Sunday, December 26, 2010



President, Anjumane Himayath-Islam, Chennai


Members of the Jashn-e-Eid Committee

cordially solicit your participation

with family and friends at the


(a carnival of fun & fellowship)

with the children of Anjuman-e-Himayath-e-Islam

on Sunday, 9th January 2011

between 3.00 p.m. and 9.00 p.m.


Hon’ble Judge, Madras High Court

has kindly consented to participate and encourage

the Anjuman children between 4.30 and 5.00 p.m.

Your participation will bring joy & cheer to our young children

at the Anjuman




Tuesday, December 21, 2010




The passing away of the renowned Islamic scholar and rector of the world famous Islamic seminary Darul Uloom, Deoband, Hazrat Maulana Marghoobur Rahman sahib in the morning on Wednesday, the Islamic new year day, 1st Muharram 1432 ( 8th December 2010) in his hometown Bijnoor in Uttar Pradesh at the age of 96 is a great and irreparable loss to the community and country.

Prominent political and religious leaders Maulana Arshad Madani, Maulana Mahmood Madani, Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha K. Rahman Khan, Maulana Mohammed Salim and Maulana Abdul Khaliq Madrasi are among those innumerable people who have condoled the death of Hazrat Maulana Marghoobur Rahman sahib by expressing their shock and pointing out the great services rendered by him to the seminary, Muslim community and our country India.

It is reported by Kamran Akther in Qaumi Awaaz that Maulana Marghoobur Rahman sahib was born in 1914 in Bijnor. He went to Darul Uloom, Deoband in 1929 to get Islamic education and studied there under the guidance of Shaikhul Islam Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani and other great Ulama of that time. He graduated from Darul Uloom, Deoband in1932

He was appointed as Member Shura of Darul Uloom Deoband in1962. Later, after the Centenary Celebrations of Darul Uloom Deoband in 1982, he was assigned the post of Mohtamim (Rector/VC). He undertook the post in a critical time and served Darul Uloom in exemplary style with his God-gifted ability and insight.

He held the post of Mohtamim of Darul Uloom Deoband for about thirty years This period is bright era in the history of Darul Uloom Deoband.

Darul Uloom Deoband made extraordinary progress under his administration and it developed leaps and bounds. Numerous huge buildings constructed, the old ones were renovated, several educational departments were launched and many reforms were introduced in the education system.

V.M. Khaleelur Rahman

Monday, December 6, 2010


By V.M. Khaleelur Rahman, for

The Chennai Shia Youth organized a seminar on “Hajj – The Symbol of Universal Unity” on Saturday, 4th December 2010 in Chennai to highlight the importance of unity among Muslims based on the holy Quranic verse , surah Al-hujurath 49-10, “Surely the believers are none but brothers unto one another, so set things right between your brothers and have fear of Allah that you may be shown mercy.” It was well attended and highly successful.

Maulana Mufti Salahuddin Mohammed Ayub sahib, Chief Sunni Qazi, Tamil Nadu, Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Mehdi Khan sahib, Chief Shia Qazi, Tamil Nadu, Maulana Syed Niyaz Ahmed Jamali sahib, Principal, Jamalia Arabic College, Chennai, Maulana Mohammed Yousuf Rashaadi sahib, Imam-e-Jamaat, Masjid-e-Fidayan, Perambur, Chennai, and Maulana Ahmed Raza Khan sahib, Imam-e-Jamaat, Masjid-e-Hussainy, Perambur, Chennai were the prominent speakers who addressed the gathering stressing the need for unity among Muslims belonging to different schools of thought. The tone and tenor of the learned speakers was “the believers are but a single brotherhood”.

The speakers particularly the two Qazis said that during the Hajj pilgrimage we see the beautiful spectacle of Islamic brotherhood among the people belonging to different language, colour, culture, creed and community coming under one platform, happily and enthusiastically chanting “ Labbaika Allahumma labbaika laa shareeka laka labbaika – innal hamda wan na’mata laka wal mulka – la shareeka laka ( here I am O Allah, here I am, there is no partner for you, here I am, verily all praise for you and every bounty is from you and all domination is yours – you have no partner). There is no question of Sunni, Shia or any other sect there and all are considered just one ummah – community and this spirit should be there among all Muslims everywhere in the world. It is not proper to think that Shias and Sunnis are different people.

The Shia Qazi Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Mehdi Khan sahib made it clear that the revolution of Imam Ayatullah Khomeini (RA) is an important one which has saved not only the Muslims, but the world as a whole from some further disasters apart from the illegitimate occupation of Palestine by Israel, the U.S. invasion and brutalities perpetrated on the people of Iraq (for the non-existent so called weapons of mass destruction) and on the unfortunate people of Afghanistan (for Osama bin Laden).

He said that the history is replete with instances of the enemies of Muslims and Islam who wanted to weaken the Muslims by different tactics. He strongly emphasized that if the Muslim ummah is united as per the instructions of the holy Quran such as – waatasimoo bihablillahi jameeawn walaa tafarraqoo – hold tight to the rope of God and be not divided among yourselves – it can not only liberate their lost lands from the occupation of evil forces but also save themselves and the world from other state sponsored terrors. He wondered why a Sunni cannot pray in a Shia mosque and vice versa. The Shia Qazi also said that our maslaki differences have landed us in troubles in many countries particularly in Pakistan where even mosques are not safe from bomb attacks and actually they have become a normal phenomenon there. He was extremely sorry for all these unfortunate state of affairs and wanted all to realize their follies, settle the problems amicably and try in their own way to work for remedial measures among them for the sake of Allah and His deen –Islam. “We are all one” was the sum and substance of his power packed and highly informative speech.

The Chennai Shia Youth have shown the way for all to think that we are all Muslims first and only then Shias or Sunnis. There is an urgent need for more such meetings everywhere to inculcate the feeling of brotherhood among all sections of the Muslim community.




By V.M. Khaleelur Rahman

The Student Islamic Organisation (SIO) Tamil Nadu Zone, conducted a meeting 0n 4th December 2010 in Chennai and launched an e-library styled as ‘RANDOM COLLECTIONZ’. Mr. Sirajul Hasan, Executive editor, Samarasam, recited the Qirat – verses of the holy Quran and Mr. Umair Siddiqui, a SIO activist leader, introduced the library. While Mr. Adil Sait spoke on the importance of communicating creativity, Mr. Maqbool Ahmed Siraj delivered the lecture on the impact of media and our need to participate in it. A film covering some Muslim activities was also shown.

Mr. Umair said introducing the e-library that the access of an average man to information was limited in quantity and scope until a few years ago but today everyone could obtain any information and learn from and interact with any culture in the world which has shrunk and become more open. According to him such an abundance of information has two sides. On one hand, the majority still seem to be dumped with commercially produced movies and music with repetitive subjects. There is an overload of essentially worthless, boring, monotonous content and many have accepted and also celebrate it. On the other, more activists, writers and artistes are realizing their dreams of producing what comes from their hearts and are keen to express it.

He said that the SIO is focused on capturing useful, thoughtful and energizing content and intends to pool in all these expressive works from different parts of the world and make them available for all of us. He further said that ‘Random Collectionz’ was started with two intentions: 1) to gather, celebrate and spread the diversity of God’s beautiful creations 2) to use creative material to initiate discussion on social, political, religious themes.

He invited all to be a part of this just started electronic library and said that as the name implies, Random Collectionz is open to all kinds of information as long as it is beneficial and that loads of new collections would be added every month and frequent programmes be conducted through the library.

In the e-library at present there are over 100 audio and video lectures, over 50 documentaries, topical movies and TV shows, wide range of international authors, speakers and producers and their works, songs and music albums covering Islam, contemporary affairs, politics, social issues, spiritual and self help subjects and softwares of Quran, Tafseer, Hadees etc.

The Chief Guest senior journalist Mr. Maqbool Ahmed Siraj said that there is no alternative to “knowledge” on which there is great emphasis in the Quran and Ahadees. He regretted that we have given up the example set by the Prophet Mohammed (sal-am) and his associates and are in the darkness now when others like the Jews have made tremendous achievements in different fields of activity by attaining knowledge from different sources and using it properly. He said that the community has not made any scientific invention worth the name during the past 500 years with the result that our position is weak. One can understand the importance of divine beauties better through knowledge. He also felt and explained in detail that unless we participate effectively in the media, we cannot convince the people on our stand on various community, national and international issues which are so much dearer to us. He congratulated the SIO team for the launch of the e-library and hoped that they would go on improving it for the benefit of the people.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010



V.M. Khaleelur Rahman

The general feeling in the leather market is that there is good demand for various descriptions of goat, sheep, kip and calf leathers from both domestic and overseas buyers but the prices payable by them are unworkable. Some of the merchant-exporters who have entered into contracts for bulk quantities are finding it difficult to cover their requirements of raw, wet blue or tanned skins/hides in the markets in Chennai and other places.

There are many customers in the Chennai leather market who are buying tanned goat skins R/V/IF at around Rs.45/- and All Suedes at around Rs.39/-, A/B/C Lining at around Rs.32/29/27 and Rejection at around Rs.24/- per sq.ft. but availability of goods is limited and the present arrivals contain monsoon defects and hence contract is not easy. There is also good demand for sheep nappa and other items in Vaniyambadi and wet blue cow hides in Erode.

Prices of raw hides and skins have also gone up considerably in almost all centres in the country and abroad. For example raw goat skins are sold at around Rs.130/- per piece in states like Andhra Pradesh and Kernataka and much higher in places like Miraj where quality is better. Many small tanners have given up doing tanned skins due to the prevailing increased prices of raw skins and unworkable level of prices available for tanned skins in the Chennai market.


There is good demand for goat upper and lining leathers, sheep nappa and suede leather etc. in the overseas markets at different prices depending on the quality and selection. It is learnt that Hong Kong and Korean customers are interested in F/C goat upper and lining leathers at around US$1.80 and 1.10 per sq.ft. respectively whereas S/C goat garment suede leathers are salable at around US$2.00 per sq.ft. European customers are also buying goat lining leathers TR-1/2/3 at around US$1.10/1.00/0.90 per sq.ft. as usual.

Demand also continues for F/C sheep suede leathers – All Suedes, LDT and Rejection at around US$2.50, 1.90 and 1.40 per sq.ft. respectively. Sheep lining leathers are sold at around US$1.20 per sq.ft..


Many domestic shoe manufacturers also buy sheep lining leathers at around Rs.50/- per sq.ft. from tanneries in Vaniyambadi. This town is well known for its bulk supplies of different varieties of sheep leathers. Garment and shoe manufacturers in different parts of our country cover their requirements of finished leathers such as nappa, suede, cabretta and lining leathers from this popular centre with quite a large number of tanneries. While Ambur enjoys the reputation for its sophisticated shoe factories producing world class footwears, Vaniyambadi is popular for its tanneries producing high class sheep nappa, suede and Cabretta leathers.


The leather industry plays an important role in the Indian economy. It is one of the top foreign exchange earners for the country. India’s export of leather and leather products was to the tune of US $3400 million during the year 2009-10 and it is providing employment opportunities to lakhs of people. The governments at the Centre and in the States are interested in its growth and development and extend all support to it. There is every possibility of increase in this export figure in the coming year 2010-11.

The Leather Industry holds a prominent place in the Indian economy. This sector is known for its consistency in high export earnings and it is among the top ten foreign exchange earners for the country.


Nobody sacrifices any animal for its skin or hide. This being the case, the much publicized letter in the media written by the former “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson (who participated in the reality show ‘Big Boss 4’ in India) to the hon’ble Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh urging all to reject all leather products “in order to help put an end to animal suffering” holds no water to say the least. She has done this deliberately perhaps just for the sake of publicity knowing pretty well that her proposal is impracticable and no government will implement it as it is fraught with dangerous economic consequences. The fact is that the leather industry is making the best use of the already available raw hides and skins by proper procurement, tanning and finishing without allowing them to be wasted by putrefaction and earning the invaluable foreign exchange for the nation. Her proposal cannot be a solution to prevent cruelty to animals. However the interest she has shown for helpless animals for whatever reason it may be is, no doubt, appreciable.

The government should do the needful to see that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 is implemented properly. It should be clear to all that putting an animal to any cruelty is an offence and punishable under this Act and it is also a sin according to all faiths.

The leather associations in different parts of the country should also take a note of this and create awareness among the people to prevent cruelty to animals. (VMK in Indian Leather, December 2010)


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Left to right: 1. Mr. Zackriah Badsha 2. Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer 3. Mr. Moosa Raza 4. Mr. Faizur Rahman




The Forum for the Promotion of Moderate Thought among Muslims conducted a seminar in Chennai on Monday, 8th November 2010 on “Ayodhya: The Way Forward”. Mr. N. Roohullah, the Forum Treasurer recited the verses of the holy Quran and explained it and Mr. Zackriah Badsha, the Forum President, presided the meeting and delivered the welcome address. Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer and Mr. Moosa Raza were the main speakers.

Dr. Asgher Ali Engineer ,despite his knee pain, attended the meeting and enlightened the audience with the history of the Ayodhya controversy in detail. Mr. Moosa Raza also explained about it extensively as he became the Secretary to Government of India just a day after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Both the speeches were very informative and thought provoking. They also answered the questions raised by the audience. A questioner said that even Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was fed up with this issue and replied in his own inimitable style that “Hum ishq ke maaron ka mazhab se naheen rishta, gar kaba hua to kye gar kasha hua to kya”. This long pending problem should be settled amicably.” The sum and substance of their speech was that all the three parties concerned are to appeal in the Supreme Court and in this situation after its final verdict a negotiated settlement will be imminent in the national interest and that we must prepare a ground for it.

At the end of the meeting the Forum’s Secretary General Mr. A. Faizur Rahman issued a statement saying that a negotiated settlement is the best way out for the Ayodhya dispute. He appealed to the parties concerned to arrive at a compromise formula through negotiations. For this he thought that two confidence building measures are imperative. 1. The Supreme Court should countermand the dangerous precedent set by the Allahabad High Court that makes it possible for a community to takeover a place of worship of any other community purely on the basis of irrational antiquated dogma or faith. 2. The Hindutva parivar, in the spirit of reconciliation it is talking about, must take the first step towards it by announcing its willingness to relinquish its claim to other mosques in the country. In his opinion such a gesture would be seen as upholding the concept of democratic fair dealing and it will pave the way for a negotiated settlement of the dispute.

