Hoarding is a process of stocking goods in a warehouse or shop for selling them when the price has gone up due to scarcity. Sometimes this stocking up is done for the welfare of the family and community, but this humanitarian motive happens very rarely in modern society.

EXPLOITATION

On the outbreak of COVID-19 (Novel Corona Virus), some greedy and opportunist shopkeepers and business persons are hoarding goods with the intention of later getting a higher price due to a short supply. When the price is raised on existing goods due to a belief that there will soon be a limited supply, this is called ‘price-gouging.’  Police have caught many people hoarding sanitiser and masks in various states. The price of masks and hand sanitiser has skyrocketed in various local markets in the USA and the rest of the world. The author has spoken to some of his friends in the UK, USA, Germany, Spain, and various neighbouring countries. He has found that the price of medical health care products, especially protective items, has gone up. Hand sanitiser worth 50 cents to 1$ is sold at $25 privately in the USA.

Similarly, the N95 masks used by medical practitioners are sold at $40 to $50 in the USA. Medical stores have run out of these products. Private businesses are not ready to sell these masks, now in short supply, at a standard price for the use of medical doctors in public hospitals who are working for the welfare of the public. For verification you may visit websites like: (https://abcnews.go.com/Business/americans-hoarding-hand-sanitizer-face-masks-amid-coronavirus/story?id=69385946).

Imagine the level of selfishness and cruelty in an educated society; what about the countries of the third world like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, where human life is very cheap. It is noticed in India that many selfish and greedy shopkeepers are selling necessary goods at a higher price. Yesterday at the Delhi Noida border, some private bus officials were demanding an exorbitant price for transporting the public from Delhi to Aligarh, Murabad and Rampur, which are not more than 100 kilometres away.

EXPLOITATION  IS  PROHIBITED  IN  ISLAM

The practices of hoarding and price-gouging are a type of exploitation of our fellow human beings when they are in dire need of a product, or when they are willling to pay at any cost. Islam does not allow hoarding for later sale at any cost in the market. Islam has laid out some principles to regularise a market and to safeguard the rights and interests of people. Hoarding and related practices are prohibited in Islam. There are several hadiths related to hoarding and profit maximisation as recorded in the various books of hadith. Most of the hadith books have a particular chapter on business practices in Islam. These chapters are based on the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) in Madinah.

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) in a saî adith addressed the sin of hoarding:

Narrated Ma’mar b. Abi Ma’mar [one of the children of ‘Adi b. Ka’b]:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: No one withholds [ya-khtakîr] goods till their price rises but a sinner [khâi’]. I said to Sa’id (b. al-Musayyab): You withhold goods till their price rises. He said: Ma’mar used to withhold goods till their price rose.
Abu Dawud said: I asked Ahmad (b. Hanbal): What [does the term] “hoarding (hukrah)” [apply to] ? He replied: That on which people live.
Abu Dawud said: Al-Auza’i said: A mukhakir [one who hoards] is one who withholds a supply of goods in the market.  (Sunan Abî Dâwûd #3447)

Many Scholars of Hadith, including Imam Al-Nawawi have translated the word “khâî’”  as referring to a sinner and one disobedient to Allah (swt). The Holy Quran has used this word to condemn tyrants and brutal persons who had killed thousands of people and imprisoned their subjects.  In the ayah below, khâî’ indicates that the intensity of the wrongdoing is high. Similarly,  the Quran has used the word “khâṭî” for Pharoah’s minions, the same word it has used to indicate the seriousness of being a hoarder.

Then the people of Pharoah picked him up (from the sea): (It was intended) that (Moses) should be to them an adversary and a cause of sorrow; for Pharoah and Hâmân and (all) their hosts were men of sin (khâi’în) [Sûrah Al-Qaṣaṣ, 28:8]

There is significance to the explicit prohibition of any act in Islam. Islam wants to establish peace, harmony and equity in markets and in society generally. Accordingly, Islam prohibits hoarding, which creates dearth, fear, price hikes; and hoarding deprives some people of buying some essential goods. God has created this universe for human beings and the human being is created for the worship of God.

