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Surah Al Baqra Verses 271-280

271 If ye disclose (acts of) charity even so it is well but if ye conceal them and make them reach those (really) in need that is best for you: it will remove from you some of your (stains of) evil. And Allah is well acquainted with what ye do. 319

272 It is not required of thee (O Apostles) to set them on the right path but Allah sets on the right path whom He pleaseth. Whatever of good ye give benefits your own souls and ye shall only do so seeking the "Face" of Allah. Whatever good ye give, shall be rendered back to you and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly. 320 321

273 (Charity is) for those in need who in Allah's cause are restricted (from travel) and cannot move about in the land seeking (for trade or work). The ignorant man thinks because of their modesty that they are free from want. Thou shalt know them by their (unfailing) mark: they beg not importunately from all and sundry. And whatever of good ye give be assured Allah knoweth it well. 322

274 Those who (in charity) spend of their goods by night and by day in secret and in public have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve. 323

275 Those who devour usury will not stand except as stands one whom the Evil One by his touch hath driven to madness. That is because they say: "Trade is like usury but Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury. 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 the fire: they will abide therein (for ever). 324 325 326

276 Allah will deprive usury of all blessing but will give increase for deeds of charity: for He loveth not creatures ungrateful and wicked.

277 Those who believe and do deeds of righteousness and establish regular prayers and regular charity will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve. 327

278 O ye who believe! fear Allah and give up what remains of your demand for usury if ye are indeed believers.

279 If ye do it not take notice of war from Allah and his Apostle: but if ye turn back ye shall have your capital sums; deal not unjustly and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly. 328

280 If the debtor is in a difficulty grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if ye remit if by way of charity that is best for you if ye only knew.


Commentry:

319 It is better to seek no publicity in charity. But if it is known there is no harm. If it is for public purposes, it must necessarily be known, and a pedantic show of concealment may itself be a fault. The harm of publicity lies in motives of ostentation. We can better reach the really deserving poor by quietly seeking for them. The spiritual benefit enures to our own souls, provided our motives are pure, and we are really seeking the good pleasure of God. (2.271)

320 In connection with charity this means that we must relieve those really in need, whether they are good or bad, on the right path or not, Muslims or otherwise. It is not for us to judge in these matters. God will give light according to His wisdom. Incidentally it adds a further meaning to the command, "Let there be no compulsion in religion" (ii 256). For compulsion may not only be by force, but by economic necessity. In matters of religion we must not even compel by a bribe of charity. The chief motive in charity should be God's pleasure and our own spiritual good. This was addressed in the first instance to Mustafa in Medina, but it is of universal application. (2.272)

321 See note to ii 112. Wajh means literally: face, countenance; hence, favour, glory, Self, Presence. (2.272)

322 Indiscriminate acts of so-called charity are condemned as they may do more harm than good (see ii 262). The real beneficiaries of charity are here indicated. They must be in want. And the want must be due to some honorable cause. For example, they may be doing some unpaid service, such as teaching, or acquiring knowledge or skill, or be in exile for their faith, or in other ways be prevented from seeking employment or doing strenuous work. "God's cause" must not be narrowly interpreted. All sincere and real service to humanity comes within the definition. Such men do not beg from door to door. It is the duty of those who are well-to-do, or of the Public Purse, to find them out. (2.273)

323 We recapitulate the beauty of charity (i.e. unselfish giving of one's self or one's goods) before we come to its opposite, i.e. the selfish grasping greed of usury against those in need or distress. Charity instead of impoverishing you will enrich you; you will have more happiness and less fear. Contrast it with what follows, - the degredation of the grasping usurer. (2.274)

324 Usury is condemned and prohibited in the strongest possible terms. There can be no question about the prohibition. When we come to the definition of Usury there is room for difference of opinion. Hadhrat 'Umar, according to Ibn Kathir, felt some difficulty in the matter, as the Apostle left this world before the details of the question were settled. This was one of the three questions on which he wished he had more light from the Prophet. Our 'Ulama, ancient and modern, have worked out a great body of literature on Usury, based mainly on economic conditions as they existed at the rise of Islam. (2.275)

325 An apt simile: whereas legitimate trade or industry increases the prosperity and stability of men and nations, a dependence on Usury would merely encourage a race of idlers, cruel blood-suckers, and worthless fellows who do not know their own good and are therefore akin to madmen. (2.275)

326 Owing to the fact that interest occupies a central position in modern economic life, and specially since interest is the very life blood of the existing financial institutions, a number of Muslims have been inclined to interpret it in a manner which is radically different from the understanding of Muslim scholars throughout the last fourteen centuries and is also sharply in conflict with the categorical statements of the Prophet (peace be on him). According to Islamic teachings any excess on the capital is riba (interest). Islam accepts no distinction, in so far as prohibition is concerned, between reasonable and exorbitant rates of interest, and thus what came to be regarded as the difference between usury and interest; nor between returns on bonus for consumption and those for production purposes and so on. (2.275)

327 The contrast between charity and unlawful grasping of wealth began at ii. 274, where this phrase occurs as a theme. Here the theme finishes with the same phrase. The following four verses refer to further concessions on behalf of debtors, as creditors are asked to (a) give up even claims arising out of the past on account of usury, and (b) give time for payment of capital if necessary, or (c) to write off the debt altogether as an act of charity. (2.277)

328 This is not war for opinions, but an ultimatum of war for the liberation of debtors unjustly dealt with and oppressed. (2.279)

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