The statement further said that the Ayodhya dispute should not be seen as purely a Hindu-Muslim issue as it actually concerns the entire nation and could seriously affect its development if allowed to continue and hence the Union Government must assume the role of a genuine mediator to help the Hindus and Muslims to resolve this dispute amicably. (VMK in


Sunday, November 7, 2010




Friday, November 5, 2010




Italy’s annual attraction Lineapelli Leather Fair held in Bologna from 12th to 14th October 2010, according to many tanners who visited it, was highly successful with more participants and increased volume of business concluded this year in comparison with last year. According to reports there were approximately 1100 stalls in the fair and 70% of exhibitors were from Italy and the rest from other countries and among these 50% were tanners. As usual there was display of leathers in trend selection area for the coming autumn/winter 2011-12 season, mostly in natural colours such as greens, browns and whites which was very popular and attracted fashion conscious stylists, designers and customers. The general impression is that the fair was beneficial to exporters of leather and shoes.

In the Chennai leather market, demand existed for tanned and wet blue goat skins as leather and leather products manufacturers showed interest for them. But arrivals were limited in tanned goat skins as many tanners continue to be slow in production as it is not workable. Besides this, there is more demand than supply in certain items. There was also good demand for wet blue cow hides in Erode and considerable volume of business was done in this item.

Exporters continue to buy tanned goat skins 4/7 sq.ft. grain selection at around Rs.45/-, Suede selection at around Rs.40, A/B/C linings at around Rs.30/29/28 per sq.ft. There is also good interest for Stout Suede at around Rs.35/-. There was also good movement of Rejection and Langda at different prices depending on the quality. But availability is limited and buyers find it difficult to cover their requirements.

As many leading tanners are interested in buying raw hides and skins in bulk in many important centres to fulfill their export obligations, prices have gone up considerably everywhere to the extent of Rs.140/- in places like Miraj. It is said that raw skin suppliers are taking advantage of this situation and reaping the maximum benefits.

A North Indian supplier I met said jokingly, “kabhi saas ke din to kabhi bahu ke” – Time changes – sometimes it is mother-in-law’s and sometimes it is daughter-in-law’s days. But it does not seem to be the case. The spread and progressive development of the leather and leather products industry in many parts of the country has destroyed the camaraderie that existed between suppliers and manufacturers. It is now the survival of the fittest and the fastest –whoever they are. The trend of the business has changed dramatically and drastically and things are not what they were before.

Overseas customers showed more interest for good quality Cabretta, Nappa, Suede, Upper and Lining leathers at almost unchanged and in some cases even at higher prices. The general feeling in the market is that things are improving a lot. While sheep cabretta 4/7 sq.ft. ABC was offered at around US$2.50, goat Upper ABC grade and Lining A grade were quoted at around US$2.00 and US$1.10 per sq.ft. respectively. Reputed tanners are having good business with Far East and European customers in different items at varying prices depending on the quality and selection. The following is just the indication of prices for exports.

Size per sq.ft. Substance Selection Price US $ per sq.ft. C&F

4/7 Goat upper leather 0.6/0.8 mm ABC – D – E 2.00 - 1.50 - 1.40

3/7 Goat Lining leather 0.5/0.7 mm TR1 – TR2 – TR3 1.10 - 1.00 – 0.90

4/7 Sheep Suede/Cabretta leather 0.6/0.8 mm All Suedes – LDT – Rej 2.50 - 1.90 – 1.40

5.5/9 Sheep Suede/Cabretta leather 0.8/1.00 mm All Suedes – LDT- Rej 2.75 – 2.10 – 1.50


It is learnt from the Council for Leather Exports that the 18th Edition of Delhi International Leather Fair (DILF) 2010 scheduled from 3rd to 5th December 2010 has been cancelled by ITPO on the request of the Convenor of the DILF based on the suggestions made by the members of the leather trade and industry particularly in Northern Region due to non suitability of timings of the Fair. Many industrialists say that it is the right decision in the present time when there are so many fairs.

(Indian Leather, November 2010)

Sunday, October 31, 2010


As regards the controversy going on about the fatwa on triple talaq, I would like to say that all Muslims without any exception believe that the Holy Quran has given excellent laws about marriage, divorce, inheritance etc. which are indeed far better than the modern laws and so they should adopt them in letter and spirit.

An overwhelming majority of Muslims oppose the unilateral and instant triple divorce system and prefer the rational Quranic laws. The Ulema belonging to many schools of thought simply consider this system un-Islamic and invalid. All other Ulema also consider the instant triple system an act of the days of ignorance (Ayyamul Jahiliyya) but "occured" if it is practised even though it is not an approved system in the light of the holy Quran and Ahadees. All Ulema also say that divorce should only be the last resort and there should not be any hasty decision.

There are many books written on this subject. Moreover almost all Muslim intellectuals, including Justice V. Khalid, former judge of the Supreme court, who is also an Islamic scholar disapprove this system and consider it un-Islamic..I have discussed this with him in detail.

Islam provides laws for all situations and it is our inability to make use of them properly which often lands us in trouble and the media exploits it for its own purpose. If Muslims follow the Islamic laws in letter and spirit not only they will be benefited, but even people belonging to other faiths will come forward to follow them because of their fairness. The Islamic laws are simply rational.

Let it be clear to our non-Muslim brethren that the whole community believes so but some perverted people act differently in haste pronouncing triple divorce in one sitting when they lose their sense in anger.

The Muslim Personal Law Board should look into the problems faced by the Muslim community over issues like triple talaq and take necessary steps to make the people realise that the triple divorce is an act of the days of ignorance and Islam does not approve it.

                         V.M. Khaleelur Rahman

Friday, October 15, 2010






Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898) was a great visionary, statesman and Muslim reformer of the 19th century, the like of whom is rare. He wanted to make the community and country progressive and take them forward on modern lines. His supreme interest was intellectual development of the people through modern education. He was the first Indian Muslim to contribute to the intellectual and institutional foundation of Muslim modernization in Southern Asia. Interest of community and country was dearer to him rather than anything else. He was successful in making the Muslims understand the importance of modern education and endeavour their best to achieve it in order to stand on their own legs and live a dignified life in accordance with Islamic thoughts.

Dr. Allama Mohammed Iqbal says :

‘’Mubtalaayay dard koi azu ho roti hai aankh

Kis qadar hamdard saray jism ki hoti hai aankh’’

(The eye weeps for the suffering of any and every part of the body,

How sympathetic it is to the entire organism)

To the Muslim community Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was and is like the eye which weeps for the suffering of any and every part of the body. The sufferings of the community worried him. He took an oath to reform, educate and empower the Muslim community and was successful to a great extent in implementing it despite strong opposition from a section of the Muslim community which hated the British and their language. Today we can see the products of the Aligarh Muslim University adoring in every field of activity in India and neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. They have earned a name for the community and country, thanks to the Aligarh movement.

Sir Syed’s educational caravan reached everywhere including Tamil Nadu from where I hail. It inspired and encouraged people to take to modern education by establishing educational institutions.


Sir Syed was born on 17 October 1817 in Delhi. His family was highly regarded by the Mughal dynasty. His maternal grandfather Khwajah Farid was a ‘wazir’ (minister) in the court of Akbar Shah II. His paternal grandfather Syed Hadi held a ‘mansab’ of the title of Jawwad Ali Khan in the court of Alamgir II. Syed Ahmed’s father, Mir Muttaqi was also close to Akbar Shah but rejected the position and titles offered to him due to his interest in mysticism. Perhaps he abhorred the way the materialistic world functioned. He died when Syed Ahmed was about 21 years of age. Mother, Azizunnissa Begum was, however, a strong willed woman of clearly defined principles. She showed extraordinary interest in the education, character building and upbringing of her son. She was a strict and God fearing lady.


Sir Syed received his education under the old system prevailing at that time. He learnt to read the holy Quran under a female teacher at his home. After this, Maulvi Hamidud Din, became his private tutor. He completed a course in Persian and Arabic, and later took to the study of mathematics, which was a favourite subject of the maternal side of his family. He later took interest in medicine and studied some well-known books on the subject. At the age of 19 his formal education came to an end but he continued his studies privately. He started taking a keen interest in the literary gatherings and cultural activities of the city.

The passing away of his father left the family in financial difficulties, and after a limited education he had no option but to work for his livelihood. Starting as a clerk with the East India Company in 1938, he qualified three years later as a sub-judge and served in the judicial department at various places.


The supreme interest of Sir Syed’s life was education in its widest sense. He wanted to create a scientific temperament among the Muslims of India and to make the modern knowledge of Science available to them. He championed the cause of modern education at a time when all the Indians in general and Indian Muslims in particular considered it a sin to get modern education and that too through English language. He began establishing schools, at Muradabad in 1858 and Ghazipur in 1863. A more ambitious undertaking was the foundation of the Scientific Society, which published translations of many educational texts and issued a bilingual journal in Urdu and English. It was for the use of all citizens and were jointly operated by the Hindus and Muslims. In the late 1860s there occurred some developments that were challenges to his activities. In 1867 he was transferred to Benares, a city on the Ganges with great religious significance for Hindus. At about the same time a movement started at Benares to replace Urdu, the language spoken by the Muslims, with Hindi. This movement and the attempts to substitute Hindi for Urdu publications of the Scientific Society convinced Syed that he should do something. Thus during a visit to England (1869-70) he prepared plans for a great educational institution. They were "a Muslim Cambridge." On his return he set up a committee for the purpose and also started an influential journal, Tahzib al-Akhlaq "Social Reform" for the uplift and reforms of the Muslims. A Muslim school was established at Aligarh in May 1875, and after his retirement in 1876, Sir Syed dedicated himself to make it a college. In January 1877 the Viceroy laid the foundation stone of the college. In spite of opposition to Syed’s projects, the college made rapid progress. In 1886 Syed organised the All-India Mohammadan Educational Conference, which met annually at different places to promote education and to provide the Muslims with a common platform. Syed advised the Muslims against joining active politics and to concentrate instead on education. Muslims generally followed his advice and abstained from politics. This advice is applicable even today. We have to concentrate our attention more on education for the uplift of the backward Muslim community. Many reports have clearly noted that the Muslims are educationally and economically more backward.

Throughout his life Syed Ahmed Khan showed concern with how Indian Muslims could adapt to intellectual and political change accompanying Western rule. His first mission became reinterpretation of Muslim ideology so as to reconcile tradition with Western education and science. He argued in several books on Islam that the holy Quran rested on a deep appreciation of reason and natural law and therefore did not preclude Muslim involvement in scientific methodology. These themes, mixed with a call for Muslim education, regularly appeared in his journals, the Mohammedan Social Reformer and the Aligarh Institute Gazette.

Syed Ahmed's ideas became institutionalized despite criticism from theologians. In 1862 he formed a scientific society, and 13 years later he assisted in establishing the Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College, which prospered and became the key intellectual center for Indian Muslims - The Aligarh Muslim University. The success of the college was largely due to his leadership and a curriculum embodying both Western and Oriental studies.


Sir Syed’s contributions for the betterment and empowerment of the Muslims are great. His position in the judicial department left him time to be active in many fields. His career as an author in Urdu started at the age of 23. In 1847 he brought out an important book "Monuments of the Great" on the antiquities of Delhi. Even more important was his pamphlet "The Causes of the Indian Revolt". His interest in religion was also active and lifelong. He wrote on the Life of Prophet Muhammad (Sal-am) and devoted himself to write several volumes of a modernist commentary on the holy Quran. In these works he explained how the Islamic faith could go with progressive scientific and political ideas of his time.


Sir Syed was a government civil servant and s scholar. The 1857 revolt was a turning point in his life. The following are his important works:

1) ‘’ASARUS SANADEED’’: It is an archaeological masterpiece providing a wealth of information on countless historical monuments in Delhi from the eight hundred long Muslim rule. This book was published in 1847.

2) ‘‘ASBAB-E-BAGHAWAT-E-HIND’’- (The causes of Indian Revolt) This book was published in 1859 after the 1857 revolt after witnessing the atrocities committed by the British on the inhabitants of Delhi. He saw an uncle, a cousin and an aunt dying before his eyes. He saved his mother but she died due to privations she had experienced. Muslims were the main targets of the government’s wrath.

3) THE ALIGARH INSTITUTE GAZETTE - It was an organ of the Scientific Society started in 1866. It made the people think and use their wisdom.

4) ‘’TEHZIB-UL-AKHLAQ’’ – It succeeded in making people realise the value of modern knowledge. It also gave new directions to Muslim social and political thoughts.


1) Sons (of MAO college later AMU)) shall go forth throughout the length and breath of the land to preach the message of free inquiry, of large-hearted toleration and of pure morality.

1. Acquisition of knowledge of science and technology is the only solution for the problems of Muslims.

2. Call me by whatever names you like. I will not ask you for my salvation. But please take pity of your children. Do something for them (send them to the school), lest you should have to repent (by not sending them)

3. We will remain humiliated and rejected if we do not make progress’’ (in scientific field)

4. Get rid of old and useless rituals. These rituals hinder human progress.

5. Superstition cannot be the part of Iman (faith).

6. The first requisite for the progress of a nation is the brotherhood and unity amongst sections of the society.

7. Yes the main purpose of this college (MAO) is to impart modern education to Muslims who are suffering because of lack of it but this institution is for all, Hindus and Muslims alike. Both of them need education.

8. We (Hindus and Muslims) eat the same crop, drink water from the same rivers and breathe the same air. As a matter of fact Hindus and Muslims are the two eyes of the beautiful bride that is Hindustan. Weakness of any one of them will spoil the beauty of the bride (dulhan)

9. We (Hindus and Muslim) have evolved a new language Urdu

10. I wish that youth of India should follow the example of young men and women of England who are religiously engaged in the hard work of industrial development of their country” (During the stay of Sir Syed in England).

11. Look forward, learn modern knowledge, and do not waste time in studies of old subjects of no value.

12. Ijtihad (innovation, re-interpretation with the changing times) is the need of the hour. Give up taqlid (copying and following old values).

13. Do not show the face of Islam to others; instead show your face as the follower of true Islam representing character, knowledge, tolerance and piety.

14. We should not (by remaining ignorant and illiterate) tarnish the image of our able elders.

15. All human beings are our brother and sisters. Working for their welfare is obligatory for Muslims.

16. Remember that the words Hindu and Muslim are only meant for religious distinction: otherwise all persons who reside in this country belong to one and the same nation.


