Koranic Roots of the Shari'a -- Booklet 6
WHAT A MANAGER SHOULD KNOW BEFORE CONCLUDING A BUSINESS CONTRACT WITH A MUSLIM
The later part of the Koran contains many verses that form the basis of the Muslim Sharia on business transactions. As a result, how do Muslims view contracts with other Muslims as opposed to Non-Muslims? Why are oaths so important in Muslim business deals and what happens according to the Koran if such oaths are broken? Are Muslims allowed to take interest on money lent to others? How does the fundamental attitude of Christ to money differ from that of the Koran? Find out by reading this booklet.
1. The obligatory duty to document all transactions
2. Do not betray in trading on the market
3. Do not betray each other!
4. The Institution of the two Witnesses by concluding Contract
5. Faithfulness and the Breach of Contracts
6. The Inflation of Oaths in Islam
7. Deposits and Loans
8. Muhammad's Fight against Compound Interest
9. The Call for Loans to the Bank of Heaven
10. Booty and Profit
11. You cannot serve God and Mammon!
WHAT A MANAGER SHOULD KNOW BEFORE CONCLUDING
A BUSINESS CONTRACT WITH A MUSLIM
Muhammad was a businessman. He understood life with its obligations by his experience as an Arabic merchant. In Medina he established a new social order with Bedouin wisdom and the cunning of a merchant. He formed political contracts with friends and also enemies. He planned wars and attacks to gain booty and he believed that even religion was a business with Allah.
Those who rehearse the Book of Allah, establish regular prayer, and spend (in charity) out of what we have provided for them, secretly and openly, hope for a commerce that will never fail: For he will pay them their need, nay, he will give them (even) more out of his bounty: for he is forgiving, ready to appreciate (service). (Sura Fatir 35:29-30)
Allah himself appears in the Qur'an as a merchant and as an omniscient dealer who calculates faster than the most sophisticated computer (Suras Ibrahim 14:34; al-Nahl 16:18; Maryam 19:94; al-Mujadila 58:6; al-Jinn 72:28 among others). He would account all deeds and words of man (Suras al-Kahf 18:49; al-Naba' 78:27-29). In the Last Judgement big "scales" would be erected on which the good and the bad deeds of every person would be weighed against another (Suras al-A'raf 7:8-9; al-Mu'minun 23:102-103; al-Shura 42:17 among others).
In the Qur'an we can read strange words: Truly, Allah has bought the souls of the believers and their property, so that they would gain paradise. Therefore they fight for Allah, they kill and will be killed on the basis a promise in the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur'an. Who will be more faithful in the fulfillment of his covenant (sales contract) than Allah? Therefore rejoice over your sale, that you concluded with him (Allah). That is the supreme achievement. (Sura al-Tawba 9:111).
This verse reveals Muhammad's thinking: He understood faith, gifts and self-sacrifice of the Muslim's in the Holy War as the fulfillment of a sales contract with Allah. To win paradise they have to kill the enemies of the Muslims or be killed themselves. In this matter Muhammad misunderstood the Gospel. In it we read that God redeemed sinners from their slavery of sin by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. But in the Gospel it is God who paid the price with the blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 1 Peter 1:18-19 among others). In Islam the Muslims must pay with their own blood or with foreign blood the entrance fee to paradise! The Qur'an proclaims the opposite of the Gospel and offers only self-righteousness based on good deeds.
Muhammad understood religion as a profitable service for Allah: Anyone who pays will get something. But the one who pays nothing will get nothing! Whoever works for Allah will receive a salary. But the one who does not work for Allah will get nothing! The Islam calls people to serve and sacrifice for Allah in order to win paradise through their own activities. Grace only would seem to Muhammad as a mistake. For him mere forgiveness would be unjust because every guilt must be revenged or atoned for. He did not understand the never ending peace-offering of Christ which he intentionally rejected.
Whoever wants to make a business contract with Muslims today should realize that he enters into a strange culture in which the principles of the Gospel are no longer valid. Heaven and earth seem to be parts of a great loan from Allah to the Muslims.
1. The obligatory duty to document all transactions
Because life in Muhammad's imagination was nothing but a commercial transaction between the creator and his creation, therefore each payment in this world appears to him as a part of this great deal under Allah's supervision.