Generally, hoarding is done when sellers want to make an illegitimate profit. It is observed that hoarding deprives people of their entitlement. The human being is free in Islam. When people are deprived of their entitlements,  this constitutes an injustice.

EXPLOITATION  VS.  MANAGEMENT

Some people have argued that hoarding is lawful when it comes to food grains; they  give the example of Prophet Yusuf(RA) . However, taking such inferences from this incident is wrong in terms of present day hoarding and price-gouging. Prophet Yusuf(RA)  had stored the food grain in an open and responsible way for the public good, for combating against the coming drought in Egypt: Yusuf officially managed the nationwide supply of grain in order to be able to distribute it equitably to the nation over the span of seven difficult years (Sûrah Yûsuf, 12:47-48);  he did not hoard it for the profit of himself or a select group. He was the Prophet, and he was informed well before the famine incident began, in order to prepare  for disaster management. The Quran called him trustworthy, knowledgeable and experienced. He was given the authority of minister to the king  [Pharoah] (12:54-56) in order to control and mitigate the impact of the calamitous drought in Egypt.

It is not lawful to hoard goods. There are some exceptions to the prohibition of storing up needed goods. Certain “hoarding” is allowed in Islam. For instance, keeping some goods in cold storage is not hoarding. These goods are kept for their preservation and sellers supply goods to the market for sale throughout the year, even though they might be produced in restricted time periods.

Some people get confused and have various opinions on ‘hoarding.’ They believe that some sort of hoarding is permitted in Islam. What is the essence of hoarding?

The hoarding of essential items like wheat, barley, rice, oil, sanitiser, masks and medicine, etc during periods of shortages with the intention of selling them at higher rates to people who are compelled to purchase them is haram and a Great Sin. This harmful practice is promised Hell-fire.

There are various hadiths which prohibit the hoarding of goods and public resources. Some of the hadiths are these:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said that one who hoards some goods for forty days will not be able to perceive the fragrance of Paradise, while the fragrance of Paradise reaches upto a distance of five hundred year’s journey. When even the fragrance of paradise is prohibited to a person, there is no question of his entering Heaven.  (Mustadrak al-Wasa’il Vol. 12 page 212)

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said that he heard angel Jibril say that there was a valley in Hell and fierce fire blazed in it. When he asked the caretaker of Hell about those who would be put there, he said that it was for three groups: The hoarders, the drunkards, and those who earned a commission on unlawful deals.  (Mustadrak al-Wasa’il Vol. 2 page 314)

Narrated by ‘Umar bin Khattab

The Prophet (ﷺ) said that whoever hoards food (and keeps it from) the Muslims, Allah will afflict him with leprosy and poverty. (Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadith #  2155)

Narrated by Ibn ‘Umar

The Prophet (ﷺ) said that If anyone withholds grain for forty days out of the desire for a high price, Allah will renounce him.” (Ahmad & al-Hakim, Hadith # 4880)

WHEN  ‘HOARDING’  IS  NOT  HOARDING

Prohibited hoarding is different from legitimate storage,  which is permitted under three circumstances: A merchant can collect and store  essential commodities during the time when people do not need those items; or when it is possible for people to fulfill their needs on their own, when their need arises. Furthermore, goods are legitimately stored  to fulfill the future needs of one’s own family under normal conditions for avoiding many trips to the market—but not with the intention of selling it at a higher price.

The Prophet (ﷺ) has described the characteristic of a hoarder.

Narrated by Mu’ad Ibn Jabal

The Prophet (ﷺ) said that the [trader] who hoards goods is evil: If prices fall, he is grieved and if prices rise, he is happy. (Al Mu’jam Al Kabir Tabarani, Hadith # 186)

By contrast, a righteous trader keeps patience at his loss and gives thanks to God Almighty at his profit. The Prophet (ﷺ) has given glad tidings to such traders and promised them Paradise, as well as company with the prophets and the martyred. (Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith # 1209)

BEWARE  THE  POSSIBILITY  OF  PRICE  MANIPULATION

One practice related to price manipulation noticed in Madinah and prohibited by the Prophet (ﷺ) was a townsman’s selling on behalf of a man from the desert. Some scholars of hadith have explained the situation in the following manner:

“A stranger would bring some goods to be sold in town at the current market price. A townsman would approach him, saying, “Leave them with me for a while. I will sell them for you when the price is better.”  (Bukhari #2161, 2163; Muslim # 3824)

This kind of practice was prevalent in Arabia when Islam arrived. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has prohibited the sale by a resident on behalf of a desert-dweller even though he might be a blood brother.

