"The best of all people are those who benefit people through serving their needs with love and good intentions” as taught by prophet Muhammad sws!

Sahaba learned deen through companionship and Service (Suhabat o Khidmat) Temporary Migration and Travel for seeking Knowledge and struggling for deen. Jihad internally and externally for ones self and others for deen (Ilm and deen ke liye Safar o Hijrat. However, one should note the desire to be a martyer (Shaheed) and partake in Juhad fiddeen is of the highest caliber!

The Faith-Based Judeo-Christian- Islamic Prohibition of Interest and the RF (Riba-Free) Banking System

The teachings of Muhammad (pbuh) as well as its links to the revelations to the teachings of Moses (pp) and Jesus (pp). Charging interest (called riba in the Qur’aan and ribit in the Torah)

is divinely prohibited in Judaism and Christianity as it is also clearly and strictly prohibited in Islam. That is why it is believed that this can pre- sent the followers of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) with a wonderful window of historic proportions to cooperate together to bring to market a credible, efficient, fair, and equitable financing and bank- ing system—The RF (riba/ribit-free) banking and finance system—which uses the Judeo-Christian-Islamic RF banking and finance discipline. It is important to study, learn, and reflect upon the history of the prohibition of interest from the original teachings of Moses (pp) in the Torah (Jewish Bible), the teachings of Jesus (pp) in the Christian Bible, and the teachings of Muhammad (pp) as revealed in the Qur’aan to discover how these atti- tudes and disciplines developed over time and eventually produced the more relaxed interest-based banking and finance practices used today.

The main reason for the prohibition of ribit/riba—the prohibition of renting money to those who need it—is to prevent those who have money from taking advantage of and abusing the freedom of the poor and the needy. Slavery became rampant among the Hebrews in ancient Egypt because of the charging of ribit on loans needed by those who did not have the money to buy seeds or to meet their daily needs.

When Moses (pp) came to free the Hebrew slaves, he was taught by God to remove ribit from society as revealed in the Torah and later explained and elaborated on in the Talmud by the learned rabbis. It is interesting to note that the rabbinical laws do not allow a Jewish person to stand as a witness in a Jewish court if he is involved in usury/interest. The prohibition of riba/ribit started the transformation process of societies and nations to freedom.

It empowered the Hebrews to move out of Egypt behind the leadership of Moses (pp) by crossing the Red Sea to establish new settlements and farmlands. When Jesus (pp) was com- missioned to preach God’s teachings, the society he was sent to consisted of people who lived in an agrarian society with slavery being practiced. Jesus (pp), as revealed and taught in the Bible (Injeel—the name used for the Bible, in Arabic, among the Muslims), propagated the principle of prohibiting the use of renting money to the poor and the needy as a tool to enslave them and to eventually confiscate their collateral properties, including agricul- tural lands of the farmers if they could not pay their debt back as agreed.

 It is interesting to note that in the early days of the Catholic Church, a Catholic who participated in usury/interest through charging it or receiving it is denied a Catholic burial. When Prophet Muhammad (pp) was commis- sioned by God, the world was experiencing the dawn of the commercial era and international trade. Islam taught, reinforced, and made into law the principles of prohibiting ribit/riba, which involves the rental of money at a price called usury or interest rate and the use of money to take advantage of the unfortunate circumstances of people by confiscating their freedom and eventually turn them into slaves if they do not pay back the principal and usury (riba or interest) at the agreed-upon time. In addition, and in order to meet the demands of the new society of expanding trade and international business, Islamic teaching started a business revolution to define the disci- plines, regulations, and rules needed for riba-free business and trade financ- ing, as revealed in the Qur’aan and according to the teaching of Prophet Muhammad (pp).

In Christianity, it is interesting to note that according to the First Cen- tury . . oral tradition of the Pharisees (a Pharisee is a member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity) as com- mitted to writing in Mishnah Sheqalim 1:3–6, money changers who had “set up in the Temple” exacted “surcharges” for their services. In Christianity, Jesus Christ (pp) stated that one of his goals is to drive the money changers out of the Temple (John 2:15–15; Matthew 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–18). S. C. Mooney, an author and a leading contemporary Protestant oppo- nent of interest on money, states: “What is being argued here is not a new

 The Faith-Based Judeo-Christian-Islamic Foundation 17

idea, or a new interpretation of Scripture. It is the historic position. This is not a call to strike out in a new direction; it is a call to return to faithfulness to God. . . .”It is also interesting to note that under the Biblical concept of the Jubilee (the word Jubilee in the Hebrew Scriptures means a year of rest to be observed by the Israelites every 50th year, during which slaves were to be set free, alienated property restored to the former owners, and the lands left untilled), no indebtedness would last longer than the sabbatical seventh year. Visitors to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will notice that the key Jubilee pass- age from Leviticus (25:10) was engraved on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia by the founders of the United States of America.

