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Thursday 27th of June 2019
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Extravagance depends on prevailing conditions

Extravagance differs from person to person, it also depends on the prevailing conditions. It is possible that spending a undeniable quantity may not be extravagance in times of prosperity but if a similar amount is spent in times of famine when people are starving to death, it will be counted as lavishness and squandering. It would be obligatory for those people to avoid spending like in normal times and instead distribute that wealth among those who are in need.

Moatab, a servant of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, "There was an acute shortage of food when Imam (a.s.) asked me, 'What is the position of our stocked grains?'

'We have sufficient to last us months,' I replied. Imam (a.s.) said,
'Take it out and sell it.'

I said, 'There is a shortage of wheat and barley in Madinah.' But Imam (a.s.) insisted I sell it.

When I had sold it all, Imam (a.s.) told me that I should buy the daily requirements from the market like the common people and said,
'Fix a diet of half wheat and half barley for my family, Allah knows that I am capable of feeding them all pure wheat bread but I like it that Allah sees me fulfilling duties of my life faithfully.'"

The same order applies to the matter of dressing. Some stupid people have accused Imam Sajjad (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Imam Reza (a.s.) for wearing fine clothes whereas their fathers, grandfathers, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) all wore humble clothes. The Holy Imams (a.s.) have always refuted this accusation by saying that those times were different. In those days the majority of the people dressed in very ordinary clothes but now there was prosperity and affluence in society.

"If we were to wear the same types of clothes today, people would insult us."
(Wasaelush Shia)

In an incident connected with the same subject we find Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) asking his critic to come near. When he came near, Imam (a.s.) opened his outward garment and the man saw an old tattered shirt inside. Imam (a.s.) said,
"This is the dress I wear to show humility to Allah and the other (outward) dress is for you and people like you to see."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Extravagance that is haraam at all times

We must know that three types of extravagance are Haraam at all times and in all circumstances. Its prohibition is not conditional. The first variety of extravagance is when a person spends something wastefully; even if the thing wasted is of not much significance; like throwing the date seed away when it could be put to some use. Or throwing away water left over after drinking when there is a shortage of water and someone else could have used the same. Tearing up and throwing away old clothes is also a waste; because they can be given to people who are less privileged. Having a light on when there is enough sunlight. Handing over something valuable to a child or a foolish person who does not understand its value; and who will spoil the same. All these are a kind of wasteful expenditure or extravagance.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) saw some half-eaten fruits that had been thrown out of a house. He said,
"What have you done? If your bellies are full there are many people as yet unsatiated. So you should give it to those needy people."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

Whatever is left after eating must never be thrown away. Very many traditions have emphasised on the giving away of leftovers to animals, especially leftover bread.

During the time of Prophet Daniyal wastage of bread was rampant. The people used to throw away the leftover bread and it could be seen lying everywhere on the streets. Prophet Daniyal invoked Divine punishment for these people and hence they were inflicted with such a severe famine, that they were prepared to eat each other.

The book Wasaelush Shia has mentioned that once Imam Baqir (a.s.) entered the toilet and saw a piece of bread lying on the floor. He picked it up and handed it over to his slave. When he had finished, he called the slave to produce that piece of bread. The slave said that he had cleaned it properly and then ate it. Imam (a.s.) said,
"I emancipate you in the way of Allah."

The Imam (a.s.) was told, "The slave had not performed any such deed that he deserved to be freed?"

Imam (a.s.) said,
"It was because he had respected a great bounty, like bread and ate it; hence Paradise became
occupant upon him. I do not like to enslave a person for whom Allah has ordained Paradise."

A similar type of tradition has been narrated from the Chief of the Martyrs, Imam Husain (a.s.).

As regards the wastage of clothes we have already quoted a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) where he has remarked about the wearing of fine clothes in common place situations. He (a.s.) himself wore the fine clothes to suit his eminent position.

Eating or drinking harmful things is also a waste

The second type of extravagance is spending on eatables and drinks that cause harm to the body, like eating when one is already full. It is harmful to eat on a full stomach and it is a waste. However, spending upon those things, which are good for the body, is not Israaf.

Al Kafi has a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). One of his followers approached him and said, "When we head for Mecca (for Hajj) we have to halt at a point to wear the Ehraam and we also feel the need to anoint our bodies with a pack made from flour husk. Since we do not have flour husk we use flour instead, but it makes me feel very guilty; though our Lord knows better."

Imam (a.s.) said,
"Whatever is necessary for the body is not Israaf. Quite often we mix sieved flour with olive oil and apply it to our body."