Each small or big transaction must be written and countersigned by two male witnesses (Muslims). One generation ago several Muslim businessmen could not read or write. They were unable to control what was actually written in a contract. There was much uncertainty and distrust in the atmosphere of such transactions. So it was and it is still important to select a very reliable writer. Muhammad who in the beginning of his religious service also could hardly read and write (Sura al-A'raf 7:157-158) gives a detailed obligation for trading in the Islamic world.
002.282 O you who believe! When you deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time, reduce them to writing! Let a scribe write down faithfully as between the parties; let not the scribe refuse to write; as God Has taught him (the art of writing), so let him write. Let him who incurs the liability dictate, let him fear His Lord Allah, and not diminish anything of what he owes. If the party liable is mentally deficient, or weak, or unable himself to dictate, let his guardian dictate faithfully ... Disdain not to reduce to writing any amount for a future period, whether it be small or big. In this way it is in better order with Allah, more suitable as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves ... (Sura al-Baqara 2:282a+c)
This duty of documentation is valid for each transaction of goods and money which will last longer than one day. Transactions which will be fulfilled on the same day must not be documented. This contractual duty includes goods, money, loans, testaments (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:106) and the possession of orphans (Sura al-Nisa' 4:2,6; al-An'am 6:152; al-Isra' 17:34; Fussilat 41:10 among others). It includes also the distribution of heritage (Sura al-Nisa' 4:2) and the payment of blood money instead of revenge (Sura al-Nisa' 4:92). The ransom to free Muslim slaves (Sura al-Nur 24:33) and the distribution of war booty has also to be fixed in writing to exclude later demands and conflicts (Sura al-Hashr 59:71). Even marriage contracts must be documented and countersigned by two representatives of the two clans, otherwise the marriage will not be legal. As long as there is no written contract no promise or agreement will be binding. Also payments in case of divorce or for widows must be documented legally (Sura al-Talaq 65:2-3).
2. Do not betray in trading on the market
Muhammad said several times to his Muslims: Give full measure when you measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight; that is the most fitting and the most advantageous in the final determination. (Sura al-Isra' 17:35; see also Suras al-A'raf 7:85; al-Shu'ara' 26:181-183; al-Rahman 55:8)
The quality of goods sold should correspond to the amount paid. However, the buyer himself has to prove the quality of the goods. Only modern shops offer their goods with fixed prices. On the market the buyer should bargain with the sellers. He should inform himself about the current prices. These methods are not fully fit to the prices of the super markets, but it is useful to compare the prices of the different super markets because the price difference can be high. There are in several Muslim countries no controls on prices or goods except on bread which in some states is subsidized by the government. Competition only lowers the prices! The principle of supply and demand sets the price. In times of severe crisis the prices can rise up like skyrockets!
3. Do not betray each other!
Muhammad knew his followers. He worked longer than twenty years as a leading merchant in the old trading town Mecca. Therefore he told his Muslims often not to take advantage of each other.
O you who believe! Do not eat up your reciprocal property in an unjust manner, except it be business that you concluded in mutual agreement. And do not kill (or destroy) yourselves. Truly Allah has been merciful to you! Whoever does this in rancor and injustice, we shall burn (or barbecue) him on fire. For Allah this is an easy matter. (Sura al-Nisa' 4:29-30; see Sura al-Baqara 2:188)
However, this repeated order for honest dealing is only valid in connection with other Muslims! Animists, Jews and Christians are not under Allah's protection. Especially foreigners are welcomed victims of Muslim merchants. In the morning when an European looked fascinated to the pyramids of Gizeh a tourist guide whispers: Allah, I thank you for giving me a foreigner! This visitor did not know anything about the prices and the local habits, so the tourist guide could take advantage of him. In many shops and boutiques will be found two price classes: the lower one for the local people and the higher one for the foreigners. The Muslims contemplate: These tourists spend a lot of money for their flights, there should also some of their money come to me! When a foreign guest visits for the first time a Muslim country, he should be accompanied by a local Christian for not to be cheated if he goes shopping.
