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ON THE ETHICS OF BUYING AND SELLING

Among the instructions given in it, the first is what has, already, been stated in the preceding narrative, i.e., grain and other essential commodities should not be bought by traders from the caravans, bringing them from the countryside, before they had reached the market.

The next requires that if a person is buying an article from a shopkeeper, the other shopkeeper should not interfere in the transaction and try to persuade the customer to buy from him.

The third is concerning the practice of raising the price of a commodity by posing as a buyer and offering a higher price, while a person was engaged in settling the deal with the seller, in order that the real buyer agreed to pay more.

The fourth instruction is that city merchants should not collect grain etc; brought by the village peasants or traders for selling, and keep them, for future sale when the prices will rise. The goods, on the other hand, should be sold when villagers bring them to the market so that artificial scarcity is not created and the prices do not soar. Moreover, when peasants or traders bringing the goods from the countryside will get the price of their commodities promptly, they will be encouraged to bring in a fresh stock of goods, and, thus, the trade will flourish, and they, also, will earn more.

The fifth and the last instruction is that anyone who wanted to sell a milch cattle should not cease milking it for a time so that the buyer was deceived by the inflated size of the udders and agreed to buy it at a higher price.

The Tradition, further, tells that whoever bought such an animal will be within his rights to return it if he felt dissatisfied on milking it at his place. The buyer, in that case, will, also, give a Sa’a of dates to the owner.

In another version of the same narrative, quoted in Sahih Muslim, it is stated that the animal ought to be returned within three days of the deal after which the buyer will forfeit the right, and, also, that a Sa’a of wheat or barley can be given in place of dates.

The object of the commandment requiring the buyer to give a Sa’a of dates, barley etc., along with the animal if he decides to return it, probably is that he kept the animal with him for a few days and made use of its milk, but he had, also, fed the animal during that time, and thus, the account was settled, but if anything was, still, left wanting, it should be made good in that way. Besides, it will be a consolation to the owner.

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