The Islamic Madina
We have a model of development which enhances and revives the situation of people. For centuries the Muslims brought Islam to new lands and they brought their own model of development. They did not bring a central Bank, a Stock Exchange, or factories to employ people. Our development was by means of an altogether different means. We are here to revive that world of development as understood through hundreds of years of Muslim history.
This is an basic study and analysis of the town as seen by Muslims from an historical, a functional and a Islamic legal view point.
Modernity and Supertitions
In the last two hundred years of Western domination of the Muslim lands architecture has been one of the many tools used by the dominating powers to impose their own political and economical system in their own advantage. This could have not happened without the collaboration of some religious zealots empowered by the West to corrupt the Islamic Law and tradition. The key figure among these colonialist assistants was Muhammad Abdou. He was appointed the Grand Mufti of Egypt by the Brittish Agent and Consul-General in Egypt, Sir Evelyn Baring (Earl of Cromer), in 1899, at the same time his "figure" was presented to the world as an Islamic reformist in the "path of progress". The Earl of Cromer defined his movement as ‘the natural allies of the European reformer’.
The modernist teaching of Abdou and his followers (Rashid Reda, Hassan al-Banna and others) tainted all Islamic teaching into another religion. This is what has been called Islamic modernism. Islamic modernism simply consist in the absurd "islamization" of the entire economic and political order their former Western masters. Muslim technocrats were now educated in Western universities within a set of different styles, techniques and processes for the building and urban development activities. A naive devotion without means of discrimination of everything coming from the West developed into a trend of conventionality closer to supertition than to scientific procedure. Supertition and fear validated procedures that contradicted local traditions, but much more important were oppossed to Islamic Law. The result can be seen in the modern Muslim towns and nations. An alien way of life, that has brought disaster to its people, has broken any continuity with hundreds of years of prosperity and splendor in Islam.
To formulate an adecuate approach to the issue of the Islamic Madina (town) is firstly needed to appreciate that since the fall of the khalifate, there has not been a genuine Islamic government to guarantee the aplication Islamic Law as the only context in which an Islamic town can be fully understood. The Iranian revolution, is a perfect example of the absurd islamization of the West: "Islamic banking", "Islamic Stock Exchange" "Islamic paper currency", etc. In their blindness, they have not understood what was blatantly clear in their own architectural inheritance. The Stock Exchange has taken predominance in detriment of the Islamic Market that once made Isfahan Market o of the most important trading centers of the worlds. Thus usury has replaced trade, although Allah, ta’ala, has stated:
"Allah has permitted trade and forbidden usury"
Islam stands in its own. Allah has chosen Islam as the perfect way of living. This is a choice that affects the architecture of the town and the house. The old town and the new town of Fez in Morocco stand today as a monument of the contrast between splendor and disaster, knowledge and ignorance, Islam and Kufr.
We will explain in the following texts some of the fundamental features that characterized Muslim developments. Some of these features derived directly from Islamic Law, like the existance of a Market instead of Mall of shops or a Supermarket, some derived from the ways of living of people who lived within Islamic Law, and for example, they did not have to pay taxes (apart from zakat), and had direct responsibility in the security of the town (without police force), etc.
The household, the oikos for the ancient Greeks, is not only the house but the fields and all someone possesses. The household affects the whole sphere of living activities and these activities are connected to a lifestyle and an ethical order. The art of management of the household, oikos-nomos (economics), if it is properly performed, provides health and vigour since it involves the body and the mind; it favours relations of friendship for it is possible to show generosity; it satisfies fully one's obligations of hospitality and it encourages social concern for it is possible to take care of the needy. Furthermore, it is of benefit to the whole city for it provides to motivated people, who being used to taking command of their own things, are able courageously to defend their madina from injustice and to improve its services.
That economic art is evoked by Socrates as an art of commanding. In "Memorabilia" he speaks of Cirus the younger, who personally supervised the cultivation of his land, worked in his garden as a daily practice and had acquired so much skill at leading men that when he was obliged to go to war, none of his soldiers ever deserted his army. In opposite fashion, the modern man, unable to rule in his house, accepts passively that the house rules him. The housekeeping, designed as a place of consumption, is the excuse to abdicate any social responsibility. Losing his temper, threatening and punishing replaces the art of management of the house and his responsibility in the common arena of men including the market (the agora).