For many Muslims the principles of the Holy War also apply for dealing with foreigners. Muhammad said sometimes: "War is betrayal!" Since the Muslims are in war with all non-Muslims – according to their Shari'a - they also consider trade as a part of this religious conflict. In the Holy War lying is legal. Muslims can sell bad goods for high prices with a very good conscience. The buyer by himself is guilty if he pays the high prices. Cunning can be a service for Allah! With good reason is written in the Qur'an:
They were deceitful and Allah was deceitful and Allah is the best deceiver! (Suras Al 'Imran 3:54; al-Anfal 8:30)
This verse means: The Jews planned to kill 'Isa, the son of Mary. But Allah would ward off them by cunning and rescued him out of the Jew's hands! In the Islam Allah is the most tricky one who saved Jesus from dying on the cross! Here we see the source of all cunning and lying in the Islam: You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me (John 8:44-45). The Qur'an outbids this statement and says: The pretenders deceive Allah and he also deceives them! (Sura al-Nisa' 4:142) We should not wonder if those who devoted themselves to Allah will be filled by his spirit!
Not all Muslims live as the Qur'an says. Many are honest and reliable persons. If we meet them we should recognize what their attitude is. Muslim managers often trust foreign Christians more than their own people. They know that these foreigners will not betray them. They keep their promises. The Muslims examine the foreigners who come to them and notice quickly who is a trustworthy businessman and who not. In Islam commercial contacts need mutual trust too! But fancy offers with untrue suspicions on other firms and unfair competition of speculating companies from west and east create a skeptical restraint. The distrust of the Islamic merchants to westerners and easterners is already great and increases by ruthless methods of foreign companies. However, Christian managers have an invisible plus which the world does not know: The Spirit of truth (John 16:13-15). In the long run truth and solid work will overcome distrust and suspicions also in the countries of deserts and sands.
4. The Institution of the two Witnesses by concluding Contract
After such a background information it is obvious why Muhammad wanted that every transaction of money and goods has to be signed by two witnesses. The choice of the witnesses and their service represent an institution and an affair of honour in the Islamic society. In an already quoted verse of the Qur'an we can read:
... And get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as you choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her. The witnesses should not refuse when they are called on (for evidence). ... Take witnesses whenever you make a commercial contract; and neither scribe nor witness should be harassed. If you do (such harassment), it would be wickedness for you. So fear Allah! Allah teaches you what is right. ... Do not conceal evidence; for whoever conceals it, his heart is full of wickedness. Allah knows what you do. (Sura al-Baqara 2:282b and 282d and 283)
From another commandment of Allah we can see how dangerous the witness' service can be:
Those who launch a charge (of adultery) against chaste women and cannot produce four witnesses (to support their allegations): Flog them with eighty lashes and reject their evidence ever after. Such men are wicked transgressors. (Sura al-Nur 24:4, 13-16)
In the Islam a testimony should be always real and true. For Allah's sake the witnesses shall advocate justice. Their testimony may not be influenced by hate or aversion.
O you who believe! Be strict in details (concerning what really happened) as witnesses to Allah, even when (your witness) is (directed) against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin. Whether it be (against) rich or poor, Allah is more important than both. Do not follow your own inclination (opinion) instead of the just testimony. If you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, then, indeed, Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. (Sura al-Nisa' 4:135)
According to the Qur'an pious witnesses will stand in the day of the Last Judgement on a higher level than other believers (Sura al-Baqara 2:212). They may be attacked sometimes by heirs or business partners who feel handicapped so that the witnesses can be oppressed or threatened with death.
5. Faithfulness and the Breach of Contracts
Believing Muslims value a contract for sale or about marriage high if it is confirmed by two acknowledged Muslims. In the Qur'an the covenant of Allah with people is the Old and the New Testament called by the same word ( 'ahd) as every sales contract.
Islam considers those as pious people who believe in the six articles of faith (Allah, his angels, his books, his ambassadors, his predestination and the resurrection for judgement), who spend their money for Allah and if necessary give it away (to relatives, the poor, guests, soldiers and beggars or to free Muslim slaves). Also the five daily prayers, the religious tax and keeping contracts and obligations belong to the basic duties of a believer (Sura al-Baqara 2:177).
In this list of Islamic duties ranges faithfulness in keeping contracts equally with the other laws and ethics. This shows again that Muhammad was a merchant and in his understanding of heaven and hell Allah was a merchant who considered people as his slaves or as partners in contract. This appears in the following words:
Fulfil the covenant ('ahd) of Allah when you have concluded a contract (in his name). And do not break your oaths after you have (officially) confirmed them; You have set Allah as a guarantor against yourselves. Truly, Allah knows what you do. (Sura al-Nahl 16:91)
The Qur'an also says:
And proclaim a painful torture to those who are infidels, except those of the pagans (polytheists) with whom you have concluded contracts, who have not subsequently failed you in anything nor aided any one against you. So fulfil your obligations towards them to the end of the term (of the agreement). Allah loves the righteous (who fulfill their contracts with precision). (Sura al-Tawba 9:3c and 4)
This verse is a passage in Muhammad's declaration of war against the animistic merchants of Mecca (Sura al-Tawba 9:1-6). He declared them a merciless fight, except to such partners who fulfilled exactly their obligations towards the Muslims: Kill the pagans wherever you find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and set up every (conceivable) ambush against them! (Sura al-Tawba 9:5b) Muhammad said that in case of keeping their contracts polytheists can be tolerated! Faithfulness in business appears in the Qur'an as a good deed for justification!
