ربا is undoubtedly haram as per the Qur'an, which says, "وأحل الله البيع وحرم الربا". This is almost universally translated as "interest" or "usury" in English.

As per the Qur'anic Arabic Corpus, the word ربا is listed with a root of (ر ب و), indicating "to grow". This root is corroborated by Lane's Lexicon, which indicates that it's at least the common (if not the only) root.

Additionally, in the hadith literature, it is well-established that the prophet forbade such transactions that involved "growth," such as from trading goods in unequal amounts, or from loaning out money while expecting more in return; these such transactions are classically referred to as different forms of ربا.

However, according to this answer, the root may in fact be (ر ي ب), indicating "to doubt". Going back to the hadith literature, it is also known that the prophet forbade a number of business transactions in which "doubt" was involved, and is even quoted as having said "So give up riba (ربا) and doubtful things (ريبة)," which at least suggests a relation between the two terms.

Even if the ر ب و root is most prevalent, was (or is) this a known difference of opinion among Islamic scholars? What evidence is there on the actual root of the word ربا, and how can we be sure (one way or the other) which one is correct?

  • I'm no linguist, but having ر ي ب as the root for ربا just doesn't quite ring to my (admittedly only slightly trained) ear. Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 20:33
  • They are two different roots, same letters but different order. The person who claimed that is probably confused.
    – Kaveh
    Commented Jul 4, 2013 at 2:47

1 Answer 1


According to all known Arabic vocabulary dictionaries such as Lisan Al-Arab, Mukhtar Al-Sehah and Al-waseet the root of ربا means to grow and not even a single one of them mentioned anything about having the meaning of doubt.

The answer you refer to in your question is absolutely wrong and it does not refer to any trusted source.

So there is no sort of disagreement or different opinions here, the use of the word ربا and its derivatives in Quran e.g. يربو ,ربوة and ربت all has the meaning of growth and raise.

Even words such as تربية and مربي which means breeding/upbringing share the same root with ربا and all have the meaning of growth and increase.

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