Quran Explains Riba
S J Tubrazy
In the Qur’an the word riba literally means:
(i) to grow, e.g.
“And thou beholdest the earth barren, then when We send down water upon it, it quickens and grows ….:’ (XXII:5);
(ii) to increase; to prosper;
“rod destroy’s riba, but makes alms prosper” (II: 276);
“And whatever you invest in riba so that it may increase upon the people’s wealth, it increases not with God;” (XXX: 39);
(iii) to rise (for example of a hill), as
“And We gave them refuge upon a height………..” (XXIII:50);
“As the likeness of a garden upon a hill……………” (11:265);
(iv) to swell (for example, foam), as
“Then the torrent carried a swelling scum;” (XIII:17);
(v) to nurture; to raise (a child); as
“My Lord, have mercy upon them (i.e. my parents) as they raised me up when I was little; (XVII:24);
“Did we not raise thee amongst us as a child?” (XXVI: 18):
(vi) augmentation, increase in power, etc., as
“He seized them with a surpassing grip …. ” (LXIX:10);
“That one nation be more powerful than another nation ….” (XVI:92).
According to the above Qur’anic illustrations, the literal meaning of riba is, `increase’. In Shari’ah it means “an addition, however slight, over and above the principal”, and thus includes both usury and interest. (See: Lanes’s Arabic–English Lexicon).