Guidance for the Traveler (1 of 3)
The Sacred Law, as a plan for a whole way of life, deals with every facet of human existence. The traveller to Allah must scrupulously adhere to it in every aspect of his life if his journey is to be successful. With this key point in view, the guidelines given below should be observed by everyone who seeks to live according to taqwa in his dealings with the financial world we find around us, as this is the area where not a few fall into the unlawful.
Dealing in riba or usury is a very grave sin in Islam. It is listed as an enormity (kabira) by everyone who has written on the subject, and is the seventh major sin in Imam Dhahabi’s Kitab al-kaba’ir [Book of enormities]. The gravity of this sin is borne out by the words of Allah
O you who believe, fear Allah, and completely discard what remains of usury if you be true believers. If you will not, then know of a devastating war against you from Allah and His messenger; And if you repent, you may keep your original wealth, neither wronging nor being wronged (Koran2:278–79).
There is no other crime besides it in the entire Sacred Law from beginning to end that merits war from Allah except enmity towards the awliya of Allah. And if Allah, Master of every atom in existence, declares war against someone, who is going to win? Jabir (Allah be well pleased with him) relates that “the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) cursed whoever eats of usury, feeds it to another, records it, and its two witnesses, and he said, ‘All are alike’” (Muslim, 3.1219: 1598. s).
In light of the direness of the warnings from Allah and His messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), the spiritual traveller must disregard all so-called fatwas that declare any form of finance usury (riba) to be lawful. Such opinions are the product of a psychologically defeated and humiliated Islam that emerged after the colonization of Muslim lands and abolishment of the social and political manifestation of the Sacred Law. The traveller should help bring it back by taking the following steps:
1) Cease all buying on credit. This includes houses and cars. Credit buying is the widest door leading to usury in the West, to say nothing of the grave consequences of debt in Islam. All existing debts should be paid off as soon as possible. Houses or cars purchased on interest-based installment plans should be sold as soon as possible. This imposes little burden on Muslims in the West as decent housing can be rented, and reliable used cars can be readily obtained at manageable prices. As for buying clothing and furniture on credit, these purchases are usually wasteful and unnecessary to begin with.
2) Credit cards are a useful form of identification and handy for renting cars and other items. If one chooses to maintain a credit card, those which facilitate such transactions but don’t apply interest are preferred, such as debit cards, which take funds directly out of one’s account, or those like American Express which require payment at the end of each month without interest. If the spiritual traveller cannot obtain one of these or similar cards, and chooses to maintain a regular credit card, he must pay all bills immediately before any interest accrues. If he finds he is frequently tardy in paying such bills, thereby falling into interest, he should pay off the debt once and for all and discard the credit card immediately.
3) Taking loans from banks, savings and loans associations, credit unions, and the like should be avoided as much as possible. This will not only help keep the traveller away from interest and debt, it will also help to undermine the banking industry, an industry which is primarily driving the economic enslavement and rape of most of humanity, including the Muslim world. If home financing is necessary, it should only be done with a financial product currently certified by name as shari‘a-compliant by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). Many “Islamic” finance plans are haram as a whole or in details, others were halal but have since been changed, and for still others, the certifying muftis have little specific Islamic Finance training, or even lack taqwa. To use an insufficiently certified product, or resort to accursed “conventional financing,” solves one problem, a roof over one’s head, but brings down a shower of other problems in one’s money, family, and life by being at war with Allah.
(continued next week)
Reprinted with permission from “Sea Without Shore — A Manual of the Sufi Path” by Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, from chapter 12: Life, Work and Wealth — Riba (Usury)
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