رباخواری به عمل دریافت ربا گفته میشود که معمولاً به صورت شغل در جوامع گذشته و امروزی میباشد و فرد رباخوار با دریافت وثیقه و تضمین از فرد وامگیرنده، به وی به جنس یا پول وام با بهره میدهد. گاهی اوقات ربا به معنی سود بیش از حد و گاهی به عنوان هر نوع سودی در نظر گرفته میشود. به صورت تاریخی در جوامع مسیحی و اسلامی گرفتن هر نوع سودی بر روی پول ممنوع بوده است. مذمت رباخواری در بسیاری متون در بسیاری کشورها یافت میشود. مهمترین تغییر در تاریخ رباخواری در کشورهای غربی در سال ۱۵۴۵ میلادی توسط هنری هشتم صورت گرفت که بر اساس آن گرفتن سود بر روی پول آزاد گردید.
ربا اصطلاحی در شریعت اسلامی است به معنی گرفتن یک مال در عوض پرداخت مالی از همان جنس است بطوریکه میزان یکی زیادتر از دیگری باشد این عمل در دین یهود نیز حرام شناخته شده است به طوریکه در قرآن خطاب به یهودیان زشت بودن ربا بازگو شده است. قوانین موضوعه ایران هم ربا را جرم محسوب میکنند.
تاریخ رباخواری به هزاران سال پیش از میلاد باز میگردد. در زمانهای گذشته بانک به معنی فعلی وجود نداشت و از این رو بیشتر رباخواران افراد حقیقی بودند که اموال خود را به صورت وام با سود به بقیه میدادند. در این زمان هر کس که مایل بود میتوانست این کار را انجام دهد. در امپراطوری روم سود معمولاً بین ۴ تا ۱۲ بود ولیکن سودهای بالاتر به اندازه ۲۴ و ۴۸ نیز گاهی وجود داشت. دلیل اینکه سودها همه مضرب ۴ بودند ممکن است به ضعف رومیان در ریاضیات یا استفاده از اعداد رومی مرتبط باشد. در این زمان معمولاً رباخواران بزرگ افراد بسیار ثروتمند بودند که حاضر بودند ریسک کرده و پول خود را برای سود بیشتر وام دهند. به دلیل سود بالای این وامها و افزایش مالیاتها در آخرین روزهای امپراطوری روم یک طبقه کارگر دائم به نام "سرف (Serf)" در این امپراطوری ایجاد شد که تفاوت زیادی با بردگی نداشت. اولین شورای نیقیه که مسیحیت را به عنوان مذهب رسمی امپراطوری روم برگزید گرفتن هرنوع سود را برای روحانیون ممنوع کرد.
ویل دورانت در اینباره مینویسد:
از اسناد بر جای مانده از چهار هزار سال پیش از میلاد، به دست میآید که قراردادها را با نوشتن، گواهی میکردند و نیز آیین وام گرفتن در نزد آنان معمول بوده است و سودی سالیانه نزدیک به ۱۵ تا ۲۳ درصد به وام دهندگان میدادهاند. ربا از جنس خود کالا دریافت میشده است. کاهنان نیز به مردم قرض بهرهدار میدادند. هر کسی که نمیتوانسته بدهی را بپردازد وام دهنده میتوانسته فرزند وی (بدهکار) را به گروگان بگیرد.
وام گرفتن و بازپس دادن بهره در زمان سومریان مرسوم بود و معمولاً طلا و نقره به صورت وام به فرد دیگری میدادند و بین ۱۵ تا ۳۳ درصد از وامگیرنده بهره از همان جنس میگرفتند.
در بابل رباخواری به صورت رسمی انجام میشد و دولت سودهای بالایی بین ۲۰ درصد (برای وام فلزی) و ۳۳ درصد برای وامهای جنسی از وامگیرنده میگرفتند و تجار به کمک منشیها و حسابرسهای ماهر قانون را نادیده میگرفتند و با درصد بالایی به مردم وام میدادند.
در زمان آشوریان برای صنعتها وام داده میشد و در آن زمان بانکهای خصوصی وجود داشتند که تا ۲۵ درصد سود دریافت میکردند.
