The Nature and Significance of the Medieval and Modern Interpretations of Riba

Ziaul Haque


The present socio-cconomic fomlation in the urban, rural and
tribal areas of Pakistan is in transition from its semi-feudal phase to
an urbanised and industrialised economy and society. In this
trdnsformation to an industrialised market economy, industrial capital
and the new classes of entrepreneurs, financiers. industrialists.
businessmen and wage-labourers play crucial roles in the overall
production process. ' However, in the rural and tribal areas of Pakistan
the old feudal classes still dominate and tenaciously cling to
pre-<:apitalist modes of production and to the old ways and methods
characteristic of superstitious and irrational ideas. beliefs and
practices which tend to block social change and which do not correspond
to the industrial and scientific culture of modern industrialised
societies. The Quranic term riba2 has been defined and interpreted in
\·ariolls \\ays during the medieval and modem times. In the
pre-capitalist medieval times capital generally existed in the two old
forms of merchant and usury capital. Industrial capital (machinery,
tools, equipment, inventory) in the modem sense did not exist in early
medieval limes. Nor did the concept of a modern, roundabout production
process, a process in time. had yet emerged. In the modem capitalist
epoch the main engine of gro"th has been the rapid technical progress
with capital formation to increase production. Capital in this sense did
not exist in the medieval agrarian society.

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