But woe to all who break their contracts! Muhammad used impossible phrases when he spoke about non-Muslims who broke their contracts:
Truly, the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are the infidels, for they do not believe (in Islam), especially those with whom you concluded a contract, but they break their contract ('ahd) every time! They do not fear God. If you capture them in war, then either disperse, with them, those who come after them (by treating with great cruelty) - perhaps they will be warned - or, if you fear treachery from a group, throw back (their contract) to them, (so as to be) on equal terms. Truly, Allah does not love the treacherous. (Sura al-Anfal 8:55-58)
The interpreters write that defaulters of contracts should be be punished and if they repeatedly default they must be eradicated by torture. However, if a Muslim feels or notices that his contract partner intends to break the contract he should ward him off and break immediately the contract himself! This rule depends not on a concrete breaking of a contract, but on the supposition that the contract partner maybe could intent to break the contract! The supposition alone gives a Muslim the right to break his legally signed contract.
Muhammad comprehends the Qur'anic opinion about breaking of contract in the following words:
Those who tear down the covenant of Allah, after having concluded it, and those who break what Allah has commanded and work mischief in the land, on them rests the curse (al Allah). The worst abode (in Hell) awaits them! (Sura al-Ra'd 13:25)
Their punishment is described in detail in Sura al-Ma'ida 5:33.
6. The Inflation of Oaths in Islam
In the Islamic world oaths and vows are important for all business arrangements, marriage contracts, testaments, last will cases and orphan payments.
However, oaths are often an indication that no one trusts the other fully. So the oath should overcome the doubts.
Sometimes the one who swears is in himself not sure about his own standpoint. So he wants to overcome his uncertainty by swearing. In the Islamic world an oath is often a sign for a suspect matter. However, in the Qur'an Muhammad speaks about positive real oaths, but fights against hasty oaths. Several times he forbids to swear emotionally by Allah. In case of disputes a hasty oath should not avoid the possibility of reconciliation (Sura al-Baqara 2:224).
In agreement with all Islamic teachers he asserts: Allah will not call you to account for the empty talk in your oaths, but he will call you to account for that which your hearts have gained. And Allah is forgiving and forbearing. (Sura al-Baqara 2:225)
Here we see a week point in many Muslims. In excitement they swear quickly never to do again, what they afterwards regret, but hesitate to do it again, for they are bound by their oath. Muhammad said that Allah will not take hasty oaths serious, but searches the heart's intention.
But Jesus commanded: Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. (Matthew 5:33-37)
Also it is written: But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your 'Yes,' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No,' lest you fall into judgment. (James 5:12)
Further on Jesus said: But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:36-37)
Such commandments are totally unknown in the Islamic world. There is no spirit of truth. Muslims try to substitute him by their many oaths.
Muhammad dictated that at the opening of a last will not only the blood-relatives should be paid off. Also those who had received a promise based on an oath should be paid off! Allah would be the witness over all (Sura al-Nisa' 4:33).
The Qur'an distinguishes between emotional hasty oaths concerning the future and conscious oaths about facts in the past or concerning contracts which were concluded in Allah's name.
Fulfil the contract ('ahd) of Allah, that you have concluded, and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them, since you have made Allah your guarantor. Allah knows what you do. (Sura al-Nahl 16:91)
All Islamic Shari'a-schools see in this verse the corner-stone of the Islamic commercial law and a base of all religious, commercial, social and political contracts - if they were concluded in the name of Allah! In this case Allah would be the witness, guarantor and judge over the contract partners! Only treaties which were concluded between Muslims fall under this religious guarantee because non-Muslims do not believe in Allah nor can they swear in his name, except if they become Muslims too.