If the house is made problematic rather than pleasurable and peaceful, the men and the women will project this conflict between themselves onto society. But Allah has benefited men and women with complementary qualities that allow them to profit from the company of each other as a partnership, beyond what each one could do on their own. Their specific aptitudes are indissolubly tied to the good order of the household. Allah has given man physical strength and endurance to work, in order to be able to be the one that brings provisions to the house; and Allah has given woman a natural fear that has positive effects, since it induces her to be mindful of the provisions and to be in dread of losing them, and this enasles her to be the manager that regulates their expenditure and their productive use.
Xenophon (in his Oeconomicus) compares the bad management of a household to a leaking jar, where the whole income of the husband disappears through the hole. For the intelligent man and woman the art of economics should lead to the design of a jar without any hole, even if it needs to be smaller. The house is a privileged space for woman. From there she can command over the household for its maintenance and the dynamics of its creative use and increase. The house should be designed as an arena for creation, social recreation and production. On the contrary, the modern flat is the well decorated prison of woman. It is meticulously designed as a jar to leak, where all that is allowed to the wife is to consume. Its economy and its price is designed to force the wife out of the house to participate alongside the husband with their own incomes in the creation of it: their own prison. We must rule the house, the house not must rule us. We have a house to live in it, but we do not live to have a house.
The modern house is a demanding consumption space, the opposite of the peaceful and productive shelter understood by the Greeks. Typically today the collaboration between husband and wife is reduced to the fact that the wife will present the bills that the husband has to pay. If she stays in the flat, she becomes completely dependent on the husband. If she leaves the flat because he does not produce enough (mostly the case) she will join him out of the house as another one of 'those who have to work for someone else' (slaves). For many the flat becomes the purpose of life. The flat, which is itself the prison, becomes their main anxiety. It will be the justification for many men and women to do the most unjust things and for women, in addition, to sacrifice the company of their own children to fulfil their part in the ritual of economic and social slavery.
The payment of the flat, horribly inflated by the numerical magic of the usurious mortgage, is then one of the main political instruments to force especially young couples to submit to the rule of the banks. Silenced by their need of the banks, ritually expressed in the signature of a usurious contract, that man and that woman will be from then on unable to criticize the criminal behaviour of the bank. They will blame their partner, their companions, their children but not the banks.
Taking command of the house means to command its architectural, its urban and its geographical elements, and to know its meaning and the technical elements involved. A woman isolated in a flat is a prisoner. This reality can not be solved by psychological therapy. The solution involves the changing of the physical and social environment. Company is essential. A woman alone with one or two children is already socially limited, but in an environment of solidarity where there are another 5 women in that or similar circumstances, all can mutually help each other, and share their own tasks. In a typical Islamic environment there are whole areas devoted to the special use of women, within the house and within the neighbourhood. Women have a whole world of their own where work, medicine, care, education is shared among them. No State help is needed when women are together. When they are isolated they become helpless consumers.
Thus space is essential. Space where women specially can develop and share their own workshops where they can produce for the market or for their own needs. Knowledge is also essential. It is essential to administer the domain, supervise the work, to undertake the different kind of industries, to apply the right techniques at the right time and to sell and buy as one should and when one should. The sum of all these elements guarantees an organic independence of women in perfect coordination with the men. In modern times, when the household is not protected or taken care of, women are forced to join in the class of 'those who have to work for someone else' for a humiliating salary, just like their husbands do. The house, that could be a key element of escape from that slavery, is transformed into their prison. Independence for a woman is not achieved by entering the same trap that her husband is in. Independence is the elimination of usury, the monopolies, the privileges, the restrictions, etc. This requires the mutual collaboration of women among themselves in perfect coordination with their men. The household can be a support for men and women or it can be their trap.
