The merchants also formed a small aristocratic group, which bound its members on the basis of their wealth and common profession.59 They exercised a relatively strong influence on Bu- yid policy, although this influence was not always positive.60 Greed and the accumulation of wealth shaped the relationships between merchants, who had their own ways of doing things. For example, when a wealthy merchant performed his prayers in an incompetent way, he excused himself saying “this is the salat (prayer) as the tujjar (merchants) perform it.”61 Al-Tawhldl describes how these merchants ran their affairs in an immoral fashion devoid of the usual fairness and appropriate courtesy:
He wishes for you what he does not wish for himself, and he buys from you at a price but sells to you at a different one. ... If you seek his advice, he will trick you, and if you ask him he fails you. ... They [the merchants] indulge themselves in wrongdoings until it becomes well-known, and they avoid doing right until it becomes forgotten. They uphold the community (milla) if this increases their sales, and they abandon it when it is causes them loss. [A merchant] would be delighted to learn a new trick to sell a product . this he considers a mastery of the profession, a smart way of achieving his aim, knowledge of trade, and advancement in his profession. ... 62
Al-Tawhldl was very critical of the practices of merchants, their selfishness, and greed for the accumulation of wealth. This opinion will have a bearing on his views of sadaqa and on excluding merchants from its realm as will be later discussed.