History also documents that as late as the fifteenth century, movements abounded to eradicate the renting of money for a price called interest—in other words, to prohibit usury. For example, during the time of the Protec- torate that administered the kingdom under England’s first fully Protestant monarch, the boy-king Edward VI, the laws of England were returned to their immemorial Catholic position on usury, last implemented by the English Catholic King Henry VII in 1495. All interest on money was declared illegal. The Protestant Edward VI’s law banning usury is one of the most stirring documents authored against usury. It is interesting to note that King Henry VII’s prohibition of usury in his realm was overthrown in 1545 by his son and successor, King Henry VIII. As an adherent to Islam and not to Christianity nor to Judaism, the author felt that it would be more appropriate, fair, and credible to study the prohibition of the charging of usury (charging interest to rent money in Judaism and Christianity) is to ask an expert scholar who is also an adher- ent to each faith and who has demonstrated expertise in the field of finance to summarize the position and the original teachings of his/her faith on usury/the charging of interest on money. It was thought that it would also be useful to discuss how these clear theological injunctions that prohibited the charging of usury/interest were modified, diluted, and/or reconstructed to become in the current acceptable form and which led to the practice of freely and openly charging interest on money.

ISLAM: THE ADDITIONAL AND CLOSING LINK IN THE CHAIN OF JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY

We need to offer a Judeo-Christian-Islamic solution to the problem of renting money at a price called interest rate. It is an introduc- tion to Islam, with an emphasis on how Islam ties itself by the revelations of the Qur’aan to the teachings of Abraham and all his descendants, including Moses (pp) and Jesus (pp).

The basic foundation of faith in Islam is belief in God; in all of God’s prophets, including Prophet Abraham (pp ) and his children Ishmael (pp) and Isaac (pp) and their descendants; and in subsequent appointed proph- ets, including Joseph (pp), Moses (pp), Jesus (pp), and Muhammad (pp). A Muslim is a person who submits his/her will to that of God. A Muslim believes that the “people of the book” (as the Qur’aan refers to them) are those brothers and sisters in Judaism and Christianity who received a book of guidance and discipline of living from God: the Torah in the Jewish Bible, the Gospel in the Christian Bible.

It is important to note that part of the creed of a Muslim is that he/she must believe in Moses (pp) and Jesus (pp). Moses (pp) liberated the Hebrews from the slavery practiced against them by the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs and God spoke to him and gave him the Ten Commandments, which were further developed into the Jewish Bible. On that part of the experience of Moses (pp), the Qur’aan2 reveals:

4:164 Of some apostles We have already told thee the story; of others We have not; and to Moses God spoke direct;

Jesus (pp) was later commissioned to revitalize, deepen, and expand on the teachings of Moses (pp). He taught the words of God and set the ulti- mate example of offering himself in sacrifice in order for the world to stay the course and for him to leave behind a shining example for all generations to come. This was recorded in the Qur’aan as follows:

3:45 Behold! The angels said: “O Mary! God gives thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to God.

As the world grew, its resources diversified, and its people started travel- ing to chart new local and international trading routes (resulting in growth in trade and commerce), the Prophet Muhammad (pp) was commissioned by God to expand further on the teachings of Moses (pp) and Jesus (pp) and to offer the people of the world at large a universal working model and various disciplines on how to live, raise a family, build a community, govern, and conduct business with each other.

Prophet Muhammad (pp) was a revolutionary, like Moses (pp), lead- ing a movement to free the slaves and remove slavery of the body and the soul from Arabia and the world. He worked hard to educate and liberate the pagans in Arabia and the rest of the world, to set them free by worship- ping only one God.