Sir Syed's greatest achievement was his Aligarh Movement, which was nothing but an educational venture. He established schools at Muradabad in 1859 and Ghazipur in 1863. He also founded a scientific society in 1864. When Sir Syed was posted at Aligarh in 1867, he started the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental School in the city. During his visit to England in 1869, he studied the British educational system and appreciated it.

Sir Syed wanted MAO College to act as a bridge between the old and the new systems. His famous quote is that ‘’a true Muslims is one who must have the holy Quran in one hand and the science in the other’’. Today we can see the Aligarh Muslim University offering different courses like Medical, Engineering, Science, Arts, Management, Languages etc.

Sir Syed’s aim was not just to establish a college at Aligarh but he was interested in spreading education and empowerment among the people by establishing educational institutions in every nook and corner of the country. He, therefore, started an organisation called ‘’All India Muslim Educational Conference’’to achieve this goal. It motivated the Muslims to open a number of educational institutions in India.

Although the Indian Muslim community has made some good progress in the educational arena, still they have to go a long way to achieve the goal that Sir Syed visualised. Only the vision and enthusiasm of Sir Syed can help us - Muslims to improve our educational and economic conditions further. It is,therefore, incumbent for us to revive the Aligarh movement once again to make the people understand the value of modern education fully.

I take this opportunity to request the Vice-Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University to start a movement and come to the rescue of the suffering Muslim community in India. There is no point in blaming others. One feels that the main cause for our backwardness is lack of education. Education alone in the present context can empower us and nothing else. We can create a modern Islamic society only by taking Muslims to modern professional education like medical, engineering, teaching, management etc. No options or short cuts at all. God has given the eyes to see and mind to analyse. We must see what is happening around us and use our intellect to arrive at a conclusion. This is what Allah wants us to do. There is no point in toeing an outdated concept and blaming fate for every misery. Dr. Allama Mohammed Iqbal’s call should be taken seriously and march forward. He has said beautifully in the couplet which we read and hear quite often sometimes it echoes even in the Parliament but we do not give serious thought to it.

Khudi ko kar buland itna ki har taqdeer say pahlay,

Khuda banday say khud poochay bata teri raza kya hai

(Raise your position so much that God himself may ask you ‘’tell me what is it that you want?’’). It echoes the holy Quranic strong dictate that we should endeavour to achieve his rewards. In short we must develop a scientific temper among the people as the holy Quran says in different verses. We are mainly responsible for backwardness.

Sir Syed also brought out a journal ‘Tehzibul Akhlaq’ and succeeded in infusing a new desire amongst Muslims for acquiring modern knowledge.

Sir Syed finally reached to the conclusion that lack of education was the main cause of the backwardness of the community.

Sir Syed became successful in his mission and gave a firm foundation of Aligarh College (Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College) which afterwards became Aligarh Muslim University by an act of the government. It is meant for all- Muslims as well as non-Muslim students. All live and study here in a friendly and peaceful atmosphere. It has got a rich cultural heritage, which is its special and inimitable one.

The intellectuals produced in large numbers by Aligarh Muslim University served and continue to serve the country in various capacities. The first graduate of this University was the great revolutionary Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh. The late Dr. Zakir Hussain, former President of India and Dr. Syed Mahmood were also Aligarh educated dignitaries. The university has produced innumerable doctors, engineers, teachers, scientists, poets, writers, journalists, etc.


The Aligarh movement launched by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan influenced the Muslims in the country, particularly in South India. The Souvenir brought out on the occasion of the Centenary Celebration of Ambur Muslim Educational Society on 4th September 2006 mentions as follows inter-alia:

Sir Syed organised the Mohammedan (later Muslim) Educational Conference. Its branches were established in cities and towns to report on the educational needs of the community. This conference used to meet annually at several important cities in the country and carried the message of modern education far and wide.

The 5th session of the Conference was held at Madras in 1901 and set in a brainwave all over the South. Like their brethren in other parts of the country the Muslims of the Madras presidency were also antagonistic towards the English education and therefore they were far behind their other fellow countrymen in public service. Nawab Mohsinul Mulk Mohsinud Dowla from Aligarh inspired the Conference with the saga of adventure which Sir Syed has brought into being in the North.

On 16th December 1905 the Management of the Chowk Masjid madrasa which was in existence then was taken over and later re-named as Madrasa-e-Mazharul Uloom. Janab T.Abdullah sahib visited Aligarh, observed the educational developments there and inspired by it prepared a plan for a Muslim school in Ambur meant for all religions and communities without any discrimination whatsoever. It was primarily his aim to create for young Muslims a good institution for their educational, cultural and social developments.

Many educational institutions came up in Tamil Nadu as a result of the Aligarh movement. Today by the grace of Allah there are 11 (eleven) full fledged engineering colleges and hundreds of Science and Arts Colleges, Higher Secondary and Elementary Schools in difference parts of Tamil Nadu. Many Muslim organisations like All India Islamic Foundation, Sadaq Trust, The South India Education Trust, The Muslim Educational Association of Southern India, Ambur Muslim Educational Society, Vaniyambadi Muslim Educational Society etc. have been playing a very important role in establishing institutions and imparting modern education to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.


Muslims were in the forefront in the struggle for freedom. They suffered a lot. Many Ulema (religious scholars) were hanged in Delhi and other places. Sir Syed was worried. He was of the view that Muslims should not be so vigorous in opposing the British at their own cost and ignore everything including education and government placements.

Sir Syed wanted Muslims to have friendship with the British if they want to take their due rights. He quoted the examples of other religious communities benefiting from the government. While he tried his best to convince the British that Muslims were not against them, he persuaded the Muslims repeatedly to befriend the British to achieve their goals. He also wrote many books and published journals to remove the misunderstanding between Muslims and the British by writing booklets like "Loyal Muhammadans of India" and "Cause of Indian Revolt". Sir Syed asked the Muslims of his time not to participate in politics unless and until they got modern education. He was of the view that Muslims could not succeed in the field of Western politics without knowing the system. He was invited to attend the first session of the Indian National Congress and to join the organization but he refused to accept the offer. He gave importance to the education of the Muslim community and succeeded in it. His institutions such as the College and the Muslim Educational Conference continued to influence intellectuals till this day and will continue to do so in the years to come unhindered.


1) Dr. Allama Iqbal:

‘’The real greatness of the man (Sir Syed) consists in the fact that he was the first Indian Muslim who felt the need of a fresh orientation of Islam and worked for it’’

2) Pandit Jawaharlal Nehruji:

‘’Sir Syed was an ardent reformer and he wanted to reconcile modern scientific thought with religion by rationalistic interpretations and not by attacking basic belief. He was anxious to push new education. He was in no way communally separatist. Repeatedly he emphasized that religious differences should have no political and national significance.’’

3) Mr. Inder Kumar Gujralji

‘’Sir Syed’s vision and his laborious efforts to meet the demands of challenging times are highly commendable. The dark post 1857 era was indeed hopeless and only men like Raja Mohan Roy and Sir Syed could penetrate through its thick veil to visualize the Nation’s destinies. They rightly believed that the past had its merits and its legacies were valuable but it was the future that a society was called upon to cope with.

I offer my homage to Sir Syed for his vision and courage that withstood all obstructions both from the friends and the foes.’’

This great visionary and reformer, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, whose relevance is felt even today and who will always remain green in our memory inspiring wise thoughts and absolute principles in the right Islamic thinking passed away after a brief illness on 27th March 1898 and was buried the next day in the compound of the mosque in the College. May his soul continue to live in peace.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010




There is good demand for many items of leather with orders coming in from different domestic as well as overseas customers. Shoe manufacturers show interest for tanned and wet blue goat skins in upper and lining selections. As there is shortage in arrivals of these items in the Chennai market, prices are on the increase. Tanners and traders who are having stock are able to fetch higher prices but payment terms are not favourable. They have to wait at least for a month or so to get the payment. There is also increase in prices of raw hides and skins in almost all centres in the country. The hectic activities by big tanners and shoe manufacturers have made the prices go up. Many small tanners and exporters are in a fix not knowing how to operate in the market at the present juncture.


Tanned goat skins – upper, suede and lining selections are moving at around Rs. 45/-, 40/- and 30/- per sq.ft. respectively. Some better qualities and better selections are salable even at much higher prices.

Garment manufacturers show interest for high quality sheep nappa leathers at around Rs.80/- per sq.ft. whereas sheep suede leathers for shoes are salable at around Rs.70/- per sq.ft.

Erode tanners say that they have good demand for their wet blue cow hides but higher grades are not available with them to the extent the shoe manufacturers require now. This is the reason why more and more shoe units have to depend on imports for their requirements. Shoe factories in places like Ambur, Melvisharam, Ranipet, Chennai etc. are operating well and increasing their production despite some constraints.


There is somewhat increased interest for goat upper and lining leathers by overseas buyers. 3/5 and 4/7 sq.ft. goat upper leathers ABC and D/E/F are quoted at around US$1.90 and 1.50 per sq.ft. respectively and 3/5 and 4/7 sq.ft. lining leathers TR1/2/3 are offered at around US$1.10/1.00/0.90 per sq.ft. respectively. Garment suedes in both goat and sheep leathers are also in good demand at prices depending on the quality and selection. While 3/5 sq.ft. goat suede leather ABC is quoted at around US$1.65, 4/7 sq.ft. goat milled leather ABC is offered at around US$1.70 per sq.ft.

But small exporters do not want to accept export orders because of the existing rigid and irrational norms for identification of finished leathers. This is the reason why activities in finished leather exports are not very much in comparison with the past.

According to reliable sources, Far East customers are showing more interest for the above items.


The Agra Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Chamber (AFMEC), Agra is arranging its 4th edition of the annual Leather Footwear, Components and Technology Fair on 30th and 31st October 2010 at Kalakriti Grounds, Fatehabad Road in Agra. It was started in 2007. It is a very good and useful show, improving year by year and attracting participants from India and abroad. According to reports more and more people from Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country are showing interest to participate in it this year. It is expected that there will be some important business visitors from abroad also. The Meet is going to showcase the latest developments in footwear, footwear accessories, finished leathers, chemicals, adhesives, machinery, etc. It is proving its mettle well. As AFTEC says it will be a good platform for manufacturers, suppliers, traders and consultants from across the country to exchange ideas and business opportunities in the field of leather and footwear products. Agra is also well known for its well established footwear industry.


The very popular Lineapelle Leather Fair is to be held from 12th to 14th October 2010 at Bologna in Italy. It is one of the important fairs in which leather and leather products exporters are interested to participate in. It is reported that as usual many are getting ready to attend it with the hope that it will be favourable in every respect this year as the world situation is changing fast for the better.

(Indian Leather, October 2010)

Thursday, September 30, 2010


The nation has heaved a sigh of relief after hearing the Allahabad high court verdict on the  60 year old Ayodhya dispute. It should be welcomed by one and all as it reflects the sentiments of the people. The concerned parties should sit together and put an end to this decades long pending problem without appealing to the Supreme Court.
A member of the Muslim personal law board Mr. Kamal Farooqui has rightly said:
 "I would not like to jump to conclusions right now but there could be a mandir and a masjid existing along side in Ayodhya in the larger interest of the nation. The court has opened up some consensus for us and a chance for reconciliation," He has further said that India has become a "matured nation" and "we will move forward".
I hope that  the Muslim Personal Law Board will do the needful and see to it that no appeal is made on this issue. Let Hindus and Muslims show their brotherly gestures in constructing a temple and a mosque side by side in the Area in Ayodhya and tell the world that even a vexed problem can be solved amicably here in our country India which is well known for its secularism and unity in diversity. Everyone should try to make Ayodhya a shining example for communal harmony and peace for the happiness, progress and prosperity of the people particularly the future generation.
                                                          V.M. Khaleelur Rahman

Friday, September 10, 2010




Eid-ul-Fitr or Ramadan Eid is celebrated as a day of thanksgiving to God after successful completion of the month-long fasting from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and on sighting the crescent moon of the 10th month called Shawwal. Ramadan is meant for fasting, worship and charity, and also for self-introspection for the purpose of purification of one's soul and body by giving up bad and attaining good things. The Holy Quran says, "Fasting is prescribed to you as it was to those before you so that you may learn self-restraint." Fasting brings people together and creates a sense of camaraderie among them. It inculcates in them righteous conduct, to be good people and brotherhood of man by eradicating evils such as anger, greed and malice.

Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am) has said, "Do not belittle even the smallest act of kindness even if it is no more than meeting your neighbour with a smiling and cheerful face. We should not consider any charity small or not worth doing. Charity, big or small, should be given in a pleasant manner without hurting the feeling of its receivers and with the thought that we are only discharging a religious duty from the wealth God has given us." According to Islam even our day-to-day acts, like being kind to others at home and outside, are charity and it makes a big difference in our relations with them.

Once when Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am) was on his way to Idgah for Id prayers, he saw a poor boy about five-years-old sitting on the pavement sadly. He went near him and asked, "Why are you alone here, my dear boy?" The boy started weeping and said, "I am an orphan with nobody to care for me." The Prophet could not bear the pathetic words of the poor boy and consoled him saying, "From now on you can look to me as your father and Ayesha as your mother," and returned home with him. When his wife Ayesha fed him and dressed him well for Id prayers the Prophet lifted him on his shoulders and said, "Ayesha, this is the happiest Id for me. I experience true happiness at the happiness of this little orphan boy." He was a great benefactor of humanity and his mission right from the beginning to end was to see that every individual maintained his self-respect free from any sort of slavery.

Monday, September 6, 2010




There is good demand abroad for leather products such as garments, goods and shoes but Indian manufacturers and exporters find it difficult to get their asking prices even though prices of raw and wet blue hides and skins have increased considerably in domestic as well as foreign markets due to hectic purchases made by the products sector to execute their overseas commitments on time without any delay. It is reliably learnt that good orders are available for right and reliable suppliers of these items. When contacted, a reputed shoe manufacturer said that “there is no worry for export contracts as many customers are willing to place orders but the present high raw material prices make business unworkable and we have no other go except to carry on compromising with the present situation and expecting better results in future as we cannot stop our show”

They also import quite large quantities of raw and wet blue hides and skins from abroad. Their units are doing well in almost all places in Tamil Nadu as they are determined to continue to prove their mettle as regular, reliable and quality conscious manufacturers and exporters. Of course the policy of the government is also to encourage the leather products sector.