در هند باستان تا ۱۸ درصد سود برای وامها دریافت میشد.
در مصر باستان رباخواری آزاد بود و فقط قوانینی برای کاهش دادن درصد آن وجود داشت به عنوان مثال در زمان پادشاهان دودمان بیست و چهارم مصر قانونی به نام لوخوریوس وجود داشت که طبق آن فرد نمیتوانست سود را بیشتر از مقدار اصل وام بگیرد و نباید سود از اسم وام بیشتر میشد.
در یونان پیش از وضع قانون معروف سولون و در روم پیش از قانون الواح دوازدهگانه رباخواری، به صورت کسترده و نامحدود رباخواری رواج داشت و پیش از این قوانین اگر بدهکار نمیتوانست وام خود را پس دهد برده رباخوار میشد ولی قانون سولون جلوی این رفتار ناشایست را گرفت و آن را ملغی کرد.
ویل دورانت در شرح انقلاب سولون مینویسد: او با قانون معروف خود، یعنی «قانون برداشتن بارها و تعهّدات» توانست همانگونه که ارسطو میگوید همه وامهای فردی و دولتی را لغو کند. بدینگونه اراضی اتیکه را از بند گرو آزاد کرد. افزون بر این، تمام کسانی را که دچار بردگی شدهبودند، آزادی بخشید. وی افرادی را که در خارج از کشور به عنوان برده به فروش رفته بودند، بازگرداند واز آن پس، این کار را ممنوع کرد.
بنابراین، سولون همه بردگان را آزاد کرد و سودی که برای یک بدهی پرداخت میشد، از ۱۲ درصد بیشتر نمیشد.
در روم باستان با وضع قانون الواح دوازدهگانه سود بهره تا ۱۲ درصد کاهش یافت.
آلبرماله دربارهٔ رباخواری رومیان مینویسد:
برخی از شوالیهها صرّاف بودند و از راه بهره و نزول ثروتمند میشدند. از مردم روم، به نرخ کم وام میگرفتند و به ساکنان ایالتها، به میزان گرانتر، قرض میدادند. آنان بیشتر برای سناتورهامعامله میکردند. چنانچه بروتروس، دوست سیسرون که از اعضای مهمّ مجلس سنا و از اشخاص پاکدامن آن زمان به شمار میرفت، از سوی اسکاپتیوس به یکی از سرزمینهای جزیره قبرس، به نرخ ۴۸ درصد، مبلغی قرض داد و چون آن شهر نتوانست در تاریخ مشخص شده، قرض خود را بپردازد، اسکاپتیوس سوارانی از حاکم خواست و تالار شورای شهر را به محاصره درآورد تا آنکه پنج نفر از اعضای شورا از گرسنگی مردند.
در تورات اخذ سود از یهودیان منع شده است ولیکن ممنوعیتی برای اخذ سود از غیریهودی وجود ندارد.
از این رو اسرائیلیها از افراد غریبه که در بین آنها زندگی میکردند سود اخذ میکردند ولیکن نسبت به بقیه افراد قوم اسرائیل نمیتوانستند سود بگیرند. در زمانهایی که برخوردهای منفی بین یهودیان و غیریهودیان (جنتیلها) در کشورهای مختلف شدت میگرفت یهودیان از بسیاری شغلها منع میشدند؛ ولیکن به دلیل اینکه گرفتن سود بر روی پول در دینهای اسلام و مسیحیت ممنوع بودند بسیاری از یهودیان به این شغلها گرویده میشدند.
در انگلستان به طور مثال در سال ۱۱۸۹ بدهکاران به جنگجویان صلیبی ملحق شدند و یهودیان لندن را قتلعام کردند. در سال ۱۲۷۵ میلادی ادوارد اول اخذ ربا را ممنوع کرد و آن را مساوی با کفر دانست. بسیاری یهودیان انگلیسی دستگیر شدند و ۳۰۰ نفر از آنان اعدام گردیدند. در سال ۱۲۹۰ تمامی یهودیان از انگلستان اخراج شدند.
