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Hoarding or iḥtikār (Arabic: الاحتکار), is to store necessary goods with the intention to sell them at a higher price when they become rare. It is attributed to the majority of jurists that hoarding is forbidden in the case of necessary goods, particularly foods. Some jurists have expanded the scope of the ruling on hoarding, maintaining that hoarding is forbidden with respect to all necessary goods in the society.
Hoarding consists in storing rare goods which are needed by people, with the expectation of selling them at a higher price. Some people constrain hoarding to purchase of such goods, that is, to cases in which one purchases goods and refrains from supplying them to the market although they are rare and needed by people. However, others take hoarding to include any case in which one stores goods (regardless of how one has obtained them, for example through farming or transaction). In a hadith from the Prophet (s) hoarders are cursed.
Hoarding and its rulings are discussed in Islamic jurisprudence (the section on sales), law, and economics. There is also a section in Shiite collections of hadiths devoted to hadiths about hoarding. Al-Shaykh al-Ansari refers to the problem as the hoarding of foods.
There is a disagreement among jurists as to whether hoarding is haram (forbidden) or only makruh (reprehensible). It is alleged that according to the majority of Shiite jurists, if a commodity is not sufficiently available on the market, and its storage damages the market of Muslims, then its hoarding is forbidden. Al-Shahid al-Awwal mentioned the hoarding of foods under makruh transactions, but according to al-Shahid al-Thani in his Sharh al-Lum'a, it is more probably forbidden, and he attributed the forbiddance of hoarding to al-Shahid al-Awwal in his book, al-Durus. According to some jurists, if the hoarded commodity is needed by people and is not available on the market, the ruler can force the hoarder to sell his commodity, but cannot put a price on his commodity.
The wisdom behind the forbiddance of hoarding is said to be the prevention of disorder and disorganization in the society and of hardships for people.
Shiite jurists cite hadiths from the Prophet (s) and Imam al-Sadiq (a) in Shiite collections of hadiths, as well as Imam Ali's (a) order to Malik al-Ashtar to prevent hoarding, as evidence for the forbiddance or reprehension of hoarding.
The hoarding of wheat, barley, date, raisins, and oil is mentioned in hadiths. Thus, as pointed out by al-Allama al-Majlisi, the majority of Shiite jurists rest content with the forbiddance of hoarding in these cases, without generalizing the ruling to other cases. Some people add salt to the last. And there are hadiths in which the hoarding of any food is generally forbidden. And some Imami jurists find it plausible to generalize the ruling to any foods, and others generalize it to all public needs, such as food, clothing, and housing. The latter jurists appeal to the no-harm rule, the rule of discomfort, and the causal grounds of hadiths about hoarding. Some jurists take instances mentioned in hadiths to be merely examples, that is, as situational propositions rather than absolute propositions. Thus, they believe that the forbiddance of hoarding is not restricted to those cases. However, they take it to be an obligation of the government to specify the instances of hoarding.
No particular punishment has been specified for hoarding in Qur'anic verses and hadiths. Thus, some people cite Imam Ali's (a) letter to Malik al-Ashtar to show that a hoarder's punishment is an instance of ta'zir (discretionary punishment), that is, the extent and quality of the punishment is determined by the shari'a ruler.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from احتکار in Farsi WikiShia.