The recent announcement of Rs.1050 crore stimulus by the union government to labour intensive export sectors such as handicraft, leather, handloom, silk carpets, toys, engineering items and sports goods to prevent any slowdown in production and export due to unfavourable international trends is welcomed by all. The Commerce Secretary Mr. Rahul Khullar had pointed out that the policy changes in the offing in the U.S and Europe for cutting down government expenditure, increasing exports and decreasing imports could affect future prospects of developing nations.

The sops include an additional benefit of 2% interest rate subvention for pre-shipment credit, over and above the existing 5%, extension of schemes like Duty Entitlement Pass Book (DEPB) and Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) up to June 2011 and March 2012 respectively to boost technological advancement.

The honourable minister for commerce Mr. Anand Sharma has made it clear that the announcement was because of “the fragile recovery and prevailing uncertainties” in the world markets and hoped that India would be able to achieve $200 billion target set for this fiscal as against the last year export earnings of $178.6 billion. The activities in the leather clusters show that the industry is marching forward increasing its production and export in accordance with the policy of the government.


While there are good export orders for the leather products, it cannot be said for finished leathers. There is restricted activity in it as exporters of finished leathers are unable to compete with those of leather products in procuring raw materials necessary for them. The present annual holidays in Europe can also be a reason for the slow tendency in the leather sector.

According to reliable sources, there is no much activity in finished leathers. Only some patchy business is taking place in goat upper, suede and lining leathers at almost unchanged prices even though as said above there is considerable increase in the prices of raw hides and skins. It remains to be seen what happens after the holidays are over. It is learnt that some tanners have sold their goat upper, suede and lining leathers at around US$2.00, 1.80 and 1.10 per sq.ft. respectively. This is just for the sake of indications. It is known to all that prices depend on the quality, selection etc.


In the Chennai leather market, there is good demand for tanned and wet blue goat and sheep skins as many big shoe manufacturers are buying their requirements but their availability is limited as many tanners have either curtailed or stopped their productions due to unworkable prices now. The good demand which existed for suede leathers from the beginning of this year or so is on the wane now and export sales are reported at somewhat lower prices. Tanned goat skins in selections like A, B and C linings are in good demand at slightly higher prices depending on the quality and selection due to demand from different quarters and shortage of these skins in the market. Even in places like Erode, Vaniyambadi, Ambur, Pernambut, Ranipet and many other places good demand prevailed for wet blue and crust hides and skins. As higher selections are not available in items like cow hides, shoe manufacturers have to depend on imports for it.
(VMK in Indian Leather, September 2010)


Tuesday, August 10, 2010




Ambur Trade Centre (ATC)- a three storey architecturally well designed and fully air-conditioned structure constructed with contributions from the Government of India and the industry was opened and “Ambur Open” (a two day Exhibition of Footwear Components, Accessories & Finished Leather) organized by the Ambur Economic Development Organisation Ltd (AEDOL) along with the Indian Shoe Federation (ISF) and the Indian Footwear Components Manufacturers Association (IFCOMA) was inaugurated by Mr. K. Alauddin, Principal Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu on Saturday, 24th July 2010 in a well organized and well attended glittering function held at the ATC in Ambur. It was presided over by Mr. M. Mohamed Hashim, Chairman, Indian Leather Industry Foundation.

Mr. Durai Murugan, Hon’bale Minister for Law, Courts and Prison, Government of Tamil Nadu, who was to declare open the ATC and inaugurate the exhibition, could not come as he was indisposed. He sent his good wishes for the success of the function to the organizers.

Mr. K. Alauddin in his speech asked the industry to utilize the ATC for many useful purposes for its maintenance, development of backward areas, total eradication of pollution etc. and said that “ the Government of Tamil Nadu is always ready to help it “.

As regards the demand made for an airport at Vellore, he said that “the main problem is the distance as one can come from Chennai to Vellore by car or bus in 2 hours. The flying time is half an hour but passengers have to come to the airport one hour before the flight departure time. The common man cannot afford it. The government is willing to have airports in all district headquarters, but the viability is the main problem. If the civil aviation department is willing to consider it, the government will see that the land is available for it as in other airport expansion projects “.


Earlier Mr. M. Rafeeque Ahmed, Chairman, AEDOL welcomed the gathering explaining the importance of the leather and leather products industry and the role the new Centre constructed at the cost of Rs.11.5 crore is to play for its development.

He said that there is an urgent need for the leather clusters to upgrade the existing inadequate infrastructure facility in waste water disposal/sludge disposal which are the major problems confronted by the industry here (as everywhere in the country) to maintain its pre-eminence as the largest producer of leather goods and products and to emerge as an international destination for leather industry and to achieve the norms prescribed by the pollution control authorities of the State and the Centre. This was the reason why both the Amburtec and the Vanitec joined together and formed the Ambur Economic Development Organisation Ltd. (AEDOL) to take advantage of the Government schemes to achieve the aim of zero discharge by recycling the treated water and attain all other existing environment standards including sludge disposal by secure land fill, a system patented by the Central Leather Research Institute, Chennai. The Government of India sanctioned an estimate of Rs.67.33 crore with its subsidy of Rs.43.93 crore.

He further revealed that the Vellore district leather clusters manufacture a wide range of leather and leather products in accordance with International Standards providing direct employment to more than 60,000 people and indirect employment to another 30,000 people mostly from the economically weaker sections of the rural society and export to the tune of Rs.3500 crore annually and also meet a sizeable domestic demand of the country. According to him, Ambur, one of the major leather clusters in Tamil Nadu which has been recognized as “ Town of Export Excellence “ for leather products will get additional focus support and incentives for the development of the industry and infrastructure facilities for the cluster and achieve the target of doubling the current annual export of Rs.1800 crore by 2014.

As regards the Ambur Trade Centre, Mr. M. Rafeeque Ahmed said that the AEDOL constructed it with an estimate of Rs.11.5 crore with the government subsidy of Rs.5.9 crore to provide a world class multi purpose trade centre for the leather industry. It has got ground plus three floors in addition to an A/c shed with a total capacity of 40,000 sq.ft. and has facilities like exhibition hall, convention centre, conference hall, training and testing centre, e-readiness centre and guest rooms for the visiting entrepreneurs and overseas customers. It will provide a platform for holding international exhibitions, conferences, workshops and also testing and training services to the leather industry in the region. He thanked the State and Union governments for the huge financial support and pragmatic advice so willingly extended to all the above projects. He also thanked the CLRI and others for their unstinted co-operation and assistance.

He further pointed out, “the Ambur Open is the biggest congregation of businessmen, technocrats, entrepreneurs in the specialized leather sector as well as of a large number of participants. This event of international class in its appeal and material content provides a platform for exhibiting the capabilities of Indian leather and leather products sector and showcase its developments to the world.”

Mr. M. Mohamed Hashim delivered his presidential address praising the AEDOL Chairman for his excellent initiative and untiring endeavours in achieving the Ambur Trade Centre for the development of the industry.

Mr. Habib Hussain, Chairman, Council for Leather Exports, Mr. B.D. Bhaiya, President, IFCOMA, Mr. R.V. Gopalakrishna, President, ISF, Mr. Abdur Rahman, M.P., Mr. Gandhi, M.L.A., Mr. Basith, M.L.A and others also spoke. Mr. N. Mohamed Sayeed proposed the vote of thanks.


The first ever “ Ambur Open “ exhibition attracted 120 exhibitors from different categories such as Finished Leather, Machinery Spares, Sole, Insole, Syn.Linings, Leather Soles, Software, Testing etc. ISF and IFCOMA partnered AEDOL by conducting the 5th edition of the exhibition of Footwear Components, Accessories & Finished Leather in the Ambur Open exhibition. It was highly successful.

While Mr. P.V. Gopalakrishna, President, ISF was extremely happy that there was an overwhelming support to the fair to the extent that they could not accommodate many people by saying that that their commitment to quality, service and delivery had endeared them to the participants who, he was confident, would take part in their future fairs also as it brings good returns to participants in a very pleasant atmosphere, Mr. B.D. Bhaiya, President, IFCOMA stated that they wanted to achieve the avowed goal of firmly establishing India as the world’s most preferred destination for sourcing of leather and leather products by harnessing collective efforts by all towards this goal. He considered the Ambur Open as a right step in the direction and hoped that it would be very successful in generating genuine business interest among the national and international visitors.

Mr. C. Rajendran, IAS, Collector, Vellore district, released the book titled “History of Leather Industry in Vellore District”. He spoke about the tanneries and shoe factories in the Vellore district and stressed the need for the Zero discharge pollution control system.


4 (four) seminars conducted on 1) Water Based Adhesives 2) New Developments from BASF for Leather Industry 3) Footprints in Leather and 4) Workshop on “ Building Business values with key customers” and “ Presentation on Skill Development “ were the highlights of the Ambur Open and useful to the people, particularly technicians and entrepreneurs, connected with the industry


Hotel Coffee Café was there but the absence of a good vegetarian restaurant and two or three tea/coffee kiosks was regretted by many visitors as well as participants who had bought the stalls in the fair. It is hoped that the organizers will look into this matter and do the needful during the fair next year.


The exhibitors were happy to take part in the fair at the Ambur Trade Centre which is surrounded by about 250 tanneries and shoe factories and has easy access to bus terminus and railway station.

Congratulations to Mr. M. Rafeeque Ahmed, the active and powerful Chairman of AEDOL and those who assisted him in establishing the Ambur Trade Centre and starting the Ambur Open exhibition in association with the ISF and the IFCOMA within a short span of time and conducting it successfully to the delight of one and all.

(VMK in Indian Leather, August 2010 issue)


Friday, August 6, 2010

Riba and the Credit needs of Muslims by Syed Hashim Ali (sent by Mr. Hasan Chishti by e-mail)

Riba and the Credit needs of Muslims

By *Syed Hashim Ali


As a welfare and development administrator it was a painful experience to watch poor and pious Muslims struggling to decide whether they should take a loan offered through a government sponsored scheme for their amelioration, and get their problem solved, or consider it as riba, reject it, and remain in misery. These schemes consisted of long-term loans for land development, medium term for tractors, bullocks, and agricultural implements and short term for seeds and fertilizers. All these were given on low rates of interest for agricultural development. Self- employment schemes offered loans to unemployed engineers to establish industries or to become builders; to doctors to open clinics; to artisans, taxi and auto- riksha drivers to buy tools or own vehicles, and for other professions. Housing schemes gave loans for construction and repairs to houses. Poverty eradication schemes offered micro-loans for the purchase of cows or buffaloes, material for cottage industries, chicken for poultry farming all meant to augment their meager incomes and improve their quality of life. It was tragic to see a Muslim family left homeless after the death of the breadwinner or after a natural calamity like a flood. While non-Muslims used all these facilities, a Muslim had to face a dilemma. He had been advised to live in a rented house as taking a loan and paying the same amount as installments of the loan were prohibited by his religion. It was equally painful to see a poor and bright young student getting deprived of higher education as an educational loan was prohibited.

Those Muslims, who ignored the medieval interpretation of the religious edict, took the loan and prospered. They however, could not get rid of the lurking prick of their conscience for having committed a sin.

It appears that the world-wide backwardness of Muslims is the result not only of disunity, poverty, lack of education, technological deficiency and submissive acceptance of fate, but mostly because they are not able to make use of the credit facilities offered by the welfare oriented credit based schemes implemented through the modern banking system, which is a bye- product of the industrial revolution. This system enabled common people to reinvest their idle capital or savings and freed the borrowers from the usurious loan sharks whose exorbitant rates resulted in the loss of their property or possessions (amwal). It also saved them from risky joint ventures with other individuals, which generally end up in loss due to the incompetence or dishonesty of the working partner.

An administrator has to be a problem solver, an innovator and an improviser to achieve the objectives set before him. Past precedents do not guide in totally new situations. The practices of the seventh century desert economy, or the law developed in the ninth century agricultural economy by an imperial dynastic system has no precedents for the requirements of the development oriented economy of modern times. Legal opinions based only on past precedents given by people who have no knowledge of the complexities of modern economic, political and administrative systems, without consulting the subject matter experts on the problem under consideration, have failed to solve the problems of the modern Muslims. The interpretation of the Divine law by jurist of a totally different period in history is treated as more important than the spirit and purpose behind it.

The writer was a senior Muslim officer of a non-Muslim country with a secular constitution, who has spent twenty years out of forty five years of his working life in implementing welfare and development schemes for the poorest sections of humanity, and has seen the tremendous benefits of credit- based schemes.

This paper is being written after years of tormented thinking about the causes of the world wide backwardness of Muslims, and is a humble effort as a layman to examine whether religion prohibits exploitation of the weak and needy by the rich and powerful, or does it debar the less fortunate from all progress and prosperity. The Qur’anic prohibition of Riba prevents exploitation. The Muslims have failed in the last fourteen centuries to evolve a system for the reinvestment of the idle capital or savings of Muslims to deal with the amelioration of the deprived for the benefit of both as desired by the Qur’an. R (3:92; 4:29)

For the sake of brevity while quoting books, articles and reports, a condensed version is being used and arguments leading to the conclusion are omitted and Qur’anic verses are generally shown as surah/ chapter and ayah/verse numbers.

The confusion caused by translations

The translations of the original Arabic text vary so much that the very concept changes. One such example is the translation of the word Riba. Most English translations have used the word Usury, though even this word does not convey the full import of the word riba as defined in several verses of the Qur’an. In the Urdu language it has been translated as Sood as there is no word for usury. All literature on Islamic banking and Pakistan’s report on interest free banking use the term interest. If this translation is correct and conveys the purpose and the spirit behind the prohibition of riba, then there is no need to proceed further as this is an injunction, which has to be obeyed.

If the word usury is closer to the concept of riba, then nearly every modern government in the world has defined usury as a rate of interest higher than the prevailing bank rate by a prescribed percentage and has treated it as an offense, punishable by law. The word usury also does not convey the full import of the qur’anic term riba.

The effect of wrong translations.

In the Islamic community of India and Pakistan the Urdu word Sood is generally taken as synonymous to Riba, perhaps because there is no word for the term Usury in Urdu. If sood is really synonymous to riba, no Muslim can question its proscription because the Holy Qur’an has clearly prohibited it. This improper translation or definition has resulted in the economic backwardness of Muslims for the following reasons:

If interest is prohibited there is no incentive for saving and investment.