The puritanical monogamy legally imposed by the induction of modern economics and christian sexual morality has to be eliminated. In an Islamic environment where women manage their own economy, share an independent world of communal activities and self-support, the sexual relationship between man and woman is also different from what goes on in the consumer flat. The woman who waits in the flat is totally dependent on the husband. The woman working in the bank, or in the factory, or in the supermarket, or in some State department, is dependent on the slavery network. She will soon find out that after procreation, she does not need the husband at all, the State or the job is better. In the alienating world of the salaried employment, a family could be non-practical. Unable to sacrifice the needed salary, the family is sacrificed, in the name of intelligence and modernity. What has been stolen from this kind of woman is the possibility of a different environment. On the other hand, a mutually binding and knowledgeable group of women will soon leave the factories empty, as well as the banks, the supermarkets, and the State offices.
A Natural Poligamous Muslim Household
Polygamy is allowed in Islam up to four wives. Islamic polygamy is the end of the nuclear monogamist family and an opening for women. Monogamism is the result of the perverse mind of celibate priests. Pauline theology not only denied the Unity of Allah, but it punished its own followers with unnatural monogamy, against their own evidence of the prophets of the Old Testament. In 1532 Charles V made polygamy a capital offence and the Council of Trent ratified the condemnation of the practice. And yet whoremongers and adulterers went free. How significantly twisted!
Girls love polygamy, because it is easier for them to marry and they may choose from all of the men (thus, the best). The young men can properly fulfill all their endless enthusiasm. The old renew their youth, with the new marriage. The usual smaller numbers of men by the effect of wars, as we have had twice in this century in Europe, have revealed the injustice of the monogamist laws that condemned woman to cruel celibacy. Just like the french writer George-Anquetil pointed out in 1922 in his book of alluring title: "La Maîtresse légitime ou le mariage polygamique de demain" (The Legal Mistress or the Polygamous Marriage of the Future).
Islamic polygamy not only makes men and women much healthier and happier but also wealthier. The agonizing anxiety about provision that often leads men to despair is part of the monogamist's mentality about the helplessness of women. Broken their isolation, women will show that they can run their homes and support themselves and many others. A woman has resources, she is not a helpless beggar. How could widows and single women manage otherwise? The bigger the family the better for the domestic economy.
The Islamic madina not only accommodates polygamous families, but it promotes their virtues in an ambience where men and women are free from the puritanical restriction and perversion with which christians conceive anything related to sex. The madina eliminates all the artificial obstacles, especially economical and social, in order to encourage men and women within the responsibility of marriage, to enjoy the love of each other. The madina will benefit from the increase in population and the end of perfidious and unmanly hidden mistresses.
The wall defines and protects the house, the neighbourhood and the madina. It also establishes the hierarchy of the madina, in all these three levels of population and activity. This is a graphical representation of the hierarchy.
Like a house has a door, the neighbourhood has a door and the madina has a door. In as much as the madina is a living space is treated like a house is treated. Doors and walls define areas, provides security, create privacy and separation of activities.
"When there was a door in the neighbourhood, we could leave the doors of the houses open; now that that the door was removed, we have to lock everything else up" an habitant of Fez remembered. Security is now a big concern in modern madinas. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the answer to this problem has been to wall the neighbourhood. Newsuburbian developments for rich people in the U.S.A. are now being walled with a guard at the door. The discovery is not new.
The mosque will have the obvious functions of the prayer, and a centre of learning, study of Qur'an and Fiqh and a madrassa for the children.
Trade is an essential element in the life of the citizen. In as much as we all buy and sell something (including our work for example) we are all traders. For this reason the market-place constitutes an essential morphological element of the city, when it is present as well as when it is absent. The medieval city, just like the Islamic madina had a market-place; but the modern city does not have it any more. For this reason something essential is lacking in the modern city.
Without market-place, trading has disappeared, it has been replaced by monopolistic systems of distribution, but monopolistic distribution is not trading. The trader has been progressively displaced by exclusive distributors and selling-agents.
