Story #8: The Black Market


The family of Imam Ja-far al-Sadiq, a great grandson of Prophet Muhammad, increased in number. And so did the cost of living. The Imam decided to do trading to increase his income through investing capital so as to meet his family expenses. He arranged an amount of one thousand Dinars and told his servant Musaddif to take that amount of one thousand Dinars and get ready for a trade journey to Egypt.

Musaddif, with that money went and purchased a type of goods usually exported to Egypt. He went and joined with a caravan of traders who were taking the same type of merchandise to Egypt and left for Egypt. 

When the caravan was nearing Egypt, they met another caravan of traders coming out of Egypt. They inquired about the business circumstances in Egypt; they found out during the course of their discussion that the merchandises, which Musaddif and his Companions had brought, were not available and scarce in Egypt as well as in great demand.

The merchants, hearing this good news, decided not to sell their goods not less than one hundred percent profit. They arrived in Egypt; the situation didn’t differ. It was the same as they have been informed. As agreed previously, they created a black market and did not sell the goods. They doubled the cost and then sold the goods.

Musaddif returned to Madinah with a net profit of one thousand Dinars. He went happily and gladly to Imam al-Sadiq and put before him two bags, each containing one thousand Dinars.

The Imam asked: “What is this?”

He said: “One of the two bags is the capital which you gave me, and the other one – which is equal to the capital – is the net profit which is gained.”

The Imam said: “The profit is too high; tell me how did you gain so much profit?!”

The servant replied: “In fact, when we came to understand that the goods became scarce there, we pledged our words not to sell our goods not less than hundred percent profit of the capital and we did the same!

Imam al-Sadiq said: “Glory be to Allah! Did you do such a work?! Did you swear to create a black market among the Muslims?! Did you swear to sell the goods not less than the net profit equal to the capital?! No! No! No! I do not want such a business and such a benefit.”

Then the Imam picked up one of the bags and said: “This is my capital”, and he did not touch the other bag and said: “I have nothing to do with the other one.”

Then he added: “O Musaddif! To sword is easier than to do business lawfully.”

Source: Murtada Mutahhari, THE NARRATIVES OF THE VERACIOUS, Story 31.

Financial Lessons of the Story:

  1. Looking for livelihood for one’s family in order not to depend on others is a form of worship (‘ibadah).
  2. Investing in things that would further earn income.
  3. Moral principles must always guide the types of business one engages.


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