Riba (interest) and Doctrine of Necessity

2_2752[1]Some appellants (to the permissibility of Riba' in modern times) have tried to attract the doctrine of necessity to the case of riba. Mr. Siddiq AlFarooq, the Managing Director of House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC) argued that the Holy Qur’an has allowed even to eat pork in the case of extreme hunger to save one’s life. The argument of some appellant was that the interest-based system has now become a universal necessity and no country can live without it.

Interest is no doubt prohibited by the Holy Qur’an but to implement this prohibition on countrywide level may be a suicidal act which may shatter the whole economy, therefore, it should not be declared as repugnant to the injunctions of Islam. Some appellants have argued that the whole world today is turning into a global village and no country can survive in seclusion, especially, our country which is drowned in debts and its most development projects depend chiefly on the foreign loans based on interest. Once the prohibition of interest is enforced at a whole-sale basis all the development projects will breath their last and the whole economy will face a sudden collapse.

We (The Sharʿī scholars) have given due attention to this line of argument and examined this aspect seriously with the assistance of a number of economists, bankers and professional practitioners. No doubt, Islam is a realistic religion and it never binds an individual or a State with a command, the implementation of which is beyond its control. The doctrine of necessity is one of the doctrines enshrined and developed by the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah and expounded by the Muslim jurists. It is rightly pointed out by Mr. Siddiq AlFarooq that the Holy Qur’an has allowed even to eat pork in a case of extreme hunger where the life of a human being cannot be saved without it. But the doctrine of necessity in Islam is not an obscure concept. There are certain criteria expounded by the Muslim jurists in the light of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah to determine the magnitude of necessity and the extent to which a Qur’anic command can be relaxed on the basis of an emergent situation.

Therefore, before deciding an issue on the basis of necessity one must make sure that the necessity is real and not exaggerated by imaginary apprehensions and that the necessity cannot be met with by any other means than committing an impermissible act. When we analyze the case of interest in the light of the above principles we are of the firm view that there is a great deal of exaggeration in the apprehension that the elimination of interest will lead the economy to collapse. For a realistic analysis we will have to consider the domestic transactions and the foreign transactions separately.

[This is an excerpt from the book "The Text of the Historic Judgment on Interest Given by the Supreme Court of Pakistan" which can be read here : http://www.qafila.org/the-text-of-the-historic-judgment-on-interest-given-by-the-supreme-court-of-pakistan/]

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