By Abdullahi Olesin |
The hike in prices of commodities, especially foodstuff is a common practice during the period of Ramadan, as most traders would want to use the opportunity to make more money. Ramadan is one of Islam’s sacred months during which the Muslim faithful abstains from eating and drinking from early morning till evening for either 30 or 29 days.
Given the importance of the holy month, it’s the desire of every eligible Muslim to participate wholeheartedly in the fast with a view to earn abundant reward from Allah. For this reason, the Muslims will not leave any stone unturned in the preparations for the fast.
Some traders, having realised that most Muslims during this period, stock their homes with foodstuff, increase the prices of foodstuff they sell, knowing that the breaking of the fast (Iftar) and the early morning meal ( Sahur) must be adhered to.
However, the position of Islam on hiking of food price is very clear as contained in Chapter 83: Verses 1-3 of the Holy Qur’an which reads thus:” Woe to those that deal in fraud – Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure – But, when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due.”
I spoke with two traders, Alh Olayinka Kuranga and Alhaja Omowumi Murtala who said that they do not believe in hiking food price during Ramadan. They claimed they fix prices due to the cost they incurred buying in bulk, and also add transport costs while fixing prices.
In a chat with a consumer, Alhaja Sherifat Oladipo, she confirmed that “ a measure of rice that used to cost N5,700 now costs N6, 500; a bag of semovita which used to cost N3,500 now goes for N4000 while a measure of beans that formerly sold for N600 now goes for N700.”
Another consumer, Alh Ibrahim Abdullahi appealed to dealers and retailers of foodstuff to desist from increasing the cost of the items in order to make the holy month a blessing for them and the fasting Muslims.
Abdullahi, who is the National Coordinator of the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria (MMWG) described profiteering as a grievous sin which attracts severe punishment from Allah “as it creates hardship for the poor and the less privileged”, warning that the problem of hunger and poverty in the land must not be increased through profiteering on food items.
A teacher of Islamic Studies at the University of Ilorin and Chief Imam of Hilal Central Mosque, Ilorin, Kwara State, Prof. Badmas Yusuf condemned in its entirety the hike in prices of food during the Ramadan and any other period. He subscribes to the position of the Qu’ran, a trader cannot trade off the barakah (blessing) through hoarding for the sake of excessive profiteering.