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has warned that a resident (of the town) must not sell for a man from the desert. If [such] people are left alone, Allah will give them provision from one another (Muslim, 3826).

THE  ISLAMIC  PRINCIPLE  SUMMARIZED

Islam does not prohibit any trade except those types which involve injustice, cheating, making exorbitant profits, or the promotion of something which is haram.

What Islam advocates for, is a laissez-faire market system with a little governmental intervention to control corruption and injustice.

Irfan Shahid

Irfan Shahid

Prof Irfan Shahid is an India-based shari'ah scholar and economist. He has graduated from Lough borough University, UK. His area of studies includes Economics, Banking, Stock Markets, Islamic Finance, and Islamic Studies. He has authored several books and research papers on Economics, Islamic Finance and the Stock Market. Prof Shahid has worked as an assistant professor at Mazoon University College, the Missouri Institute of Science and Technology, USA, and various universities in India, the Middle East, and the UK. He has also worked for the Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah. For further details, please refer his website: www.irfanshahid.net

28 Comments

  • LIMRAn

    April 18, 2020 - - 3:34 pm

    If Islam has such a strict principle on profit maximization then why many Muslim grocery stores are charging a higher price?

  • Ethina

    April 20, 2020 - - 10:34 pm

    Assalamoalaikum Warahmatullahe Waberkathu. Really a good and well written article. Jazakumllah wakhair

  • Abul Hassan

    April 21, 2020 - - 2:22 am

    It is well written article on price maximization and hoarding. Many people are involved in this filthy practice.

    We pray sincerely for the wellbeing of the author. We thank jumuah magazine for bringing a good article on highly demanded topic.Sincerely,
    Dr. Abul Hassan, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, KSA

  • Mansoor qazi

    April 21, 2020 - - 2:47 am

    Very informative with relevant Hadih provided by professor .
    I think we all need to think first what we are doing as a whole . Here I would say that this article is not only about Muslims others can also learn from here and make their and others life easy.
    Unfortunately mostly people are greedy and self-centred that’s why they cannot see the benefits beyond..
    Just imagine you left hundreds of million left behind, how does this money benefit you ?
    Only and only if you spent some money on Allah way or left a riotous family behind who spend your money on Allah way. Other wise you wish that a chance would be given to you again to go to world and spend all of it but it would happen.
    So act wisely and follow the creature who create you ..
    Thank you professor again for reminding us …
    May God bless you …

  • Muhammad anwaar feroz

    April 22, 2020 - - 6:49 am

    Very informative article for understanding

  • Shaikh Wajid Ali

    April 22, 2020 - - 1:10 pm

    Article indicates the deep understanding and rich informations about the topic. Thank you so much to care the normal people and stand next to them.

  • Muhammad furqan Wattoo

    April 23, 2020 - - 3:46 am

    Asalam alaikum WRB. I have so many articles in my life but this one was one of the best article I have ever read. This article is fits Perfectly to this current situation which we all are going through. Its an eye opener to whole entire ummah.
    Jazak Allah khairan

  • Nizamuddin Shaikh

    April 23, 2020 - - 5:29 am

    Assalam o alaikum wa Rehmatullah wa Barakha.
    Very well written and that too, at an appropriate time. The pandemic is a sort of challenge to the entire humanity and every one, be it rich or poor, is at risk n in distress. Despite laws, there is this evil “hoarding” practised as an opportunity to earn more. Greed it is. The very concept of Amana is so wide n overarching that, everything n anything with which we are blessed, is Amana of Allah. Be it your wealth, education, scholarship, status etc. You can’t hold it but should distribute amongst the needy. We have seen well educated n well established traders have little respect for these humane concepts which were passed to us by Allah through Holy Quran or through the Hadith(s) of our beloved Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). Added to that is illiteracy of our own brothers about Islam and hence, we see in vegetable markets and at grocery, the faitholders are shamelessly acting against the Shariah
    It’s an opportune time now, even in the midst of this pandemic if we go according to the path set by Allah and the teachings of the Prophet, we can have double benefit – investing for Akhila and doing Daaw’a. I enjoyed the explanation on Exploitation and Management. All said and done, we should accept our shortcomings n accept it as collective failure. May Allah bless Ummah with wisdom. Thanks for sharing. Jazakallah Khair Wassalam

  • Mohammed Dheeg

    April 23, 2020 - - 7:11 am

    Well articulated and timely Article . Appreciated!

