Question: Is hoarding of fuel allowed when you know the prices are going up next month?
There is a shortage of low sulphur diesel in the market but plenty supply of high sulphur diesel. The price for low sulphur is going up next month. Not high sulphur. I want to keep the low sulphur for next month to maximise on the margin.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
The Fiqh of the Answer
Imam al-Marghīnānī (d. 593 AH) narrates the views of the Imams of the Madhhab in relation to hoarding (Iḥtikār).Imam Abū Hanīfah (d. 150 AH) was of the view that hoarding is Makrūh (severely disliked) when it concerns provisions and foodstuff for both humans and animals. In contrast, Imam Abū Yūsuf (d. 182 AH) posits that the practice of hoarding, can extend to any goods and services, and is not confined solely to foodstuff. Imām ‘Aynī (d. 855 AH) mentions that the Fatwā is given on the opinion of Imam Abū Hanīfah.
Shaykh al-Islam Mufti Muhammad Taqi Uthmani writes in Fiqh al-Buyūʿ that the view that encompasses all necessities should be dominant (Rājiḥ) due to the underlying generic prohibition. He also states that the rationale is harm, and harm can occur in any commodity that is needed by people nowadays. This is in line with the view of Imam Abū Yūsuf (d. 182 AH).
Hoarding, the act of accumulating goods or assets beyond immediate need, can manifest across various sectors and industries due to the diverse range of goods and services channelled through complex supply chains. In the healthcare industry, for example, hoarding could involve stockpiling essential medical supplies like PPE, ventilators, or vaccines, leading to shortages and inequitable access. In the technology sector, businesses might hoard semiconductors, chips, or other components due to fears of disruptions, driving up costs and reducing availability for smaller companies. The energy sector is not immune either; companies might hoard natural resources like oil or natural gas, either as a hedge against future price changes or to artificially manipulate the market.
In the retail and consumer goods sector, hoarding can range from stockpiling household necessities to accumulating seasonal items, contributing to inventory imbalances and price volatility. The food industry often experiences hoarding behaviours related to essential items like grains or perishables, impacting both the local and global supply chains. In financial services, hoarding could refer to the stockpiling of cash reserves or valuable securities, leading to reduced liquidity in the market. Even in the intellectual property landscape, companies might hoard patents without the intent of actual implementation, thereby stifling innovation. Across each sector, hoarding can have a domino effect, rippling through supply chains, distorting prices, reducing accessibility, and ultimately leading to market inefficiencies.
Imam al-Marghīnānī (d. 593 AH), along with Imam al-Atqānī (d. 758 AH) and other Fuqahā, when discussing the viewpoint of Imam Abu Yusuf (d. 182 AH), argue that Imam Abu Yusuf’s perspective considers any potential harm or detriment that could impact the broader community in any commodity.
Imam al-Atqānī (d. 758 AH) mentions three distinct scenarios concerning Iḥtikār:
- It is considered Makrūh (disliked) when an individual purchases food provisions within the city, refrains from selling them, and consequently causes loss and disadvantage to the local populace.
- There is no objection when someone acquires food from their own farmland, village, or rural area and subsequently hoards it.
- A difference of opinion arises when an individual buys goods from a small village or area outside the city and then transports them back to the city for hoarding. Imam Abu al-Layth Al-Samarqandī (d. 373 AH) records that Imam Abu Hanifah (d. 150 AH) opinion is that there is no issue with this practice, whereas Imām Muhammad (d. 189 AH) considers it to fall under the category of Iḥtikār (hoarding).
Imam al-Atqānī (d. 758 AH) alludes to the point that to be considered a Muḥtakir (one who hoards), two conditions must be met. Firstly, the item in question must be purchased from within the city itself. If it was acquired from outside the city, or if an individual grew the crops on their own farmland, the general population does not have a vested right in that wealth. Consequently, hoarding such items wouldn’t infringe upon anyone else’s rights, making it permissible. Secondly, there must be a discernible form of Ḍarar (harm and disadvantage) that the community would endure as a result of someone hoarding. In cases where an individual hoards in a large city, and this hoarding doesn’t impact the general population, there would be no Iḥtikār (hoarding), as there would be no Ḍarar (harm and disadvantage).
And Almighty Allah Alone Knows Best
Maulana Inaamul Hasan Chothia
Reviewed and approved by
Mufti Faraz Adam
Darul Iftaa Muadh ibn Jabal
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وَتَخْصِيصُ الِاحْتِكَارِ بِالأَقْوَاتِ كَالحِنْطَةِ، وَالشَّعِيرِ، وَالتِّينِ ، وَالقَتْ قَوْلُ أَبِي حَنِيفَةَ الله . وَقَالَ أَبو يوسف : كُلُّ مَا أَضَرَّ بِالعَامَّةِ حَبْسُهُ ، فَهُوَ احْتِكَارُ وَإِنْ كَانَ ذَهَبًا ، أَوْ فِضَّةٌ ، أَوْ ثَوْبًا. وَعَنْ مُحَمَّدٍ : أَنَّهُ لَا احْتِكَارَ فِي الثيابِ (الهداية)
وذكر في ” الكافي ” محمد مع أبي حنيفة -رحمهما الله- قال: وعليه الفتوى (البناية شرح الهداية)
علة كراهة الاحتكار، التضييق على الناس (البناية شرح الهداية)
فبيانُه عَلَى ثلاثةِ أَوْجُهِ : ذكرَها الفقيه أَبو اللَّيثِ في «شرح الجامع الصغير» في وجه لا بأس به وفي وجه: مكروه. وفي وجه: اختلفوا فيه. أمَّا الَّذي هُو مَكروه : فهو أنْ يَشْتَرِيَ طعامًا في مصر، ويمتنع مِن بَيْعِه ، وفي ذلك ضرر بالناس ؛ فإنَّه مكروه. وَأَمَّا الَّذِي لا بأسَ بِه: فهو ما إذا كانَ لَه طَعَامٌ دَخَلَ مِن ضَيْعَتِهِ ، أَوْ حَمَلَهُ مِن مصْرٍ آخر ، أوِ اشْتُرِي مِن مِصرٍ ، ولا يضرُّ ذلك بالنَّاسِ وأما الوجه الذي اختلفوا فيه: فهو أنَّه إذا اشتراهُ مِنَ الرَّسَاتِيقِ وحبَسَهُ في المصر.
قال الفقيه: «رُوِيَ عنْ أبي حَنِيفَةَ الله أنَّه قال: لا بأسَ بِه. وفي قولِ مُحَمَّدٍ هو محتكر ؛ لأنَّ أهلَ المِصرِ يتَوَسَّعونَ بالرَّسَاتِيقِ، فَصَارَ حُكْمُها حُكْمَ المصر. قال الفقيه أبو الليث : «وبه نأخذ». (غاية البيان)