He also followed and built on the example of Jesus (pp) by intensifying people’s commitment to God; by softening people’s hearts toward those who are poor, deprived, underprivileged, and in need; and by standing up in righteousness to those who abused their riches and powers in the name of religion to take advantage of the helpless poor, the underprivi- leged and the needy. In doing so, he made it easier for people to live together in peace, with justice and fairness for all.

With the emergence of the Roman/Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire as the two leading superpowers during the time of Prophet Muhammad’s (pp) mission, he was commissioned to offer the world, through the revelations of God’s words in the Qur’aan and his living model (the Sunnah ) a detailed exam- ple of a living prophet who was a spiritual leader, the head of a state, and a businessman.

His actions and model of living were all fully documented because he was commissioned in the light of history brought on by the invention of paper and the printing press. He acted as a prophet and as a shepherd (like Jesus [pp] and Moses [pp]) and as a political leader and as head of the state defense forces. He expanded his responsibilities to offer a role model for being a successful merchant, an accomplished money manager, and an admired and trusted investor.

Michael Hart, who was born in a Christian family,4 states: “He [Prophet Muhammad (pp)] was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both religious and secular levels.” While studying the Qur’aan and the style of living (the Sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad (pp) depicted in the vastly researched, meticulously authenti- cated and documented body of his sayings (the Hadeeth ) and his traditions and story of his life (the Seerah6), we learn about similar models of living offered by Moses (pp) and Jesus (pp). Prophet Muhammad’s life expanded on the examples of Moses (pp) and Jesus (pp) to demonstrate how to live in the more complex world of the sixth century. This new world included more sophisticated communication systems, transportation methods, and trading routes, as well as new businesses, more integrated markets, and expanded villages and cities—and a more sophisticated monetary and economic system. We read in the Qur’aan:

2:136 Say: We believe in God, and in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, and that which has been sent to Moses and Jesus; and that which has been sent to all the [other] prophets by their Sustainer: we make no distinction between any of them and it is unto Him that we sur- render ourselves.7

42:13 The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah—that which We have sent by inspiration to thee—and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.

The religion of Islam as understood from the Qur’aan and the tradi- tion of Prophet Muhammad (pp) reinvigorated the basic religious concepts brought by Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Being a Muslim means to submit our will to the will of God by worshipping only Him and by abiding by His injunctions, which He revealed to all His prophets.

Conceptually, Islam can indeed be looked upon as part of an encom- passing Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition that extends back to the father and patriarch of all prophets, Abraham (pp). One well-read American Muslim stated that he researched all religions and philosophies to find a faith to which he could adhere. He concluded that Islam was it for him because it did not take away from him Moses (pp) and his Jewish beliefs in the Old Testament or his Christian beliefs in Jesus (pp) and in the Bible.

He said that Islam, to him, was the umbrella that covered all and included all God’s prophets and messengers. He added that Islam was to him like a tent that brought under it, in one house, the teachings of Moses (pp) in Judaism and Jesus (pp) in Christianity; it did not discredit these teachings, but rather intensified, reinforced, and deepened them.8 This concept is exactly what is meant in this book by the Judeo-Christian-Islamic lifestyle.

The original teachings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam prohibit lend- ing money and charging interest/usury (the original word usury was used to mean paying a rent for the use of money; the meaning was changed to mean, in today’s language, lending at an excessive interest rate), ribit (which means an increase over the original amount of debt, in the language of the Old Testament), and riba (which also means an increase, in the language of the Qur’aan).

It is also interesting to note that charging interest is prohibited in Buddhism, Hinduism, and many other faiths and philosophies.9 Muslims are taught that participating in the culture and practice of charging and/or paying interest (charging interest on lending money, borrowing with interest, and witnessing contracts that involve interest) is divinely prohibited (haram) and is one of the worst sins by the Islamic—that is, the Judeo-Christian- Islamic—laws (the term that will be used throughout this book for Judeo- Christian-Islamic law is Shari’aa, “the law”).

The act of borrowing money with interest (riba) is not a socially and religiously acceptable behavior. In a typical Muslim society, borrowing money and paying interest is reserved only for meeting a dire need, and it is socially considered a shameful act.

Charging interest is also divinely prohibited in Judaism and Christianity. It is important to study, learn, and reflect upon the history of the prohi- bition of interest from the original teachings of Moses (pp) in the Torah.

Salaam!