Who sets the prices?
Doctrine, markets, and migration by the mighty pen
One of the widely shared yet incorrect platitudes of scholarly circles is that the historical Murābitūn, throughout their period of rule (and not just in their primordial stage), lacked a structured ‘aqīdah and Ash`arī kalām was in particular extraneous to them. Naturally, the perfidious “Salafis” have been quick to seize on that platitude and attempt to immortalize it, as they wage relentless war against all the building blocks of classical Islam: a triumphant phenomenon their puritanical resentment looks at askance with malignant envy.
The ‘Aqīdah of al-Murādī al-Hadramī (which Judge ‘Iyād, among plentiful others, was well acquainted with) sets the record straight.
In it, al-Murādī al-Hadramī (d. 489 AH) tackles a very fascinating theme, of particular interest to our present times.
“All prices prevail in creation by Allah’s permission”, one of the headings of his book proclaim.
“All prices prevail in creation pursuant to authorization by Allah – glory to Him! –. Commensurately with the degree of people’s relinquishment of superfluous needs for nutriments or their eagerness for them, food prices rise or decrease.
Prices are not the result of an act by any one who corrupts foodstuffs and stirs civic commotions tearing the social fabric apart. Prices are likewise not the result of the acts of farming the land or milking the livestock, nor the result of kings’ acts in setting prices.
Anything in that vein which manifests in creation when its cause arises is purely worship Allah has brought about in the act of such an intermediary”.
Judge al-Bāqillānī, a leading early Mālikī and Ash`arī from the ‘Irāq, spread out the correct view on the mas’alah in his text Tamhīd al-Awā’il wa-Talkhīs ad-Dalā’il. He debunks therein the contrary view held by the Mu`tazilah, to the effect that prices are the consequence of a human act and as such traceable thereto.
There is no multiplicity of creators (we seek refuge in Allah from deviant beliefs!).
It is Allah, Judge al-Bāqillānī clarifies, Who creates in humans the desire to purchase goods and the inclination to monopolize the same, not because of any abundance or paucity of goods as such, but due to an innate need He embeds in their beings.
If, therefore, a monarch lays siege to a town and cuts off its inhabitants from the supply of storable provisions by which their primary material needs are fulfilled, it is not the monarch who enacts any resultant price inflation. It is Allah Who in truth occasions it. Yes, metaphorically, in a broad linguistic sense, one might refer to “the monarch having caused a rise in prices”, but that is, ultimately, beyond the legitimate realm of metaphor, as imprecise as the statement that “the monarch has starved them to death” or “forced them to suffer emaciation” or “killed them by his prolonged siege”. All of those occurrences derive from acts which Allah, and Allah alone, has originated in the besieging monarch and the victims of his operations.
By the selfsame token, if the monarch lifts his siege or allows supplies of life-preserving provisions to reach the townsmen trapped inside, it is not the monarch who has perpetuated their life.
All prices are therefore from Allah, Exalted is He, the Judge concludes.
It is therefore not capitalism or secular humanism or the Muslims’ capitulation to the same which sets the prices of goods and services.
It is Allah Who sets them through people’s covetous greed for materialistic production and their ascetic indifference to what is connected to elevated spheres of life, the more so elevated spheres of true Islamic knowledge and action.
Allah is the Agent, in total and undisturbed control.
No forceful seizure of power by any Muslim grouping can invert the undercurrents which stir the inborn impulses of humans this way or that way.
If, moreover, less and less believers are concerned with the laws of proprietary transactions (money, wealth, finance, business, commerce, industry, agriculture etc), and prices move therefore strictly within the coordinates of secular worldviews and their systems, it is Allah Who has decreed such a self-damaging unconcern into being.
It is by His bountiful favour that we nevertheless keep on writing about these matters, safeguarding, promoting and disseminating them amid such loud disinterest.
In so doing, we are people of hijrah and people of jihād, no matter how dominant one-sided perceptions of those twin realities might disavow that fact.
Ibn Kīrān al-Fāsī (d. 1227 AH) was in the 13th century AH one of the outstanding voices who, like such eminent predecessors as Shaykh Zarrūq or Shaykh ‘Abdu’l-Wahhāb ash-Sha`rānī, called for a panoramic vision of the Dīn that embraced all its sciences in an interlaced tapestry, in so doing integrating outward and inward.
His palette of diversified interests is well reflected in his authorial output covering a wide array of disciplines, from tafsīr to Arabic syntax, from Sufism to philosophy, from jurisprudence to general admonitions and exhortations.
In his seminal work ‘Aqd Nafā’is al-La’āl fī Tahrīk al-Himam al-‘Awāl ilā as-Sumuww ilā Marātib al-Kamāl, he reminds us of timeless truths we should centralize in the core of our beings:
• In Allah’s sight, worth vests in knowledge and guidance, not in wealth and lineage. In an epoch where affluent merchants have the pretence to steer the affairs of the ummah and holy bloodlines are put forward as the Muslims’ saving grace, what this luminary distends in the pages of the aforesaid writing is a must-read for all earnest Muslims. Here is one quote out of many, from the gallant Imām ash-Shāfi`ī: “Whoever desires this world ought to pursue knowledge; and whoever desires the Hereafter ought to pursue knowledge: If the people of knowledge are not Allah’s friends, then surely Allah has no friend.”
