11. With regard to the amount of prosperity and business
activity (in them), cities and towns differ in
accordance with the different size of their
The 101 reason for this is that, as is known and well established, the individual human being cannot by himself obtain all the necessities of life. All human beings must co-operate to that end in their civilization.102 But what is obtained through the co-operation of a group of human beings satisfies the need of a number many times greater (than themselves). For instance, no one, by himself, can obtain the share of the wheat he needs for food. But when six or ten persons, including a smith and a carpenter to make the tools, and others who are in charge of the oxen, the plowing of the soil, the harvesting of the ripe grain, and all the other agricultural activities, undertake to obtain their food and work toward that purpose either separately or collectively and thus obtain through their labor a certain amount of food, (that amount) will be food for a number of people many times their own. The combined labor produces more than the needs and necessities of the workers.
If the labor 103 of the inhabitants of a town or city is distributed in accordance with the necessities and needs of those inhabitants, a minimum of that labor will suffice. The labor (available) is more than is needed. Consequently, it is spent to provide the conditions and customs of luxury and to satisfy the needs of the inhabitants of other cities. They import (the things they need) from (people who have a surplus) through exchange or purchase. Thus, the (people who have a surplus) get a good deal of wealth.
It will become clear in the fifth chapter, which deals with profit and sustenance,104 that profit is the value realized from labor. When there is more labor, the value realized from it increases among the (people). Thus, their profit of necessity increases. The prosperity and wealth they enjoy leads them to luxury and the things that go with it, such as splendid houses and clothes, fine vessels and utensils, and the use of servants and mounts. All these (things) involve activities that require their price [?], 105 and skillful people must be chosen to do them and be in charge of them. As a consequence, industry and the crafts thrive. The income and the expenditure of the city increase. Affluence comes to those who work and produce these things by their labor.
When civilization (population) increases, the (available) labor again increases. In turn, luxury again increases in correspondence with the increasing profit, and the customs and needs of luxury increase. Crafts are created to obtain (luxury products). The value realized from them increases, and, as a result, profits are again multiplied in the town. Production there is thriving even more than before. And so it goes with the second and third increase. All the additional labor serves luxury and wealth, in contrast to the original labor that served (the necessities of) life. The city that is superior to another in one (aspect of) civilization (that is, in population), becomes superior to it also by its increased profit and prosperity and by its customs of luxury which are not found in the other city. The more numerous and the more abundant the civilization (population) in a city, the more luxurious is the life of its inhabitants in comparison with that (of the inhabitants) of a lesser city. This applies equally to all levels of the population, to the judges (of the one city) compared with the judges (of the other city), to the merchants (of the one city) compared with the merchants (of the other city), and, as with the judges and merchants, so with the artisans, the small businessmen, amirs, and policemen.
This may be exemplified, for instance, in the Maghrib, by comparing the situation of Fez with other Maghribi cities, such as Bougie, Tlemcen, and Ceuta. A wide difference, both in general and in detail, will be found to exist between (them and Fez). The situation of a judge in Fez is better than that of a judge in Tlemcen, and the same is the case with all other population groups. The same difference exists between Tlemcen on the one hand and Oran or Algiers on the other, and between Oran or Algiers and lesser cities, until one gets down to the hamlets where people have only the necessities of life through their labor, or not even enough of them.
The only reason for this is the difference in the labor (available) in (the different cities). They all are a sort of market for their labor (products), and the money spent in each market corresponds to (the volume of business done in it). The income of a judge in Fez suffices for his expenditures, and the same is the case with a judge in Tlemcen. Wherever income and expenditure (combined) are greater, conditions are better and more favorable. (Income and expenditure) are greater in Fez, since its production thrives because of luxury requirements (there). Therefore, greater opulence exists (in Fez). The same applies to Oran, Constantine, Algiers, and Biskra, until, as we have stated, one gets down to the cities whose labor does not pay for their necessities. They cannot be considered cities. They belong to the category of villages and hamlets. Therefore, the inhabitants of such small cities are found to be in a weak position and all equally poor and indigent, because their labor does not pay for their necessities and does not yield them a surplus which they can accumulate as profit. They have no increasing profit. Thus, with very few exceptions, they are poor and needy.
This can (even) be exemplified by the condition of the poor and the beggars. A beggar in Fez is better off than a beggar in Tlemcen or Oran. I observed beggars in Fez who, at the time of the sacrifices (of the `Id festival), begged for enough to buy their sacrificial animals. I saw them beg for many kinds of luxuries and delicacies such as meat, butter, cooked dishes, garments, and utensils, such as sieves and vessels. If a beggar were to ask for such things in Tlemcen or Oran, he would be considered with disapproval and treated harshly and chased away. At this time, we hear astonishing things about conditions in Cairo and Egypt as regards luxury and wealth in the customs of the inhabitants there. Many of the poor in the Maghrib even want to move to Egypt on account of that and because they hear that prosperity in Egypt is greater than anywhere else. The common people believe that this is so because property is abundant in those regions,106 and (their inhabitants) have much property hoarded, and are more charitable and bountiful than the inhabitants of any other city. (However,) this is not so, but, as one knows, the reason is that the civilization (population) of Egypt and Cairo is larger than that of any other city one might think of. Therefore, (the inhabitants of Egypt) enjoy better (living) conditions.
Income and expenditure balance each other in every city. If the income is large, the expenditure is large, and vice versa. And if both income and expenditure are large, the inhabitants become more favorably situated, and the city grows.
No (phenomenon) of this sort one may hear about should be denied, but all these things should be understood to be the result of much civilization and the resulting great profits which facilitate spending and giving bounties to those who ask for them. This might be compared with the difference existing in one and the same town with regard to the houses dumb animals keep away from or frequent. The premises and courtyards of the houses of the prosperous and wealthy (inhabitants of the town), who set a good table and where grain and bread crumbs lie scattered around, are frequented by swarms of ants and insects. There are many large rats in their cellars, and cats repair to them.107 Flocks of birds circle over them and eventually leave, satiated and full with food and drink. (But) in the premises of the houses of the indigent and the poor who have little sustenance, no insect crawls about and no bird hovers in the air, and no rat or cat takes refuge in the cellars 108 of such houses, for, as (the poet) said:
The bird swoops down where there is grain to pick up And frequents the mansions of noble (generous) persons. 109
God's secret (plan) in this respect should be scrutinized. One may compare the swarms of human beings with the swarms of dumb animals, and the crumbs from tables with the surplus of sustenance and luxury and the ease with which it can be given away by the people who have it, because as a rule they can do without it, since they have more of it. It should be known that favorable conditions and much prosperity in civilization are the results of its large size.
"God has no need of the worlds." 110