  • Jamal Akhtar Khan

    April 23, 2020 - - 7:28 am

    I agree. Very informative.

  • Kashif Ahsan

    April 23, 2020 - - 8:37 am

    It is well written and Indeed it is very much required article in the light of Sunnah. Dr shahid you have done justice to the well defined article ..Heartiest Congratulations

  • Naeem Khaliq

    April 23, 2020 - - 9:51 am

    Masha Allah very well written article. This type of article was very much needed especially at the time of current Covid-19 Pandemic where every one in the sociaty should help each other however there are manier individuals taking advantage by hoarding.

    Simple language used with loads of references from Quraan and Hadith.

    Thank you Prof. Shahid to put light on such an important issue which unfortunately prevail on a bigger level in today, s sociaty.

  • دکتور یحییٰ قاضی

    April 23, 2020 - - 9:00 pm

    الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء وإمام المُرسلين سيّدنا مولانا محمّد صلّى الله عليه وسلم
    BEAUTIFUL AND EXCELLENT INTERPRETATION
    THIS IS THE BITTER TRUTH
    THE SHINE OF ISLAM
    THE EXTREME NEED OF THE CURRENT WORLD SITUATION
    جزاك الله خير أحسن الجزاء في الدارين خيراً كثيراً

  • Mohammad Yasir Riaz

    April 24, 2020 - - 1:13 am

    Assalamalikum prof:Irfan Shahid well said Islam does not prohibit any trade except those types which involve injustice, cheating, making exorbitant profits, or the promotion of something which is haram

  • Khateeb Muhammad Ansar

    April 24, 2020 - - 2:14 am

    السّلام علیکم ورحمتہ اللہ وبرکاتہ۔
    احادیث کا انتخاب موضوع کے عین مطابق ہے۔ اس اعتبار سے مضمون بہت اچھا ہے۔
    میں نظریاتی گفتگو سے زیادہ عملی مسائل پر گفتگو کو پسند کرتا ہوں۔
    اس وقت پورے ہندوستان کی تجارت بڑے بڑے آدمیوں کے قبضے میں ہے۔ اس صف میں مسلمان شامل ہونہیں سکتے۔ اس لیے کہ ہم مالی اعتبار سے اور سوچ کے اعتبار سے دوسروں سے بہت پیچھے ہیں۔
    مسلمان تاجروں کو غیر مسلم whole ہول سیلرز سے ہی خریدنا پڑتا ہے۔ ایسے موقع پر وہ لوگ /10 کی چیز /30 روپیوں میں فروخت کرتے ہیں تو مسلمان اس چیز کو/30 سے کم قیمت پر فروخت کر نہیں سکتے۔ ایسے مجبور تاجروں کو قرآن وحدیث کے احکامات پر عمل نہ کرنے والے قرار دینا درست نظر نہیں آتا۔
    مارکٹ پر قابض غیر مسلموں کو اسلام کی ان باتوں کی طرف توجہ تو دلایا جاسکتا ہے مگر اچھے نتائج کی امید نہیں کی جا سکتی۔ لہذا انہیں پہلے اسلام کی بنیادی باتیں بتائی جانی چاہیے۔ پھر ذخیرہ اندوزی و رشوت خوری وغیرہ پر گفتگو ہونی چاہئے۔
    صورت حال کے پیش نظر یہ ضروری ہے کہ پہلے اپنے محلے کے تاجروں کو اونچا اٹھانے کی کوشش کرنی چاہیے۔ پھر اپنے گاؤں یا علاقے کے تجار
    کو whole sellers بنانے یا ان سے کم منافع اور ان سے زیادہTurnover کرنے کی رہنمائی کرنی چاہیے۔ تاکہ مسلمانوں میں حضرت عبدالرحمن بن عوف رضی جیسے تاجر پیدا ہو سکیں ۔
    نیز ان کی طرز تجارت پر بھی نگاہ رکھی جانی چاہیے جیسے مدینہ کے تاجروں پر رسول صلعم کی نگاہ ہوتی تھی۔ جہاں شک ہوتا وہاں آپ صلعم یہ فرماتے تھے کہ من غش فلیسا منا جو دھوکہ دے، وہ ہم میں سے نہیں۔
    خطیب محمد انصر
    موبائل 8667894564

