وَلَكِنْ أَقُولُ لَكُمْ: إِنَّ كُلَّ كَلِمَةٍ بَطَّالَةٍ يَتَكَلَّمُ بِهَا النَّاسُ سَوْفَ يُعْطُونَ عَنْهَا حِسَاباً يَوْمَ الدِّينِ
لأَنَّكَ بِكَلاَمِكَ تَتَبَرَّرُ وَبِكَلاَمِكَ تُدَانُ
يسوع المسيح، ملك الملوك
The following article is excerpted from the book, The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam by Yusef Al-Qaradawi, and is part one in a series.
Freedom for individual and natural competition in the marketplace is guaranteed by Islam. Nevertheless, Islam severely condemns those who, driven by ambition and greed, accumulate wealth at the expense of others and become rich by manipulating the prices of food and other necessities. This is why the Prophet … denounced hoarders in very strong words, saying,
If anyone withholds grain for forty days out of the desire for a high price, Allah will renounce him.[i]
He also said,
If anyone withholds goods until the price rises, he is a sinner.[ii]
And the term “sinner” here is not to be taken lightly. It is the same epithet which Allah Ta’ala has applied to some of the great tyrants in history, for example:
…Assuredly Pharoah (sic) and Haman and their hosts were sinners. (28:8)
The Prophet … also said,
The man who hoards goods is evil. If prices fall he is grieved and if they rise he is happy.[iii]
thereby exposing the selfish and greedy mentality of hoarders. Again, he said
He who brings goods to the market is blessed with bounty, but he who withholds them is cursed.[iv]
There are two ways of making a profit in a business. One is to withhold the commodity from the market until it becomes scarce and those who need it are unable to find it; then, compelled by their need, they come to the hoarder and pay him the price he demands, although it may be unreasonably high. The other way is to put the commodity on the market, sell it for a reasonable profit, buy more goods and sell them in like manner, and so on. Since this latter practice serves the public interest, a merchant who practices it is both blessed by Allah and well-provided for, as the foregoing hadith states.
A very important hadith concerning hoarding and manipulating prices been narrated by M’aqal bin Yassar, a companion of the Prophet … The Umayyad governor, ‘Ubaidullah bin Ziyad, came to visit M’aqal when he was bedridden due to a grave illness. After inquiring about his condition, ‘Ubaidullah asked him, “Do you know of any instance of my having wrongfully shed someone’s blood?” M’aqal replied that he did not. “Do you know of any instance,” ‘Ubaidullah continued, “in which I interfered with the prices of the Muslims’ goods?” Ma’aqal again replied that he did not know. Then M’aqal asked the people to help him to sit up, which they did. He then said, “Listen, O ‘Ubaidullah, and I will tell you something which I heard from the Messenger of Allah …. I heard the Messenger of Allah … say,
Whoever interferes with the prices of the Muslims’ goods in order to raise them deserves that Allah should make him sit in the Fire on the Day of Resurrection (no citation in original).
“Did you hear this from Allah’s Messenger …?” asked ‘Ubaidullah, and Ma’qal replied, “More than once or twice.”[v]
On the basis of the text and content of these foregoing ahadith (sic), scholars have deduced that hoarding is prohibited under two conditions: one, that hoarding at a given time is injurious to the people of that country, and two, that the hoarder’s aim is to force the price up in order to make more profit.
[i] Reported by Ahmad, al-Hakim, Ibn Abu Shaybah, and al-Bazzar
[ii] Reported by Muslim
[iii] Razi has mentioned this hadith in his Jami’ah
[iv] Reported by Ibn Majah and al-Hakim
[v] Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim