Interest Prohibition in Historical and Inter‐Cultural Comparison

Buchcover „Was vom Wucher übrigbleibt“
© Mohr Siebeck Verlag

From the start, the prohibition of interest has evoked a strange fascination. Archaic and seemingly irrational, it stands irreconcilably opposed to the functional logic of modern financial markets that has been accepted as self-evident. The current revival of the prohibition of interest in the form of “Islamic finance” in a culture whose religious traditions scorn or at least limit interest rate deals requires further analysis against this backdrop. The eight articles in this book examine Islamic interest regulations by taking a two-pronged approach: looking at the historical context as well as comparing the Islamic traditions regarding interest to those of other religions. The articles base the analysis of the problem of interest and usury and of the phenomenon of “Islamic banking” on the perspective of the history of law and philosophy of law, the study of the Old Testament as well as Islamic studies, the stock corporation law and Christian social teaching. Thus, in his contribution Fabian Wittreck deals with the legal framework and the relevance of philosophy-based prohibitions of interest. Analyzing the prohibition of interest and the waiving of debts as elements of social policy in the Torah, Eckart Otto contributes to the book by adding the perspective of Judaism. Hans-Jürgen Becker focuses on the prohibition of interest in the Latin Middle Ages and describes the development in Christianity. Matthias Casper writes about the search for traces of the prohibition of interest in stock corporation law with its ban of interest for shareholders, and Joachim Wiemeyer concentrates his work on interest and usury in Christian social teaching. Norbert Oberauer examines the historical roots and the philosophical foundation of the Islamic ribā ban, and Volker Nienhaus looks at the Islamic prohibition of interest and the development of sharia-conform financing techniques. The Islamic-normative concept of the distribution of risk and its breach, using the Islamic certificates (sukuk) as an example, is the topic of Osman Sacarcelik’s work. Islamic finance is also the topic of Philipp Wackerbeck’s analysis, examining its development and market potential.