عهد جدید در چندین قسمت به رباخواری اشاره میکند. انجیل متی ۲۵:۲۷ و لوقا ۱۹:۲۲ دارای اشاراتی به رباخواری هستند. در انجیل متی ۵:۴۲ و لوقا ۶:۳۴ عیسی به دادن کمک مالی به افراد نیازمند و بخشش بدهیها توصیه میکند.
رباخواری در اسلام[ویرایش]
در قرآن چندین بار به رباخواری اشاره شده است. در سوره بقره رباخواری به شدت مورد انتقاد قرار گرفته است.
ماده ۵۹۵ قانون مجازات اسلامی ایران ربا را جرم و برای آن مجازات در نظر گرفته است: «مرتکبین اعم از ربا دهنده، ربا گیرنده و واسطهٔ بین آنها علاوه بر ردِ اضافه به صاحب مال به شش ماه تا سه سال حبس و تا ۷۴ ضربه شلاق و نیز معادل مورد ربا به عنوان جزای نقدی محکوم میگردند.»
مشارکتکنندگان ویکیپدیا. «دانشنامهٔ ویکیپدیای انگلیسی، بازبینیشده در ۲۸ مرداد ۱۳۹۳..». در
Usury (//) is, as defined today, the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans that unfairly enrich the lender. Originally, usury meant interest of any kind. A loan may be considered usurious because of excessive or abusive interest rates or other factors. Historically in Christian societies, and in many Islamic societies even today, charging any interest at all would be considered usury. Someone who practices usury can be called a usurer, but a more common term in contemporary English is loan shark.
The term may be used in a moral sense—condemning, taking advantage of others' misfortunes—or in a legal sense where interest rates may be regulated by law. Historically, some cultures (e.g., Christianity in much of Medieval Europe, and Islam in many parts of the world today) have regarded charging any interest for loans as sinful.
Some of the earliest known condemnations of usury come from the Vedic texts of India. Similar condemnations are found in religious texts from Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (the term is riba in Arabic and ribbit in Hebrew). At times, many nations from ancient Greece to ancient Rome have outlawed loans with any interest. Though the Roman Empire eventually allowed loans with carefully restricted interest rates, the Catholic Church in medieval Europe banned the charging of interest at any rate (as well as charging a fee for the use of money, such as at a bureau de change).
Banking during the Roman Empire was different from modern banking. During the Principate, most banking activities were conducted by private individuals who operated as large banking firms do today. Anybody that had any available liquid assets and wished to lend it out could easily do so.
The annual rates of interest on loans varied in the range of 4–12 percent, but when the interest rate was higher, it typically was not 15–16 percent but either 24 percent or 48 percent. The apparent absence of intermediate rates suggests that the Romans may have had difficulty calculating the interest on anything other than mathematically convenient rates. They quoted them on a monthly basis, and the most common rates were multiples of twelve. Monthly rates tended to range from simple fractions to 3–4 percent, perhaps because lenders used Roman numerals.
Moneylending during this period was largely a matter of private loans advanced to persons persistently in debt or temporarily so until harvest time. Mostly, it was undertaken by exceedingly rich men prepared to take on a high risk if the profit looked good; interest rates were fixed privately and were almost entirely unrestricted by law. Investment was always regarded as a matter of seeking personal profit, often on a large scale. Banking was of the small, back-street variety, run by the urban lower-middle class of petty shopkeepers. By the 3rd century, acute currency problems in the Empire drove such banking into decline. The rich who were in a position to take advantage of the situation became the moneylenders when the increasing tax demands in the last declining days of the Empire crippled and eventually destroyed the peasant class by reducing tenant-farmers to serfs. It was evident that usury meant exploitation of the poor.
The First Council of Nicaea, in 325, forbade clergy from engaging in usury (canon 17). At the time, usury was interest of any kind, and the canon forbade the clergy to lend money at interest rates even as low as 1 percent per year. Later ecumenical councils applied this regulation to the laity.
Lateran III decreed that persons who accepted interest on loans could receive neither the sacraments nor Christian burial. Pope Clement V made the belief in the right to usury a heresy in 1311, and abolished all secular legislation which allowed it. Pope Sixtus V condemned the practice of charging interest as "detestable to God and man, damned by the sacred canons, and contrary to Christian charity."
