Religion and Globalization 7. Riba, Usury, and the Evolution of Moral Finance A Comparison of Two Arguments

Ronald Simkins, Zachary Smith, Christina Mcrorie
This article compares the historical transformation of the prohibition of usury in Christianity and the current disagreement in Islam over what forms of finance are forbidden by the prohibition of riba, now often interpreted to mean interest. It first sketches the controversy over riba in Islamic banking and economics. It then describes how the Christian understanding of usury evolved from any profit returned on a loan to merely exploitative lending. This article then identifies and considers
more » ... ies and considers divergences and correspondences between the substance, prompting causes, tenor, and method of development of these two debates. It concludes by suggesting some reasons scholars of religion and religious ethics may find this comparison useful, both when studying these specific traditions, and when reflecting on moral issues arising in modern finance.