Wednesday, June 28, 2006
(3:23 AM) | Angela:
Interest & usuryI'm vaguely interested that some of the major national banks in the UK have set up a form of Islamic mortage. The reason for this (according to one BBC article I read) is that a seller and buyer should share rewards and risk. Interest earned on money is is seen as unfair since it is not related to the value of goods themselves and consequently is disallowed under Muslim law.
An Islamic mortgage translates as the bank buying and owning the property. The people attempting to buy the property pay off the bank in installments at the original price agreed. However, they also pay the bank "rent" for using the property. These additional payments are not seen as interest, but payment for using the property.
Now, I can see quite a few disadvantages and I've a couple of questions. I'm not sure that I like it that a lot of property might be in the hands of the bank. On the other hand, it's got to be paid off into somebody's hands. Also, what stops the bank from raising the "rent" levels beyond that of any reasonable buyers so that although you can afford your installments, you can't afford the rent? Also, isn't there a sense in which this is just "interest payments" by another name, ie. that of "rent"? Is it obedience to the letter of the law, but not the spirit? Now, I'm not an Islamic scholar. I know less about property buying and ownership, but I'm really quite interested that a practice that is important to a religious sub-group has been able to become mainstream.
This brings me to the particular point of my post. Does anybody know when Jews and Christians started to see usury as acceptable?