However, if a conscious oath will be broken, Muhammad in the Qur'an has already prepared a way for expiation: Allah will not call you to account for what is futile in your oaths, but he will call you to account for (contracts that you concluded with) your deliberate oaths. (He who breaks such a contract must offer the following) as an expiation: feed ten indigent persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths you have sworn. But keep to your oaths. In this way Allah will show you his signs. Maybe you will be grateful. (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:89)
In Islam not only emotional oaths are excusable, also broken conscious oaths can be excused by expiation. Conscious feeling of guilt towards Allah or the contract partner is not considered. Also reparation for the contract partner is not mentioned. The expiation of the one who broke his oath will calm his conscience.
Some Muslims claim that such an expiation would only be necessary if they broke their oath towards a Muslim contract partner, but never towards an unbeliever! He is already cursed by Allah who had decided Holy War against him. A broken contract towards an unbeliever can be considered as a part of the punishment which he deserves because of his rejecting Islam.
Another example for the inflation of oaths in the Islamic world is given in the following verses of the Qur'an:
O you who believe! When death approaches any of you, (take) witnesses among yourselves when making a testament: two just men of your own (brotherhood) or others from outside if you are journeying through the earth, and the chance of death befalls you (thus). If you doubt (their truth), detain them both after prayer, and let them both swear by Allah: "We wish not in this for any worldly gain, even though the (beneficiary) be our near relation; we shall hide not the evidence before Allah. If we do, then behold, the sin be upon us!" - But if it gets known that these two were guilty of the sin (of perjury), let two others stand forth in their places: nearest in kin from among those who claim a lawful right. Let them swear by Allah: "We affirm that our witness is truer than that of those two, and that we have not trespassed (beyond the truth). If we did, behold, the wrong be upon us!" - That is most suitable, that they may give the evidence in its true nature and shape, or else they would fear that other oaths would be taken after their oaths. But fear Allah, and listen (to his counsel), for Allah does not guide a people rebellious. (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:106-108)
After this waterfall of oaths another example from the Qur'an can show the little value of oaths in Islam:
And for those who launch a charge against their spouses, and do not have (in support) the evidence of (four) eye-witnesses: their solitary evidence (can be received) if they bear witness four times (with an oath) by Allah that they are solemnly telling the truth. - And the fifth (oath) (should be) that they solemnly invoke the curse of Allah on themselves if they tell a lie. - But it would avert the punishment from the wife, if she bears witness four times (with an oath) by Allah, that (her husband) is telling a lie; - and the fifth (oath) should be that she solemnly invokes the wrath of Allah on herself if (her accuser) is telling the truth. (Sura al-Nur 24:6-9)
Whoever contemplates in these attempts to prove lies as truth before Allah can get sick! The inflation of oaths in Islam only tries to cover an abyss of lies and deception. No doubt, there are honest Muslims, but the Qur'an itself witnesses against the spirit of their society and prepares the way for hypocrites to forge their own kind of justice. In this attempt they carelessly use the method of cursing themselves. There is no call for repentance as by Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5-7) and no mentioning of the sinner's reconciliation with Allah! All will go on as it was. In Islam there is no spiritual renewal of head and limbs through the Holy Spirit with his truth and grace.
How could such a conversion come when Muhammad himself broke his oath after a special command of Allah to define this perfidious method as a legal way for all Muslims?
O Prophet! Why do you hold to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to you? You (only) seek to please your consorts. But Allah is forgiving and merciful. - Allah has ordained for you, (O men), the dissolution of your oaths. Allah is your protector. He is the one who has knowledge and wisdom. (Sura al-Tahrim 66:1-2)
While Hafsa, one of the wives of Muhammad, was absent, he had sexual intercourse in her room with one of his slave girls. But Hafsa came back earlier and found her husband and her slave in her bed. Hafsa wept bitterly. Aischa, Muhammad's youngest wife, supported Hafsa. These two teenage-women of Muhammad waited outside until their husband came out. Then they tried to persuade him never to do this again. Muhammad wanted to silence them and have peace in his harem. So he swore in front of them never to do this again.
Later Muhammad regretted his hasty oath which he had uttered because of their urging. So Allah "revealed" to him that he was not entitled to give up his right to his slave girls, because a change in the law of slavery would have caused a riot in his Islamic society. For this principle "Allah" commanded him - and all other Muslims - to break all their emotional hasty oaths, which deal with future happenings!
In this text we read nothing about sanctions. But the Islamic jurists inserted them in their laws according to other Suras and traditions of Muhammad.