The impact created by the institutionalization of usury (the interest of the banks), this is to say, the impact created by the transformation of money into a merchandise artificially-made-productive, and made available in –almost– unlimited amounts, brought a dramatic transformation to the existence of the free-market-place and ultimately to the social and economical life of the city. Usury is the enemy of freedom and the free market. There is no regulation in the history of trading more strict and more universal than the prohibition of usurious practices. Despite that, there is no more typical and disastrous influence in modern life than the invasion of banking into the common commercial practices. Today the usurious banks have won this ancient battle between usury and freedom. The genesis of unemployment, business gigantism, monopolies and global standardization are phenomena directly caused by usury. One of the victims has been the market-place itself.
From a physical market-place, with physical merchants and with physical money in the traditional European and Islamic city, we have been quietly pushed, as if it were an unquestionable matter of progress, to a new situation characterized by an abstract market-place (with no market-place), with abstract merchants (anonymous corporations) and with abstract money (with imposed symbolic value) in the modern city.
Today, in the city-without-market-place, the destruction of trading is a visible fact. Monopolistic distribution systems have restricted the right to buy and sell professionally (the right to be a merchant) to an elite of people, for whom the rest are merely workers or partners of smaller degree (agents). Supermarkets, hypermarkets, malls and franchises have extended the working class to a new range of people. Everyday more small shopkeepers and businessmen are the lastest to join into the class of 'those who have to work for someone else'. Thus to have your own business, to work independently, which was a universal element in the traditional European and Islamic city, has been eradicated. The feudalism, that claimed special privileges and exclusive right to trade and to own, against which the city heroically fought, has been now restored, with a new appearance based on the religious orthodoxy of the banks.
All European cities, in different degrees were founded as free areas of trading distinct against the surrounding feudal restrictions and order. Barcelona, for example, was founded on the principles of no restrictions and no taxation imposed either on the individual merchants or on the merchandise. That original city had a free market-place; in the modern city the buying space is the exclusive property of private individuals who own the hypermarkets, while everybody else is forced passively to buy from them. There is an obvious and immediate consequence on employment. As the number of owners is reduced, the number of people demanding to be employed by them increases. The principle of ending the privileges and exclusivity for which the city was founded and brought to life has now been totally betrayed. This is the effect of usury.
The hypermarket is the symbol of the modern city. The absolute impossibility to claim ownership in the free market-place has been replaced by the exclusive ownership of one person or corporation over the market. The monopoly of the market has produced new monopolies in distribution and the production. The result is the total monopoly of commercial activities.
Our Islamic madina will be founded on the absolute freedom of the market-place as established by the Shariah of Islam. The market-place will be: indoors (covered at least partially), it will have parking space, easy access to merchandise and clients, security, court of justice to solve commercial disputes on the spot, restaurants, and any other facility to be found in a modern supermarket except that it will be open to all merchants. This is the first condition for the re-establishment of the guilds.
What is an Islamic Market in the Islamic Law?
Soon after his arrival in Madina al-Munawara, the Prophet of Islam, salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, created a mosque and a new market there. He made clear by his statements and explicit injunctions that the market-place was a freely accessible space for everybody, with no divisions (such as shops) and where taxes, levies or rent could not be charged.
The Market is like a Mosque
The Messenger of Allah, salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "Markets should follow the same sunna as the mosques: whoever gets his place first has a right to it until he gets up and goes back to his house of finishes his selling. (suq al-muslimin ka-musalla l-muslimin, man sabaqa ila shy’y fa-huwa lahu yawmahu hatta yad ‘uhu.)".
(Al-Hindi’s Kanz al-’Ummal, V, 488, no. 2688)
It is a sadaqa, with no private ownership
Ibrahim ibn al-Mundhir al Hizami took from Abdallah ibn Ja’far, that Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Hasan said, "The Messenger of Allah, salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, gave the Muslims their markets as a charitable gift (tasaddaqa ‘ala l-muslimina bi-aswaqihim)."
(Ibn Shabba, K. Tarikh al-Madina al-Munawwara, 304-6)
with no rent charged...
Ibn Zabala relates that Khalid ibn Ilyas al-’Adawi said, "The letter of Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz was read out to us in Madina, saying that the market was a sadaqa and that no rent (kira’) should be charged by anyone for it."
(As-Shamhudi’s Wafa al-Wafa, 747-752)
with no taxes levied on it...
