Unbridled increase in prices of daily necessities is inhumane. Islam has ordered to prevent it. The responsibility of the Islamic state is to keep market prices stable to reduce public suffering. However, producer price determination cannot be interfered with. The general principle of Islam in regulating market prices is that the producer shall be free to determine the price of his produce. However, if the market price becomes abnormal due to hoarding and manipulation by some and goes beyond the purchasing power of the common man, then Islam allows market price regulation.
Anas (RA) said, The people said, O Messenger of Allah (SAW), the price of goods has increased. You set the price for us. Then Rasulullah (s.a.w.) said, ‘Surely Allah is the One who determines the speed of commodity prices, He is the One who brings narrowness and breadth, and He is the Provider of sustenance. I want to meet Allah in such a condition that none of you can accuse me of wrongdoing his life and wealth.’ (Sunan Abu Dawud: 3451)
Shaikh Tahir Badawi said, “The Prophet of Islam is declaring through the mentioned hadith that interfering with personal freedom without necessity is oppression.” But when abnormal factors enter the market, such as hoarding and price manipulation by a few traders, it is permissible to set prices to meet the needs or wants of the society and to protect the society from the greedy. This principle is self-evident to prevent them from serving their nefarious purposes.’ (Nizamul Iqtisadi Phil Islam, page-78)
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Allama Ibnul Qayyim (RA) said, ‘If the welfare of the people is not fulfilled without setting a price, then the ruler will set a fair price for them. No one should be harmed or wronged. And if their needs are met and welfare achieved without fixing the price, then the head of state should not fix the price.’ (Kitabul Majmu: 12/121)
Islamic Shari’ah prescribes to identify the main causes of price increase and prevent it. The main reasons are –
1. Hoarding: Hoarding is one of the main reasons for the increase in commodity prices. It is forbidden in Islam to store goods for personal profit even when there is a shortage of goods in the market. Especially if it is cereal. Rasulullah (s.a.w.s.) said, ‘Whoever stores up the food grain of a Muslim, Allah will impose poverty on him.’ (Sunan Abi Dawud: 55)
2. Market Syndicates: Unscrupulous business syndicates are major obstacles in controlling market rates. The guidance of Islam is that after the production of the product it should enter the market freely. The market will not hold it back for price increases. Rasulullah (s.a.w.) said, ‘Whoever keeps food for 40 days is released from Allah’s responsibility.’ (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba: 20396)
3. Black Market: The price of goods is increased through black market. Black market involves direct fraud, oppression and financial dishonesty. Allah Ta’ala says, ‘O believers, do not consume your wealth unjustly.’ (Surah Baqarah: 188)
4. Middlemen: Consumers cannot buy products at fair prices due to middlemen. Islam forbids creating obstacles between production and marketing of products. Abdullah (RA) said, ‘We used to meet businessmen and buy food from them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade us to buy food before reaching the market.’ (Sahih Bukhari: 2166)
5. Inattention to agriculture: Inattention to agriculture can lead to food shortages and increase in commodity prices. Islam says to ensure optimum utilization of agricultural land. Rasulullah (pbuh) said, ‘You seek sustenance from the soil.’ (Mazmaul Zaweed)
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If the price of goods increases, the believers can resist it in various ways. For example –
One. Price Fixation: The government will fix the prices of essential commodities when the prices rise. As mentioned above.
Two. Boycott of overpriced goods: Society may boycott overpriced goods to protest unfair price hikes by traders. Because during the era of Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra), when the price of meat increased, people complained to him and demanded to fix its price. He said, You reduce its value. Stop buying meat from them. (Al Bidaya wa Nahaya: 9/141)
Three. Ease of buying and selling: Traders should adopt ease of buying and selling in such tough times. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘Allah will admit a person to Paradise who was easy going in the situation of buyer, seller, judge and judge. (Sunan an-Nasa’i: 4696)
According to Islam, unaffordability is a form of punishment from Allah. So it is important to avoid sin and repent and return to the path of Deen. May Allah protect all Muslim Ummah from this crisis of worldly life. Amen.