It remains a reality that even for Muhammad himself an oath was not binding basically. What then should be expected from his followers? A river does not rise higher than the source of its spring.
However, not all faithfulness and reliability of Muslims has ended! From former times there still exist principles of hospitality. Out of pre-Islamic Bedouin customs originate faithfulness, kindness and boldness which sometimes amaze or embarrass us. These customs shimmer also in the Qur'an.
7. Deposits and Loans
Allah commands you to give back your deposits (amānāt) to those to whom they are due. When you judge between man and man, then judge with justice. How excellent is what Allah preaches to you. He hears and sees all things. (Suras al-Nisa' 4:58; al-Baqara 2:283)
In a dark oracle Allah himself (apparently) offers the Qur'an, Islam, the Shari'a and everything else as a deposit with dramatic words to man. Allah is supposed to have said:
Indeed we have offered the Deposit (al-amāna) to the heavens and the earth and the mountains; but they refused to carry it, being afraid thereof. But man shouldered it; indeed he is unjust and foolish. - Thus Allah punishes the hypocrites, men and women, and the polytheists, men and women, and Allah turns to the believers, men and women. Allah is forgiving and merciful. (Sura al-Ahzab 33:72, 73)
Also these mysterious words were put forward in a merchant's language.
Two important verses of the Qur'an (Sura al-Baqara 2:282-283) which sum up all transactions in the business activities of the Muslims say that also loans and debts must be documented, countersigned by two witnesses and paid back after the expiration of the term without interests. In place of interest offers the Shari'a the money lender a participation in the profit or the deficit. This order was not yet developed fully in the time of Muhammad. It was specified later by the Qur'an jurists. However, in the book of the Muslims we can read:
280 If a debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if you remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if you only knew. 281 And fear the Day when you will be brought back to Allah. Then every soul shall be paid what it earned (through donations), and they shall not be dealt with unjustly. (Sura al-Baqara 2:280-281)
8. Muhammad's Fight against Compound Interest
Muhammad was an experienced merchant and knew from his time in Mecca all rules, traps and problems of money matter. In Medina he met rich Jews and knew everyone who lent money on high interest. Muslims, too, participated in this bad habit. Without own work they extracted money from those who lent it. Muhammad noticed that by this way the rich became more rich and the poor became more poor. Even the poor utilized the poorest in order to pay their compound interest. Therefore Muhammad declared his Holy War against all who lent money on interest!
275 Those who devour (the money of others with compounded) interest will not stand (at the day of judgement) except as those stand whom Satan has beaten to madness. That is because they say: "Trading (with a profit) is like taking interest!" However, Allah has permitted trade (with a profit) and forbidden taking interest (on capital). Those who after receiving direction from their Lord, desist, shall be pardoned for the past; their case is for Allah (to judge); but those who repeat (the offence) are companions of (Hell-) fire. They will abide therein (for ever). 276 Allah will stamp out interest (on earthly capital), but will accord interest on (the capital of) donations (given by way of charity). Indeed Allah does not love any guilty infidel. 277 Those who believe, perform good deeds, observe prayers and donate, will have their wage with their Lord. No fear shall be on them, nor shall they be sad. 278 O you who believe! Fear Allah, and give up what still is among you from taking interest, if indeed you are believers. 279 If you do not do this, then war from Allah and his Messenger is declared agianst you. But if you repent, your capital sums are still yours. (Thus) you do not deal unjustly, and you are not dealt with unjustly. (Sura al-Baqara 2:275-279)
Muhammad continued his preaching against compound interest:
O you who believe! Do not devour (the money of others with) doubled and multiplied interest, but fear Allah. Maybe you will prosper. (Sura Al 'Imran 3:130)
Do not mutually eat up your monies (by taking compound interest), nor use it as bait for judges, with the intent of wrongfully and knowingly eating up a part of (other) people's monies. (Sura al-Baqara 2:188)
9. The Call for Loans to the Bank of Heaven
Muhammad demanded a double somersault from his Muslims. He forbade them to take or to pay interest on earth, but at the same time he urged them to give a loan to the heaven's bank and promised them to receive a multiplication of their money. On earth Muhammad prohibited interest but claimed that Allah would increase it without limits!
In the beginning he declared: Allah would pay back your gifts (Suras al-Baqara 2:272; Saba' 34:39), your money in heaven is save (Sura al-Muzammil 73:20).
