The renowned Islamic scholar Maulana Tariq Jameel in a TV programme on ‘Business Ethics in Islam’ said that Hazrat Abdur Rehman Bin Auf R.A. of the Ashra Mubashara, a trader, made so much profits that he left a fortune of 2 arb, 10 crore, 20 lakh dinars after him only because of his impeccably honest practices in trading. Maulana also explained that a Dinar was 4.5 masha of pure gold. Now, there are 12 mashas in a Tola and 80 Tolas make a Seer (kilo) and 1000 Kilos make a Tonne. Thus Hazrat Abdur Rehman Bin Auf R.A. left 9853.125 tons of gold! 

I am just baffled as to where did he store that much gold. Moreover, he was not the only Meccan trader of his time. There were other Ashaba e Karaam much more rich than him, such as Hazrat Usman e Ghani R.A., Hazrat Abu Sufian R.A., Hazrat Abbas R.A. (Holy Prophet’s uncle) just to name a few. It is baffling to think what kind of trading they did that fetched them that huge profits. 

The largest trading caravan from Mecca used to be that of Abu Sufian R.A. comprising of 1000 camels and that too, not all his own camels. People used to send their commodities on their camels in his caravan for security reasons. Now, a very healthy camel can carry 7 to 8 Maunds of commodities. Apart from the commodity, the camels had to carry water and rations not only for the traders and sarbaans (camel drivers) going with the caravan but also for themselves (camels) too. That means at the most 7000 to 8000 Maunds worth of commodities were carried for trading from one place to the other. A caravan used to take two to three months to cover the distance and in one year at the most could make two round trips. That means in all about 1500 to say 2000 Maunds worth of commodities were traded. Recorded history and no hearsay, tells us that at the time of Emperor Alauddin Khilji the general commodities were around ONE Paisa a Maund. And that was about 500 years ago only. By the same token, what would then be the average price of the commodities 1500 years ago? Surely less than a paisa a Maund. But for argument sake let’s assume a caravan load of 8000 Maunds of commodities would be worth, say, at the most 8000 paisas, that is Rs. 125 only at the rate of 64 paisas to a Rupee. 

What then, was their profit margin that according to Maulana Tariq Jameel, which made them earn millions and billions of gold Dinars on the transactions involving a working capital of Rs. 125 or so only? Could someone more learned shed some light on such trading, please? 

COL. RIAZ JAFRI (RETD),  

Rawalpindi, May 15.