By: Qays Arthur
Wastefulness is something that brings on Divine anger. But particularly in halal matters it is not always easy to identify.
Concerning wastefulness (israf) Imam al-Ghazali (Allah envelope him in mercy) says in hisIhya Ulum Ad Din:
“As regards (the term) wastefulness, it could denote the desire to spend money on funeral wailers, singers, and other vices. It could also denote spending on things that are permissible in and of themselves but with excessiveness. And excessiveness varies according to the circumstance so we say: the one who possesses nothing except 100 dinars, for example, and has dependents and children who have no means of living besides him yet he spends all that money on a feast then he is a waster who must be stopped (from doing that).
Allah, Most High, said: ‘… And let not thy hand be chained to thy neck nor open it with a complete opening, lest thou sit down rebuked, denuded.’ (Quran 17:29). This was revealed concerning a man in Madina who distributed all his wealth leaving nothing back for his dependents such that when he was required to spend on their upkeep he was unable to do so…” (Ihya Ulum Ad Din, section on Munkarat al-Diyafa or Vices related to Entertaining, Chapter on Enjoining the Good and Forbidding the Evil)
Now while spending on haram things is straightforward, grasping the limits with regard to halal things requires some honest consideration. To get a better idea of what such limits look like we could consider clothing.
The ulama have mentioned that one should not spend large amounts of money on things like clothing when good, cheaper clothing is available, unless one is a government official or the like, or has to interact with such people then one may purchase and wear suitable clothing for that purpose.
So it returns to sound, honest judgment. In coming to a decision, one takes into account one’s financial ability and responsibilities as well as the prevailing norm, among pious believers, in the society. May Allah grant us success and realization.
Qays Arthur is a student of the Islamic Sciences. He teaches and blogs at QaysArthur.net.