Spiritual Goods: Faith Traditions and the Practice of Business
The Issue of Riba in Islamic Faith and Law
With the growth of Muslim economies, both at the national and international levels, the issue of riba (interest, usury) poses great difficulties. The charging or receiving of riba has been forbidden in Islam, which presents a major problem to financial institutions that charge interest. Muslim legal scholars belonging to all schools of legal thought have reinterpreted scriptural sources to accommodate drastic economic changes; practical considerations have forced Muslim groups, both of Sunni and Shi'ite persuasion, to justify interest-based banking and other institutions of finance. As a matter of religion, the status of interest is far from resolved. However, within the legal tradition, there are ethical principles like maslahah (public good) and la darar wa la dirar (no harm, no harassment) that will determine the future direction of a Muslim search for a morally responsible economy.