Ibrahim ibn al-Mundhir took from Ishaq ibn Ja’far ibn Muhammad who took from Abdallah ibn Ja’far ibn al-Miswar who took from Shurayk ibn Abdallah ibn Abi Namir, that Ata’ ibn Yasar said, "When the Messenger of Allah, salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, wanted to set up a market in Madina, he went to the market of Bani Qaynuqa’ and then came to the market of Madina, stamped his foot on the ground and said, ‘This is your market. Do not let it be lessened (la yudayyaq), and do no let any tax (kharaj) be levied on it.’"
(Ibn Shabba, K. Tarikh al-Madina al-Munawwara, 304-6)
where no reservations or claims can be made, and ...
Ibn Zabala relates from Hatim ibn Isma’il that Habib said that Umar ibn al-Khattab [once] passed by the Gate of Ma’mar in the market and [saw that] a jar had been placed by the gate and he ordered that it be taken away. [...] Umar forbade him to put any stones on the place or lay claim to it [in any way] (an yuhajjir ‘alayha aw yahuzaha).
(As-Shamhudi’s Wafa al-Wafa, 747-752)
where no shops can be constructed.
Ibn Shabba relates from Salih ibn Kaysan [...] that [...] The Messenger of Allah, salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, [...] said: ‘This is your market. Do not build anything with stone (la tatahajjaru) [on it], and do not let any tax (kharaj) be levied on it’"
(As-Shamhudi’s Wafa al-Wafa, 747-752)
Abu r-Rijal took from Isra’il, from Ziyad ibn Fayyad, from one of the shaykhs of Madina that Umar ibn al Khattab, radiyallahu ‘anhu, saw a shop (dukkan) which someone had newly put up in the market and so he destroyed it.
(Ibn Shabba, K. Tarikh al-Madina al-Munawwara, 304-6)
The Islamic Market guarantees that all people have the identical possibility to sell and buy. Trading is not constricted to a cast. In a hadith of Umar ibn al-Khatab, radiyallahu ‘anhu, he objected to the Muslims’ mawlas being in control of the trading, saying: "O people of Quraysh. Do not let your mawlas gain control over your trade so that your men will need their men and your women their women." (Ibn Shabba, K. Tarikh al-Madina al-Munawwara, 304-6.)
If the market is owned (controlled) by a few the rest of the people have to be employed by them. If everybody can trade, then people can work for themselves. In Islam to trade in equality of circumstances is a right of all the Muslims.
The Encouragement of Enterpreneurship
The Islamic or Open Market encourages enterpreneurship. Rather than punishing it through rent or taxation, as it happens in the modern society, in the Islamic Market peopleare totally free to buy and sell. The market is both a right and a service of the community. Charging for what is a right of all people is as strange for Muslims as it may seem the idea of charging people a fee for entering into the mosque to cover the maintenance of the mosque. The maintenance of the market is not made through a waqf or foundation created for this purpose.
The Guilds in the Workshops
The Islamic city was an example of "mutual aid". That Islamic madina, was self-organised, self-ruled, self-responsible by the people themselves. The guilds were the key of this organization. The workshops should help us to revive the guilds.
Everybody belonged to a guild in the madina. The results were manifold. First, there were no salaried people, therefore there was no working class. Instead of the relation: employer/employee we had the relation: master/apprentice. The apprenticeship was not a class condition, like the emploment is made to be. Instead, the apprentice was in the process of becoming a master. In the words of a contemporary historian, "the master knew that he was stronger surrounded by an army of equals (new masters) than by an army of mercenaries (employees)."
The guilds showed an extraordinary adaptability to new methods of production. They could be constituted from a very small number of people up to several thousands. The guild of ship construction in some cities of North Africa gathered up to 2,500 people. All of them were organized in hundreds of small workshops each specialized in the production of one of the components of the ship. One could assemble the most varied design of ships selecting from among all the workshops. If one compares this organization with the typical car factory of today, one can see the difference: instead of a fixed production oriented to one model of car, the guilds could produced more efficiently many different types. For this reason companies like "Toyota" are starting to dismantle entire factories, in preference for hundreds of small independent workshops. They have found out that the hierarchical pyramidical structure of the modern corporation is not efficient. But the reason why we want the guilds in our madina is not only their efficiency. We want to eliminate the existence of a working class condemned to be an inferior category of non-owners working for someone else. The Islamic madina is for the free man, independent, self-motivated, self-governed and responsible for the protection of the weak.
