Contributed by The Muslim Vibe
What does the Holy Qur’an and prophetic narrations say about monopolisation and hoarding?
The holy Qur’an has a number of verses dealing generally and specially about hoarding and prohibiting people from their needs. It also demands just measurement and equitable distribution. When all of these are brought together they portray a clear picture as to God’s (swt) view on withholding from people. Here we will mention a few:
“As for all who hoard up treasures of gold and silver and do not spend them for the sake of Gods give them the tiding of grievous suffering” (Qur’an 9:34).
“It may not be [a benefit] just going round and round among you as may [already] be rich” (Qur’an 59:7).
“Give, therefore, full measure and weight [in all your dealings], and do not deprive people of what is rightfully theirs; and do not spread corruption on earth” (Qur’an 7:85).
“O You who believe! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one lead you into the sin of deviating from justice.” (Qur’an 5:8).
“So woe then those who want only to be seen and praised, and deny and bar even the smallest items [to their fellow-men]!” (Qur’an 107:4-7).
In regard to this last verse, commentators state, the term /ma’un/ means ‘a little thing’. The purpose of it here is to denote the most insignificant things that some people deny to others, especially their neighbours, like salt, water, matches for fire, dishes, and the like, which are the necessities of life.
Such a person who withholds giving such insignificant things to others is a selfish, miserly, faithless one. These things do not cost too much, but are incredibly helpful, so when they refuse to give or prohibit them, this produces notable difficulties in the lives of people – let alone in a time of heightened need, like a pandemic.
Narrations also detail the grave matter of al-Ihtikar
The Prophet Muhammad (s) said, “Whoever monopolises does not die until Allah afflicts him with disease or bankruptcy” and “In hell there is a specific valley for the monopolisers, those addicted to alcohol and lusts.”
In another the Prophet (s) states: “Verily the motive of food is to be prosperous and bestowed upon, whilst the monopoliser (by barring that) is accursed.” In this narration is a clear indication that the one who brings in what people need in order to make their lives easier, is in reality the richest person with Allah (swt). As for the monopoliser he is the opposite: low, mean and devoid of generosity.
Another narration, from Imam Mohammed al-Baqir (a) states: “The Messenger of Allah (s) said, ‘Any person who buys food and withholds it forty days desiring to inflate the price then sells it and gives charity from its profit, there is no expiation of his sin for what he has done.’”
We conclude this subject with a tradition from the holy Prophet (s) who is reported to have said: “The person who refuses to supply his neighbourly needs, on the Day of Judgement Allah will refuse to give him His goodness and leaves him to himself – and what a bad case it is for the one whom He leaves to himself!”
This introduction should make the reader aware of two important issues: That Islam has addressed the real-world political, economic, social and moral problem of monopolisation of items and their pricing out of availability; and there being a stern warning against this practise, from the most valuable of items such as gold to the minutest like salt.
This is because only a selfish, unsympathetic, broken person would withhold or make inaccessible from another knowing their desperation or need for an item. It is clear here that Islam opposes allowing a completely free market, set by those who have access to items, who are able to gobble up the little means and wealth of those who do not have access, which is something we will address in the coming instalments, God-willing.