Impact of charity on the economy and society at large
Summary of Friday Sermon
delivered by the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
June 15th, 2007
NOTE: Alislam Team takes full responsibility for any errors or miscommunication in this Synopsis of the Friday Sermon
Huzur continued with the subject of Islamic outlook on matters of economy that promote peace and security. He elucidated the specific teaching on financial transactions in the Friday Sermon today, expounding the strict forbiddance of usury/interest, and said that those who utilize it are likened to being at war with Allah.
Huzur said usury/interest can result in horrendous consequences, rendering well-off people bankrupt and destroying their family life in the process.
Huzur said people sometimes take up loans to travel to Britain for the Jalsa in the assumption that their objective is pious. However, even Hajj is only enjoined to those who have resources to make the travel etc. Therefore it is pointless to deceive oneself; if one can save up to make the journey that is fine, otherwise not only one deceives oneself one also deprives oneself of all sense of peace and security by disobeying the commandments. People take loans for other non-essential expenses, for example for weddings etc. In Indo-Pakistan and other developing countries lives are blighted by debt. As Ahmadis we should particularly avoid this practice. Someone once asked the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) about borrowing money on interest due to being in a vulnerable position. He responded that Allah arranges for one who relies and puts his/her trust in Allah and that usury/interest was as much of a sin as adultery, theft etc. Islamic ways do not incur any unnecessary expenditure, for example, in a Muslim wedding i.e. the Nikah, there is no expense; Walima, which is Sunnah, is also exempt in case one does not have the required funds to arrange it. Therefore, it is unfortunate that people incur Allah’s displeasure for material desires. Islam allows the eating of the flesh of swine in extreme cases (2:174); however usury/interest is not permissible under any circumstances as the Qur’an states in Surah Al Baqarah (2:279).
Huzur said in our culture a large section of society takes loan for non-essential expenses; there is also a section of our Community that spends money on unnecessary ostentatious matters. There are some who ask for loans knowing full well that they would not be able to pay back. It is a fallacy to borrow money and get embroiled in a vicious circle for temporary happiness.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that some people lend money to others for their own advantage and affix a certain ‘benefit’ for themselves; this is a form of usury/interest. The Qur’an is very clear on those who consider trade and usury/interest as one in Surah Al Baqarah (2:276).
Huzur said often no consideration is given if a farm worker or manual worker cannot return a loan. In Islam the preferred way for those who have disposable income, is rather than accumulate the money, to invest it in a business with skilled people to promote prosperity for all.
Huzur remarked on the fairly new concept introduced in a few main banks in UK categorized as ‘Islamic banking’ which lends interest free loans. Huzur said Ahmad Salam Sahib, who is the son of Dr. Abdus Salam has worked hard in this field. Huzur said these [participating] banks should extend their business, they will gather blessing. Huzur urged the Community in other countries to find out the situation in their respective countries and inform the members of their local Community so that the situation may improve for all the brothers.
Huzur said following last week’s sermon many wrote to him wondering about their specific financial situation in terms of usury/interest. Huzur said usury/interest is forbidden however once one takes heed, one should make amends. However, as far as the mortgage system [in the Western countries] goes in line with the enjoinment of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) there are certain economic systems in which generally speaking the Community allows borrowing money for the purpose of a house on mortgage and previous Khalifas have been allowing this as well. Huzur said he thinks that if the mortgage outgoing is about the same as rental would be, it does not matter. However, it should be remembered that this principles applies to mortgage on a house which is one’s residence, one is not allowed to use this for business purposes. Huzur said if those who are interested in research come across any academically significant point in this regard they should inform Huzur.
In promoting a peaceful, secure society while Islam forbids usury/interest, it also enjoins to give those who are in dire straits some respite in terms of re-payment of loans (2:281). Certainly, there is no question of any interest on the borrowed sum, rather the emphasis is to be wary of the person’s hardship.
Huzur said it was worthwhile to mention that he has advised the Ahmadi lawyers not to charge their clients who are seeking asylum [in the West] so much that they may fall in debt, or to give them the option to pay upon completion of the case. Huzur said Islam certainly does not permit taking advantage of a person’s vulnerable situation.
In terms of abiding by the commandments of Allah, Hadhrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) said that a non-Muslim is like a disinherited offspring and can do whatever he pleases, the father has no connection with him. However, a Muslim is like a member of the family for the parent and will be reprimanded if he takes a wrong step.
Huzur said if one who has lent money is appreciative that if he were in debt and underwent hard time, he would expect some respite from the lender and if one who borrows money considers how unacceptable a deceiving debtor would be to him and both conducted themselves accordingly they would come to a positive conclusion.
Huzur said the Hadith that enjoins to prefer that for one’s brother which one prefers for oneself is a guiding light in this matter.
Citing verse 3:131 Huzur explained that some people infer from this verse that usury/interest is not forbidden rather it is only ‘multiple additions’ of usury/interest that is forbidden. Huzur said the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) explained that this is a wrong inference and that it was on par with suggesting that the admonishment of ‘not to commit sin upon sin’ or ‘multiple sins’ meant one could commit the odd sin and that only ‘multiple sins’ were forbidden.
Next Huzur cited verse 283 of Surah Al Baqarah (2:283) the translation reads:
“O ye who believe! When you borrow from one another for a fixed period, then write it down. And let a scribe write it in your presence faithfully; and no scribe should refuse to write, because Allah has taught him, so let him write and let him who incurs the liability dictate; and he should fear Allah his Lord, and not diminish anything thereform. But if the person incurring the liability be of low understanding or be weak or be unable himself to dictate, then let someone who can watch his interest dictate with justice. And call two witnesses from among your men; and if two men be not available, then a man and two women, of such as you like as witnesses, so that if either of two women should err in memory, then one may remind the other. And the witness should not refuse when they are called. And do not feel weary of writing it down, whether it be small or large, along with its appointed time of payment. This is more equitable in the sight of Allah and makes testimony surer and is more likely to keep you away from doubts; therefore omit not to write except that it be ready merchandise which you give or take from hand to hand, in which case it shall be no sin for you that you write it not. And have witnesses when you sell one to another; and let no harm be done to the scribe or the witness. And if you do that, then certainly it shall be disobedience on your part. And fear Allah. And Allah grants you knowledge and Allah knows all things well.”
Explaining Huzur said this is a most significant commandment in terms of carrying out dealings in society and avoiding altercations. Huzur said this commandment about committing matters to writing was given in an age when writing of texts was in its early stages. Here all matters are discussed with reference to Allah, which is how a Muslim’s affairs should be conducted. This commandment is to promote mutual relationships of love and affection. Remarking on the enjoinment of two female witnesses compared to one male, Huzur said he had looked into the matter and found out that even here in the West women are not inclined towards economic matters in the work place as men are. As for countries like Pakistan, well, women simply do not get involved in financial dealings etc. Hence the mention of two women as opposed to one man as regards matters of financial dealing.
Citing verse 189 of Surah Al Baqarah (2:189) Huzur said the verse most significantly enjoins not to devour each other’s wealth and warns against the evil of bribery etc. Huzur said this is the kind of amassing of wealth that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) equated to filling one’s abdomen with a ball of fire. It is such practices that create general trouble and disharmony and people lose their domestic peace as well.
Huzur said we should endeavour that under no circumstances are we among those who are deprived of peace and security, may Allah protect the Ahmadis and make them tread the paths of His pleasure.