Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



The Nature and Significance of the Medieval and Modern Interpretations of Riba
Author: 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.

Ziaul Haque

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