Sunday, May 14, 2017

'Live Prudently; Resist Desires'

On Spending Habits

Allah the Almighty has given all people all the necessary with which they can live and seek their livelihood to satisfy their needs. But sometimes the problem that crops up is the desire which man seeks to acquire/ fulfill through show-off and extravagance, which is way beyond his means, or he it may be that he can acquire it through the means which he has at hand but by foregoing something important from his budget. This kind of imbalance begins there itself, for very often he sets off to fulfill his desires to the detriment of much more important and essential things.

Let us take a simple example so that we may understand this. A person can dress up in a convenient and simple way, in cheap clothes. But then he desires to clothe himself in haute couture or clothes of high class and made. This desire propels him to spend more. Thus, he needs to forego more essential needs such as food and drink only to satisfy this desire of his. He, therefore, makes some adjustments to his budget by cutting off essential needs. When we do this with a child who needs good/ quality food for his physical and mental development, we thus commit a grievous crime against our own child. How many are there among us who seek to borrow money only to clothe themselves in a fashionable way? And afterwards these kinds of people see it difficult to reimburse the money! (We call this "Israaf", i.e. bad spending).

Thus, it is the children who have to bear the brunt because of the financial crisis in the house, and moreover disputes between spouses ensue. At the end of the day, it is the children who have to bear the consequences. This is how turbulence amidst the family and espousal units occur, all because of extravagant spending. We deprive ourselves from what we need and we go after what we do not need. In other words, extravagant spending is illicit (Haraam).

Faith: Prudence versus Excesses 

Deen (Religion, i.e., Islam) teaches us moderation in all things. This applies to Ibaadat (prayer) also. We must make time for the accomplishment of our Ibaadat but we must not do it in such an excessive way as to neglect our other responsibilities or more important Ibaadat which are more essential.

Huzur (atba) then gave the example of the 15th night of Shabaan which a section of Muslims around the world celebrate/ spend in Ibaadat while they forego those acts of worship which have been made compulsory by Allah. Huzur (atba) also said: The night of Shabaan is wrongly taken by Muslims as the VERY night that Allah decides all decrees, such as marriages and divorces, births and deaths etc., as if Allah decides all these in ONE night and do nothing for the rest of the year till the next 15th Night of Shabaan! If so, then one should already do his own Janaza prayers for everything has been decided during that night! Thus, this has been wrongly taken/ understood by the Muslims.

If this is forbidden in Ibaadat, then this gives us an idea how grievous it would be in other matters also. 

Ethics of Spending Money 

Israaf makes people fall in undesirable and detestable things so as to acquire wealth/ money. It makes a person lose his dignity. He adopts all means to acquire money (Paisa, Paisa, Paisa; i.e. money, money, money!). He steals. He deceives people. He becomes a dishonest person. Israaf mostly applies to such spending in all that is lawful (but not necessary). 

But if someone spends in things which are forbidden, then this is called Tabzeer. And this is more grievous than Israaf. Tabzeer (in a Muslim's life) should never find its place. It is sad to note that we spend our wealth which we have toiled by our hard work, in a Halal (licit) way but then spends it in an illicit (Haraam) way. For e.g. We work hard to get money which is licit but then spend it in gambling, games of hazard etc. We spend our precious time, energy and wealth in Haraam (illicit) activities and neglect essential and obligatory practices. This is what is called defeat upon defeat, Haraam upon Haraam.

Thus, our life and not the economy is being consumed in (or coming to an end through) Israaf and Tabzeer. There is another thing which is called Taqteer which means not spending where we SHOULD spend. 

