Contributed by The Muslim Vibe
We’ve all seen the pictures; empty shelves and people fighting to stock up on everything from soap to toilet paper to food.
Panic buying is a symptom of a dysfunctional society, pervaded with individualism and short term thinking. Those who buy up packs of disinfectant in the hope to slow the transmission of Covid-19 are aware that others need it just as much, yet do not consider their needs as equal to their own. To use a phrase, ‘So long as I’ve got mine’.
This is all without realising, that without others having access too, the one who hoards is more likely to become infected, not less as the other goes without disinfectant. This is a reflection of the political, economic and moral systems we live in, which have produced people to think and act in this way.
Islamic Law has since its inception included the topic of monopolisation and price-fixing called al-Ihtikar ????????. Scholar Muhammad Jawad Mughniyyah states: “The Muslim community have in their entirety agreed on the prohibition of monopolisation as an idea; this is from textual evidence and it being rationally abhorrent in the principle of organising life in such a way that repels harm from being occasioned, from the prohibition of greed and wrongfully withholding, is rationally indigent, looked down upon, and goes against the right of maintaining ones honour and the command of being soft hearted.
“And even if we were to close our eyes to (the principles of) honour and soft heartedness, there would be upon us numerous religious principles which would necessitate the prohibition of monopoly and manipulation; amongst them would be the principle ‘Islam does not occasion harm’, ‘repelling corruption has priority over bringing social good’ especially if the corruption is widespread whilst the public good in limited to individuals. Also the principle of ‘that which is most important precedes what is less important’ and ‘the compulsion of protecting the human person’.
And so it is upon Islam and the Muslims to demonstrate that it is the ugliest form for loansharks and opportunistic people who are lurking amongst amongst regular folk (to take advantage of them).”
Before the Muslim can export this to others, he must be aware his own ethical and legal responsibilities and be a manifestation of these himself. He must understand his role in developing society and how selfishness and exploitation leaves all people impoverished, not just those who miss out on essential items.
In this short series we will explore the following questions:
1) What are the textual evidences prohibiting hoarding? This
will help the reader to appreciate how Islam spoke of this matter 1400
years ago, being so anticipative and detailed in its resource and
2) What exactly is prohibited from being hoarded? Is it just food and water, or only essential items when those needs arise, like in the event of a Coronavirus?
3) How does Islam respond to the hoarder? Can the hoarder be forced to sell what he has bought and if so at what price and to whom?
4) How do we mould our social response during the Coronavirus pandemic to that of the highest examples in Islamic history? What examples of epidemics and famines have the early Muslims endured and what can we learn from them?
Dr. Mirza Abbas Ali Khoyee (Pakistan)
Contributed by The Muslim Vibe
One of the most thought-provoking Quranic lines also happens to be the most misunderstood: “With every difficulty comes ease.” Often in society, when a friend or a close one is burdened with a calamity, we have been conditioned to tell them that “things can only get better after their problem.” Yet semantically with this verse, it’s crucial to note that the ease won’t prevail after the difficulty, it is rather with the difficulty.
This suggests that the difficulty itself inherently provides a remedy to a problem you may face in your life. In times of crisis, we often view our life through a different lens, and this change in perspective may allow us to find ease in our lives.
The global pandemic of the Coronavirus has and will continue to cause a considerable amount of distress and difficulty for many people around the globe. Its non-discriminatory nature means everyone has the risk of being affected by it, albeit to varying degrees, regardless of their socioeconomic status, class, race, geography or age.
The current projections indicate that most people around the globe will be impacted in one way or another, by getting it themselves, knowing someone who has it, being effected financially, having a major event postponed or worse of all, losing someone unexpectedly. With an apparent global catastrophe exploding, what possibly could be the ease which comes with the difficulty?
Another misconception about the notion of ease is that it will present itself as some sort of physical remedy which will immediately solve everything. For me, the ease which comes with the difficulty is the opportunity for reflection which carves out the avenue for personal growth. Rumi poetically amplified this notion when he said that “the wound is where the light enters you from,” implying that for every disaster you face comes with it the chance for you to improve.
For me, the Coronavirus has accentuated three main notions. Firstly, the importance of personal interaction between human beings. Secondly, it has highlighted the importance of the concept of a community. Finally, it has portrayed the vulnerability of man. As a result of this catastrophe, there has been the opportunity to consider the impact that other people have on our lives, thereby allowing us to make a more hearted effort to build more meaningful relationships with them. The benefits of a more fruitful relationship will bring ease.
The recent government guidelines advising us not to shake hands with each other put into perspective the sheer number of people we come into contact with every day. It was amazing the number of times I was reminded about the recommendations every time I came into contact and thrust my hand out for a handshake with a new person. The importance of human interaction was accentuated by the fears people had over self-isolation or a lockdown, meaning they would not be able to meet certain people. In some cases, these fears of reduced human interaction were taken worse than the prospect of food shortages.
This highlighted the importance of certain people in our lives, people whom we often take for granted due to their continuous presence around us. Hence, the time of crisis has allowed us to appreciate the people we interact with more, as during a health pandemic meeting people can become a luxury rather than a common occurrence. Yet if we were to carry the attitude with which we meet people when it is a luxury to times when it is a common occurrence, then relationships will become more wholesome.
This crisis has also brought out the merits of a community. Ramadhan is and will continue to be a truly special month as a spiritual and physical cleanser, but since my childhood the month is always synonymous with going to the mosque every day for a month. Thus, I was truly devastated to learn the potential of my mosque being closed during the Holy month of Ramadhan. The fact that I would miss out on the unity which was harboured when we would pray together, serve together, break our fast together, laugh together and clean up together was really heartbreaking and put a spotlight on the importance on communal activity.
On a different level, the importance of a neighbourhood community was seen as my road set up a WhatsApp chat which included all the elderly people whom government guidelines for self-isolation may apply to, asking them if they needed any help with their grocery shopping, medication collection, or if they wanted someone to cook for them.
The kind and munificent spirit this brought out made me question why we don’t provide the elderly with a service like this on a more regular basis, as the Coronavirus is not the only time in the year during which they may be homebound. Yet it was an example of how crisis brings out an added sense of duty and the helping of the elderly is certainly a mechanism which can provide ease to ourselves.
Finally, it has been truly incredible to see a fair few staple occurrences come to a standstill. From the closing of some schools and universities to the postponement of the Premier League, the LTA and the NBA, and also the hugely reduced number of flights which has caused British Airways to cut some staff. All these occurrences are driven by people, serving as another reminder of the importance of people in driving the world around us.
Sometimes we fall into the trap of treating material objects better than we treat people, yet the standstill caused by the lack of people being able to drive society will hopefully put into perspective that there is nothing more important in the world than people.
The effects felt as a result of the Coronavirus difficulty will continue to persist. However, the opportunity this provides us with will be to appreciate the importance of the people around us more, and as a result, our more fruitful relationships will provide ease with the difficulty.
Contributed by Ahlulbayt TV