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 Usury - the Lending of Monies

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Usury - the Lending of Monies Empty
PostSubject: Usury - the Lending of Monies   Usury - the Lending of Monies EmptyMon Oct 27, 2008 6:05 pm


Definition: charging a fee for the use of money or interest on monies lent.

Usury was condemned by all religions (Islam, Judaism and Christianity alike).

The early Christian Church Fathers had this to say:
St. Jerome on Usury, 400: If you gave to a prosperous person you should not have done so: but if (even so) you gave it as to a needy person, why should you demand more on the score of his being prosperous? Some lenders are wont to take small gifts of different value, not realizing that whatever is received over and above what was given is called usury and superabundance. They ought not to take more, however much it be, than was originally given by them.

Pope Leo the Great, 444: Neither do we think that it should be lightly passed over that some people, seized with the desire for filthy lucre, put out their money at usury in order to become rich thereby. And we have to complain of this not only with regard to those in clerical office but we likewise grieve to see that it holds true of lay people who wish to be called Christians. We decree that this should be severely punished in those found guilty, so that all occasion of sin may be washed away.

Islam condemns the charging of interest of any kind.
Al-Baqarah 2:275 Those who charge usury are in the same position as those controlled by the devil's influence ...... As for those who persist in usury, they incur Hell, wherein they abide forever

Al-Baqarah 2:276-280 God condemns usury, and blesses charities ....... O you who believe, you shall observe God and refrain from all kinds of usury, if you are believers. If you do not, then expect a war from God and His messenger.

Al-'Imran 3:130 O you who believe, you shall not take usury, compounded over and over. Observe God, that you may succeed.

Al-Nisa 4:161 And for practicing usury, which was forbidden, and for consuming the people's money illicitly. We have prepared for the disbelievers among them painful retribution.

Ar-Rum 30:39 The usury that is practiced to increase some people's wealth, does not gain anything at God. But if people give to charity, seeking God's pleasure, these are the ones who receive their reward many fold.

Judaism forbids the levying of interest on loans made to Jews but not to Gentiles or non-Jews.
Deuteronomy 23:19: Do not charge interest on the loans you make to a fellow Israelite, whether it is money, food, or anything else that may be loaned with interest.

Deuteronomy 23:20: You may charge interest to foreigners, but not to Israelites, so the LORD your God may bless you in everything you do in the land you are about to enter and occupy.

Psalm 15:5: Those who do not charge interest on the money they lend, and who refuse to accept bribes to testify against the innocent.

Proverbs 28:8: A person who makes money by charging interest will lose it. It will end up in the hands of someone who is kind to the poor.

Unfortunately, the Christian Churches views on usury led to a rather difficult relationship between Jews and Christians - St. Thomas Aquinas was quite outspoken on the matter. Jews became the money-lenders or bankers in early medieval society and were often vilified for this role, despite the fact that many kings and churchmen were not above consulting them. Both the French and English Kings were often in debt to Jewish bankers and were not above extorting even more money from them with threats of expulsion and confiscation of properties. So a double standard was employed.

However, times have changed and so has the meaning of the word. Nowadays, usury refers to the unreasonable or excessive charging of high interest rates upon monies lent. Looking back, modern economists considered the usury laws as an obstacle in the functioning of an efficient and possible global banking system.

"For my part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity: The throne is a glorious sepulchre."
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