LAHORE -  Ulema believe Federal Shariat Court is taking up the same issue of Riba and interest which the apex court and the Shariat Appellate Bench had already decided decades ago after a threadbare discussion.

They say the current bench of Federal Shariat Court is still hearing the Riba case, so its observations cannot be termed a final verdict. Yet the point that riba and interest need to be redefined to know what they separately mean is nothing but a move to re-agitate the fundamental questions which the apex judiciary had addressed at various stages since 1992. As to the proposition about the relevance of Riba-free economic system to the centuries-old Islamic era only and giving ‘interest’ an overriding power on Riba by treating both the words in different connotations, ulema say the past decisions on the issue had also provided an answer to it and presented formula and mechanism to make the system Riba-free. Now the questions are being raised again to avoid implementation of what has already been said. They say it appears it has been schemed to continue with interest-based system and render the previous decisions against Riba ineffective.

Allama Zubair Ahmad Zaheer of Markazi Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadith said that after Riba has been declared Haram by the Quran and Sunnah and the constitution of Pakistan has also held that no law repugnant to the commands of the Quran and Sunnah could be enforced in the country. He added Council for Islamic Ideology has also stated that giving any other definition to Riba is absolutely unacceptable and amounts to transgression. He said Islamic laws and principles are for all times and ages, so there is no room for anyone to say that they related to a specific time and era. He said Riba was prohibited when even individuals exploited others and today the banks and other financial institutions are exploiting the people at a much bigger scale than in the past, so need to abolish Riba is more pressing today. Allama Zubair said that riba and interest have the same meanings and effects and under any nomenclature they are not acceptable. He said a conspiracy is being hatched to continue with the interest/riba-based economic system and bypass the Quranic injunctions and the past decisions on this count. He warned ulema will resist this move.

Head of Tanzeem-e-Islami, Hafiz Aqif Saeed, is of firm opinion that all such questions being raised during the FSC hearing after 15 years are already settled. He said when the superior judiciary has passed the decision and only a limited scope of review was left with the government, the case is once again being tried to hamper the implementation of the constitutional provision which says no law in the country could be made repugnant to the injunctions of the Quran and Sunnah. Once the Quran has declared riba haram (forbidden), no room is left for enforcing the same under any other nomenclature, he said, adding riba and interest are the same.

Hafiz Aqif, without prejudice to the court proceedings, says Jews’ monetary interests would be badly hit if riba-free banking and trade system is adopted anywhere in the world. Pakistan is also a target of the Jewish system and our rulers want to adhere to it, which amounts to their ill will about introducing riba-free economic system, he added.

Shia scholar Allama Syed Ali Naqi, presenting the point of view of his sect, says riba is forbidden only if it is received taking advantage of the compulsion of a person otherwise there is no harm in accepting it. It is not allowed when the transaction of loans is between two persons, but it is permissible when institutions like banks, money-saving departments etc pay profit or inflict loss to depositors on their money being used as modarba or mosharka, he added. He held the court can revisit the matter to find out actual meanings of riba.

Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Liaqat Baloch expressed surprise over the FSC remarks and says when the Constitution, the Council of Islamic Ideology and the FSC decisions have determined that riba is forbidden in Islam, revisiting the issue by the FSC is a matter of grave concern. He said the court is taking up the questions which can complicate the matter of making the economic system riba-free as per the injunctions of the Quran and Sunnah. Baloch said the Constitution wants the economic system to be made riba-free, which is possible even in this modern era, but the enemies of Islam do not want to let it happen in the country.