• His book is structured around 15 “matchless pearls”. In the First Matchless Pearl, he states that warfare in the path of Allah extends, as per the interpretative style of masters of allusion, to the procurement of beneficial knowledge. Allah has set the price for believers: exchange your worldly lot for a vaster lot in the Hereafter. How do we make delivery of the worldly price we exchange for its otherworldly counterpart? By fighting in the path of Allah. That fighting is not limited to waging war against the kuffār with sensory weapons. It applies across the board to countering the Shaytān, the self and lowly appetites, by obeying the Master through engrossment in salubrious knowledge and compliance with the dictates of such engrossment. There is both a semantic generality and a semantic allusiveness which allows the extension of the concept of fight in the path of Allah to those dimensions. At source, there is an interconnectedness of meanings between physical warfare and subtler forms thereof. True, in the field of “tafsīr” such an extension cannot be voiced, but in the field of comprehending realities which Muslims are divinely gifted by it is permissible. Its legitimacy is corroborated by many an authority. For instance, the Ghazālī of the West, Abū ‘Alī al-Yūsī, said in one of his epistles: “Quest for knowledge and engagement in teaching are a type of jihād. Nay, that is the second jihād, in fact, of the two types it is comparatively the more important. That is so since warfare against the enemies is necessitated by the duty to repel them from the precinct of Islam, whereas knowledge is necessitated by the duty of deflecting people from their ignorance. Let us probe matters accurately: If the enemy seizes control of assets of wealth, which are but worldly instruments, we should remember that one has to give up those assets in any event, either under constraint by the enemy or by virtue of some other factor, at the latest in the Afterlife. If it is ignorance – may we find shelter from it with Allah – which holds sway, then no room is left for sound belief, īmān or virtuous action: That is in truth the perennial ruin which does not abate until the Hereafter. You consequently realize that jihād by dispelling ignorance and fortifying both the root and the branch of the Dīn is an emphatically greater priority than jihād by repulsion of the physical enemy. When Allah sent our Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, he began with the second type of jihād, which we defined as the more important of the two. He [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] dispelled ignorance by teaching through his deeds, sayings and tacit endorsements. He [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] only fought the enemy in the battlefield afterwards, when authorization for it was granted to him [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam].”
• In the Second Matchless Pearl, Ibn Kīrān includes beneficial knowledge and wholesome action within the compass of migration (hijrah) to Allah and to His Messenger, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam. Whoever aims at attaining a degree of perfection and sets out in pursuit of it, striving to earn it by knowledge and action, after which death overtakes him while in that state or else he actualizes the knowledge and action he strove for, will be regaled with a vast reward: «So let those who sell the life of the dunyā for the Ākhirah fight in the Way of Allah. If someone fights in the Way of Allah, whether he is killed or victorious, We will pay him an immense reward» (Sūrah an-Nisā’: 74). “The migration of whosoever migrated to Allāh and His Messenger is verily one to Allāh and His Messenger.” The savants have said: “Every act of obedience in the form of beneficial knowledge or teaching founded on a healthy intention, and every act of active goodness, is part of migration (hijrah) to Allah and His Messenger. Everything within the ambit of obedience is in fact severed from a person’s base appetite and craving and orientated towards pleasing his Master”. Migration to Allah and His Messenger accordingly includes immersion in reciting the Qur’ān and learning its judgments, and attending gatherings of knowledge for the sake of adhering to the command of Allah and His Messenger and harvesting their pleasure, especially the gatherings of tafsīr, hadīth and fiqh. Experiencing the sweetness of that quest is part and parcel of a person’s īmān. By contrast, “[t]he migration of whosoever migrated to this lower world for the purpose of earning it or to a woman for the purpose of marrying her is only a migration to what he migrated to.” The migration of whomever, in his purposeful orientation, migrated to Allah and His Messenger by pursuing beneficial knowledge and active goodness is thus, factually, a form of recognized hijrah, inasmuch as actions are gauged by their underlying intents and Prophetic ahādīth elucidate one another.
Ibn Kīrān proceeds to elucidate his point further, and Muslims of all persuasions are warmly encouraged to ponder his words attentively.
Let the salient points coalesce as follows:
• Hegemony in this age is not established by military might (which acts as a secondary buttress) or even by financial control (which acts as a primary buttress). It is established by intellectual warfare, by installing a hegemonic worldview, hence ideology, culture, civilization, anthropology, psychology, sociology, historiography. The base of humanists’ hegemony is epistemological. Muslim intellect has succumbed to their propaganda. It is for no other reason that, one example among millions, the Moroccan kingdom (comparatively one of the least deranged political molecules the Abode of Islam is currently fragmented into) has compliantly asserted that it is planning to expunge the death penalty, factually already redundant, from its statute books, so as to give effect to the relevant provision of its own (Masonic) national constitution.
• The role of Muslim intelligentsia cannot be remotely underestimated. It is crucial. The Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, has authentically said that knowledge would not be lifted away but that its guardians would be removed and replaced by imposters sending people astray. The benefit of a genuine savant, therefore, far outstrips the benefit of a strong and brave militant in this age.