The narrator then asked Imam (a.s.) to distinguish extravagance from stinginess. Imam (a.s.) told him,
"Bread, meat, milk, vinegar and ghee; whatever you wish you can eat. But do not eat all of them at one time."

Spending on haraam things is Israaf

The third type of extravagance or wastage is spending on things and vices that are haraam according of Shariah. Like purchasing wine or purchasing items used in gambling; paying to singers or prostitutes, bribing government officials, spending money to obtain unlawful gains or usurping someone else's property by force, paying for oppressing a Muslim. All these ways of spending are Israaf. One who indulges in these activities commits two wrongs; one is the action itself and secondly he is also guilty of Israaf.

Tafseer of Ayyashi records a tradition through Abdul Rahman bin Hajjaj who asked Imam (a.s.) the meaning of ayat,
"And do not squander wastefully."

Imam (a.s.) said,
"If one spends in any other way than what Allah has ordered, it is squandering and if one spends in the way of Allah, it is moderation."

Charity is never extravagance

Some of the ayats that deal with the subject of charity emphasise it to such an extent that if one gives away all his belongings while he himself is in need of them, he has not been extravagant. On the contrary it is one of the recommended actions and is liked by Allah. As the following ayat of Quran states:
"...and prefer (them) before themselves though poverty may afflict them, and whoever is preserved from the niggardliness of his soul, these it is that are the successful ones."
(Surah Hashr 59:9)

Preferring others to ourselves means that even though we are in need of something that we have, we give it to someone else who also needs it. We prefer to fulfill the other person's needs rather than our own. This is the spirit of sacrifice mentioned in the Holy Quran. In another place we have,
"And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive..."
(Surah Insan 76:8)

Majority of the Mufassireen (commentator of Quran) agree that the above verse was revealed in praise of Ali (a.s.), Fatemah Zahra (s.a.), Imam Hasan (a.s.), Imam Husain (a.s.) and their maid, Fizza when they had fasted for three days consecutively and every day at the time of breaking the fast they gave the bread in the way of Allah and contended themselves by ending the fast with plain water.

A person enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "What is the best charity?" Imam (a.s.) replied,
"One who himself does not possess anything but toils and earns and gives it in the way of Allah. Have you not seen the ayat of Quran:
"And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive...?"
(Al Kafi)

A report from a Sunni narrator Asim bin Kaleeb is mentioned in Tafseer Minhajus Sadeqeen. He reports that a beggar came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and requested him for something. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) sent someone to his residence to get something for the beggar but he was informed that there was nothing at home. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) announced among the companions as to who will render help to this poor man. Ali (a.s.) volunteered, saying,
"This destitute shall be my guest tonight."

He (a.s.) took him home and informed Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) about his condition. Janabe Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) said,
"O Ali! We have food enough for only one person and I had kept it for my daughter Zainab but you may do as you wish."

Imam (a.s.) said, "It would be better to put the children to sleep and put out the lamp because such a less quantity of food will be insulting before the guest."

Janabe Fatemah (s.a.) did as instructed and the food was placed before the guest. He began to eat and the food was not yet finished when he said, "I am full and the Almighty Allah has given barakat in your food." Thus he departed happily.

In another narration it is mentioned that afterwards Ali (a.s.), Janabe Fatemah (s.a.), Imam Hasan (a.s.), Imam Husain (a.s.), Janabe Fizza and Janabe Zainab satiated themselves with the remaining food and the happenings were reported to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) the next day, and the following verse was disclosed:
"...and prefer (them) before themselves though poverty may afflict them, and whoever is preserved from the niggardliness of his soul, these it is that are the successful ones."
(Surah Hashr 59:9)

It is recorded in Al Kafi that Samaa enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "If a person has just enough food to sustain him for a day, is it incumbent upon him to give from it to a needy person? Or if one has provisions for a month, only enough for him; is he required to give to those who are destitute? Similarly the one who has stocks for a year or any appointed period. Is it in any way incumbent for him to curtail his own needs and give a part of it to the needy? Would he be implicated if he doesn't?

Imam (a.s.) explained,
"There are two aspects of this matter, one is that the best of you are those who do good and prefers others over oneself. They are inclined towards sacrifice and charity. Regarding them Allah says,
"...and prefer (them) over themselves."

The second point is that though one who keeps only the necessary quantity for himself is not blamed, yet the hand of one who gives is better than the hand of one who takes. You must take precedence in helping those who depend upon you."

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says,
"Selflessness is one of the highest degrees of belief."

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"There is no goodness in Israaf and there is no Israaf in goodness."
(Safinatul Behaar)

 


source : GREATER SINS/Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)
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