in the Quran. The word wahi وحِي [inspiration] and its derivatives have occurred 78 times in the entire Quran. The word insight [بصر] has occurred 148 times. The word balagh الْبَلاَغُ [attaining utmost knowledge] is mentioned 77 times in the entire Quran. The word intellect عقل is used 49 times in the entire Quran. The word kalu كُلُواْ generally translated as eating but actually means using intelligence has occurred 109 times. The word تَتَفَكَّرُونَ [think] and its derivatives have occurred 18 times. the word tadabbur يَتَدَبَّرُونَ [ponder/follow] and its derivatives have occurred 44 times. The word study /read / follow [تلو] is used 63 times..the word Hajj - حجج [repairing own self by arguing within] and it its derivatives haves occurred 33 times ... the word حق [facts] its derivatives occurred 287 times in the ... The word khabar خبر [aware] have occurred 52 times in the entire Quran...The word bashar بَشَرٌ [senses] and its derivatives have occured 123 times. The word Naba نبا [information] and its derivatives have occurred 160 times in the Quran... 

The entire recurrences of all these terms and many more in the context of the book Quran very strongly indicates that the theme of the book Quran is only related to factual knowledge, guidance, criterion concerning self that helps in healing individuals agitated mind [An-Naas] and knowing the self

The person who expects / desire more out of what he / she has actually put in is the gist or the true meaning of Ar-Riba. The scope of the meaning of Ar-Riba is very vast but unfortunately we have confined its meaning to just usury. Desiring anything more than the efforts we have actually invested or anything in excess is Ar-Riba according to the Quranic concept. Any type of excess or artificial increase like exaggeration, superficiality, cosmetics, expecting more than what we actually deserve or spending more than what we have or inflated ego are all categories of Ar-Riba and it is the root cause of unrest in our psyche or mind. This is why Ar-Riba is not recommended by the Quran because it brings unrest to the mind which is the main cause of destroying peace of mind [Islam]. Here in Quran [2:275-279] the respected author of the book Quran wants to emphasis that expecting more, creates unnecessary desires that further creates artificial knowledge or superficial intelligence which is the cause of magnifying of wrong concepts as right. Such phenomena are recognized as al-riba in Quranic context. Not studying and expecting to pass or excel in exams can also be categorized as Ar-Riba. There are four places in the book Qur'an where riba is assumed as usury by the traditionalists. When deducing the meaning of any word, one should evaluate the subject and the context of the exposition from the treatise itself rather than referring to any other source, before arriving at any conclusions. 

2:275 الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ الرِّبَا لَا يَقُومُونَ إِلَّا كَمَا يَقُومُ الَّذِي يَتَخَبَّطُهُ الشَّيْطَانُ مِنَ الْمَسِّ ۚ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا الْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَا ۗوَأَحَلَّ اللَّهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَا ۚ فَمَن جَاءَهُ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِ فَانتَهَىٰ فَلَهُ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

Those who cleverly gulps [يَأْكُلُونَ] Al-Riba [الرِّبَا] they can never stand, except like one who stands obediently abasing himself [يَتَخَبَّطُهُ] from the affliction of the satan. That is because they say, "Model of Al-Riba is only due to allegiance of engagement[الْبَيْعُ]." But Allah [system of consciousness] has permitted the allegiance to engagement [proper planing] but has prohibited inflated growth with unscrupulous planing [Ar-Riba]. So whoever has received an admonition from his Rabb [Consciousness] and then he refrains may have what is in past, and his affair rests towards Allah [system of consciousness]. But whoever repeats those are the companions of the Fire [inherent fire due to useless knowledge or unreasonable desire]; they will continue to live in it. 

Man is a product of thought and intelligence is his food for consumption. Because of this he is called an intelligent / clever being [اكيل]. The above word يَأْكُلُونَ  is a derivative of word [اكيل] - generally translated as eat, devour, swallow, gorge, take or consume; that is one who consumes cleverly. The book Quran says proper engagement [الْبَيْعُ]  is allowed, without showing loyalty to our engagement [الْبَيْعَ] with our consciousness / mind we cannot expect good result. To expect in excess without showing allegiance / loyalty to our work is Al-Riba in the context of the above verse. 

In the above context I have deliberated the meaning of Ar-Riba as a desire of accumulation of things or attachment
 by having or showing no moral principles; no honest / truthful planning or fair dealing. The verse strongly suggests that it is inflated or hollow form of accumulation of things or desire to exist or appear pompous but with no real substance inside. I construed it as inflated or wrong knowledge or thought process that becomes distended and becomes enlarged or swollen. Swollen ego or inflated ego hinders us to gain actual knowledge and it can also be termed as Ar-Riba in Quranic context. The overall lexical meaning of riba is to swell, rise, increase, augment, magnify, became high, become large, inflated, elevated ground, exceeded, multiply, myriad, superiority [one who exceeds or inflates what he has actually received or understood].

