The family of Imam Al-Sadiq (‘a) was steadily growing, as were their expenses. The Imam (‘a) decided to invest some capital in order to increase his income and thus meet his family’s expenses. He gathered an amount of one thousand Dinars and told his servant Mussadif to take the money and prepare for a journey to Egypt in order to do business there.
With that money, Mussadif purchased the type of goods usually exported to Egypt. He joined a caravan of traders who were taking the same type of merchandise to Egypt and set out with them. When the caravan was near Egypt, they met another caravan of traders who were leaving Egypt. They enquired about the state of business in Egypt and discovered that the merchandise which Mussadif and his companions had, were not available in Egypt, and thus was in great demand.
The merchants, upon hearing this good news, decided to sell their goods at no less than one hundred percent profit. When they arrived in Egypt, the situation was as they had been informed. As previously agreed, they created a black market by initially not selling the goods. They then doubled the price and sold the goods.
Mussadif returned to Madinah with a net profit of one thousand Dinars. He joyfully went to Imam Al-Sadiq (‘a) and put before him two bags, each containing one thousand Dinars.
Imam Al-Sadiq (‘a) asked, “What is this?”
He said, “One of the two bags is the capital which you gave me, and the other is the net profit which has been gained, which is equal to the capital.”
The Imam (‘a) said, “The profit is too high. Tell me how did you gain so much profit?”
The servant said, “When we came to understand that the goods were scarce there, we pledged not to sell our goods at anything less than hundred percent profit, and that is what we did!”
Imam Al-Sadiq (‘a), “Glory be to Allah! Did you do such a thing? Did you plot in order to create a black market among Muslims? Did you collude to sell the goods at a profit equal to the capital? No, no! I do not want any part of a business with such a gain!”
The Imam (‘a) picked up one of the bags and said, “This is my capital.” He left the other bag and said, “I will have nothing to do with the other one.”
Then he (‘a) added, “O Mussadif! To do battle is easier than to do business lawfully.”1
- 1. Bihar ul-Anwar, v. 11, p. 121.