How I Avoided Riba 
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How I Avoided Riba

The government recently started an interest-based loan scheme for the youth where an individual procures a loan at a 6 to 8 percent interest rate. I have been working in the government since 2003 and my organization has been given a supporting role in this financing project. It was decided by my organization that employees who will work to assist the general public in this regard includes me also.

The minute I heard about the announcement of my selection in the project the first thing that came to my mind is whether working under this project is allowed under the Shariah or not as it involves interest based financing, although we are not the one taking or receiving the interest.

So I immediately approached Ethica Institute by email and a local Mufti through a telephone call. The mufti asked me to give him a day to respond after consulting with other muftis of the local Darul Ifta panel though he said the answer would probably be in the negative. As for Ethica Institute, I immediately received an email advising me to run away from it as far as possible and have the courage to stand firm on my position of not being part of this grave sin against Almighty Allah.

After receiving these confirmations, I went straight to my immediate boss and she told me that she will talk to the higher ups in this regard. Soon after this she told me that I have to talk to the CEO myself and his approval will be the only way I can be spared from this responsibility. I went to the CEO and told him the situation and requested him to remove me from this responsibility. He listened to me with care and concern.

Now is the time when the direct help from Almighty Allah came to my assistance. It was Friday and the Jumuah Prayer was about to commence when I came out of the CEO's office with the firm resolve in my heart that if the CEO won’t approve I will simply refuse to obey the order no matter what the consequence will be. We all went for Jumuah prayer including the CEO and the officer who had been designated to look after the proceedings of the project. At the time of the dua, out of nowhere, suddenly the Imam took a digression from the usual dua and lambasted the whole phenomenon of interest based financing, pleading to his listeners to stop waging war against your own Creator.

I guess that had a strong emotional impact on the CEO. After the prayer the CEO summoned me to his office to ask what my grievances were against the financing project. I told him that I did not want to be the one waging any sort of war against Almighty Allah as I am already among His transgressors and I did not want to further crush my soul under this enormously heavy burden. He himself was feeling guilty. So he understood my position and accepted my request whole heartedly.

Ali Ishtiaq

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