Al-Baqarah · Juz 3 · Qur'an Tafseer

The Punishment for Dealing with Riba


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful


Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 275 

After Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentioned the righteous believers who give charity, pay Zakah and spend on their relatives and families at various times and conditions, He then mentioned those who deal in usury and illegally acquire people’s money, using various evil methods and wicked ways.


Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala describes the condition of these people when they are resurrected from their graves and brought back to life on the Day of Resurrection, “Those who consume interest cannot stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except as one stands who is being beaten by Satan into insanity.” Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu commented: On the Day of Resurrection, those who consume Riba will be resurrected while insane and suffering from seizures.

Al-Bukhari recorded that Samurah ibn Jundub said in the long hadeeth about the dream that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had,

فَأَتْينَا عَلَى نَهْرٍ حَسِبْتُ أَنَّهُ كَانَ يَقُولُ: أَحْمَرَ مِثْلَ الدَّمِ، وَإِذَا فِي النَّهْرِ رَجُلٌ سَابِحٌ يَسْبَحُ، وَإِذَا عَلَى شَطِّ النَّهْرِ رَجُلٌ قَدْ جَمَعَ عِنْدَهُ حِجَارَةً كَثِيرَةً،وَإِذَا ذَلِكَ السَّابِحُ يَسْبَحُ مَا يَسْبَحُ، ثُمَّ يَأْتِي ذَلِكَ الَّذِي قَدْ جَمَعَ الْحِجَارَةَ عِنْدَهُ، فَيَفْغَرُ لَهُ فَاهُ فَيُلْقِمُهُ حَجَرًا

“We reached a river – the  narrator said, ‘I thought he said that the river was as red as blood’ – and found that a man was swimming in the river, and on its bank there was another man standing with a large collection of stones next to him. The man in the river would swim, then come to the man who had collected the stones and open his mouth, and the other man would throw a stone in his mouth.”

The explanation of this dream was that the person in the river was one who consumed Riba.

(To read the entire hadeeth please click here.)

“That is because they say, ‘Trade is (just) like interest.’ But Allah has permitted trade and forbidden interest.” Instead of accepting Allah’s commandments that interest is forbidden they come up with excuses. You lend your money and make profit on top of that. They say this because they have lost their mind. They don’t know what they are saying. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala negates their thinking because He has forbidden Riba and allowed trade. Something that is forbidden cannot be similar to something that is allowed.

[Tayyab and Khabeeth are Not Equal in the Sight of Allah]

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “So whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with Allah.” It means those who have knowledge that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala made usury unlawful, and refrain from indulging in it as soon as they acquire this knowledge, then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will forgive their previous dealings in Riba.

On the day, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam conquered Makkah, he said,

وَكُلُّ رِبًا فِي الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ مَوْضُوعٌ تَحْتَ قَدَمَيَ هَاتَيْنِ، وَأَوَّلُ رِبًا أَضَعُ، رِبَا الْعَبَّاس

“All cases of Riba during the time of Jahiliyyah [pre-Islamic period of ignorance] is annulled and under my feet, and the first Riba I annul is the Riba of Al-‘Abbas (Prophet’s uncle).”

We should mention that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not require the return of the interest that they gained on their Riba during the time of Jahiliyyah. Rather, he pardoned the cases of Riba that occurred in the past, as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said, “may have what is past, and his affair rests with Allah.”

Sa`eed ibn Jubayr and As-Suddi said that “past” refers to the Riba one consumed before it was prohibited.

“But whoever returns to (dealing in interest or usury),” meaning deals in Riba after gaining knowledge that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala prohibited it, then that warrants punishment, and in this case, the proof will have been established against such person. Such people will be the dwellers of the Hellfire where they will live forever. We seek refuge with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala from the punishment of the fire, the punishment of the grave and an evil end, ameen.

Abu Da’woud recorded that Jabir radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “When this ayah was revealed, the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

مَنْ لَمْ يَذَرِ الْمُخَابَرَةَ فَلْيُؤْذِنْ بِحَرْبٍ مِنَ اللهِ وَرَسُولِه

“Whoever does not refrain from Mukhabarah, then let him receive a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger.”

