Storing food for future use by no means negates having confidence in Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to store food for a whole year to come. However, doing so is restricted by two conditions:
First, one should buy quantities that satisfy his needs without exaggeration, which harms the whole society, as it may lead to shortages in the markets and price increases. This undeniably harms people’s property and sustenance.
Second, merchants must fear Allah Almighty and not take advantage of people’s want to raise food prices.
Dr. Husam Ad-Din ibn Musa `Afana, professor of the Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence at the University of Jerusalem, states the following: “Having all confidence in Allah Almighty is a legal obligation and is part of a Muslim’s belief. Allah Almighty says what means: “Consult with them upon the conduct of affairs. And when thou art resolved, then put thy trust in Allah. Lo! Allah loveth those who put their trust (in Him)” (Al `Imran: 159); “In Allah do believers put their trust” (Al `Imran: 122); “And Moses said: O my people! If ye have believed in Allah then put trust in Him, if ye have indeed surrendered (unto Him)!” (Yunus: 84); “And trust thou in the Living One Who dieth not.” (Al-Furqan: 58). There are many other Qur’anic verses in this concern.
A Muslim must depend on Allah Almighty and have all confidence in Him alone. But this does not mean that he must stay idle; rather, he must do his best and Allah will take care of the rest.
The Companion Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that a man asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), “O Messenger of Allah! Should I leave my she-camel untied and depend on Allah?” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Tie it and depend on Allah.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban, and verified by Al-Albani in his book Sahih Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2/309.)
Hence, we realize that storing foods does not contradict reliance on Allah Almighty. Rather, it is an aspect of doing one’s best through the lawful channels. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to store for his family food that would cover their needs for a whole year, as reported by Al-Bukhari under the title “Man Storing a Year’s Provision for His Family”. He wrote:
Muhammad ibn Salam told me that Waki` reported on the authority of Ibn `Uyaynah that Mu`ammar reported to him that Ath-Thawri asked him, “Have you ever heard (a contextual evidence) on a man storing so much food that would cover the needs of his family for a whole year or part of it?” Mu`ammar said, “I could not remember any such evidence. Then I remembered a Hadith reported by Ibn Shihab Az-Zuhary on the authority of Malik ibn Aws, who reported `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) as saying, ‘The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to sell the dates of the garden of Bani An-Nadir and store for his family so much food as would cover their needs for a whole year.’”
Al-Hafiz ibn Hajar reported: Ibn Daqiq-Al-`Eid said: The mentioned Hadith indicates the permissibility of storing food for the family. However, this Hadith does not contradict with the other Hadith that reads: “He, the Prophet, (peace and blessings be upon him) never stored something for tomorrow.” The latter rather indicates that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never stored something for himself, whereas the former Hadith means that he stored food for his family. Hence, the meaning is that the Prophet’s family are the reason that he stored food. Had it not been for them, he would not have stored it at all.
Then he added: All or some of the scholars consider that storing food for more than a year contradicts reliance on and confidence in Allah.
This constitutes an answer to At-Tabari’s view, which takes this Hadith as evidence on the ultimate permissibility of storing food, in contrast to those who prohibit it.
The Sheikh (Ibn Daqiq-Al-`Eid) makes the permissibility of storing food restricted to one year in accordance with the mentioned Hadith. However, At-Tabari’s view is greatly reliable, as restricting the storage of food to one year is due to the fact that the foods which people used to store were annual crops, such as dates and barley. But had some foods been available only every two years, it would have been permissible to store them for two subsequent years.
Having clarified the above, I should highlight the following points:
First, people should not exaggerate in buying food to the extent that markets become empty of food products. A man should buy his needs without exaggeration, as exaggeration brings about great harm to the whole society.
Second, merchants must fear Allah. They must not raise food prices, taking advantage of people’s increasing demands. Also they must not deceive customers, as some immoral merchants sell expired foods to people who do not know that. This is really haram, as it includes deception and harms the people. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “He who deceives is not of me (is not my follower).” (Reported by Muslim.)
In conclusion, it is permissible to store food and other products on condition that this would not entail harm to people. This means that storing man’s needs by no means contradicts with reliance on Allah Almighty.”