• Most Muslims have been migrating to the chattels of this fleeting life in the last two centuries. Inspiration is to be found elsewhere, in their opposites.
• We have repeatedly made clear that we are right in the middle of the prophesied plunge into the sunset. There is not even a single sign which casts doubt or in any way disowns this historical interpretation.
• The wisest Muslims migrate inwardly from the land of darkness to the land of light, of Allah’s victorious Dīn.
• The capital of that realm of light is al-Madīnah. Islam is returning into it the way the snake coils back in its hole.
• The Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, did not say that “the better Islam”, “the healthier Islam”, “the purer Islam” would return to his Illuminated City. He said Islam would do so.
• For 12 to 13 centuries, Muslims asked to define Islam would have correctly done so at once without any hesitation.
• Just as the emergence of the physical Dajjāl will be prefaced by a network of realities embodying and fortifying his planetary way, the physical restoration of Islamic rule centered in al-Madīnah will have as its foreword a network of realities enabling its gradually renewed establishment.
• As the locus where Islam manifests is the place of the Dīn (al-Madīnah), configuring its figurative reality heralds its outer revival. Only the people of sound knowledge can outline its configuration. Sound action can only issue forth from sound knowledge.
• Our role, therefore, is of the highest cosmic significance.
• “Return” to its source means that Islam was once there before.
• Every movement calling Muslims to “unite in Makkah” is a perverse deviation. That holds true of Wahhabism, Salafism and Deobandism. Makkah was the land of kufr. The Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, migrated from Makkah to al-Madīnah. He, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, did not rule in Makkah. No Islamic rule was ever located in Makkah.
• Islam (and we are no longer going to define it as pure, original, classical or whatever, since they are mere transient expediencies to facilitate understanding for a while) manifested in its full primal splendour in al-Madīnah. Whoever calls to the real thing, to the Islam stressed by the noble hadīth, calls to al-Madīnah. That includes a call to governance, hukm, which is indissolubly tied to the Prophetic City.
• Whoever calls Muslims to “Makkah” is opposed to the real thing.
• If Islam coils back in its hole and gathers itself in it (gathering force thereby as a potentized reality), it ineluctably means that in its true dimension it is the property of a minority. Billions might be there, but it is that minority who matters. It follows that misguided groups such as “the Salafis”, who deem themselves the rescued minority while in actual fact they are an expanding force of millions occupying all the never centers of Islamic society (governments, media, mosques, educational institutions, publishing houses, websites and so on), cannot be the thing. They cannot be the troop of goodness busy reestablishing the Madinan splendour.
• Movements which call for the dilution of Islam and away from the Madinan way (thus away from hukm) are not the thing and are in fact opposed to it.
• That applies to all forms of “moderate” Islam or pacifist minimalism.
• That is so in particular of two fashionable trends: Ahl al-Baytism and Neo-Traditionalism.
Peaceful Ahl al-Baytism:
• In its essence, it is grounded in a disorder of the psyche. It propagates the depressing un-Islamic thesis that political rule is intrinsically evil, unjust and corrupt; unless, in exceptional circumstances, it is entrusted to the offspring from one solitary blood line.
• Therefore, either one is a doomed martyr extolled as such and rewarded by the monuments of memory and in the Next Life, or the only recommended approach is to leave politics to its corrupt practitioners. Heart-cleansing is the undivided focus.
• Ahl al-Baytism is purged Shī`ism for Ahl as-Sunnah, and logically antagonizes the Madinan way which sees Islam as a totality, to be enacted as a whole, as understood by Ibn Kīrān and by his predecessors over 12 and ½ centuries.
• Given that hukm was the first fastening bond of Islam to be loosened, it is unwise to concern ourselves with its restoration and with inviting Muslims to restore it, beginning with the implementation of mu`āmalāt (family affairs, proprietary justice, assessment of torts, Sharī`ah arbitration, proper distribution of deceased estates and so forth). Salvific force is confined to acts of worship, character reform, individualized morality and their like.
• Judges are jettisoned in favour of social workers or marriage counselors. Rihlah intensive substitutes for anachronistic jihād.
• Reliance is placed on a constellation of galactic tutors and orators, which unlike Ahl al-Baytism are drawn from an unlimited genetic pool: A velayat-e-faqih which peacefully operates on the planes of ‘ibādāt, doctrinal beliefs and ihsān. The one exercising guardianship over the rest of the ummah is no longer a jurist as classically understood, still less a judicial officer attached to an empowered political class. He is closer to a Rabbi joining scholastic knowledge and spiritual training. In the absence of hukm, he fits ideally into the post-Age of Occultation for Sunnis.
Migration has manifold strata as we have seen.
Relocating from the falsehood of kufr to truth is an imperative, but no less indispensable is the migration of the strangers from internal sabotage works.
We are expatriates from the continent of falsehood, all of it, whether surfacing within or without.
Board the Ark of knowledge and bid farewell to ignorance as you journey back to our homeland in the Illuminated City.
Allah will vest you in the attire of triumphal death or victorious survival.