The Supreme Court of Pakistan, in determining the applications and implications of the term “Riba” asked for assistance of religious scholars and other interested people of the country. For this purpose, answers to ten questions were sought. The eighth among these questions was:
If you are of the view that all the forms of interest are prohibited by Shari`ah, then what procedure will you suggest eliminating it from the economy? If you prefer a gradual process, what strategy do you suggest for the purpose, which may fulfill the requirements of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah?
My Reply to the question follows:
This question, like the seventh question should be addressed to Muslim economists and Muslim experts in the fields of trade, commerce and finance.
The question that needs to be addressed to scholars of Islamic sciences, if the process proposed by Muslim economists and experts in related fields is one of gradual change is whether or not Islam allows such gradual change in freeing the economy from the evil of “Riba”. The answer to this question is that the correction of any social phenomenon that requires gradual change should be corrected gradually. This is the very essence of correction. One of the obvious examples of adopting such gradual process of correction in a social phenomenon during the times of the revelation of the Qur’an was freeing the society of the problems of slavery. The Qur’an was always against this institution, but for correcting it, the Qur’an took a series of steps over a period of twenty-three years because of the gravity and the intensity of the particular situation.
By the same token, it can be said that if the experts believe that the economy cannot be relieved of the evil of Riba, except in a gradual manner, the first step taken towards this target shall be a step taken in the right direction and all those involved in this process shall, insha’Allah, be rewarded for their efforts.