Later on he taught that anyone who will often contribute on behalf of Allah's religion, would receive a regular salary in heaven. This sounds similar to the conditions of an insurance. As much as you pay in as much you will get back in heaven by installments like pension forever (Suras al-Baqara 2:262,274,277; al-Nisa' 4:124; al-Hadid 57:7; al-Muzammil 73:20 among others).
Finally Muhammad wrote: Allah would double each loan if he is satisfied with it's amount (Suras al-Baqara 2:265; al-Nisa' 4:39-40; al-Rum 30:39 among others).
When Muhammad needed more money for increasing social needs in Medina, for battles and as supply for war widows and orphans he promised that a loan given to Allah would be multiplied several times (Suras al-Baqara 2:245,261; al-Hadid 57:10-11 and 18) .
Muhammad asked even hypocrites and Jews for donations. Their sacrifices would create for them forgiveness, expiation and purification from sins (Suras al-Baqara 2:271; al-Tawba 9:103; al-Taghabun 64:17; al-Muzammil 73:20).
Muhammad played overtures on the piano of righteousness by good deeds in the Islam! He was obligated to provide enough money for his religious group. For this aim he used every means!
10. Booty and Profit
On the Arabic peninsula there had always been much sand, stones and deserts, but only few soil, no industries and no modern infrastructure. So the trading by camel caravans was the best way for profit! However, sudden attacks on caravans were normal.
When Muhammad emigrated from Mecca he had to provide everything for about 100 refugee families in Medina. The reserves they brought with them were used up soon. His Muslims began to grumble. There was no chance to find a job. Finally, Muhammad ordered his followers to attack the caravans of the Mecca merchants since they had used or taken of the refugees' property. However, the asylum seekers in Medina did not like to attack their relatives from Mecca. But Muhammad realized: Now or never! He outwitted and drove his followers with cunning and brain washing to attacks, fights and robberies so that booty, hostages and slaves became their sustenance.
After the first attacks the captured booty was not much. Therefore Muhammad set the prisoners and hostages only free when their kin paid a high ransom, sometimes the last dinar. He knew all influential merchants in Mecca and their property, too. According to their wealth he demanded the ransom.
Another source of revenue for the Muslims were the Jewish clans in Medina who ridiculed and despised Muhammad more and more. He played off one of these clans against the other. By this he drove them away and eradicated around Medina one Jewish tribe after the other. By this way the asylum seeker of Mecca got houses and fields in Medina. The Muslims became rich by the eradication of the Jews!
Muhammad received twenty per cent (a fifth) of all booty (Sura al-Anfal 8:41) to pay the obligations of his society and the costs of his military expeditions. This part of the booty which was assigned for "Allah and his ambassador" is valid until today from the real “profit" out of all mineral resources like pearls, petroleum and natural gas. The Islamic oil exporting countries became relatively rich because the price of petroleum climbed high since 1973. This fifth of the net profit from the oil drilling pushes the renaissance of Islam forward in the whole world! Muhammad's salesman principles have a powerful effect until today!
If Muslims are partners of great companies like Daimler-Chrysler, Krupp, Fiat and Longhead they invest their surplus in the west. For a certain time the excess of oil money seemed to create paradise like a fairytale with Arabian nights. In the meantime the petrol prices sank so that the fifth of the net win decreased too: But if a war would flare up, the prices for oil will go up like skyrockets.
Many merchants from east and west and likewise politicians from all countries of the world are visiting the oil sheiks. They would be well advised if they studied the laws of the Islamic trade and armed themselves with much patience. Responsible Muslims already have recognized that they are considered world wide as notable lords. They do not wait for beginners from Europe or the USA. The competition from east and west, south and north has become fierce and regardless. High bribe money is paid. The market in the east has its own laws, customs and principles. Happy he who finds a solid native partner.
11. You cannot serve God and Mammon!
Jesus Christ did not reveal neither a commercial law nor a financial system to his congregation. He did not like to divide the inherited property to the heirs (Luke 12:13-14). He disregarded the power of money. He lived according to the word:
So he answered and said to me: 'This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts' (Zechariah 4:6).
Jesus revolutionized mankind by his meekness and his poverty. He did not introduce a religious tax. He reconciled men to God by dying instead of them on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:19). He granted the Holy Spirit to his followers and renewed them (2 Corinthians 5:17). He told them:
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).