When the urge to save money recedes, the principles of frugality do not survive in life and is the cause of the evil of senseless spending among Muslims.

The capital needed for starting a business and the working capital needed for continuing and developing it is not available to the Muslim and so he can neither start a business nor compete with others. This is the reason why there are so few Muslims in business and this is the greatest cause of their poverty.

Banking is itself a big commercial sector and while there are thousands of millionaires in other communities, the few Muslims that are in Banking also believe in its unlawfulness, thus they either intentionally or openly commit a sin and indulge in an unlawful act, or they have lost the reverence for religious commandments in view of their urgent need for a loan.

The rich Muslims do not believe in lending on interest, and the needy Muslim is forced to borrow from others Thus contributing to the economic progress of others at the expense of Muslims,

Qard hasan, or lending without interest may be a virtue but generally it ends in ingratitude and loss to the lender.(pp21-24 WIR)

As the Qur’an is meant for universal guidance for all time its definition should not be bound by the prevalent practices of a certain area at a certain point in history. Unfortunately, none of the fuqaha has tried to derive its definition from the Qur’an itself. All hadiths quoted deal with barter transactions or advance trading of crops. In all religious literature the lender is shown as avaricious, miserly, selfish, hard-hearted, blood-sucking evil individual. co-operatives and banks, which developed after the Industrial revolution as anti-usury measures, find no place in the legal edicts based only on past precedents. Thus institutional finance has no place in our literature.

It is therefore considered necessary, for the purposes of this paper, to use the original terms, riba. amwal, sadaqa, zakah etc., and define the modern terms, bank, interest, usury, capitalism etc., from standard dictionaries.

In view of the strong aversion to the words interest or sood, the expression bank rate is being used.

Riba as known in Arabia.

Qur’anic injunctions deal with the prevailing evils of society with the objective of reforming them. It is therefore necessary to see as to which evil was meant to be corrected. The contemporary generation of the Prophet knew the evils of the prevalent riba. The Prophet abolished all exploitative transactions whether in lending or in trade when he said, ‘Every riba that was in jahiliyah (before Islam) is abolished and the first riba that is abolished is that of Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib.’ This was a case of advance sale. According to Anas bin Malik the Messenger forbade muhaqata, mukhadara, mulamasa, munbadha and muzabana, all related to riba or exploitative and dishonest practices in sale and barter transactions and therefore not relevant to institutional financing which is the subject of this paper.

The second Caliph, Umar ibn al -Khattab is reliably reported to have said; ‘The last (of the Qur’an) that was revealed was the passage on Riba; and behold, the apostle of God passed away without (before) having explained its meaning to us’.(p.30 WIR) This clearly shows that all the hadiths quoted were from a period prior to the prohibitory order in the Qur’an.

Riba al nasia as practiced in Arabia is defined as follows:

One person gives a loan to another person on the condition that the borrower pays a fixed amount every month to the lender, the capital remaining intact. If the payment was not made, an extension in time was given and the capital amount and the payment were also increased. This increase in capital and the increase in the already usurious rate were called Riba. The borrowers were generally poor people who took loans from the rich for their daily needs. All the Qur’anic verses concerning Riba are about these poor people for whom the Qur’an repeatedly asks Muslims to be generous.

The Muslim jurists have added from their ijtehad and qiyas conditions such as sharing of profit and loss, or have treated even a very low rate of interest as prohibited, though the Qur’anic wording ‘doubled and quadrupled’ clearly emphasizes the very high rate charged. Ignoring these words would mean committing the unpardonable sin of questioning God’s choice of words, or changing the very purpose for which this last revelation was sent to the Prophet.. This also goes against the concept of taking the Zahir or apparent and straightforward meaning of the Qur’anic injunctions.

The Qur’an says: ‘O you who have attained to faith! Do not ask about matters which, if they were to be made manifest to you (in terms of law) might cause you hardship.(5:101)

According to Asad, the above statement implies that the believer should not try to deduce additional laws from the injunctions clearly laid down in the Qur’an and the prophet, since they may cause you hardship. Some of the greatest Muslim scholars have concluded that Islamic law, in its entirety consists no more than the clear cut injunction forthcoming from the self-evident (Zahir) wording of the qur’an and the Prophet’s commands and that consequently, it is not permissible to extend the scope of the self evident ordinances by means of subjective methods of deduction. (Ibn Hazm:Muhalla) Quoted in note 120 of ayah 5:101 by Asad.)

Rasheed Rida observes: ‘Many of our jurists (Fuqaha) have by their subjective deductions, unduly widened man’s religious obligations (Takalif) thus giving rise to the very difficulties and complications which the clear wording of the Qur’an had put an end to, and this has led to the abandonment by many individual Muslims as well as their governments, of Islamic law in its entirety.(Manar, vol.vii, P.138, quoted by Asad in note 123 in Surah 5)

This practice perhaps also goes against a hadith narrated by Aisha: ‘Why do some people impose conditions, which are not present in Allah’s Book? Whoever imposes such a condition is invalid even if he impose one hundred conditions, for Allah’s conditions are more binding and reliable’

Riba Fadl is not about loans but a barter arrangement by taking a superior thing by giving more of the same goods of an inferior quality.

Definitions by classical Imams: No consensus

There is great variation in the definitions given by classical Imams. The Prophet had enumerated six commodities in one hadith. Here is a very brief account of their views.


‘ There is riba only in these six things, i.e., barley, wheat dates, salt, gold and silver and there is no riba in other things.’

Imam Shafa’i:

‘Edibility is the cause of riba in the first four of the mentioned articles and valuability is the reason in the remaining two’

Hanafi Fuqaha:

‘Measurability and weighability are the reason of riba’

Imam Malik:

‘ There is riba in storable (Non-perishable) edibles only, and there is no riba in any other commodity.’

Imam Baghawi:

‘The riba prevalent in Arabia was in bay’e salaf transactions, and at the time of the deal, there used to be no condition / promise for an eventual increase. When the buyer on credit or debtor, due to his inability failed to repay at the appointed time, he agreed upon the sheer pressure of the creditor, to an increase over the original amount. This excess amount was called riba by the Arabs. Such a deal was generally contracted by the indigent and the poor. They for the sake of their survival, used to take food items such as barley, wheat or dates before the crop would be ready, or would borrow dirhams and dinars in order to buy those things and thus sold in advance their next crop. At the time of repayment after the crop was ready, if he would give away the crop according to earlier promise, he would have nothing left for his sustenance. So he would give part of the produce and the creditor would give him a further period for returning the balance on condition that its quantity would be increased. (Imam Baghawi, in his Tafsir, Ma’alim al-Tanzil, while interpreting the ayah on the proscription of riba. (pp30,96 WIR)

Al Jaziri:

‘ The Shariah definition of Riba is as follows:

Riba is one of those unsound (Fasid) transactions which have been severely prohibited. It literally means increase’ (Abd al Rahman al Jaziri in al fish al madahib al Arabah)

Maliki, Hanbali, Shafai schools and Imam Abu Yusuf prohibit it in darul harb. Only Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad permit it in non-Muslim countries. (Jamuah, vol. 13, issue3, 1422H.)

Views of present day Jurists.

The opinions of present day jurists are based on past precedents of decisions taken by Muslim jurists about a thousand years ago when it was considered that no further ijtehad is necessary and the doors of ijtehad had been closed. No religious scholar considers it necessary to consult the subject matter specialists on the problems under consideration; in this case economists, bankers, social scientists, accountants, businessmen, government policy makers and management experts.

Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi, an eminent Islamic scholar from India has this to say:

‘The practice of lending money on interest conversely breeds egotism, covetousness, parsimony and mistrust. It fosters the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. The moneylender is like a small tank into which all the wealth of the community ultimately flows. Usury sustains and promotes conditions that give rise to class hatred. The poor and under privileged masses are always at a loss. The society gets divided into two distinct groups of haves and have-nots.’(p114 FPI)

Obviously, institutional financing by the banks has not been considered in this opinion. All others give similar reasons, keeping the unscrupulous moneylender as the model.

Maulana Maududi also has a Shylock in his view when he states:

‘Interest is the result of selfishness, miserliness and small mindedness.’(p235, MI)

An economist discusses Maududi’s concept as follows:

‘ Maududi’s approach to modern economics is highly simplistic. His diagnosis of the defects of the capitalist system, to say the least is elementary. According to him the basic blunder that was committed in capitalism was to permit interest, and no stigma was attached to it All the features of Islamic economy he has enumerated with the exception of perhaps the prohibition of interest can be easily incorporated in the capitalist economy. The traditional concepts will only be valid as long as the level of development and technology underlying these remain the same. The Concentration of wealth and inequalities in income can no longer be tackled by payment of two and a half per cent of zakat on un spent income nor the Muslim inheritance law can only be effective. Prohibition of interest was indeed a very important tool to free humanity from exploitation. In modern society the borrowers who pay interest gain large profits even after the payment of interest. To insist on abolition of interest is rather unrealistic. Muslim orthodoxy is frozen in the stubborn denial of change. Their static attitude of life and fear of innovation has disastrous consequences. Islam prohibits Riba as an instrument of exploitation. There is a section of opinion that bank interest is permissible. There are fatwas to this effect. The other argument put forward is that Islam wants to abolish unearned income. It is difficult to accept this point of view when sleeping partnership is considered permissible. The concept of sharing profits and losses also needs re-examination. Certain industries have long gestation period in which share holders do not get any profit but debenture holders and banks continue to get interest. (Naeemuddin: ICMW)

Dr. Kaukab Siddique has this to say: ‘At this time in America and most of the world investments are hooked to the international banking system. The claims of Islamic banking and Islamic investment within the capitalist system are merely forms of deception. (al Balaagh)


The definitions of terms related to the subject are as follows:

Interest or Bank rate, is the price paid to lenders for the use of their capital. Interest is figured as a percentage of the amount-borrowed.. Interest plays an essential part in commerce, businesses and government, consumers borrow and lend money and thus pay and receive interest. Businesses borrow money to buy new machinery or to build new factories. Governments borrow to make up for the money they spend and they collect in taxes. People and businesses that lend money have incomes greater than their expenditure, so they let others use their money, instead of simply hoarding their funds. Lenders use money to earn more money through interest. Borrowers pay interest so that they can make purchases that they cannot afford to pay immediately, (for house, car, household needs, etc.) and repay in monthly installments.

Usury is interest at a higher rate than the law allows. The person or institution charging more than the maximum legal rate is a usurer.

In the biblical times all payments for the use of money were regarded as usury. Interest and usury were regarded as synonymous until the late middle ages because most of the borrowers were poor persons who needed money to obtain the necessities of life. After the Industrial Revolution rich people needed large amounts for railroads, shipbuilding and factories etc. It became accepted practice to pay interest for the use of borrowed money. Usury came to be associated with excessive charges.

Bank is a business establishment that safeguards people’s money and uses it to make loans and investments. Money is safer in banks. It provides an easy way to pay bills. earns money for depositors who get interest for the use of their money. Banks are an essential part of business activity. Banking is as old as civilization. Modern banking began to develop between 1200s and 1600s in Italy.

Money is safe as there is deposit insurance if bank fails. There are many types of banks. Federal Reserve banks /Central Banks work for governments, control banking and control the nation’s money supply by regulating bank rates others can charge depending on inflation or recession in the country. They are the lender’s last resort. The US Government started regulation of banks after 9000 banks failed in USA between 1930 and 1933. Most countries control their banking system by legislation.

Muslim religious writers call capitalism as ‘soodi nizam’ or a system based on interest and summarily reject it. The actual definition of the system is as follows.

Capitalism: ‘An economic system marked by open competition in a free market, in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to increasing accumulation and reinvestment of profits. (Chambers New Riverside Dictionary)

Nations whose economics are based on capitalism include USA, Canada, West Germany and Japan. Capitalism is some times called free enterprise, free market system, entrepreneurial system or laissez faire. The driving force of a capitalist economy is the profits. Profits are a firm’s earnings after it has paid all expenses. The desire for profits called profit motive encourages firms to operate efficiently. Some Government welfare programs aid the poor in capitalist nations. (World Book)

It may be seen that in all these descriptions the word interest has not been used as the objective. Countries practicing democracy and capitalism are the most powerful and prosperous countries in the world. Maududi’s concept of the Islamic system is similar to capitalism. Socialism is closer to Ghulam Ahmed Parvez’s concept of an Islamic economy.

The Prophet disapproved of leaving productive resources idle. ‘Let him who owns land cultivate it himself, and if he does not do so, let him have his brother cultivate it.’ (Muslim)

Caliph Umer has said ‘He who has money should develop (invest) it and he has land should cultivate it’ (Husain Haykal:Hayat Muhammad.)

The banking system enables every person with surplus funds or idle capital to invest and have an assured share in the profits, unaffected by the inefficiency or corruption of the bank management. He also shares the losses when the bank fails. Thus the profit/loss sharing (PLS) advocated by the orthodox jurists in each transaction is also available in the banking system but on the long-term basis. This is in a way implementing the use of idle assets mentioned above and the Qur’anic injunction ‘But let there be amongst you traffic and trade by mutual good will’(4:29)

Riba is a Qur’anic term that has been defined in the Qur’an in several verses and has a comprehensive meaning that is not covered by the usual translations Usury and Interest, though usury describes it better.

In view of the conflicting definitions, we have to follow the direction of the Qur’an, which says:

‘If there is any dispute amongst you on any issue, refer it back to Allah and the Prophet’ (4:59)

If we try to define it based on the Qur’an and hadiths the definition would be as follows:

Qur’anic definition of Riba.

When a rich believer gives a loan to a poor and needy believer (who is eligible to get charity (sadqat and zakat), on an exorbitant, and predatory rate of interest (3:130) with difficult terms of repayment (2:280) and with the dishonest or malicious intention of devouring the borrower’s amwal / property / possessions (2:188; 4:29,30,161) it is called Riba.

The Qur’an desires to abolish this exploitative Riba and it asks the lender to forego the balance of Riba. (2:278); advises granting time to the borrower till it is easy for him to repay, and encourages even remitting the loan as charity. (2:280; 30:39) It clarifies that Riba is not trade. (2:275) It prohibits exploitation or devouring the amwal of others even by way of trade even when based on mutual consent or agreement. (4:29,30)

The alternatives of foregoing riba, or even the capital and treating it as charity clearly indicate that the borrower’s poverty and his being a brother-in-faith (2:188) were the main reason for these concessions.