The guilds also represented a system of complete welfare for all their members. Pensions, taking care of widows, orphans or the sick, loans, security in case of catastrophe as well as offering business facilities, all of these aspects were provided by the system of awqaf (plural of waqf, meaning foundation in Arabic). The awqaf or foundations were institutions of social welfare covering all aspects of life. The welfare of the guilds gave them total independence. For this reason they could not be tolerated by the State. The guilds were systematically persecuted by restricting laws and direct expropriation. The guilds are anti-State. When the french invaded North Africa one of the first measures to submit the people to the 'benefits' of the State was to first make them helpless, and they did this by the nationalization of the awqaf.
Restoring self-pride and self-responsibility, in a city of free men means the end of the corporation-like kind of business and in its place the restoration of the model of master/apprentice. All the residual elements of monopoly that artificially sustain the ineffective and unjust pyramidic corporation, will have to be eliminated in our Islamic madina. These monopolistic elements, thanks to which the corporations survive despite their ineffectiveness, are: the elimination of the market-place and the laws of copyright and patent. These will be replaced in our madina by the creation of a free market-place and by declaring void to the Muslims all the regulations of copyright and patent because they are contrary to Islamic Law.
This is the step that Toyota will never make. Once the factory is transformed into small workshops that compete with each other, the question is why do the workshops not get rid of Toyota completely? The answer is because Toyota still has a monopolistic control of the distribution and sale of the cars, that will be eliminated only if the market-place itself is restored. And also because Toyota still has a 'magical' ownership of the components through the monopolistic patent laws. Without these two monopolistic and artificial elements, the guilds will be naturally restored spontaneously.
With the guilds, the salaried class, the working class or the class of 'those who have to work for someone else' (slaves, according to all classical definitions) is abolished. Instead of that, everybody is the owner of his own business. With the guilds people are not helpless, therefore they do not need the State. There is no police, because everybody is the police in the madina. There is no fire-brigade because everybody is the fireman. Therefore to eliminate the State is not only to eliminate the taxes, but it means taking responsibility. To live without the State means not to need the State. Everybody is responsible because there are no taxes. These are fundamental conditions of a free city.
Our Islamic madina recognises that people are masters of their own condition, people who are made free to decide over their own affairs, people who accept their social responsibilities. In our madina people are not taxed. State taxation is not allowed in Islam. Just as Proudhon said: "Nobody can be forced to buy what he does not want, neither can be forced to pay for what he has not bought".
Caravans are the natural development of free markets. Caravans are more careful of reputation than individuals. They can protect themselves, share services and obtain special advantages in foreign trading.
Much of international trading is the protection against robbery, fraud, trickery and deceit. An individual, trading in remote lands, may not hesitate if the occasion were offered to use those unacceptable methods to secure a greater profit. That he would impair the good name of his race among the people he visited would not disturb him, since not he but some other traders who would follow him in the same place would suffer for his wrong actions.
But a Caravan would not follow such a policy. Its trade would be carried on year after year, and it would be anxious to build up and maintain a reputation for honesty and fair dealing. It would claim, and with justice, that his reputation ought not to be imperilled by the proceedings of dishonest folk. Further a caravan would be more powerful than an individual and might obtain, from the ruler of the land visited, special privileges which would not be granted to the solitary merchant.
It was also in the favour of the individual to participate in the caravan, since it gave him access to the benefits that the caravan had already established throughout the years of protection, services, storage, accomodation and most importantly reputation. Individual traders often ventured to parts of the world which were not touched by the existent Caravan networks, and trading developed as the result of such enterprise. This sometimes led to the formation of new Caravans, so that the individual trader, instead of a town or a guild, was in some cases the pioneer of a Caravan.