Theological historian John Noonan argues that "the doctrine [of usury] was enunciated by popes, expressed by three ecumenical councils, proclaimed by bishops, and taught unanimously by theologians."
Certain negative historical renditions of usury carry with them social connotations of perceived "unjust" or "discriminatory" lending practices. The historian Paul Johnson, comments:
The Hebrew Bible regulates interest taking. Interest can be charged to strangers but not between Hebrews.
Israelites were forbidden to charge interest on loans made to other Israelites, but allowed to charge interest on transactions with non-Israelites, as the latter were often amongst the Israelites for the purpose of business anyway; but in general, it was seen as advantageous to avoid getting into debt at all, to avoid being bound to someone else. Debt was to be avoided and not used to finance consumption, but only taken on when in need; however, the laws against usury were among many laws which the prophets condemn the people for breaking.
Johnson contends that the Torah treats lending as philanthropy in a poor community whose aim was collective survival, but which is not obliged to be charitable towards outsiders.
Usury (in the original sense of any interest) was at times denounced by a number of religious leaders and philosophers in the ancient world, including Moses, Plato, Aristotle, Cato, Cicero, Seneca, Aquinas, Muhammad, Jesus, Philo and Gautama Buddha. For example, Cato said:
As the Jews were ostracized from most professions by local rulers, the Western churches and the guilds , they were pushed into marginal occupations considered socially inferior, such as tax and rent collecting and moneylending. Natural tensions between creditors and debtors were added to social, political, religious, and economic strains.
In England, the departing Crusaders were joined by crowds of debtors in the massacres of Jews at London and York in 1189–1190. In 1275, Edward I of England passed the Statute of the Jewry which made usury illegal and linked it to blasphemy, in order to seize the assets of the violators. Scores of English Jews were arrested, 300 were hanged and their property went to the Crown. In 1290, all Jews were to be expelled from England, allowed to take only what they could carry; the rest of their property became the Crown's. Usury was cited as the official reason for the Edict of Expulsion; however, not all Jews were expelled: it was easy to avoid expulsion by converting to Christianity. Many other crowned heads of Europe expelled the Jews, although again converts to Christianity were no longer considered Jewish (see the articles on marranos or crypto-Judaism).
In the 16th century, short-term interest rates dropped dramatically (from around 20–30% p.a. to around 9–10% p.a.). This was caused by refined commercial techniques, increased capital availability, the Reformation, and other reasons. The lower rates weakened religious scruples about lending at interest, although the debate did not cease altogether.
The papal prohibition on usury meant that it was a sin to charge interest on a money loan. As set forth by Thomas Aquinas, the natural essence of money was as a measure of value or intermediary in exchange. The increase of money through usury violated this essence and according to the same Thomistic analysis, a just transaction was one characterized by an equality of exchange, one where each side received exactly his due. Interest on a loan, in excess of the principal, would violate the balance of an exchange between debtor and creditor and was therefore unjust.
Jews are forbidden to use usury in dealing with fellow Jews, and this lending is to be considered tzedakah, or charity. However, there are permissions to charge interest on loans to non-Jews. This is outlined in the Jewish scriptures of the Torah, which Christians hold as part of the Old Testament, and other books of the Tanakh. From the Jewish Publication Society's 1917 Tanakh, with Christian verse numbers, where different, in parentheses:
Several historical rulings in Jewish law have mitigated the allowances for usury toward non-Jews. For instance, the 15th-century commentator Rabbi Isaac Abrabanel specified that the rubric for allowing interest does not apply to Christians or Muslims, because their faith systems have a common ethical basis originating from Judaism. The medieval commentator Rabbi David Kimchi extended this principle to non-Jews who show consideration for Jews, saying they should be treated with the same consideration when they borrow.
The following quotations are English translations from the Qur'an:
The attitude of Muhammad to usury is articulated in his Last Sermon
The first of the scholastic Christian theologians, Saint Anselm of Canterbury, led the shift in thought that labeled charging interest the same as theft. Previously usury had been seen as a lack of charity.