It denigrates wasteful expenditure and recommends investment for mutual benefit. (4:29)

Prescribing zakat and abolition of Riba shows the concern of the Qur’an for the economically depressed classes of the society and calls upon every member of the society to share his earnings with those who are not economically well off.

It mentions that it was prohibited for the Jews also.

Which Riba was forbidden to the Jews?

‘ For the iniquity of the Jews, We made unlawful for them certain good things (of life) which had been lawful for them, because they hindered many from Allah’s way, and because they took usury though they were forbidden, and because they devoured other people’s property wrongfully. (4:160-161)

The following verses from the Bible are quoted to find out what was forbidden to the Jews.

‘If you lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury’ (Exodus, 22:25)

‘And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt relieve him: though he be a stranger or a sojourner that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give thy money upon usury nor lend him thy victuals for increase’ (Leviticus, 25:35-37)

‘Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother, usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of anything that is lent upon usury. Up to a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury but unto your brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the Lord thy God may thee in all thou settest thy hand to, in the land whither thou goest to possess it’ (Deut.23: 19-20)

From the above instructions of the Bible the forbidden riba is the increase, which is charged from an indigent person over and above the original loan, from a brother- in faith, and in the land, which is under the rule of one’s faith. It allows taking interest from strangers. (pp117-118 WIR)

The qur’an confirms the Bible in these words; ‘ And before it (The Qur’an) was the Book of Moses, a guide and mercy. And this Book confirms it in the Arabic tongue in order that it might admonish the wrong doers and give glad tidings to those who do good to others.’ (46:12-13)

The Qur’anic verses on the prohibition of riba (2:267-281) have been devoted to persuasion of charity and benefaction to the poor and the indigent, i.e., generosity, has been mentioned as a means to attract Allah’s pleasure and blessings and a way to increase wealth.(p.121 WIR)

Riba in the chronology of the Qur’an.

Ayah (30: 39) makes the earliest mention of the term and concept of Riba in the chronology of Qur’anic revelation. In its general linguistic sense, this term denotes an ‘addition to’ or an ‘increase of’ a thing over and above its original size or amount: in the terminology of the Qur’an it signifies any unlawful addition, by way of riba, to a sum of money or goods lent by one person or body of persons to another. (Q. 30:39)

Ayah (3:130) the exorbitant rate has been mentioned: ‘O you who have attained to faith! Do not gorge yourself on Riba, doubling and re-doubling it’

According to Qiffal (as quoted by Razi): since it was mainly through usurious gains that the pagan Meccans had obtained the wealth which enabled them to equip their powerful army and almost defeat the poorly-armed Muslims at Uhud the latter might have been tempted to emulate their enemies in this respect; and it was to remove this temptation- from them as well as the later generations of believers- that the prohibition of usury was once again stressed through revelation.

Ayahs 2:275 -281 were the last revelation received by the Prophet, condemning and prohibiting Riba in legal terms. He died a few days later.

According to Asad: ‘ Roughly speaking the opprobrium of Riba (in the sense in which the term is used in the Qur’an and in many sayings of the Prophet) attaches to profits obtained through interest bearing loans involving an exploitation of the economically weak by the strong and resourceful: an exploitation characterized by the fact that the lender, while retaining full ownership of the capital loaned and having no legal concern for the purpose for which it is to be used, or with the manner of its use, remain contractually assured of gain irrespective of any loss which the borrower may suffer in consequence of this transaction. As to what kind of financial transactions fall within the category of Riba, is in the last resort a moral one. Closely connected with the socio-economic motivation underlying the mutual relationship of the borrower and lender; and stated in purely economic terms, it is a question of how profits and risks may be equitably shared by both partners to a loan transaction. Hence every successive Muslim generation is faced with the challenge of new dimensions and a fresh economic meaning to the term which, for the want of a better word, may be rendered as usury. The prohibition laid down in 2:75 is already foreshadowed with the reference to the immoral hope of increasing one’s own substance through (other) people’s amwal, i.e. through the exploitation of others.

Riba and bank rate (interest)

To see whether Islam has really prohibited exploitation or has closed all progress to Muslims, the first step is to see whether there is anything common between Riba prohibited by Islam and the Bank rate, which is paid by the banks to depositors and investors and charged on loans taken by the borrowers.

Here is a comparative statement.


Parties to the transaction

Rich believer to needy believer Individual to bank (deposits,


Bank to individual (loan)

Bank to bank

Bank to Government

Government to bank

Government to Government

International Institutions to countries


Lender’s own Individual deposits in Bank

Government deposits in Bank

Loans from other banks

Returned loans from borrowers Profits earned

Interest Rate

Fixed by the individual lender Limited by Government

Exorbitant (double and quadruple) RElated to the inflation or

recession and competition among banks

for deposits and borrowers

Impacted by International institutions(eg.,IMF).


Heavy installments with a view to devour Vary, but limited by Government

the Borrower’s property.

At the personal discretion of the lender.


Personal Agricultural, industrial, developmental

Housing, transport, educational and personal

It will thus be seen that there is nothing in common between the exploitative Riba and the anti-Riba or anti-usury measures taken by the Banks to lend funds at reasonable rates to the borrowers as decided by the respective governments from time to time.

The thinking in Muslim countries.

In 1999 when Sheikh Zaki Yamani, a former minister in the Saudi Government, which claims to be governed by the Shariah, made a suggestion that the Shariah needs some modifications, the traditional people raised a storm. When a person of his intellectual level and practical experience of administering the system at the highest level makes a suggestion it has to be examined with all seriousness.

At about the same time Sheikh Hasan Turabi, the brain behind the Islamic revolution in Sudan as stated: ‘We are an Islamic state but we are still studying the following issues:

The form of government

The electoral system

The constitution

The Shura

The improvement of economy by Islamic means

The role of Islamic banks and insurance

The nature of Islamic justice

The ways in which music and art can be encouraged.(p139,ISP)

It is obvious from the above that practically every issue needed for modern administration has yet to be decided.

Dr. Mahatir Muhammad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, speaking in the Emirate International Forum in Dubai on April 27, 2001 said:

‘ After 1400 years we have still no codified Islamic laws, leaving it to the judge to refer to instances of similar crimes in the past to pass judgments and sentence. à.. It is because we have forsaken the true teachings of our religion and returned to our pre-Islamic ways: fending with each other, closing our minds to modern knowledge, ignoring

reality, and deceiving ourselves that we are better than others, when we are not’

Pakistan’s President Gen. Musharraf’s speech to Muslim religious leaders on June 5, 2001 has this comment:

‘Seventy per cent of world’s energy resources are in Muslim countries. But our GDP of the entire Muslim ummah comes barely to 1300 billion dollars. On the other hand Japan’s GDP stands at 5,500 billion and Germany’s at 2,500 billion dollars. In other words Germany’s GDP is twice that of the entire Muslim ummah and Japan’s is four and a half times though we are one fourth of the world’s population sitting on 70 per cent of the world’s energy resources. Why is this so? An analysis tells us that it is because of the difference in the advancement of human quality, of environmental development. . The entire Muslim world has some 380 universities of which only 25 are of world ranking.

In Japan 1000 universities award Ph.D. degrees. The entire Muslim ummah can boast of a total of 500 Ph.Ds. In England in each year 3000 Ph.D. are awarded and in India 5,000. Unless foreign investors come in, and our own people make investments, we cannot make any economic headway’.

The above statements from persons with experience of administration at the highest levels in Muslim countries show that the existing interpretations of the Divine Law needs reinterpretation, that most of the issues dealing with the functioning of modern governments are yet to be decided. There are only past precedents of a bye gone age, there are no codified laws, that we are educationally and technologically backward and require either economic or technological assistance from the more advanced countries.

No attempt has been made to co-relate the actual situation and problems of Muslims. There is only reaction to criticism than a creative response. There is absence of genuine concern to the social, economic and cultural condition among Muslims.(A.Moazzam:ICMW))

Islamic Banking.

A recent survey of ‘Current researches on Islamic Banking and finance’ has this to say:

‘ Although it is a matter of debate whether there existed any Islamic economy or financial system at all in the Muslim world in the past, but the way Muslim writers, economists, bankers and jurists have put their arguments in favor of this system are quite interesting. Just two decades back, Islamic finance had not such a deeper theme and was considered as a passing phenomenon of religion, money and politics.

There is consensus that interest in all its forms is similar to riba but Muslim scholars still raise the controversy when in recent times even some jurists legalize bank interest, calling it profit such differing interpretations of the Shariah when Islamic banking is presented as an alternative method does in fact give Islamic banking a confused image’.. Some Muslim economists suggest that commercial interest should be substituted as profit and loss sharing mechanism There are a number of studies, providing critical notes of the practical aspects of this system. Ideals and theories aside, here are some facts.

In Pakistan, Islamic banks provide profit and loss sharing (PLS) techniques for inter-bank, or for the State Bank- commercial banks transactions, but actually the fixed rate interest rates are being charged at every stage.(p104 JOS)

Researches indicate that up to 85% of advances made by Islamic banks everywhere are on (mark-up basis) or (murabaha) financing while PLS finance is comparatively insignificant..

A major portion of assets in Islamic banking is concentrated in shot term assets, as such Islamic banks hold a large cash reserve which earns no return, because they can not keep time deposits or invest in treasury bills which yield interest. (p106 JOS)

Islamic banks can flourish in countries where the political, moral, legal and social environment suits them. The impact of PLS on aggregate saving and investment in contemporary economics is highly controversial. No Islamic Bank (IB) has yet taken a high profile role in supporting charitable or other events of national and international importance. No IB is funding financially sustainable, environmental friendly projects, or funding micro-industries, low cost housing, renewable energy cooperatives, fair trade, sustainable transport or building restoration projects.

This perhaps brought one healthy criticism that Islamic banks need to discard their solely profit-pursuing, soft, non-socially conscious image. (p107 JOS)

Many Islamic banks are still family owned or owned by a group. They need massive injection of public subscription and greater transparency and disclosure. The auditing and accounting problems of Islamic banks are yet to be solved.(p109-110 JOS)

Ikbal Daredia, head of ABN AMROÆs Global Islamic Financial Services, Bahrain has this to say:

‘There are an estimated 1.2 billion Muslims world wide, a market worth any where between $150 billion to$200 billion. Yet because the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, forbids riba (interest on money) these potential customers cannot participate in many of the banking services that benefit customers in the Western world Some 150 financial institutions in Islamic countries have developed riba-free services, but only a few Western banks have recognized the value of this market’ Basically, Islamic banking system is based on trade or asset-based financing. You essentially step into the shoes of the customer and buy goods on his behalf. Then you sell the same goods to him on a deferred payment basis with a markup (Murabaha) In the end you have profit, not interest.

The Pakistan experiment

The Council of Islamic Theology and Elimination of Interest appointed by the Pakistan Government has submitted a detailed report in 1980.

Unfortunately, instead of using the Qur’anic term Riba, they have used a translation in which riba is translated as interest though most of the standard translations use the word Usury. Secondly, they have made no effort to define riba, based on the original text of the Qur’an. They were therefore bound these two basic deficiencies. They could not invent a new system against the prevalent system in the whole world. They had to improvise, compromise and camouflage.

Some of their conclusions are very briefly listed below.

1) Cases where the committee feels changes are not possible.

To allow the capitalist system to remain and to consider that by the abolition of interest all our problems would be solved is like living in the fool’s paradise. This committee categorically rejects this concept.

Ideally the real alternative to interest under an Islamic system are profit/loss sharing or Qard-e-Hasan Some recommendations lean on other methods than profit/ loss sharing, On account of prevailing standards of morality in the society there is a danger of eventual misuse. Efforts must be stepped up to bring about a substantial improvement in the standards of honesty in the society and to remove illiteracy, because both dishonesty and illiteracy militate against the success of the new system.

Indexation was discarded, as under the Shariah, currency transactions are not treated differently from commodity transactions. As such no allowance can be made for the change in the value of money.

Bai Muajjal: permissible under Shariah but is not practical, as it would open the back door for dealing with interest.

Normal rate of return; May degenerate into pure interest.

Time multiple counter loans: Not correct to use as a permanent alternative

Elimination of interest from transactions relating to international trade and aid poses the most difficult problems and cannot be achieved by the lone efforts of a single country.

Substituting medium and long-term finance for farmers by a single substitute confirming to the Shariah is not possible.

In order to avoid any adverse effect on depositor’s confidence and deposit mobilization by banks, deposits may continue to be accepted by banks on the existing basis.

The operation of foreign branches of Pakistani banks and foreign currency deposits and transactions with banks abroad would have to continue on the basis of interest.

Borrowings from international agencies may continue to be interest bearing.

Government would not be able to issue fresh market loans on terms compatible to the Shariah. Government borrowings from external sources will continue on the basis of interest.

The Alternative methods suggested:

a) Changing the name.

Calling it Service charge instead of interest. It may meet the requirement of Shariah, but neither accord with the true spirit of Islam nor would be advisable from the economic point of view.

Using the words Fine and deterrent punishment instead of calling it penal interest.

b) Changing procedures and making them more complicated.

Leasing can be done but the cost of insurance of assets will have to be borne by the lessor to confirm to Shariah.

Investment auctioning: Bank to set up an industry and auction it.

This means that when a Henry Ford or a Bill Gates asks for a loan, the bank will hire other experts and build an industry and sell it the geniuses who could have done it better without the extra cost. The highest bidder could be a different person who may also need a loan to pay up!

Hire purchase under joint ownership.

This means that instead of giving a loan to a person to buy a car, the bank would buy it, add the markup, call it a joint ownership, share the loss when due to the negligence of the borrower, the car gets damaged.

In order to avoid frequent shifts of deposits from banks of lower profitability to banks with higher profitability, the rates of return on deposits in nationalized commercial banks should be made uniform by pooling their profits for distribution among depositors.

This means going back to the system of predetermined rate of interest and allowing incompetent banks to survive at the cost of more efficient banks, and calling the same interest as profit.

Housing loans on joint ownership basis with rent sharing arrangements.