As a result of the increasing monopolisation of the market place, the distribution networks either have become affiliated to the supermarket stores or they have become related through exclusivity contracts. Consequently the monopolisation of the market place has resulted in the monopolisation of the distribution networks. For the independent producer the selling of his products is tied up to the overpowering distribution companies.
In Southern Spain, one of the most eminent agricultural regions of the European Union, the distribution of agricultural products is 75% controlled by two mega-distribution companies. The result is that the great majority of small producers in the region who are obliged to sell their products through them, are tied up with the prices offered by the two companies. Unable to distribute by themselves, some of them have been obliged to leave their fruits in the trees rather than collect it, or otherwise accept the loss and sell to the distributors. Only the access of the farmers directly to the public in an open market will finish with this situation.
A network of open markets eliminates the existing privileges of the monopolistic distribution networks. When the access to the market is totally guaranteed with the open markets, then the open distribution spontaneously emerges. Open distribution means the total accessibility of producers, particularly small producers, to the big markets of other towns and regions. When the markets were open in the past the distribution was made spontaneously available for all. The great popularity of the contracts of qirad or commenda, and other types of business contracts were the basis for the establishment of this kind of open distribution. This is what the caravans were.
The people of the market and local producers participated with their capital and their produce in the setting up of this system of open distribution. People compete with each other with their investing capital to gain the interest of the best reputed qirad agents of the caravan. The best agents could raise enormous fortunes before departure that would be invested in buying and selling merchandise. Others got less investment capital, always depending on their reputation and honesty. People participated also with their produce that was given to the commissioners who also competed with each other in their abilities to sell the products than they would be representing. The caravan was an open organism of distribution. Everybody could participate with enough talent and reputation.
The Caravans brought more than merchandise from one market to another, they brought the whole city that they represented. The Caravan represented, by its volume and the quality of their produces, the reputation of the town of origin as well as their honesty and good behaviour. Nobody in the town of their arrival could miss it. Nobody in the town of origin could afford to miss its participation in the caravan either.
The Caravan was transportation and agency. It followed a pattern during the year of main fairs across their immediate and far geographical reach, and according to the size of the town they were more numerous in expeditions and in destinations. Who would go on their own if they could participate of the expectation and the attention of the caravan of the whole city? Just like who would like to sell out of the market-place, if in the market-place is where all the customers were? Nobody was denied from doing it on their own, but the Caravan represented the interest of the great majority of sellers in the town. They all nurse and care for its reach and quality.
Equally towns compete with each other to be receptors of the Caravans. To bring the trading to their town was part of the prosperity of that town. To facilitate the arrival and the staying of the far coming Caravans was part of the interest of the people of the town. Not only to exempt them from taxes, but to provide them with suitable accommodation and places to store their merchandise, was part of the wisdom of the times of open distribution. When the city of Barcelona emerged from the ties of feudal restriction and became an independent town it did it with the principles of free trading. As it is stated in the chart of independence of the town, Barcelona defined itself as a town where all the traders and their merchandise are welcome and where not taxes nor levies will be charged to them or their merchandise. Big cities emerged in the cross-roads of Caravans, as the crossroads of trading lines.
Today all these things happen in the darkness of big warehouses where merchandise is accumulated out of the sight of the people and then is distributed to exclusive and selected places of sale. These big warehouses hide out of the town. They are not open to ordinary people, but only to few people who have exclusive access. They represent the death of trading. They are the temples of the pre-calculated profits based on the exclusivity, the privileges of few and the control. This is how many of the most ordinary commodities are kept out of trading; they are dealt with by the exclusive control of few corporations. There is no traders any more. They have been replaced by exclusive selling agents. In addition the future markets allow them to hold sufficient volume to manipulate the prices even beyond their physical grip. The result is that millions of producers and millions of consumers are manipulated by the sophisticated control of monopolistic distribution networks.
The open markets and the open distribution are not for any exclusive group or person. They are for everyone and their competitors. They are open to all. With them TRADE WILL RETURN. Open trade will encourage production that is the creation of wealth. In a model of open production processes, increasing trade will benefit all working people. It is therefore proved that the wealth of a nation is the result of justice and openess, not the result of injustice and monopolies.