St. Thomas Aquinas, the leading scholastic theologian of the Roman Catholic Church, argued charging of interest is wrong because it amounts to "double charging", charging for both the thing and the use of the thing. Aquinas said this would be morally wrong in the same way as if one sold a bottle of wine, charged for the bottle of wine, and then charged for the person using the wine to actually drink it. Similarly, one cannot charge for a piece of cake and for the eating of the piece of cake. Yet this, said Aquinas, is what usury does. Money is a medium of exchange, and is used up when it is spent. To charge for the money and for its use (by spending) is therefore to charge for the money twice. It is also to sell time since the usurer charges, in effect, for the time that the money is in the hands of the borrower. Time, however, is not a commodity that anyone can charge. In condemning usury Aquinas was much influenced by the recently rediscovered philosophical writings of Aristotle and his desire to assimilate Greek philosophy with Christian theology. Aquinas argued that in the case of usury, as in other aspects of Christian revelation, Christian doctrine is reinforced by Aristotelian natural law rationalism. Aristotle's argument is that interest is unnatural, since money, as a sterile element, cannot naturally reproduce itself. Thus, usury conflicts with natural law just as it offends Christian revelation: see Thought of Thomas Aquinas.
Outlawing usury did not prevent investment, but stipulated that in order for the investor to share in the profit he must share the risk. In short he must be a joint-venturer. Simply to invest the money and expect it to be returned regardless of the success of the venture was to make money simply by having money and not by taking any risk or by doing any work or by any effort or sacrifice at all, which is usury. St Thomas quotes Aristotle as saying that "to live by usury is exceedingly unnatural". Islam likewise condemns usury but allowed commerce (Al-Baqarah 2:275) - an alternative that suggests investment and sharing of profit and loss instead of sharing only profit through interests. Judaism condemns usury towards Jews, but allows it towards non-Jews. (Deut 23:19-20) St Thomas allows, however, charges for actual services provided. Thus a banker or credit-lender could charge for such actual work or effort as he did carry out e.g. any fair administrative charges. The Catholic Church, in a decree of the Fifth Council of the Lateran, expressly allowed such charges in respect of credit-unions run for the benefit of the poor known as "montes pietatis".
In the 13th century Cardinal Hostiensis enumerated thirteen situations in which charging interest was not immoral. The most important of these was lucrum cessans (profits given up) which allowed for the lender to charge interest "to compensate him for profit foregone in investing the money himself." (Rothbard 1995, p. 46) This idea is very similar to opportunity cost. Many scholastic thinkers who argued for a ban on interest charges also argued for the legitimacy of lucrum cessans profits (e.g. Pierre Jean Olivi and St. Bernardino of Siena). However, Hostiensis' exceptions, including for lucrum cessans, were never accepted as official by the Roman Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic Church has always condemned usury, but in modern times, with the rise of capitalism and the disestablishment of the Catholic Church in majority Catholic countries, this prohibition on usury has not been enforced.
Usury in literature
Interest on loans, and the contrasting views on the morality of that practice held by Jews and Christians, is central to the plot of Shakespeare's play "The Merchant of Venice". Antonio is the merchant of the title, a Christian, who is forced by circumstance to borrow money from "Shylock", a Jew. Shylock customarily charges interest on loans, seeing it as good business, while Antonio does not, viewing it as morally wrong. When Antonio defaults on his loan, Shylock famously demands the agreed upon penalty-a measured quantity of muscle from Antonio's chest. This is the source of the phrase "a pound of flesh" often used to describe the dear price of a loan or business transaction. Shakespeare's play is a vivid portrait of the competing views of loans and use of interest, as well as the cultural strife between Jews and Christians that overlaps it.
By the 18th century, usury was more often treated as a metaphor than a crime in itself, so Jeremy Bentham's Defense of Usury was not as shocking as it would have appeared two centuries earlier.
In Honoré de Balzac's 1830 novel Gobseck, the title character, who is a usurer, is described as both "petty and great—a miser and a philosopher..." The character Daniel Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens is a usurer.
In the early 20th century Ezra Pound's anti-usury poetry was not primarily based on the moral injustice of interest payments but on the fact that excess capital was no longer devoted to artistic patronage, as it could now be used for capitalist business investment.
Usury and the law
"When money is lent on a contract to receive not only the principal sum again, but also an increase by way of compensation for the use, the increase is called interest by those who think it lawful, and usury by those who do not." (William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England).