This means that the bank would buy a house, add the usual interest for the total period of repayment, and sell it next day on a joint ownership basis with a clear conscience that no riba has occurred. This would also mean that if the buyer pays the full amount in a shorter period, the price would remain the same, whereas in the present system he did not have to pay for the remaining period. In the present system a mortgage safeguards the interest of the lender and insurance safeguards the interests of both the lender and the survivors of the borrower.

Special loans: interest free for general welfare.

This lending would be to the detriment of the common investors who are not rich and avaricious money lenders but could be old widows or pensioners who are incapable of working and had invested their life’s savings to augment their reduced incomes in old age. The profits rightfully due to them would have been frittered away in helping weak banks and giving interest free loans, thus mixing business with charity. Charity is enjoined on every Muslim, and should be the duty of a Muslim government, not of a banking institution at the cost of the investors.

The final phase of elimination of interest was to take effect from first January 1982. but it has not yet implemented in 2001.

It is obvious from the above that even in a Muslim country which was created in the name of Islam it has not been possible to have a workable original system which is not a patch work on the much maligned capitalist system.

Umer Chapra in his book ‘Towards a Just Monetary System’ quotes J.K. Galbraith ‘ The best economic system is the one that supplies what most people want’ And suggests that the Islamic system would supply the needs and not the insatiable lusts. This may perhaps give a discretion to the IB to give a loan for a Ford but not for a Mercedes.

His book makes a detailed examination of the Pakistan report.

Regarding changing from the profit motive to profit / loss sharing system, apart from the fact that it is an unwarranted addition by Muslim economists and jurists, some economists have this to say: all quotes are from Chapra’s book. A Just Monetary System

The elimination of interest and introduction of PLS would not change the level of uncertainty. (Dr. Anis Zarqa,)

A mere replacement of riba by profit sharing will not serve the purpose. To merely substitute interest on loans by other forms of interest or profit fails to offer a real alternative.(Dr. Abdul Hameed Abu Sulaiman, Theory of economics of Islam: Paper in Contemporary aspects of Islamic thinking in Islam, Bloomington, Indiana, MSA, 1976.

Any proposition that asserts that a zero rate of interest is sufficient for the establishment of an Islamic system is false. (Dr. SNH Naqvi: Ethics and economics; An Islamic synthesis. Leicester, UK, The Islamic foundation)

Capitalism and democracy are on the march. The fact that Muslim countries have in general experienced slow growth rates has nothing to do with Islamic values. (Fareed Zakaria,)

Economic exploitation in all its diverse forms is as prevalent in the Muslim world as in capitalist or feudal society. It would therefore be a mistake to try to achieve transition from the conventional capitalist money banking system to the Islamic system in one stroke over a short period.

The status of implementation.

A Pakistani newspaper has this comment on the actual working of the PLS system in Pakistan. ‘There are two counters side by side in our banks. One of them deals with un-Islamic banking and the other with Islamic banking.. The Bank Manager informs us that in reality both types of accounts are really the same. The amounts collected at both counters are invested together. The interest on one is fixed. The profit on the other is not fixed. The depositor in the first window knows the rate of interest beforehand. The depositor in the Islamic system is informed at the end of the year about the profit he has earned. The account holders may deem it as interest or profit, as they like’

Ishrat Husain, the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan lambasted the Mudaraba (PLS) sector and said that it failed to give a model Islamic system to the country. It has gained just 0.2% of the total assets of the financial sector of the country since its inception twenty years ago. The banks with their huge network of asset base will be a major threat to mudarabas in a level playing field. (Pakistan link, July 6,01.)

This statement coming from the highest authority in banking clearly shows that the normal Muslim does not want to risk his investment in the PLS system. One reason for this mistrust could be his experience with the corrupt rulers who damaged the whole banking system though it did not provide for profit and loss sharing. The PLS would validate the presumed losses claimed by dishonest borrowers.

Perhaps the Divine wisdom in the use of the expression ‘doubled and quadrupled’ will be understood now when we see the Hadith:

‘There will certainly come a time for mankind when everyone will take riba and if he does not do so its dust will reach him’. (Abu Dawud; Ibn Majah)

The present interest based economy is controlled by the international monetary system and the concerned governments do not allow rates that can be called ‘doubled and redoubled’ It appears, as if the rest of the world has implemented many of the Islamic precepts and has found solutions to the problems facing the world. The Muslim jurists on the other hand have been busy finding problems with all the solutions offered. To deal with the exorbitant rates charged by the individual moneylenders the world has taken action to find anti-riba measures. They have made usury or charging interest above the rate prescribed by government as illegal and punishable.

In compliance with the directive in ayah 4:29, which says:

‘ But let there be amongst you traffic and trade by mutual good will’ co-operative and commercial banks have been developed in which ordinary people can invest their surplus funds for the common good and for mutual benefit.

Anti-Riba measures

(A) Co-operatives:

To free themselves from the clutches of the Jewish money-lenders a group of German farmers started a co-operative society nearly two hundred years ago by pooling their savings and lending to the needy farmers and then charging the expenses equitably. This initial experiment started a major movement of self-help among people and thousands of co-operatives in every country began the great task of freeing small farmers and others from the clutches of the heartless moneylenders. State level, district level and village banks were created for the needs of the farmers who gave long term, medium term and short term credit to cater to the different needs of the farmers at specially low rates, easy installments, and concessions when the crops failed.

(B) Commercial banks

Before the Industrial Revolution, the words usury and interest meant the same thing. After the Revolution when rich people had to borrow large amounts for the establishment of industries, the bank- rate charged by the banks was called interest and the exorbitant rate charged by the professional moneylender was called Usury and Governments made laws to regulate it. Even in the USA anyone who charges more than the bank -rate permitted by the Government is punishable by law. The increase permitted varies from state to state.

The Qur’an has this to say about wealth sharing

‘You shall never attain piety till you share with the others (the poor and the needy) what you cherish (particularly your wealth). And whatsoever you give away, God surely knows it.’ ( 3:92).

The prophet had said, ‘Mankind is a fold every member of which is a shepherd unto the other and responsible for the welfare of the entire fold’

The world has responded to this noble call and world organizations have been formed to help the poor countries in many ways. The World Bank, the IMF and rich countries give loans for all types of development at reasonable rates, and consider converting them into grants when a poor country is unable to pay.

It is a matter of regret that practically all Muslim governments misused these funds and the people in power borrowed beyond the repaying capacity of the country to enrich themselves, and then blamed the lenders for a conspiracy to destroy them.

Need for ijtehad.

Maulana Waheeduddin Khan, President of the Markaz e Islami, New Delhi has this to say:

‘The intellectual development of the present day Muslims has practically stopped. The reason is that they have become used to following blindly whatever scholars have written in the past. The mujtehadana or independent rational way of thinking has ended, as if it is an evil. Such people lag behind the other nations in knowledge and intellect The main reason of the failure of Muslims is that while they think about what is right and what is wrong, they fail to see what is possible. All their unnecessary sufferings are the result of rushing for something that they consider right without the practical consideration of what is possible. They fail to follow the gradual process adopted by the Prophet, of changing the minds before changing the system. Ijtehad is not merely an intellectual process. Ijtehad is the most important need of the Muslims. By applying the principles of Islam in changed conditions, they have to update procedures to prove that Islam is relevant to every age. For this continuous thinking is necessary. Ijtehad does not mean free thinking. Ijtehad requires treating the Qur’an and Sunnah as the original sources and instead of following the opinion of earlier jurists who took those decisions in totally different conditions, try to follow the original sources and deduct new procedures according the changed times. This is the process called Qiyas. Muslim jurists had done the same work in the second century Hijri. A lot of new problems had arisen for which there was no guidance in the Qur’an and Sunnah. The jurists solved the problems by Ijtehad. After the second and third Hijri, for some reason, a wrong concept developed that everything that had to be decided has already been decide by the jurists and that later Muslims should treat these as final. Thus the Jurists of the Abbasi period were treated as Mujtahed- e- Muthluq and the later jurists as mujtahed- e-Muqqaied or restricted jurists who were not allowed to interpret the original sources. This was the beginning of the intellectual tragedy of Islam.

The existing Fikh was developed in the Abbasi period when the Muslims were a world power. It represented a model from a position of strength. There is no existing model in the present law of Islam for a position of modesty. The Prophet had passed through both stage of modesty and power and in his life we have both models of behavior. Criticism is a means of intellectual development. Ijtehad is a product of discussion. Free discourse brings out new aspects of a problem. Analysis and audit may bring out a well-researched solution to the problem. This intellectual process is Ijtehad. Ijtehad is an unavoidable need for progress. The people who cannot tolerate criticism can never attain the intellectual good fortune to belong to the group of trail blazers.

According to Shah Waliullah, in his book Aqd al Jeed a mujtahid needs the following: “Knowledge of the Book of God, of the sunnah, views of past jurists, their differences, the language, and qiyas and istenbaat.”.

These are enough for ordinary ijtehad but for special ijtehad not only the face value but the undercurrents and the knowledge of the times is also necessary

The dominance of the West is not only political superiority but also a superiority of knowledge, science and technology. To meet this situation Muthlaq Ijtehad is necessary.”

(quotation ends: emphasis added: Al-Risala, July,2001)

The above extract is a free translation from a long Urdu article, and is an excellent analysis of the reasons of the present backwardness of Muslims all over the world.

The credit needs of Muslims require an Ijtehad-e-muthlaq. The orthodoxy has not been able to solve the complex problems of the modern world. This work has to be taken up with the help of the Muslim scholars who are experts in all the subjects relevant to the problem, that has to be solved. Our orthodoxy does not believe in consulting the authorities on any modern subject before expressing an uninformed opinion on a complex matter.

Ijtehad by modern Muslim Scholars.

Dr. Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, the Rector of the oldest Islamic University, the Jamia Azhar and the Mufti of Egypt, in an unprecedented Fatwa has countered the objections of traditional Muslim jurists when he said:

There is nothing wrong with the bank’s specification of profit rate. The banks, which set the rate of its profit, are much closer to Islam.

If a Bank for its reasons and out of its hands, has made a loss, then it has to prove before the courts, that every depositor would bear a portion of the loss commensurate with the volume of his deposited capital.

The specification of interest rate as to the bank’s deposit is not speculation. Deposition is an absolute mandate in which the depositor delegates the bank to invest his money. Therefore we should take the matter with ease and flexibility, but within the limits specified by the Lord

Even in regard to bank loans, if the loan was needed for a justifiable reason such as medical treatment or the embankment of an investment project, it is halal.

The banks neither lend nor borrow, but rather play the role of a mediator between the borrower and the depositor and the bank as such receive the latter category’s money in order to invest them on their behalf. Hence when a bank lends some money to an entrepreneur who intends to invest the funds in the some way, it then has the right to take some money out of the transaction. “(The Muslim World, Makkah, April 24-May 1,1990, quoted in Fikre Islami.FI)

Maulana Sayyid Ahmad Ali Sa’id, Grand Mufti of Darul Uloom Deoband gave a detailed fatwa, which specifically deals with non-Muslim countries. His fatwa is based on Hanafi law and contains detailed arguments and quotations from earlier scholars. The following is a brief account of his conclusions.

Riba is a major sin, but for any amount to become riba it is necessary that both the amounts (the Original capital and the increase on it) are inviolable (legal/legally protected). If one amount is inviolable the increase on it, according to Hanafi fiqh, is not considered inviolable, but a violable (unprotected) one, then such an increase will not be considered riba. (al-badai waÆl-Sana’i; vol.5 p.192) Allama Shami: Shami,vol.4,p.244).

There is no riba in the transaction of two trading partners, if they buy using the partnership money.

There is no riba between a resident of dar al-Harb and a Muslim living there with permission even if the contract is invalid or involves gambling because the property of the resident of dar al-Harb is lawful there and its acquisition is lawful with his consent, without deceiving him, therefore it is halal to him. (Al-Durr al-Mukhtar (shami, vol.4, p.260)

The condition of riba will not apply to such transactions, and to term it as riba is incorrect. This is the view of Imams Muhammad sufyan al-Thawri and Al-Awza’i. For a Hanafi, the view of Imam Abu Hanifa has preference, if Imam Muhammad also agrees; it is even more powerful and binding. Even if the shaykhs have given fatwa contrary to it. (Rasm al-mufti, p.72)

The definition of dar al-Harb is that the supreme power there should belong to non-Muslim and his orders are obeyed therein. India is undoubtedly a dar al-harb. But the constitution of the secular government has given security and religious freedom to Muslims so that they can act according to their religion. This is why the country is called dar al aman (abode of peace)à Like wise, Russia, China, America, Britain and France etc. where Muslims enjoy security are dar al-harb.

The amount deposited in a bank and the extra amount paid by the bank on the deposit is not riba. The second reason is that the amount deposited is not a loan so that the dictum ‘Every loan extracting a profit is riba’ could not apply to it. It is well known that the bank trades. So anyone depositing money in the bank will be considered a partner in the bank’s trading in proportion to his deposit, making this a form of mudarabah. In this way not considering the extra amount as riba and thereby rescuing Muslim economy from ruin is itself a religious need. Harming Muslim economy and society by branding this extra amount as riba is against religion and a proof of one’s lack of intelligence and wisdom. But this will not apply where the supreme power belongs to Muslims. (WIR, pp. 174-181)

Maulana Sayyid Manazir Ahsan Gilani, former head of the department of theology, Osmania University, Hyderabad had give an opinion during the British period that:

Riba does not occur between a Muslim and a harbi in dar-alharb.

Maulana Muhammad Zafiruddin, Mufti, Darul Uloom, Devband had a discussion with him, and has reported this:

In an article (WIR p.193) Maulana Gilani said: In this country we have to deal with non-Muslims day and night. They believe that it is valid for them to take riba from us and they take it. In this one-way trade a lot of Muslim wealth has been transferred to them through this channel. Muslims are left poor and bankrupt. This opinion is based on the authority of Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad and we abide by them and do not care what the other Imams say about such issues.