Jesus taught his disciples to be unconcerned like children but in the same time hard working knowing that God the Almighty will take care of them. The Lord's Prayer remains the precious stone in the believer's shield of all times (Matthew 6:9-13).
When people tried Jesus for political topics he answered:
Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's (Matthew 22:21).
But to Pilate he spoke openly:
My kingdom is not of this world. ... For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice. (John 18:36a+37b).
Muhammad was a merchant. He wanted to combine Allah and the power of money. His caliphs built mighty empires. But Jesus sent out his apostles without weapons and money (Matthew 10:7-10), but bestowed his spirit on them (Acts 1:8). His love changed the attitude and the culture of a third of the world's population. But Muhammad won a fifth of the world's population for Allah with money and booty! The power of Christ remains in his precious blood and his Holy Spirit. Today both religions meet each other in all continents. Who will be stronger: Christ's spirit of humility or Muhammad's oil power? This question remains a challenge to everyone! Jesus replies:
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
Q U I Z
If you have studied this booklet carefully, you can easily answer the following questions. Whoever answers 90 percent of all questions in the different booklets of this series correctly, can obtain a certificate from our center on
in understanding the Qur'anic roots of the Shari'a of Islam
As an encouragement for his/her future services for Christ. It will be appreciated if you include the Qur'anic references in your answers.
1. What was the profession of Muhammad before he began his religious services?
2. Who was Allah considered to be according to Qur'an?
3. Where is it written in Qur'an, that religion is a secure business?
4. How does the Holy War appear as a business transaction with Allah?
5. What is the obligatory duty for every Muslim, if he starts a business transaction?
6. In which different sections of the Islamic society must this duty be applied?
7. In which cases has this duty not to be implied?
8. How remains this duty as a base for business in the Islamic society (Umma)?
9. Why did Muhammad demand in the Qur'an serveral times, that Muslims should not cheat (defraud) in their business?
10. What does it mean practically to be cheated in the market?
11. What should Muslim merchants do to avoid to cheat (or defraud) in their business?
12. Why should Muslims not take advantage of one another?
13. Will non-Muslims be treated differently in the market as the Muslims?
14. What is the source of the spirit of deceit in the Qur'an?
15. How do honest Muslims cooperate with faithful Christian merchants?
16. Why should always two Muslim male witnesses countersign every contract?
17. How did Muhammad suggest to find faithful witnesses?
18. Why can a male witness only be replaced by two Muslim ladies as witnesses?
19. What is the danger that can come over a faithful witness?
20. What is the attitude of a pious Muslim towards his signed contract?
21. What does it mean that he took Allah as guarantor for his signed contract?
22. Why did Muhammad call the unbelievers who brak their contracts "the worst animals"?
23. In which case a Muslim has the right to break his signed contract immediately?
24. What do the many oaths cover in the Islamic society?
25. Why does Allah not care about the empty talks in the swearing of Muslims?
26. What is the difference between a hasty oath and a brinding oath?
27. Which atonement should every Muslim fulfill who breaks his oath
28. In which case did Allah command Muhammad and all other Muslims to annul their oaths?
Parts seven and eight:
29. What is the basic duty for everyone who receives a loan or a deposit?
30. Why did Muhammad fight severely against every kind of interest and specially against compound interest?
31. How can an Islamic Bank function?
32. Why did Muhammad understand Islam as a deposit from Allah?
33. Why did Muhammad encourage his followers to give good loans to Allah?
34. What did he promise the donators as their reward for their donations?
35. Why did Muhammad ask even hypocrites and Jews for essential gifts to Allah?
36. Why did Muhammad attack the caravans of the merchants of Mecca?
37. How did he distribute the bounty of his raids?
38. How can Islam justify the taking of hostages?
39. What did the elimination of the Jewish settlements in Medina bring to the Muslim refugees from Mecca?
40. Which principle can we find in the book of Zechariah?
41. Why did Jesus say: "You shall not swear!"?
42. What does his statement mean: "You cannot serve God and money!"?
43. Why did Jesus not introduce religious taxes
44. Who will inherit the earth?
Every participant in this quiz is allowed to use any book at his disposition and to ask any trustworthy person known to him when answering these questions. We wait for your written answers including your full address on the papers or in your e-mail. We pray for you to Jesus, the living Lord, that He will call, send, guide, strengthen, protect and be with you every day of your life!
Yours in His service,
Servants of the Lord
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