In the United States, the primary legal power to regulate usury rests with the states. Usury laws are state laws that specify the maximum legal interest rate at which loans can be made. Each U.S. state has its own statute which dictates how much interest can be charged before it is considered usurious or unlawful.
If a lender charges above the lawful interest rate, a court will not allow the lender to sue to recover the debt because the interest rate was illegal anyway. In some states (such as New York) such loans are voided ab initio.
On a federal level, Congress has never attempted to federally regulate interest rates on purely private transactions, but on the basis of past U.S. Supreme Court decisions, arguably the U.S. Congress might have the power to do so under the interstate commerce clause of Article I of the Constitution. Congress opted to put a federal criminal limit on interest rates by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Statute) definitions of "unlawful debt", which make it a federal felony to lend money at an interest rate more than twice the local state usury rate and then try to collect that "unlawful debt". It is a federal offense to use violence or threats to collect usurious interest (or any other sort) (Extortionate Credit Transactions statute, chapter 42, title 18, U.S. Code). Such activity is referred to as loan sharking, but that term is also applied to non-coercive usurious lending or even to the practice of making consumer loans without a license in jurisdictions that require licenses.
However, there are separate rules applied to most banks. The U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously in the 1978 Marquette Nat. Bank of Minneapolis v. First of Omaha Service Corp. case that the National Banking Act of 1863 allowed nationally chartered banks to charge the legal rate of interest in their state regardless of the borrower's state of residence. In 1980, Congress passed the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act. Among the Act's provisions, it exempted federally chartered savings banks, installment plan sellers and chartered loan companies from state usury limits. Combined with the Marquette decision that applied to National Banks, this effectively overrode all state and local usury laws. The 1968 Truth in Lending Act does not regulate rates, except for some mortgages, but requires uniform or standardized disclosure of costs and charges.
In the 1996 Smiley v. Citibank case, the Supreme Court further limited states' power to regulate credit card fees and extended the reach of the Marquette decision. The court held that the word "interest" used in the 1863 banking law included fees and, therefore, states could not regulate fees.
Some members of Congress have tried to create a federal usury statute that would limit the maximum allowable interest rate, but the measures have not progressed. In July 2010, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, was signed into law by President Obama. The act provides for a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to regulate some credit practices but has no interest rate limit.
Japan has various laws restricting interest rates. Under civil law, the maximum interest rate is between 15% and 20% per year depending upon the principal amount (larger amounts having a lower maximum rate). Interest in excess of 20% is subject to criminal penalties (the criminal law maximum was 29.2% until it was lowered by legislation in 2010). Default interest on late payments may be charged at up to 1.46 times the ordinary maximum (i.e., 21.9% to 29.2%), while pawn shops may charge interest of up to 9% per month (i.e., 108% per year).
Avoidance mechanisms and interest-free lending
In a partnership or joint venture where money is lent, the creditor only provides the capital yet is guaranteed a fixed amount of profit. The debtor, however, puts in time and effort, but is made to bear the risk of loss. Muslim scholars argue that such practice is unjust. As an alternative to usury, Islam strongly encourages charity and direct investment in which the creditor shares whatever profit or loss the business may incur (in modern terms, this amounts to an equity stake in the business).
A non-recourse loan is secured by the value of property (usually real estate) owned by the debtor. However, unlike other loans, which oblige the debtor to repay the amount borrowed, a non-recourse loan is fully satisfied merely by the transfer of the property to the creditor, even if the property has declined in value and is worth less than the amount borrowed. When such a loan is created, the creditor bears the risk that the property will decline sharply in value (in which case the creditor is repaid with property worth less than the amount borrowed), and the debtor does not bear the risk of decrease in property value (because the debtor is guaranteed the right to use the property, regardless of value, to satisfy the debt.)
The JAK members bank is a usury-free saving and loaning system.
Growth of the Internet internationally has enabled both business micro-lending through sites such as Kickstarter as well as through global micro-lending charities where lenders make small sums of money available on zero-interest terms. Persons lending money to on-line micro-lending charity Kiva for example do not get paid any interest, although the end users to whom the loans are made may be charged interest by Kiva's partners in the country where the loan is used.