Al-Baqarah · Juz 3 · Qur'an Tafseer

Riba Constitutes War against Allah SWT and The Messenger


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 278-279


Ayah 278 – The Necessity of Taqwa and Avoiding Riba

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands His believing servants to fear Him and warns them against what would bring them closer to His anger and drive them away from His pleasure.


Again, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala opens the ayah by addressing to the believers meaning it is a matter of your emaan [faith] so pay heed. Muslims are reminded to have taqwa [fear and love] of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and abstain from doing that which is forbidden – in this case, consuming Riba. Remember, that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is watching us. A bad deed can be concealed from the people but not from Allah.

When a sentence contains “fear Allah,” it is a reminder for us to give the wrong that we are doing. Have fear that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will hold you accountable for this wrong action.

The word baqiya [بَقِيَ] is from the root letters ba-qaf-ya which mean “something or someone that remains, continues, lasts or endures.”

[Should he take a riba-based loan in order to buy a house?]

“And give up what remains (due to you) of interest,” meaning abandon the Riba that people still owe you upon hearing this warning. Then again, there is a reminder of our emaan, “if you should be believers,” meaning if you are a true Muslim you will give up Riba immediately after reading these ayaat.

The scholars say that this ayah was revealed about Bani ‘Amr ibn ‘Umayr, a sub-tribe of Thaqif, and Bani Al-Mughirah, from the tribe of Bani Makhzum. There were outstanding Riba transactions between the two tribes, from the days of ignorance. When Islam came and both the tribes became Muslims, Thaqif required Bani Al-Mughirah to pay the Riba of that transaction, but Bani Al-Mughirah said, “We do not pay Riba in Islam.” ‘Attab ibn Usayd, the Prophet’s deputy on Makkah, wrote to the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about this matter. It was then that these ayaat (O you who have believed, fear Allah and give up what remains (due to you) of interest, if you should be believers. And if you do not, then be informed of a war (against you) from Allah and His Messenger. But if you repent, you may have your principal – (thus) you do no wrong, nor are you wronged.) were revealed and the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam conveyed them to ‘Attab.

They said, “We repent to Allah and abandon whatever is left of our Riba,” and they all abandoned it. This ayah serves as a stern threat to those who continue to deal in Riba after Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed this warning.


-This ayah reminds us to leave Riba Sometimes we believe since we are already in this transaction, we will give up when this loan ends. If you have student loan, stop going to the university until you can afford your education. Drop out a semester, go to work, earn enough money and resume your studies. Yes, it will take longer to finish a degree but you will save yourself from the Fire.

We hear stories of people who sold their homes and other belongings who get out of Riba immediately. It is tough, but possible. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ease our task and always bring our provision from the halal resources, ameen.

-Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala does not say: O You who is already in a Riba transaction, give up after five or ten years. We must pay heed to this warning because the next ayah is terrifying.

[Should he go for an interest-based mortgage if that is cheaper than renting?]

Ayah 279 – Riba Constitutes War against Allah SWT and The Messenger

The word fadhanu [فَأْذَنُوا] is from the root letters hamza-dhal-noon and it means “to allow, to permit, to order, be informed, advised, notification or announcement.” The word athan is from the same root.

The word ruūsu [رُءُوسُ] is from the root letters ra-hamza-seen and it is used to denote different things. It can be used for “the head, a chief or command,” and even “capital or principal of money.” In the ayah, it means capital or principal.

Ibn ‘Abbas commented that it means, “Be sure of a war from Allah and His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” He also said that on the Day of Resurrection, those who eat Riba will be told to take up arms for war. Whoever kept dealing with Riba and did not refrain from it, then the Muslim leader should require him to repent.

[Benefitting from a house that was built with an interest-based loan]

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “But if you repent, you may have your principal – (thus) you do not wrong, nor are you wronged.” It means that the original capital will not diminish. Rather, the creditor will receive only what he lent without increase or decrease. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that ‘Amr ibn Al-Ahwas said, “The Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave a speech during the Farewell Hajj saying,

أَلَا إِنَّ كُلَّ رِبًا كَانَ فِي الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ، مَوْضُوعٌ عَنْكُمْ كُلُّهُ، لَكُمْ رُؤُوسُ أَمْوَالِكُم لَا تَظْلِمُونَ وَلَاتُظْلَمُونَ، وَأَوَّلُ رِبًا مَوْضُوعٍ، رِبَا الْعَبَّاسِ بْنِ عَبْدِالْمُطَّلِبِ مَوْضُوعٌ كُلُّه

“Verily, every case of Riba from the Jahiliyyah [days of ignorance] is completely annulled. You will only take back your capital, without increase or decrease. The first Riba that I annul is the Riba of Al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib, all of it is annulled.”


Can we visualize this happening on the Day of Judgment? Do we have the courage to take arms against Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam? And yet, we believe that our situation is unique. We have to buy a house. We have to take a loan on Riba. Do we think that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala doesn’t know our state? He knows our situation, He placed us in this situation, can’t we be patient?

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 278-279

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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