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date: 27 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Usury has a long and varied history. Originally the term referred to the charging of interest per se—that is, requiring a borrower to repay more than the principal sum borrowed from a lender. Over time borrowing and lending evolved to become an integral part of commercial life, and usury came to refer to the charging of excessive or unconscionable rates of interest on loans. The Christian church no longer opposes the charging of interest, although moral sanctions are upheld against certain exploitative lending practices. Bans on interest are recognized as an ineffective means of protecting the vulnerable, and may even have the opposite effect. Contemporary Islamic societies prohibit predetermined returns on loans, instead favoring profit-sharing arrangements. Islamic banking has grown significantly in recent years, but it is unclear how meaningfully these arrangements differ from Western-style commercial lending.

Keywords: interdisciplinary, economics, theology, religion, Christianity, usury, interest, Islamic banking

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