The sudden outbreak of the epidemic and the current COVID situation gave us a conscious move and made us store hand sanitizers, masks, required food items, etc. At the same time, we found the shortage of these items in the store, and terms like hoarding, price-gouging, etc. kept trending in the media news related to the economy.
If you haven’t heard these terms on TV then I am sure that you must have heard about the increase in prices of masks and hand sanitizers from a few cents to 25 dollars during the COVID situation. Why did this happen? Does Islam allow this to Muslims? What type of hoarding is not hoarding? Why does Islam declare hoarding forbidden for Muslims? This blog is a reply to all questions that are popping into your mind. Let's understand this.
Hoarding means the storage of items (food, clothing, or anything) with an intent to sell them when there is a demand for those products and prices are high. Let me make you understand this definition in the other way. When a trader buys a specific product that is in abundance in the market, then stores and resells it when it is highly in demand and its supply is low. It is hoarding.
What are the guidelines for a Muslim trader and how should he practice his dealings? Islam is a guidance platform for all aspects of life and so is for business. There are various Quranic verses and Hadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)that provide guidelines to Muslims e Ummah about this important topic. Hoarding is a great sin in Islam. You can find references to strong punishments in the Quran and Sunnah about a hoarder. For example, a famous Hadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH):
“Whoever hoards food away from the Muslims, Allah will afflict him with leprosy and poverty.” ( Sunan Ibn Mājah 2155)
Why does Islam forbid hoarding?
Islam is a religion of reason and every Islamic practice has a reason behind it. Hoarding is a sin because it disturbs the peace and balance of society and creates chaos and difficulty for one group and monetary advantage for the other. A Muslim cannot be happy and enjoy monetary advantages and abundance of an item while his fellow Muslim brother is in dire need of that item. That’s why Holy Prophet (PBUH) 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 expiration of his sin for what he has done.’
The severe imbalance hoarding inflicts on society and therefore Islam forbids it. The system of Zakat in Islam is a complete contrast to the idea of hoarding and therefore it is haram to sell things in higher places when there is a need.
What type of hoarding is not considered hoarding?
Indeed, hoarding is not allowed in Islam but storage of some items in different situations is not hoarding even. Here I have explained those conditions where storage is not hoarding:
1. Storage of food items, clothing, etc. for the family is not hoarding. For example, you buy rations for your family, or farmers store grains for a year for the use of a family.
2. Storage of items in the cold reserves is not a type of hoarding and a person doing cold storage of the items produced in a month or two does not come under the category of hoarding.
3. Storage of the grains or other items by the government as a step of management is not hoarding. Due to this reason, some people confuse the idea that Hazrat Yousaf (A.S) stored grains for the future, and hence it is allowed to hoard grains. But this is not the case, storage of Grains by Hazrat Yousaf was a step of management, not an intention to get profit at the time of demand.
Is hoarding about the storage of food items only?
Most Muslims consider only food items stored in terms of hoarding. But this is not the case. Scholars of Islam tell that not only food items but anything necessary for the survival of human beings are not permissible. In the current situation of COVID, it is a sanitizer, mask, etc. In short, hoarding is the storage of that product that is necessary for a man to buy at either price. He is ready to pay the highest price for that commodity of life.
Holy Prophet (PBUH)said about hoarding:
"The Prophet (PBUH) said that the [trader] who hoards goods is evil: If prices fall, he is grieved and if prices rise, he is happy".
Hoarding of Gold and Silver:
Gold and silver are precious and they are always considered an asset. It is permissible to store both gold and silver in Islam but you have to pay Zakat annually. There is a specific amount of money you have to pay as a Zakat to the poor when you store gold and silver for a year.
From the above argument, it is clear that Islam provides clear guidelines to Muslims about hoarding, its punishment, and its impacts on society. A Muslim doesn’t need to believe in rumors and discussions. He needs to study Quran and Sunnah correctly. This type of deep study will be a practical guiding platform for him even when he is sitting in his office chair and making a deal with his business partners. Dear brothers and sisters, don’t believe in the arguments of Muslims or non -Muslims about a specific subject. Read Quran and Sunnah. It will make you clear about the subject.