According to Maulana Sohail ‘Literally Riba means an absolute raise or increase. ````````But it is absolutely certain that any raise or increase, or riba is not the Riba or ‘Al Riba’ prohibited by the Shariah. Thus all the verses of the Holy Qur’an regarding the prohibition of riba mention it as al riba that is with the definite article ‘al’. Certainly the definite article

al here is not indefinite or general, otherwise every form of monetary increase, such as business profit would have been prohibited. (P.13 WIR)

The definition of riba rests solely on qiyas (inference) of the fuqaha. But there is lot of difference among them. They have normally mixed up riba with muratalah and sarf although these two types of commercial transactions. Muratalah is barter, and sarf is exchange of one currency with another. (P14WIR)

Maulana Sohail, after quoting all the Qur’anic ayahs and Hadiths and the differing opinions of fuqaha, all of whom just copied earlier opinions given before the advent of the modern banking system has summarized the rules of riba as follows::

If a person who is entitled to take sadaqat (charity) takes a loan to sustain himself or his family; or a debtor who is unable to pay his dues and in case of paying back his dues, he will not be left with enough money to maintain his family, enters into an agreement for an increase over the amount due, or on actual loan, then this is an agreement of riba which is unlawful. But this non-permissibility is conditional on two factors:

1) The place where this agreement is made is under Islamic rule that is where the government orders are issued according to the intent of the Shariah even in financial matters.

2) The transaction should be between Muslims

The above-mentioned definition makes lawful all instances in which a rich man takes a loan to satisfy his luxurious urges, or a trader takes a loan to further his business or when a person places his savings in a bank or official savings organization or a company or government department, and receives interest on the savings.

Maulana Suhail considers all such dealings as mudarabah, commercial investment, or ikra, that is renting, which are lawful. . (p17 WIR)

He has also quoted the following two Hadiths: The Prophet borrowed a two-year-old camel and returned a similar camel, and in addition gave another camel, and said: ’Best of you are the best in returning your debts. (Muslim, Tirmidhi)

Another narration is as follows in Abu Dawud: ‘ The Prophet took a loan from me. He repaid the loan to me and paid me an extra amount.(P107 WIR)

Maulana Rashid Pasha Rector and Mufti Khaleel Ahmed of Jamia Nizamia, Hyderabad, India have given similar fatwas according to which bank interest is not riba..

Ijtehad by Muslim countries.

With the exception of a few states known for their puritanical ideologies, the entire Arab world has, in the recent past, been the scene of an enormous jurisprudential revolution. This has culminated in reform and codification of civil, penal, commercial, procedural and personal laws in various Arab states. The laws of Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Jordon, Lebanon and Kuwait are, today, very much different from what they were in the beginning of the twentieth century.

A more extensive deviation from tradition and a speedier advance to modernity are noticed in the legislation promulgated in the North African Arab countries like Tunisia and Algeria. This was followed by Libya after the September 1969 revolution and Libya became a republic. A program of Islamization was taken up. On June 9,1972, Act 74 was enforced, in part, the Islamic principles relating to an important commercial concept, namely, usury (riba). As is well known, the Qur’an is believed to have prohibited usurious transactions of all kinds at all levels. Scope of this Libyan law is however limited. It prohibits usury in civil and commercial transactions among natural persons (individuals) al ‘ashkas al-tabiyin’, a-l afrad It lays down that: It will be unlawful to rovide for usury in all civil and commercial matters between natural persons; and any condition, express or implied, relating to usurious interest in such transactions will be absolutely void. The

Act does not apply to banks and other artificial persons ‘ashkas I’tibari..( Tahir Mahmood: Reflorescence of Islamic Law in Libya:.ICMW)

This major ijtehad making a clear distinction between personal and institutional loans would enable the financial institutions and co-operatives to cater to the credit needs of Muslims in Muslim as well as in non-Muslim countries.

It is clear that except Libya, other Muslim countries have yet to develop and innovate their classical financial methods and yet to achieve unanimous Shariah approval for equity investment in the world’s interest- based financial market. They also need financial assistance from world organizations and rich countries for their development projects according to the system prevalent in the whole world. The impeccable honesty expected in a truly Muslim society needed for the success of the PLS system advocated as the Islamic alternative, being rather rare, Islamic banking should be considered as an experiment that has yet to prove itself.

Muslims in non-Muslim countries, who are even otherwise disadvantaged by being minorities, facing discrimination or even oppression in some countries, have to accept the ijtehad by eminent Muslim scholars as cited above and get their credit needs from institutions, invest their surplus funds, and prosper, with a clear conscience and without a sense of guilt.

The Doctrine of Zarurah

In the alternative they may follow the medieval interpretations, none of which deal with institutional financing, and remain content with their poverty and misery. They can however take cover under the doctrine of Zarurah, provided by the Shariah, to give us relief when the other alternative is harmful or fatal for us, as in the case of eating prohibited food to stave off hunger.

Dr. Najatullah Siddiqi the Faisal Award winner on his work on Islamic economics had this to say in the annual meeting of the Islamic Society of North America in September 2001.

Shariah is not a body of fixed written rules but a continuing process. Zarurah is also part of the Shariah and is a continuous and dynamic process. Islam has a positive attitude towards wealth, a life-supporting thing. Banking is a contractual relationship, with the legitimate consent of two parties who enter the contract without coercion. There are

many opinions about riba which is prohibited because of fraud, coercion, ignorance of details, taking advantage of the need of the party, all relevant to independent Muslim countries. There are no answers to the problems of the modern world in old literature including banking. In his consultation with the orthodoxy he found them ignorant of economics, co-operative law and modern finance. Forty years back there was not a single person in the world of Islam with good knowledge of Arabic, good English and modern subjects. The answers by Ulema leave much to be desired. The days of fatwas based on past books are gone. Now a life long preparation is needed for all relevant subjects and a lot of assistance from others is necessary. No money is spent in Muslim countries on fundamental research. We have not yet found an alternative to banking with the necessary transparency, competitiveness and the interest of the consumer.


The prohibition of Riba in the Qur’an was a confirmation of similar orders in earlier scriptures. The purpose was to stop the exploitation of the poor and needy by rich individuals lending on exorbitant rates of interest with a view to usurp the possessions

of the borrowers. The modern system of institutional financing from the World Bank and State Banks to specialized banks for industrial, agricultural, housing and other needs of the modern world, going down to the village cooperatives, to cater to the credit needs of countries, institutions and ordinary people were unknown at that time when the Shariah was considered complete and the so-called door of ijtehad was closed. Our religious orthodoxy remained unaware of the present developments and continued to give

opinions on past precedents. Problem solving was not their responsibility. They could not distinguish between commercial profit sharing on a mutually agreed basis with an institution and profit and loss sharing between individuals, in which the loser was always the financier.

The translation of the term Riba which needs a comprehensive definition as interest or “sood” resulted in a situation by which Muslims deprived themselves of all economic progress. Poverty resulted in illiteracy, disease and all the evils of backwardness.

Even when scholars from prestigious Muslim centers of learning like al Azhar, Devband, Osmania and Nizamiah, all quoted above, gave clear well argued fatwas, the majority of our orthodoxy refused to distinguish between personal loans between individuals on exploitative terms and institutional loans regulated by the world’s economic

system. This system enables individuals to make use of their savings for the mutual benefit of all parties, and with necessary safeguards in case of loss.

Islamic banking could not have been thought of, if some individuals or families had not become fabulously rich by treating the oil resources of the country as their own personal wealth and wanted to make more money from the huge surpluses accumulated by them. In a poor Muslim country no one has such wealth and the creation of bank’s capital by deposits and investments is considered haram by the orthodoxy. The huge un utilized capital in Islamic Banks also shows that the bank is afraid to lend. People also do not trust a system which does not guarantee an assured predetermined share in the profits for the investor. The very low percentage of people investing in the PLS system in Pakistan is a proof of their distrust in the new system. To be frank the so-called Islamic banking is a patchwork on the capitalist banking system which has been made more complicated and less trustworthy for lack of transparency and openness. To be honest we do not yet have a system as stated by Dr. Najatullah Siddiqi.

In such a situation, the only guide to a man is his conscience and the rectitude and sincerity of his intentions. If the arguments given by eminent scholars who know the needs of the time do not convince anyone, the only course open to him is to use the Shariah’s own practical concept of Zarurah and choose the lesser evil. The questions he has to ask himself would be:

Is this a personal loan or an institutional loan. If it is a personal loan, the following points are clear:

1) Riba is haram according to all schools when both parties are believers if they are in a Muslim country where the Shariah is in force.

2) Except the Hanafi school, all others consider it as haram even if one of the parties is a non-Muslim or the transaction is in a non-Muslim country.. Only Imam abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad consider it permissible if one of the parties is not Muslim or when the transaction is not in a country which follows the Shariah .

3) If it is an institutional loan, there is no concept of it in the Shariah, and hence no past precedents. All rules of Shariah are about person to person loans. The translation of the term riba as interest is improper. Usury is a better word but this also does not convey the full meaning of riba. One has therefore to ask himself the following questions.

Am I cheating or exploiting anyone? Am I giving a loan to the bank? Or am I investing it in an institution which would use it for the mutual benefit of the investor, the borrower and the bank; and would share the profits with me under a well organized international monetary system?

Am I demanding doubled and quadrupled usurious rates from the bank? Or the law of the land has already determined the rates over which both contracting parties have no arbitrary control? Am I being exploited or is my property being usurped? Or is the bank enabling me to acquire the property I need?

The Bank insists on mortgage and insurance. Is not mortgage a safeguard for the lender? Is not insurance a safeguard both for the lender and the borrower? If so what is the rationality in objecting to these safeguards which are beneficial to both parties to the transaction?

Am I going to leave my family homeless by living in a rented place while the facility of owning the house is available in the present system by paying about the same amount as installment of a loan?

Am I depriving my children from university education by refusing to take an educational loan available for the purpose.?

Is the financing institution providing me with a facility, which I do not have and cannot afford without a loan on easy terms, or is it depriving me of my possessions and property?

Should I remain jobless and be a parasite on others or make use of the credit facilities offered for many of my needs including self-employment?

Can I walk several miles every day in intense heat or biting cold and snow? If not shall I remain jobless and make the family suffer, or buy a suitable transport with a loan facility available?

Can a poor country like Sudan or Afghanistan become self- sufficient and prosperous without an initial boost given by the international community in the shape of low-cost loans for many of its development needs ?

Honest decisions on these questions would perhaps enable the Muslims to choose the lesser evils if they are still unconvinced that institutional financing is a genuine anti-riba measure.


*The writer Syed Hashim Ali has held the following senior positions in government, relevant to the subject:

Executive Head of two universities./ Principle Secretary to Govt. and Agricultural Production Commissioner of a state (population; 75 million)/ Command Area Development Commissioner and Secretary, Irrigation Utilization of all major projects/ / Head, Cooperative Department / Chairman State Co-operative Bank (supervising Thirty one thousand co-operative societies) / Collector and District Magistrate of two tribal districts dealing with welfare and development of backward people.



( But as for you O believers,)never shall you attain piety unless you spend on others out of what you cherish yourselves; and whatever you spend-verily God has full knowledge thereof.


O you who have attained the faith! Do not devour one another’s possessions wrongfully-not even by way of trade based on mutual agreement- and do not destroy one another.(Asad)

(other translations)

Yusuf ali: “…but let there be amongst you traffic and trade by mutual good will…”

Maududi:”do business by mutual consent…”

Latif:”but put into trade for mutual benefit…”

Majid Dayabadi;”but let it be a trading among you by mutual agreement…”

Abul kalam Azad:” but put it together onto trade for mutual benefit…”

Syed Qutub:“ but if by mutual agreement it is trade and if profit occurs,

it is permissible…”


Do not gorge yourselves on usury, doubling and redoubling it.


If, however,(the debtor) is in straitened circumstances,(grant him) a delay until the time of ease; and it would be for your own good- if you but knew it-to remit( the debt entirely) by way of charity.


And devour not one another’s possessions wrongfully, and neither employ legal artifices with a view to devouring sinfully, and knowingly anything that belongs to others.


And as for him who does this with malicious intent and a will to wrong- him shall We, in time, cause to endure (suffering through) fire: for this is indeed easy to God.


and for their( the Jews) taking usury although it had been forbidden to them, and their wrongful devouring of other people’s possessions.


Remain conscious of God, and give up all outstanding gains from usury, if you are (truly) believers.


And (remember) what ever you may give out in usury so that it may increase through (other) people’s possessions will bring (you) no increase in the sight of God- whereas all that you give out in charity, seeking God’s countenance,(will be blessed by Him.)


Those who gorge themselves on usury...say” buying and selling is but a kind of usury”- while God has made buying and selling lawful and usury unlawful.


God deprives usurious gains of all blessing, whereas He blesses charitable deeds with manifold increase.


1) Translations of the Holy Qur’an by Yusuf Ali / Muhammad Asad / S.A.Latif / Majid daryabadi Mauududi.

2) Sahih Al Bukhari, M. Mohsin Khan, Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi1984,

3) WIR: What Is Riba: Maulana Iqbal Ahmad Khan Sohail: 1999: Translation of Urdu book Haqiqat ur Riba,1936. Edited by Zafrul Islam khan, Ph.D.

4) FI: Fikre Islami: Maulana Waheeduddin Khan.

5) ICMW :Islam and the contemporary Muslim World: Anwar Moazzam

6) PR: Pakistan Report of The Council of Islamic Ideology on the Elimination of Interest from the Economy. June 1980.

7) JMS: A Just Monetary System: Umer Chapra

8) FPI :Four Pillars of Islam, Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi page 114

9) MI: Islamic Economics in Urdu: Abul Ala Maududi

10) ISP: In the shadow of the Prophet by Milton Viorst, 1998

11) JOS: Journal of Objective Studies: vol viii:nos.1&2

12) Imam Abu Haneefa: Halaate Zindagi, Qanoon Saazi aur Fiqhö by Mufti Azizur Rahman1979, Raiwind, Lahore, Pakistan.

13)Taqleed and Ijtehad; Maulana Waheeduddin Khan: al Risala Urdu, July 2001

14) Dr. K. Siddique, Al-Balaagh, vol.16 No2 Lenasia, South Africa

15) Tolu Islam, May 2001, Lahore Pakistan, quoting from Daily Jung, Lahore, January 21,1984ö

16) Daily Muslim dated November 11,1980

17) Pakistan Link, June 22, 01 “Give him a fighting chance” by Ardsher Cowasji.

18) Jordan T. Pine quoting Ikbal Daredia, head of ABN AMRO Global Islamic Financial Service. on Internet daily Diversity

19) Dr. Najatullah Siddiqi, Speech, ISNA meeting, Chicago, September 2001

20) World Book