Rulings on Interest (al-Ribaa) in Hanbali Fiqh - The Thinking Muslim

Rulings on Interest (al-Ribaa) in Hanbali Fiqh

The following are my notes from the chapter on al-Ribaa (interest) from the Hanbali text Akhsar al-Mukhtasarat. The source of the notes are my teacher Sh. Muhammad Gamal Aly with whom I am studying the text and Sh. Bajabir’s commentary on the book.

  • Definition
    • Ribaa means an increase in a particular item. The word is derived from a root meaning increase or growth
      • It is prohibited according to the Qur’an, Sunnah, and consensus of the scholars
      • It is one of the seven major destructive sins
      • It does not refer to any and every type of growth in a sale but only particular types of growth
        • Typically occurs in items sold in measurements or weights
          • This means any exchange transaction that is not done based on measurement/weight cannot be usurious
          • Ex: gold, silver, salt, dates, barley, wheat, copper, meat, iron, etc.
            • Because all such items are either typically sold in measurement (dates, barley, wheat) or weight (gold, silver, iron, copper, meat)
  • There are two types of interest (ribaa) that are prohibited in Islam: Surplus and deferred payment
    • Surplus (fadhl) – ربا الفضل
      • Def: When you exchange the same type of goods based on measurement/weight but with a surplus and the exchange is done immediately
        • Even if the measurement/weight is small and insignificant in size, it is not allowed
        • Same type examples: gold for gold, silver for silver, dates for dates, etc.
          • Ex: you sell 10 grams of gold for 15 grams of gold to be exchanged immediately, you sell a saa’ of dates for a mudd of dates to be exchanged immediately, etc.
            • Saa’ is a full two handfuls of something and mudd is four full two handfuls of something
      • Conditions for it to be considered the prohibited ribaa al-fadhl:
        • Both exchanges are of same type
          • So if the exchange is for different types, for example, selling gold for silver, then it would be permissible if there is a surplus because they are of different types
        • One receives a surplus in return
          • So if the exchange is in equal amount of measurement/weight for the same type, then it would be permissible
        • Exchange happens immediately
          • Meaning the buyer and seller both take possession of their commodities immediately
          • If the exchange does not take place immediately, then it would be the second type of ribaa discussed below
      • Based on the above, the exchange is valid and you can avoid ribaa al-fadhl if:
        • The commodities are equal in measurement/weight when of same type
          • Ex: 20 grams of gold for 20 grams of gold, a saa’ of dates for a saa’ of dates, etc.
          • If they are of different types, then they are not required to be equal
            • Ex: 20 grams of gold for 30 grams of silver, a saa’ of dates for a mudd of barley, etc.
        • The exchange must happen before they separate regardless of whether the commodities being exchanged are of the same type or not
          • Meaning the buyer and seller both take possession of their commodities immediately
          • Exception: it is permissible to delay the payment if someone wishes to purchase a weighed/measured commodity (other than gold/silver) with gold/silver/cash
            • Ex: someone purchases iron in weight and wishes to pay for it in gold/silver/cash after a month 
            • Cash is considered a type of gold/silver
      • It is neither permitted nor valid to exchange commodities of same type calculated originally in measurements through weights and vice versa
        • Weights and measurements are considered separate types of calculations
        • Ex 1: selling a saa’ of dates for a kilo of dates
          • Saa’ is a measurement and kilo is a weight. Dates are originally calculated in measurements and not weights
          • Because there is a possibility that they may not be equal in measurement
        • Ex 2: selling 2 grams of silver for 2 saa’ of silver
          • Grams is a weight and saa’ is a measurement. Silver is originally calculated in weights and not measurements
          • Because there is a possibility that they may not be equal in weight
        • Exception: if it is known that they both are equal in their original standard calculation
          • Ex: if someone sells a saa’ of dates for a kilo of dates and the latter was measured to assure that it was also a saa’ because dates are originally calculated through measurement
    • Deferred payment (nasee’ah) – ربا النسيئة
      • Relates to delay in timing
        • Meaning the possession of goods is delayed and is not done immediately
      • Def: When you exchange goods based on weights/measures but it is delayed
        • Ex: you sell 10 grams of gold for 10 grams of gold to be paid after a month
          • Notice that even if there is no surplus between the same types, it would still be considered ribaa al-nasee’ah
        • Even if the goods are of different types but calculated under the same category, it would still be considered ribaa al-nasee’ah
          • Ex: you sell 10 grams of gold for 15 grams of silver to be paid after a month
            • Gold and silver both belong under the same category of weights
        • Exception: it is valid to delay the payment if someone wishes to purchase a weighed/measured commodity (other than gold/silver/cash) with gold/silver/cash
          • Ex: someone purchases meat in weight and wishes to pay for it in gold/silver/cash after a month
      • The following are valid:
        • To exchange a commodity sold in measurement for a commodity sold in weight and vice versa
          • Ex: to sell 5 mudd of dates for 3 grams of gold
            • Mudd is a measurement and gold is a weight
          • In this case, it is allowed to be exchanged either immediately or through a delay
            • It also is not required to be equal
            • The same goes for exchanging something measured/weighed for anything else that is not sold in measurements/weights
              • Ex: selling a saa’ of dates for a t-shirt
        • To exchange gold for silver and vice versa is valid but:
          • If the two parties separate before complete possession takes place, then whatever was not exchanged becomes invalid
            • Ex: a seller exchanges 10 grams of gold for 20 grams of silver. The seller receives the 20 grams of silver but only pays 5 grams of gold and says that he will give the rest next month
              • This will invalidate the 5 grams that he owes because the exchange must happen immediately
  • To sum up the rules:
    • We first look to see if the two exchanges are of usurious types
      • Meaning we find out if it is something sold based on measurement/weight
    • If both are of the same category, then it is required that they be exchanged immediately
      • Ex: weights for weights (gold for silver) or measurements for measurements (dates for barley)
      • Exception: to purchase a weighed/measured commodity (other than gold/silver/cash) with gold/silver/cash
        • In such a case, it is allowed to be delayed
    • If both are of the same category and type, then it is required that they be exchanged immediately and be equal in amount
      • Ex: gold for gold, dates for dates, etc.
    • If both are from different categories, then it is not required that they be exchanged immediately nor that they be equal in amount
      • Ex: weights for measurements (copper for dates), non-usurious types of exchanges (t-shirts for shoes), weights/measurements for non-usurious types (copper/dates for clothes)

DOWNLOAD MY ISLAMIC STUDIES DEGREE NOTES FOR ONLY $19.99!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.