276 يَمْحَقُ اللَّهُ الرِّبَا وَيُرْبِي الصَّدَقَاتِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ كَفَّارٍ أَثِيمٍ

Allah [system of consciousness] annuls al-riba and increases truthfulness. And Allah does not like all duplicitous ignorant.

Our Allah or system of consciousness does not accept any kind of superficiality [Ar-Riba] as it deprives the blessing of genuine knowledge that promotes truthfulness. This small verse clearly defines what the Quranic Ar-Riba is. The dual personality [أَثِيمٍ] develops superficial desire to accumulate unscrupulously and this destroys the essence of seeking genuine or truthful way of proper planning [الصَّدَقَاتِ].

2:277 إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ 

Indeed, those are the one who establish safety / security and do re-conciliatory work and establish / install the process of connection [salat] and they experience the process of growth [zakah], for them their reward is with their Rabb [Consciousness], and there will be no fear upon them and nor will they ever grieve.

Al-Zakah has reward from our consciousness and there will be no fear and grievances. But Al-Riba is harmful for mental growth.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَذَرُوا مَا بَقِيَ مِنَ الرِّبَا إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ

O you who establish safety/security, practice cautiousness to Allah [system of consciousness] and give up what remains Al-Riba, if you want to be those who establish safety / security / tranquility.

For peace and tranquility of mind it is important to avoid Al-Riba.

2:279 فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا فَأْذَنُوا بِحَرْبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ۖ وَإِن تُبْتُمْ فَلَكُمْ رُءُوسُ أَمْوَالِكُمْ لَا تَظْلِمُونَ وَلَا تُظْلَمُونَ

And if you do not, then be apprised with internal tussle [بِحَرْبٍ] from Allah [System of Consciousness] and His Rasul [inherent senses / voices]. But if you repent, then for you is your primary / basic / true intellectual wealth - [thus] you do no wrong, nor you will be ever be wronged.

Have we ever witness Allah coming out of heaven and Rasul coming out of grave to fight bankers, money lenders and excessive profiteers who engage in levying interest? - So Riba is wrong thought process to earn anything. Interest on money or commodity is business.

3:130 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تَأْكُلُواْ الرِّبَا أَضْعَافًا مُّضَاعَفَةً وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

O you who seek to have safety / security! Do not consume cleverly [تَأْكُلُواْ] Al-Riba, making inordinately excessive, and be careful (towards your duty to) Allah [system of consciousness], that you may be successful.

Those who want to have safety / security for self must nor unscrupulously consume Riba inordinately, they have to face the wrath of their own system of consciousness.

4:161 وَأَخْذِهِمُ الرِّبَا وَقَدْ نُهُواْ عَنْهُ وَأَكْلِهِمْ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ مِنْهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا

And their holding of Al-Riba though indeed they were not desirable about it and for their cleverly consuming the inclinations of the agitated mind falsely, and We have Ourselves prepared for the ignorants from themselves a painful chastisement.

30:39 وَمَا آتَيْتُم مِّن رِّبًا لِّيَرْبُوَاْ فِي أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ فَلَا يَرْبُوا عِندَ اللَّهِ وَمَا آتَيْتُم مِّن زَكَاةٍ تُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَ اللَّهِ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُضْعِفُونَ

And whatever you brought from Riba surely it increased in the inclinations of agitated minds, but it shall not increase near Allah [system of consciousness]; and whatever you brought in from the process of growth [zakah], desiring attention of Allah's countenance - then those are the multipliers.

Riba increases the inclination of agitated minds but of no use for your system of consciousness - Zakah the process of purity / development is good for mental development and it brings good results.

Al-Riba, the superficial / inflated thought process of desire to growth unscrupulously. It is strictly forbidden for peace of mind [Islam] because nothing happens without contributing in the right way. If our thought process desire to grow not on a right path then there is a declaration of internal war
 [حَرْبٍ] from Allah and His Rasuls against the one indulge in Ribah. (Noble Qur'an 2:275-279).

However, the concept of Riba is a lot wider than is commonly understood. The term Ar-Riba is very narrowly confined by the traditionalist scholars to interest on any amount charged on cash or commodity. Making profit on our hard earned money or commodities is business and one must not feel guilty about it. Making profit does not make anyone unhappy or depressed, on the contrary it brings peace and there is no internal conflict. But expecting inordinately in excess is not reasonable and it is indeed termed as Al-Riba.

 Any kind of excess expectations without right process is just a dream without a proper plan that leads to anxiety and depression [a war like situation in our mind]. Even if our extra expectations are fulfilled it does not last long because we have not earned it in the right way. Any type of high expectations more than our efforts, brings depression, sadness, unhappiness, gloom and anxiety. One who expects or desires more than what he has actually contributed; such behavior is recognized as Ar-Riba in the Quranic context. Unnecessary Expectations lead to inherent conflict from our Consciousness (Rabb) and inherent senses (Rasools) against such psyche/mind (nafs) and Heart / Intellect (Qalb). This internal conflict destroys the Peace of Mind (Islam), thus it has been advised to refrain from the practice of Ar Riba (Inflated superficiality or high expectations without proper plan or exaggeration of facts).