Abu al Fadi Ja’far ibn ‘Ali al-Dimashqi was a wealhty Muslim businessman from Damascus. It is known that he lived in 12th century. He is the author of Kitab al- Isharah at- Tijarah wa Marifat Jayyid al- A’rad wa Kadiiha wa Ghush-us al- Mudallisn fiha (A guide to the Merits of Commerce and to Recognition of Both Fine and Defective Merchandise and the Swindles of Those Who Deal Dishonestly).

We do not exactly know much about the life of al-Damashqi. He was a Muslim writer who were affected by Greek sources, especially by the neo-Pythagorean Bryson of Heraclea.


Unlike many other Muslim writers, Al-Damashqi confirmed wealth for its own sake. In his work, he adviced trade as an economic activity with which we can understand the role of supply and demand and the way of exchanging. As Louis Baeck explained, who is a professor of International Economics and Development at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, Al-Damashqi mentioned about “price theory” with its formulas years earlier than modern economists today. In this theory, Al-Damashqi separated the prices based on cost of production in normal periods in markets and the prices in the periods of scarcity and oversupply, in which speculators put forward their desired prices.

In the Guide to the Merits of Commerce, he explains drawbacks of the state involving in the economy directly. He accepts the necessity of labour side for economic development.

No one can take part in all industries, because his/her life span cannot enough to manage them perfectly. Industries are all apart from each other. One requires the other. For example, construction needs ironsmith, ironsmith needs carpenter and carpenter needs lumberman and so on. Therefore, people have to help each other to build a work, that is, assistance is really necessary for all the time among humans.


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