English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 2: Al-Baqarah — The Cow (Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections, 286 verses)

Section 38 (Verses 2:274–2:281): Usury Prohibited



اَلَّذِیۡنَ یُنۡفِقُوۡنَ اَمۡوَالَہُمۡ بِالَّیۡلِ وَ النَّہَارِ سِرًّا وَّ عَلَانِیَۃً فَلَہُمۡ اَجۡرُہُمۡ عِنۡدَ رَبِّہِمۡ ۚ وَ لَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَیۡہِمۡ وَ لَا ہُمۡ یَحۡزَنُوۡنَ ﴿۲۷۴﴾ؔ

2:274 Those who spend their wealth by night and day, privately and publicly, their reward is with their Lord; and they have no fear, nor shall they grieve.

اَلَّذِیۡنَ یَاۡکُلُوۡنَ الرِّبٰوا لَا یَقُوۡمُوۡنَ اِلَّا کَمَا یَقُوۡمُ الَّذِیۡ یَتَخَبَّطُہُ الشَّیۡطٰنُ مِنَ الۡمَسِّ ؕ ذٰلِکَ بِاَنَّہُمۡ قَالُوۡۤا اِنَّمَا الۡبَیۡعُ مِثۡلُ الرِّبٰوا ۘ وَ اَحَلَّ اللّٰہُ الۡبَیۡعَ وَ حَرَّمَ الرِّبٰوا ؕ فَمَنۡ جَآءَہٗ مَوۡعِظَۃٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّہٖ فَانۡتَہٰی فَلَہٗ مَا سَلَفَ ؕ وَ اَمۡرُہٗۤ اِلَی اللّٰہِ ؕ وَ مَنۡ عَادَ فَاُولٰٓئِکَ اَصۡحٰبُ النَّارِ ۚ ہُمۡ فِیۡہَا خٰلِدُوۡنَ ﴿۲۷۵﴾

2:275 Those who swallow usury cannot arise except as he arises whom the devil prostrates by (his) touch.1 That is because they say, Trading is only like usury. And Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury.2 To whomsoever then the exhortation has come from his Lord, and he refrains, he shall have what has already passed. And his affair is in the hands of Allah. And whoever returns (to it) — these are the companions of the Fire: in it they will abide.

یَمۡحَقُ اللّٰہُ الرِّبٰوا وَ یُرۡبِی الصَّدَقٰتِ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ لَا یُحِبُّ کُلَّ کَفَّارٍ اَثِیۡمٍ ﴿۲۷۶﴾

2:276 Allah will blot out usury, and He causes charity to prosper.3 And Allah does not love any ungrateful sinner.

اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ عَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ وَ اَقَامُوا الصَّلٰوۃَ وَ اٰتَوُا الزَّکٰوۃَ لَہُمۡ اَجۡرُہُمۡ عِنۡدَ رَبِّہِمۡ ۚ وَ لَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَیۡہِمۡ وَ لَا ہُمۡ یَحۡزَنُوۡنَ ﴿۲۷۷﴾

2:277 Those who believe and do good deeds and keep up prayer and give the due charity — their reward is with their Lord; and they have no fear, nor shall they grieve.

یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ وَ ذَرُوۡا مَا بَقِیَ مِنَ الرِّبٰۤوا اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ مُّؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۲۷۸﴾

2:278 O you who believe, keep your duty to Allah and relinquish what remains (due) from usury, if you are believers.

فَاِنۡ لَّمۡ تَفۡعَلُوۡا فَاۡذَنُوۡا بِحَرۡبٍ مِّنَ اللّٰہِ وَ رَسُوۡلِہٖ ۚ وَ اِنۡ تُبۡتُمۡ فَلَکُمۡ رُءُوۡسُ اَمۡوَالِکُمۡ ۚ لَا تَظۡلِمُوۡنَ وَ لَا تُظۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۲۷۹﴾

2:279 But if you do not, then be apprised of war from Allah and His Messenger;4 and if you repent, then you shall have your capital. Wrong not, and you shall not be wronged.

وَ اِنۡ کَانَ ذُوۡ عُسۡرَۃٍ فَنَظِرَۃٌ اِلٰی مَیۡسَرَۃٍ ؕ وَ اَنۡ تَصَدَّقُوۡا خَیۡرٌ لَّکُمۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۲۸۰﴾

2:280 And if (the debtor) is in difficulty, let there be postponement till (he is in) ease. And that you forgo it as charity is better for you, if only you knew.5

وَ اتَّقُوۡا یَوۡمًا تُرۡجَعُوۡنَ فِیۡہِ اِلَی اللّٰہِ ٭۟ ثُمَّ تُوَفّٰی کُلُّ نَفۡسٍ مَّا کَسَبَتۡ وَ ہُمۡ لَا یُظۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۲۸۱﴾٪

2:281 And guard yourselves against a day in which you will be returned to Allah. Then every soul will be paid in full what it has earned, and they will not be wronged.



  1. Ribā means an addition over and above the principal sum that is lent and includes usury as well as interest. Just as charity is the broad basis of human sympathy, usury annihilates all sympathetic affection and leads to the extreme of miserliness. Islam refused to allow the rich to grow richer by reducing the poor to still greater poverty, which is the real aim of usury. Usury causes man to be obsessed by love of wealth and selfishness; and this is, in fact, what is meant by the devil prostrating a devourer of usury. It may also be mentioned that while Islam enjoins acts of sacrifice to carry on the struggle for national existence, it prohibits usurious dealings which are the basis of modern warfare. All wars are now carried on with the help of loans, interest on which ultimately is a source of ruin to both the conquerers and the conquered. A just war, a war in self-defence, would always lead a community to acts of sacrifice to which they would be impelled in the interest of their own existence.
  2. In trade the capitalist takes the risk of loss along with the hope of profit, but in lending money on usury the whole of the loss is suffered by the one who uses his labour, while the capitalist may count upon his profit even in the case of loss in the actual concern. Hence trading is quite different from usury.
  3. Usury is here condemned, while charitable deeds are commended as being the real source of the prosperity of a nation or of humanity in general. It is a prophetic reference to the general tendency in the growth of civilization to lessen­ing rates of interest, so much so that usurious dealings, in the proper sense of the word, are becoming almost extinct, while the tendency for public charity or personal sacrifice in the interests of a community, or even humanity in general, is gaining ground.
  4. Going directly against the commandments of Allah is here described as a war with Allah and His Messenger. The money received as bank interest may be spent in the cause of Allah and His Messenger or for the propagation of Islam. In fact the Divine purpose in the prohibition of interest is fulfilled if interest is changed into charity.
  5. This indicates the kind of sympathy Islam demands. The poor man is not to be prosecuted and thrown into prison, and payment of debt must be post­poned till the debtor is able to pay, or, better still, the whole may be remitted as charity.