Al-Ihtikar: What Does the Qur’an and Ahadith Say About Hoarding?

“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).

“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).

Weve 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 Ive 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 الاحتكار. 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 goodespecially 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 importantand 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 guidance.

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?

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:

الَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلاَ يُنفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ

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(Quran 9:34).

لَا يَكُونَ دُولَةً بَيْنَ الْأَغْنِيَاء مِنكُمْ

It may not be [a benefit] just going round and round among you as may [already] be rich(Quran 59:7).

فَأَوْفُواْ الْكَيْلَ وَالْمِيزَانَ وَلاَ تَبْخَسُواْ النَّاسَ أَشْيَاءهُمْ وَلاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ

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(Quran 7:85).

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ لِلّهِ شُهَدَاء بِالْقِسْطِ وَلاَ يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ

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.(Quran 5:8).


So woe then

الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَاؤُونَ

those who want only to be seen and praised,

وَيَمْنَعُونَ الْمَاعُونَ

And deny and bar even the smallest items [to their fellow-men]!(Quran 107:4-7).

In regard to this last verse, commentators state, the term /maun/ 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 bankruptcyand 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.


1. Fiqh as-Sadiq, vol 3, pg 139.

2. ان من احترك لم يمت حتى يضربه الله بالجُذام او الإفلاس

ان في جهنم واديا خاصا بالمحتكرين و مُدمِني الخمر و القوّادين

ان جالب الطعام مرزوق و المحتكر ملعون

ايّما رجلٌ اشترى طعاما فحَبس أربعين صباحا يريد الغلاء ثم باعه و تصدق بثمنه لم يكن كفارة لما صنع

3. Nur-uth-Thaqalayn. vol. 5. p. 679.

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