In response to this allegation I say, Muslim has narrated in his Sahih (4047) by way of Ayub — from Abu Qilabah who said:
I was in Syria (among) a circle (of friends), in which was Muslim ibn Yasar. There came Abu al Ash’ath. He (the narrator) said that they (the friends) called him, Abu al Ash’ath, and he sat down. I said to him, Narrate to our brother the hadith of ‘Ubadah ibn al Samit. He said, “yes, we went out on an expedition, Muawiyah was the leader of the people, and we gained a lot of spoils of war. And there was one silver utensil in what we took as spoils. Muawiyah ordered a person to sell it for payment to the people (soldiers). The people made haste in getting that. The news of (this state of affairs) reached ‘Ubadah ibn al Samit, and he stood up and said, I heard Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forbidding the sale of gold by gold, and silver by silver, and wheat by wheat, and barley by barley, and dates by dates, and salt by salt, except like for like, and equal for equal. So he who made an addition, or who accepted an addition, committed the sin of taking interest. So the people returned what they had got. This reached Muawiyah; and he stood up to deliver an address. He said: “What is the matter with people that they narrate from the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam such traditions which we did not hear though we saw him (the Prophet) and lived in his company?” Thereupon, ‘Ubadah ibn al Samit stood up and repeated that narration, and then said, “we will definitely narrate what we heard from Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam though it may be unpleasant to Muawiyah (or he said: Even if it is against his will). I do not mind if I do not accompany him in his troops during dark night.”
This is responded to by the following:
1. Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not the only one to hold this stray view that there is no Riba except Nasi’ah (deferred transfer). The view of permissibility of Riba al Fadl was also attributed to Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn ‘Umar, al Bara ibn ‘Azib and Zaid ibn Arqam radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Why single out Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu?
Muslim reports (4062), by way of Abu Nadrah, who narrates:
I asked Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu about the conversion (of gold and silver for silver and gold). He asked, “is it hand to hand exchange?” I replied, “yes.” Whereupon he said, “there is no harm in it.” I informed Abu Sa’id radiya Llahu ‘anhu about it, telling him that I had asked Ibn ‘Abbas about it and that he [Ibn ‘Abbas] said, “is it hand to hand exchange? I said, ‘yes,’ whereupon he [Ibn ‘Abbas] said, “there is no harm in it.” He [Abu Sa’id] then said: “We will soon write to him, and he will not give you this fatwa (religious verdict).”
The same view has been narrated of Ibn ‘Umar, as related by Muslim in his Sahih (4063) by way of Abu Nadrah, who reported:
I asked Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma about the conversion of gold with gold but they did not find any harm in that. I was sitting in the company of Abu Sa’id al Khudri radiya Llahu ‘anhu and asked him about this exchange, and he said, “whatever is in excess is interest.”
Ibn Hajar states in al Fath (4/482):
Sarf: a transaction of exchange of gold for silver and silver for gold, has two prerequisites:
Ibn ‘Umar differed with this and then retracted his original view, the same has been said of Ibn ‘Abbas but there is a difference of opinion regarding his retraction…
Al Nawawi, in his commentary of Sahih Muslim (11/26), states:
Thereafter, Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma retracted from that and considered prohibited the sale of like items in excess, once the narration of Abu Sa’id radiya Llahu ‘anhu reached them as mentioned by Muslim.
2. Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and those besides him held their view based on their ta’wil that riba was only prohibited as in the deferred form.
Ibn Taymiyyah states in his Fatawa (32/238):
It is well known that those that permitted Nabidh (fermented dates) which is disputed are from the generation of the earliest Muslim; and those who permitted the exchange of one silver coin for two are from the earliest Muslims are more and greater in virtue than those before. So, Ibn ‘Abbas, Muawiyah and others besides them have permitted the exchange of one silver coin for two and their excuse was the interpretation of riba was that it was only prohibited on deferral, not on an immediate exchange.
3. It can be said regarding those Sahabah who permitted Riba al Fadl that the narration of prohibition did not reach them.
The narration appears in Sahih Muslim (4037) that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu said when he heard the narration of ‘Ubadah radiya Llahu ‘anhu:
What is the matter with people that they narrate from the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam such traditions which we did not hear though we saw him and lived in his company?
Al Nawawi said in his commentary of Sahih Muslim (11/26):
These narrations mentioned by Muslim indicate that the prohibition did not reach Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, and once it reached them they retracted their stance on it.
I say: Likewise is the case with Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
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