A while back ago when I was investigating alternative finance I came across an older Islamic teacher (Malaysian?) who made a statement that grabbed my attention = "Don't be fooled. Halal & Islamic banking doesn't exist and its concept is an oxymoron! But there are enough mullahs & imans, who for a fee, will declare whatever you want to be halal."
Originally Posted by siam
We have to put things into perspective:
Slavery was once (and in places like Sudan continues to be) integral to Islamic economics. Similarly, until relatively modern times, feudalism (tenant serfs) was the norm in the Christian world.
Thus in a rural setting usury was the farthest thing from anyone's mind (only the nobility who had arisen through conquest had the ability to borrow, and generally they had no need to borrow! Except for possibly in times of pestilence, flood or drought when they needed to replace seed and/or stock. The ancient solution was not to borrow but to steal. Running short of something get your serfs together and raid whoever has what you need. The history of north-eastern Europe substantiates this proposition upto the late middle ages...
It is only when a merchant class arose that usury became an issue. Muhammad's financial difficulties were solved by a rich widow (Khadija) who sponsored his endeavours and whom he later married (a 25 year exclusivity). That option for financing wasn't open to everyone. Arrangements arose where a camel or slave train would transport a merchants wares to long distance markets for a proportion of the produce. The story of how Aristotle became a free-man highlights freight mechanisms in early times. With the advent of long distance freight came the advent of an exploitative bourgeoise class who provided market infrastructure. Several issues arise: How did the freighters raise the initial funds to procure slaves, camels etc? How did the bourgeoise raise the initial funds to provide granaries, feed lots, buildings, land for the markets etc? Where did these classes of society get the money to pay taxes, tolls & admission fees? The answer as far as I can gather is credit, which is usury by another name, if payment for the provision is excessive (the RCC definition of Usury is excessive charges and is not limited to credit eg: inflating prices in times of shortage).
Several Islamic teachers I've encountered on Youtube cite Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" as a prime example of excesses that amount to usury...
The words [of the contract] expressly are “a pound of flesh”. Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh,
But in the cutting it if thou dost shed one drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods are by the laws of Venice confiscate..