Moderation in Luxuries


Sunday, 04 November 2007 16:15

In every era and place there have always been the relatively rich people and also the poverty stricken. In the golden era of Islam there were Sahaaba (R.A.) like Hazrath Abu Hurairah (R.A.) who would faint due to hunger. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) would also often pass many days when nothing was available to eat in any of his homes. At the same time there were Sahaaba (R.A.) who were relatively wealthy. However, those in need were taught not to beg. Let alone ask, they would even conceal their poverty to the extent that the neighbour would also not be able to guess that the family next door was passing the night in hunger. Nevertheless, when the Sahaaba (R.A.) detected the plight of the poor among them, they opened up their hearts, even if it meant sacrificing their own basic needs.


      The reality of the last statement is vividly witnessed in the famous incident where a Sahaabi (R.A.) received a goat-head as a gift. Despite having nothing himself, he felt that his neighbour was in greater need of the gift than he was. He thus passed on the goat-head to his neighbour. The neighbour, despite his own poverty, felt that the person next door was more in need. He therefore passed on the gift to the third person. In this manner the goat-head was passed on to the seventh neighbour. Not knowing where the gift had originally come from, he passed it on to the first neighbour from whom the gift originated, regarding him as more in need.

      Similar is the case of the Sahaabi (R.A.) who put his children to sleep while he and his wife also spent the night in hunger so that the little food available could be fed to the guest of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). There are numerous other incidents of this nature in the lives of the Sahaaba (R.A.) and even those after them. For us it is very difficult, perhaps almost impossible, to follow this example. But there are great lessons to take from these incidents.



We are living in times when the distinction between the rich and poor, and the gap between these two classes, is becoming greater all the time. Indeed as a community, the generosity of the Muslims in this country towards the people suffering within their borders and even those abroad is exceptional. But can we be content with what has been achieved?

      Undoubtedly, it is unnatural to attempt to create a one-class society. It will never happen. The Qur’an-al-Kareem has declared that some have been elevated over others in livelihood and financial capacity. Also, if someone can afford some luxuries with wealth he has earned in a halaal manner, he is permitted to do so. The situation of poverty around us nevertheless demands that there should be moderation in our spending on luxuries and at least thesavings from such moderation should be shared with the less fortunate.


To illustrate the above, let us consider the following situation: You wish to purchase a luxury vehicle with money you have earned in a halaal manner. No involvement in interest or any other violation of the Shariah will be committed in acquiring the vehicle. In principle it is permissible to spend the few hundred thousand rands to purchase the vehicle. You are now faced with the choice of the model. The top of the range has a much more powerful engine, has more fancy trimmings and a few more features which most owners will rarely use. The bottom of the range has all the luxuries that the top of the range offers. It however has a smaller engine (but can still comfortably travel at 200 km/h -a very dangerous speed to travel at ) and it has a few less fancy features. The price difference is some seventy thousand rands. Moderation requires that one remains content in thistemporary abode with the luxuries that the bottom of the range offers or at least something in the middle range. The seventy thousand rands will erect a basic shelter for many homeless people, or it could put food into hundreds of hungry bellies. Indeed, there are thousands of such people in our backyards. If one has the courage and the heart to settle for an even simpler vehicle and spread the savings even further in various Deeni aspects and places of need, this will be all the better. If not, at least we can start learning to be content with the bottom of the range which offers hardly anything lesser - apart from the life threatening speed and some fancy frills!


The same will apply for instance to the choice of built-in cupboards, curtains, household furniture and many other personal items. Moderation in what one opts for will not deprive one of the luxury but will save many thousands of rands which could be passed on to those who have no idea whether there will be anything available to eat for supper or not.



Thus great savings can be shared with the less fortunate merely by adopting moderation in permissible luxuries. Can one then imagine how much could be shared with the less fortunate if all the wealth spent on haraam or which is wasted in lavish weddings, etc. is saved? While the wealthy would still live in much comfort and luxury, colossal sums of money would be available to alleviate the suffering of the needy and to fund Deeni projects. Despite the fact that we may have already fed thousands of people several meals, the reality is that there are many thousands who are still in dire circumstances. Hence in the face of his reality, does it not hurt our conscience when people in the Ummah who, because they have enough food in their freezers to last months, spend thousands of rands to watch a little red ball being knocked around and others scurrying behind it!! What was achieved by such futility? Yet, what heartfelt duas one would have received if some hungry person was given that money to buy food, or to some ill person who cannot afford the treatment that he desperately requires!!



Indeed we must look beyond our own comfort zones. There are Muslims who are selling their Imaan due to poverty. Little children sometimes fail to attend Madrasah in the afternoons because they are too hungry and weak to come since they did not find any thrown away lunch in the bins at school!! Can we still hanker after every luxury that our eyes fall on? Are we trying to make this world a Jannah? The material luxuries may bring some comfort to the body. But feeding a starving person, putting shelter over a homeless family, clothing a child who comes to Madrasah with hardly any clothing and other such acts of generosity will bring immense tranquillity and peace to the heart and unimaginable comfort in the Hereafter.



Crisis upon crisis engulfs the Ummah all around the world. How do we respond to these situations? What is our moral obligation? What answer will we have on the Day of Qiyamah? Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said that on the Day of Qiyamah Allah Ta’ala will ask his slave: “I was ‘sick’ but you did not visit me? The person will reply: “How can I visit You whereas You are the Lord of the worlds?” Allah Ta’ala will say: “Did you not know that my so-and-so servant was sick? Had you visited him, you would have found Me with him.” Further Allah Ta’ala will say: “O my servant! I was ‘hungry’ but you did not feed Me.” The person will reply: “How can I feed You whereas You are the Lord of the worlds?” Allah Ta’ala will reply: “Did you not know that my so-and-so servant was hungry? Had you fed him, you would have found Me with him!”

      The wealth we possess is a gift of Allah Ta’ala. It is also an amaanah. We must spend the wealth of Allah Ta’ala in a manner that He becomes pleased with us. May Allah Ta’ala accept our wealth and lives for the service of His Deen. Aameen.