Mukhabarah [sharecropping], farming land in return for some of its produce, was prohibited. Muzabanah, trading fresh dates still on trees with dried dates already on the ground, was prohibited. Muhaqalah, which refers to trading produce not yet harvested, with crops already harvested, was also prohibited. These were prohibited to eradicate the possibility that Riba might be involved, for the quality and equity of such items are only known after they become dry.

The subject of Riba is a difficult subject for many scholars. We should mention that the Leader of the Faithful, ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab radhiAllahu ‘anhu, said, “I wished that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had made three matters clearer for us, so that we could refer to his decision: the grandfather (regarding inheriting from his grandchildren), the Kalalah (those who leave neither descendants nor ascendants as heirs) and some types of Riba.” ‘Umar was referring to the types of transactions where it is not clear whether they involve Riba or not. The Shari’ah supports the rule that for any matter that is unlawful, then the means to it are also unlawful, because whatever results in the unlawful is unlawful, in the same way that whenever an obligation will not be complete except with something, then that something is itself an obligation.

[The Command to Eat Pure Things and Express Gratitude]

The Two Saheehs recorded that An-Nu’man ibn Bashir said that he heard the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam say,

إِنَّ الْحَلَالَ بَيِّنٌ وَإِنَّ الْحَرَامَ بَيِّنٌ، وَبَيْنَ ذَلِكَ أُمُورٌ مُشْتَبِهَاتٌ، فَمَنِ اتَّقَى الشُّبُهَاتِ اسْتَبْرَأَ لِدِينِهِ وَعِرْضِهِ، وَمَنْ وَقَعَ فِي الشُّبُهَاتِ وَقَعَ فِي الْحَرَامِ، كَالرَّاعِي يَرْعَى حَولَ الْحِمَى يُوشِكُ أَنْ يَرْتَعَ فِيه

“Both lawful and unlawful things are evident, but in between them there are matters that are not clear. So, whoever saves himself from these unclear matters, he saves his religion and his honor. And, whoever indulges in these unclear matters, he will have fallen into the prohibitions, just like a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near a private pasture, at any moment he is liable to enter it.”

The Sunan records that Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that he heard the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam say,

دَعْ مَا يَرِيبُكَ إِلَى مَا لَا يَرِيبُك

“Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.”

Ibn Majah recorded that Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

الرِّبَا سَبْعُونَ حُوبًا، أَيْسَرُهَا أَنْ يَنْكِحَ الرَّجُلُ أُمَّه

“Riba is seventy types, the least of which is equal to one having sexual intercourse with his mother.”

‘Ali and Ibn Mas’oud radhiAllahu ‘anhum narrated that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

لَعَنَ اللهُ آكِلَ الرِّبَا وَمُوكِلَهُ وَشَاهِدَيْهِ وَكَاتِبَه

“May Allah curse whoever consumes Riba, whoever pays Riba, the two who are witnesses to it, and the scribe who records it.”


-We learn that since wealth is given to us by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala we must spend in the way that pleases Him.

-Riba (consuming interest) is one of the seven destructive sins. The other destructive sins are Shirk [associating partners with Allah], magic, killing an innocent person, eating the property of an orphan, running away from the battlefield and accusing chaste women. These are the sins that can lead a person to the Hellfire.

[The Seven Destructive Sins]

-The word yakuluna [يَأْكُلُونَ] translated as consuming refers to receiving riba, giving riba, benefiting from it, earning money or profit through Riba. All of these people are cursed by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. It tells us that it is NOT OKAY to even give interest. All those people who have car loans, student loans or home mortgages must think about it. Why risk your life in this world and in the next for a temporary ease? People say if we rent then we are not going to own anything by the time we are old. Every amount that you spend in the halal way fulfilling your or your family’s needs is counted with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as charity. Do not give yourself excuses to engage in interest. Worry about the Day of Judgment. Even if everyone you know is indulged in haram you must stay away from it.

-When a person is not satisfied with what he has, he pursues wrong means to get what he desires. We should remember all kinds of haram can harm us. Therefore, be content with what you have and do not fall for the haram.

[Types of Haram Actions]

-A person who consumes Riba is like a majnoon [madman]. He cannot think rationally. Why else would someone continue to consume (or give) Riba when he knows that it is equal to having sexual intercourse with one’s mother?

-When the word haram is used – then we must stop here, and not use any Ifs or Buts. There are no excuses to consume Riba. 

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 275

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم                
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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