For example, a person does not hesitate to spend in material (mundane) things but when the time comes for him to spend in the path of Allah (for e.g. To pay his Zakat, Chanda or Al-Azim Tafsir'ul Quran Fund), he gives only Rs. 100 or Rs. 200. Even then, he sees that he has overspend in the way of Allah, but when he is called to spend in cocktails, parties or family diners in big hotels or to spend in marriage functions, then this kind of person makes exaggerated spending with week-long fun with all kinds of food displays and menus, and lots of people are invited to the wedding functions, on the day of the wedding itself as well as eve arrangements and post wedding lunches and dinners also. As we all know, these kinds of things are very costly. And I, personally know families who have contracted great loans to celebrate weddings of their children and they kept paying this loan for ten years, and sometimes it may happen that the marriage is unsuccessful and after some months or years, the marriage breaks which the parents are still paying the loan!

The beauty of simplicity

Huzur (atba) further stressed on the beauty of a simple wedding, which is full of the blessings of Allah. Allah loves simplicity. Sometimes a simple Nikah after Jummah prayers etc. is amply sufficient, compared to over spending in week-long weddings preparations which afterwards ends miserably in divorces, and which do not reap the pleasure of Allah.

Extravagant weddings or weddings done for show-offs are deprived of blessings. Therefore, when it is time to spend for Deen (i.e. Islam), in the path of Allah, these kinds of people see it as a burden and they hesitate to do so. When you do not spend in the way of Allah, there is no blessing; your money is wasted in vain spending and extravagance. Therefore, it is a great weakness which we (humans) have in us. All this because of the extravagant way in our spending or because of a lack of trust in our Rab (Lord, Allah). We need to bear in mind that all that which we shall spend in the path of Allah, Allah the Almighty shall multiply the reward for it ten times more than we have spent and there shall be blessings in our money and homes also.

So, (the bad this is) we overspend in that which we have the right to spend or we do not hesitate to spend in all things which it is forbidden to us to spend. The inevitable consequence is that we then shall need to forego our necessities (to buy/ satisfy our desires) or it may be that we fall into such a situation when we do not have anything left to spend!

Someone is thirsty. He needs something to quench his thirst. He can do so by drinking a glass of water which may not cost him anything, and he has the option also to drink fruit juice or fizzy drinks which he normally has to buy (spend his money). But this thing is, that person is not satisfied with the free water. At this stage, we notice two things: The need (i.e. thirst) can be quenched without spending anything, but because of the sudden desire of the person (to drink something else besides water), he has to pay something to satisfy this desire of his! From this we can understand that very often a need is easy to be satisfied/ fulfill. It is only desire which demands efforts and toiling.

'Keep a check on your desires'

Therefore, a person can live comfortably if he resist his desires or limit them to what his means can afford with ease. But the problem come when he runs behind his desires. To attain them, he makes additional spending which necessitates additional efforts. He also needs additional time to attain to them. And if he does not find good and convenient ways to achieve those desires, he, then, tends to adopt vain and condemnable ways. He, therefore, does not hesitate to lie, act in a dishonest way towards people or enter forbidden transactions, such transactions which are not according to the Islamic precepts. It is already a grievous thing if he is doing all this to satisfy all licit desires (with lawful means). But if the desires themselves are condemnable, illicit and detestable, then the problem becomes all the more worse.

A Muslim must always be satisfied with what he already has, and he has the right also to satisfy his needs. He has also the right to satisfy his desires, whenever these are within his means, but he should never do it to the detriment of his Deen. That is why the Shariah has put lots of emphasis on being content with what we have. In a Hadith reported in At-Tirmidhi, the Messenger of Allah, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) has said: "If anyone among you is secure in mind in the morning, healthy in body, possessed of food for the day, it is as though the whole world has been brought into his possession."

Which means to say that if someone feels well both physically and mentally and he has his provision, thus he has acquired all that he needed from this vast world. A duah (supplication) which is recommended to invoke all the time (to Allah) so that a person may be satisfied with what he has - and with this duah I conclude my sermon for today - is:  O Allah! Make me be content with what You have bestowed upon me. Ameen, Summa Ameen.

--- Friday Sermon of 12 May 2017 (15 Shabaan 1438 AH) delivered by Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.