4.2 A Matter of Interest
Gerry: Sometimes it is difficult to ascertain the moral or ethical imperative on which Allah bases His instructions. For example, His condoning of slavery and His condemning the practice of lending money at interest. Both convey an economic advantage to the slave-owner and the money-lender respectively.
Uzza: The transaction involving only money however, can be to the benefit of both contracting parties. The transaction in humanity, on the other hand, usually benefits only the title-holder while confining the other, the slave, to a life of miserable servitude.
Gerry: Then why would someone invent a world where slavery is good, and interest on borrowed money is bad?
Uzza: What if that someone was a slave-owner in debt? I’m just saying.
Bob: I thought the Prophet was rich from the Zakat and the plunder?
Uzza: It would be awhile before the plunder and the Zakat − which was only demanded by Allah when He was sure Muhammad could enforce its collection − was enough to make ends meet, let alone finance a war of expansion. In the meantime, Muhammad used his own money and that of his first wife. And when that ran out, he borrowed from his uncle Abbas and some say from the Jews.
Bob: His wife had money of her own.
Uzza: Before Islam, females could accumulate wealth and keep it. It was theirs to do with as they wish, even after marriage.
Archie: And this woman gave money to a man to create a religion that would take a woman’s right to own anything except perhaps her dowry. What a stupid woman.
Uzza: Khadiaja was not a stupid woman. She trusted the young man she first hired to lead her caravan, then later married when he was twenty-five and she forty-something, to do the right thing.
Archie: But he didn’t?
Uzza: It all depends on your point of view. He obviously struct a nerve with women across the ages. His most ardent supporters today are women.
Gerry: Struct may not be the right word.
Archie: I think it is.
Bob: Did he pay interest on the money that he borrowed from his uncle Abbas and others.
Uzza: He was expected to, yes.
Archie: But he didn’t, did he. Uzza: No, he didn’t. Not to his uncle that is for sure.
Archie: Because he got a revelation from Allah that said that he did not have to, right?
Uzza: No, Allah revealed that no one had the right to charge interest on borrowed wealth.
Archie: Same difference.
Uzza: Allah did include Muhammad in a warning of a war waged by Him and Muhammad on those who will not forgo interest owed, and that would, of course, include the interest owed by Muhammad. The inclusion of Muhammad, a debtor, in such a warning, which, unlike most other warnings by Allah is retroactive, could be significant.
Bob: Isn't that a conflict of interest?
Archie: The Prophet got away with not paying money he owed for the same reason he got away with everything else he got away with.
Gerry: I feel another sermon from the bar coming on.
Archie: That Aisha broad got it right when she said Allah was always quick to please her husband when it came to his sexual needs, and all his other needs from what I can make out. He made charging interest on borrowed money a sin because it freed His Prophet from having to pay it, just like he took away the sin of marrying your son’s wife while he was still alive so that His Prophet could do just that. As I said before, I don’t blame him for using a manufactured relationship with God to get god to do his bidding. I don’t blame him, I blame those who put together the book after he was dead and left in it all that self-serving crap.
Uzza: I wouldn’t call it crap. And you forget that Allah is also the author of the Torah. In that first draft of his instructions for mankind He forbade the Jews from charging interest. It is only logical that you would find that prohibition in the Koran, the final draft. And then there is the example of Jesus banning the money changers from the Temple.
Gerry: Jesus banned the money changers from doing business in the Temple, Uzza, not from not doing any business. And then there is the parable of the Talents which implicitly allow the increase of one’s wealth from the investment of currency.
Uzza: You’re right, Jesus may be a bad example.
Archie: The Prophet was very much a merchant or a businessman like myself, and how we make money is by selling what we sell for more than we paid for. How is increasing your wealth through strictly monetary transactions different than increasing it through barter or through the purchase of an item then selling it for more than you paid for it?
Uzza: Allah does not go into the specifics, even when demonstrating an accountant’s understanding of compound interest, except to warn those involved in trade to know the difference if they did not want to burn in Hell for an eternity. The question was obviously asked of Muhammad who goes into much detail as to how you do this. A modern economy could not function if you followed his instructions.
Bob: So, the Prophet’s example is not always a good one.
Uzza: No, not in this day and age. Which is one reason why Islamists insist on turning the clock back, if only to prove Muhammad right about everything.
Archie: It’s too bad he wasn’t wrong about warfare and how you get people to kill and die for you or give up without a fight. So, what did he do after capturing Mecca that way?