  • Zulfkar Ali

    April 24, 2020 - - 3:29 am

    As far as I have read this is very good, so I believe that as long as no Islamic fishing is implemented, unemployment will continue to grow and people develop with Islamic wealth, Islamic mayyat is very necessary, at least if we
    As Allah Rabbul Izzat has ordered in the Quran Pak, if we run the awards of Puran, we can be at the forefront.

  • Salahudheen

    April 24, 2020 - - 8:09 am

    Jazakallah khair for this detailed article at an appropriate time.

    All praise belongs to Allah for guiding us to this beautiful and profound religion of Islam offering perfect solutions for all aspects of life.

    We are pleased with Allah as our Rab, Islam as our religion and Prophet Muhammad as the Messenger..

  • Salim

    April 24, 2020 - - 6:33 pm

    Timely article during Corona pandemic when the scarcity is natural and arrival of Ramadan which increases demand. Relevant referances are nicely presented and author deserves praise for the same. Jazakallah Khair.
    Dr. Salim Khan, Mumbai

  • Abdul Nasir

    April 28, 2020 - - 12:10 pm

    A very convenient article. We Muslims must follow the Sunnah of our prophet sws at all times, in the good and bad times and remember this dunya is a test.

  • Shabaaz Shaikh

    April 28, 2020 - - 11:35 pm

    It is very nice to read the whole concept of profit maximisation in islamic way and differences. which can be easily understand the concept. today many of them trading but they just wanted to earn more and more and they are not even thing about the society and the needy or poor people.

    I think this will help to many of traders who understand the same.

    Thanks to provide such a nice knowledge.

  • Aftab Shaikh

    April 29, 2020 - - 4:11 am

    A wonderful and well researched article. Such a message was essential in these times of struggle.

  • Salman

    April 29, 2020 - - 4:12 am

    Excellent article about hoarding and price manipulation. May Allah swt give us taufiq to follow the tradition of Prophet SAW keep writing more articles May Allah bless you Prof Irfan shahid bhai

  • Noman Ansari

    April 29, 2020 - - 9:27 am

    A well researched article on a serious topic. Necessary references are given to prove the argument. It is a lesson for us. Islam is a beautiful religion which covers all aspects of human life. Highly appreciated.

  • Javed Alam

    April 30, 2020 - - 1:21 pm

    Excellent article on price manipulation and hoarding. May Allah swt give the long life and best health to the author.
    Prof Javed Alam

  • Farhan Ahmed

    May 2, 2020 - - 8:08 am

    Assalam Alaikum.
    A very good and timely reminder. Well explained.May Allag give us Hidayah to act upon and refrain us from evil and greedy intentions inshaAllah.aameen.
    JazakAllah khairan

  • Talsh Momin

    May 8, 2020 - - 4:25 pm

    MashaAllah well article

  • Dr. Mohammed Asadullah Thakur

    May 19, 2020 - - 12:55 am

    Assalamoalikum wrwb, Masha Allah great to read collection of hadith on hoarding but some verses from Holy Quran would have made it an exceptional manual.
    Wassalam and Regards
    Dr. Mohammed Asadullah

  • Dr. Mohammed Asadullah Thakur

    May 19, 2020 - - 1:01 am

    Assalamoalikum wrwb, Masha Allah great to read collection of hadith on hoarding but some more verses from Holy Quran would have made it an exceptional manual.
    Wassalam and Regards
    Dr. Mohammed Asadullah

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