Crazy about Shopping? How Bad can it be?
Spending Wisely – Avoid the Mania
Spending without Extravagance
In Surah Furqan, Allah Almighty describes ibadur Rahman (the obedient servants) of Allah Almighty. Amongst their attributes, He mentions that they do not overspend and they do not act with stinginess, but they take a moderate way between them.
And [they are] those who, when they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly but are ever, between that, [justly] moderate (25:67)
And in another verse in Surah Isra, as in many other surahs, we see that Allah Almighty is saying do not squander your wealth wastefully:
The extravagant are brethren of the devils, and the devil is ever ungrateful to his Lord. (17:27)
Here commentators have observed that those who are extravagant, and wasting their wealth, are evil in this regard because it is a sin to waste what Allah Almighty has given you.
In surah Araf, we are again told:
O Children of Adam, dress yourself properly whenever you are at worship: and eat and drink but do not be wasteful: God does not like wasteful people. (7:31)
So, Allah Almighty’s favours have been sent down to us to be used and conserved in the best manner.
Accountability for our Spending
In the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) recorded in Tirmidhi and others, we are told that we will be asked four questions, (or in some narrations, five) on the Day of Judgement. We will be asked what we did with our blessings. Allah Almighty bestowed upon us many favours, including time, health, knowledge, and children, and amongst these favours are wealth.
The son of Adam will not be dismissed from before his Lord on the Day of Resurrection until he has been questioned about five things: his life and how he spent it, his youth and how he used it, his wealth and how he earned it and how he disposed of it, and how he acted upon what he acquired of knowledge. (Tirmidhi)
Thus there is accountability for:
- How one lived one’s life on earth
- How one utilised one’s youth
- How one earned one’s wealth
- How one spent one’s wealth
- What one did with one’s knowledge
The Sharia (Islamic Law) was made to protect five things (religion, the self, the mind, offspring, and property), which are the main rights of humans in this life. Amongst the five aims (maqasid) of Sharia is the protection of wealth. The protection of wealth is one of the key aims of Sharia and why it is a sin to waste to what Allah Almighty has given you.
One mania which started some years ago is Black Friday, which occurs on the fourth Thursday of every November. It has nothing to do with race, it is to do with black and red, not black and white! It’s all about profit. If you are in the red, you are making a loss, if you’re in the black you’re making a profit. This trend began in the US after Thanksgiving, and has infected us in the UK. Just last year, statistics said 141 million people in the US went shopping on that particular day, and sales were nearly US$6 billion online, offline etc.
I have no problem with shopping per se. Islam has no problem with shopping, but do we really buy what we need? Or are we sucked into a frenzy of hastiness which is condemned many times in the Qur’an and in the sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him)? This is the danger of just following the crowd.
In surah Muddaththir, the people of Saqar (the lowest rank of hell) will be asked how they came to be there. The response from the dwellers of Saqar will be that they did not pray, and they were just following the crowd.
The crowd is crazy for shopping, so we go shopping; the crowd is hasty, so we are hasty; so whatever the crowd is, is being replicated by everyone without any thought, and without awareness of the consequences of it. However, Allah Almighty is warning believers and humanity not to waste what they have been given. Spend it with consideration. Be moderate in your spending. We are all living in austerity measures after the collapse of the financial system. So Muslims and all sane people should act with responsibility. We can’t just go shopping because everyone is going shopping.
Why People Overspend
What are the reasons behind overspending? Compulsive shopping has been classified as an addiction, a kind of OCD, where shopaholics are unable to control their urges to buy and may end up in debt, in worse scenarios falling into sin through interest and haram debts. So we need to be careful not to waste what Allah Almighty has given us and spend with responsibility.
Reasons behind overspending are that it becomes a habit, a part of the culture of the community, targeted by endless marketing and bombarded by the media. We are sucked into a vortex of ever-increasing consumerism. Subconsciously imbibing what to do and what not do from the media, we go to the supermarket or shopping, we find ourselves buying what we didn’t need. Why? Because embedded in our minds is the notion that we have to have those things, even though we don’t really need them. It is a new kind of slavery.
Spending into Debt
People are spending and wasting money, creating debt, and collectively raising a community of debt, which is again a new form of slavery. It begins with the student loans, and then afterwards mortgages and then cars and then furniture, and so on and so forth.
Black Friday is a means to creating new debt. Do not misunderstand, I’m all for circulating wealth and creating new jobs in the community and spending wisely. We are all for this, but spending in a crazy manner is not allowed Islamically, and we will be held accountable by Allah Almighty on the Day of Judgement, when He asks us how we spent the money He gave us.
Return to Common sense
As many other things, we need to do we need to review our habits, if they are in line with the Sharia, and with our common sense, then that’s fine. If they are not in line with the Sharia then we need to be careful. We do not want to have a double punishment – in this world and in the hereafter. So, the description of ibadur Rahman (servants of Allah) are those who when they spend, they spend wisely; they do not overspend, they do not act with stinginess. They spend wisely. The things which we need, we need. If we have the means to buy, we buy, but if we do not have the means, we should not fall into debt and riba to fulfil our desires or to fulfil our habits or follow the crowd or the mania.
Ironically, Black Friday originated in America when people would come together in the Church and offer prayers to the Lord to thank him for the harvest, and the crops. They had a good intention. As usual we can always twist something good to evil. So, following Thanksgiving is to thank the Lord for what we have been given, not to waste what we have been given. This is not thanksgiving at all – it is squandering our wealth wastefully and this is sinful.
We need to be considerate in our spending and spend it in the right places, for the right reasons. Not because it’s Black Friday, we go crazy online/offline. No, we are responsible towards Allah Almighty, our families, our community, our economy – we need to spend it in the right manner. So we ask Allah Almighty to enable us to be among the ibadur Rahman, those who are responsible and moderate in their spending.
During the month of Safar, there are again some habits, and some traditions in communities which does not belong to Islam in any shape or form. And the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentions this in a very famous narration in Bukhari & Muslim and other narrations as well, he said there is no disease infecting people without Allah Almighty’s permission, and there’s no pessimism, and no Safar- Safar which is the month. People used to believe that Safar was a bad month, or bad omen, and when Safar came then there would be evil.*
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said this is not true. Safar is not the month of evil; Safar is not the month of bad omens. So, just get rid of these traditional, historical notions and just follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Some people do not marry in Safar because they believe Safar is not a good month- this is absolutely wrong. There’s no month where you cannot marry, including Safar.
So we ask Allah Almighty to teach us the beneficial knowledge and enable us to follow the footsteps of the Prophet (peace be upon him)
Khutbah delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim at the Muslim World League London on 11 December 2014
Transcribed by Sana Zuberi
Bukhari narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘There is no ‘adwaa [contagion, transmission of infectious disease without the permission of Allah], no tiyarah [superstitious belief in bird omens], no haamah [refers to a Jaahili Arab tradition described variously as: a worm which infests the grave of a murder victim until he is avenged; an owl; or the bones of a dead person turned into a bird that could fly], and no Safar [the month of Safar was regarded as “unlucky” during the Jaahiliyyah].’
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