Religious Views on Credit Cards

in Credit Cards, Sunday

Fatwa Against Credit Cards

In Ottawa la while ago,  Imam Khaled Abdul-Hamid Syed (local Muslim Community Leader) has declared a fatwa against Credit Cards, and I say to that, Good on you!.

“I conclude that it contains usury … which is forbidden in Islam, so it should not be used…”

I wonder if he reads this blog? The Imam is correct (in my opinion) in his view that Credit Cards are the modern equivalent of usury and I applaud him speaking out about this topic. I’d be curious to hear his views on Pay Day Loans.

The Imam has said that this Fatwa is not binding, and some folks are concerned about whether this means you should never use a credit card, even if you pay them off monthly (or only use them in emergencies)? I think any statement by any Community Leader that causes folks to talk seriously about this subject is a very good thing. Discussion causes folks to think about how they are doing things, and may cause some to change bad habits.

Will I soon be changing to Islam as my religious following? No, as most of my readers know, I am a devout Anglican, but I wouldn’t mind hearing what the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Anglican Church of Canada has to say about this interesting subject, as well.

Usury = Credit Cards?

As for the Credit Card companies and the banks, I wonder if they are worried about this or not? I doubt they care, but if a ground swell of folks stop using their cards, what might happen?


{ 7 comments }

  • TEMPLE March 1, 2010, 12:44 PM

    Shouldn’t we be going by the obsolete definition of usury? The religious prohibition against usury has to be considered in terms of the context of when such a prohibition was first formualated, and I think that it would be fair to say the obsolete defintion is the correct one to consider, i.e., interest paid for the use of money. That being the case, this Fatwa should be extended to all borrowing, including mortgages, car loans and student loans. Do do otherwise would be hypocritical.

    FYI, the Bible condemns usury in a number of sections.

    TEMPLE

    Reply
  • Dr_V February 26, 2010, 4:43 PM

    > You are the exception, but it is Usury none the less.

    My understanding of the definition, from Wikipedia, is that “usury” only applies if there is a charge on top of the money that was originally lent.

    In the case of credit cards, there are _no_ additional charges/penalties/interest if you pay back the money within the allotted time frame (which is usually about one month).

    So please explain: how is this a case of usury if the credit card owner always pays back their bills? (I don’t see how that could be the case.)

    Reply
    • bigcajunman February 26, 2010, 5:54 PM

      In your case no it is not usury, but in many cases it is. It’s much the same argument that the NRA makes about Guns, and how it’s what the people who HAVE the guns DO with them, not the guns themselves that are dangerous. Drinking isn’t dangerous, until you drink to excess and get behind the wheel of the car. The Car is not necessarily dangerous unless you are rushed, distracted or intoxicated then it is a weapon.

      If you feel the Fatwa is not worth following, feel free to continue using your card, I simply pointed out that Credit Card rates are usury, when you miss your first payment (and you will, by accident, omission, or whatever) and you get charged 19% interest, you’ll see the point too (oh and the Credit card companies are glad you don’t think it’s usury too).

      Reply
    • bigcajunman February 26, 2010, 6:02 PM

      … and if we are going by strict definition, WEBSTER’s dictionary has usury defined as:

      u·su·ry   [yoo-zhuh-ree] Show IPA
      –noun,plural-ries.
      1. the lending or practice of lending money at an exorbitant interest.
      2. an exorbitant amount or rate of interest, esp. in excess of the legal rate.
      3. Obsolete. interest paid for the use of money.

      They do charge an exorbitant interest rate, the fact that you have avoided it, does not make it not so.

      Reply
  • Dr_V February 26, 2010, 8:09 AM

    I pay my credit card off every month, and in 15 years, have never _once_ made a single interest-related payment. Furthermore, I get 1% cash back, free auto club membership, and warranty/travel protection…

    Hardly what I would call usury.

    Reply
    • bigcajunman February 26, 2010, 8:45 AM

      You are the exception, but it is Usury none the less.

      Reply
  • Johnny G February 23, 2010, 4:04 PM

    interesting take..if I am not mistaken it is also against the dictates of Islam to earn interest…so I can understand not wanting to pay interest.

    Reply

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