Becoming Servants of the Most Merciful Series
A few days before Ramadan I saw the movie The Book of Eli. As a Muslim, if I watch a movie I try to find something with a meaning or a message that my believing heart can ponder. This movie had a few of those, although for a sensitive person I advise against this movie as there are a couple of gruesome scenes. The movie depicts the destitute state of the world after World War 3. It portrays the world in anarchy and that to obtain the things you need, you either find them, fight for them or trade something you have. In one scene the central character Eli, who lived before the war, explains to a young girl what life was like before. He makes his point after trading some “valuable” KFC wet naps, now used for bathing in a place with not much water saying, “We used to waste stuff much more valuable than this!”
This brought home a matter that is neglected even by some practicing Muslims. The fact that every penny of our sustenance is valuable and we should treat it that way. A Muslim should strike a balance between being frugal with his wealth and being generous to people in need. This brings us to our next characteristic of the Servants of the Merciful. Almighty God says that they are those who,
“When they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly but are ever, between that, justly moderate.” (Qur’an, 25:67)
The commentators on this ayah tell us that The Merciful is teaching not be extravagant or wasteful in spending our wealth. We are also prohibited from being greedy – or even stingy! Some of the commentators said that we must spend in the cause of Allah and that no matter how much is spent in the cause of Allah, it is not considered excessive or wasteful while spending even one penny on something unlawful is wasted. Some others explain that we must first provide for our families and then others in need with sufficient financial support. On the other side of the coin, we must avoid greed and stinginess in which we neglect the rights of our family, Zakat and charity.
We must pay off all debts as soon as possible. We have to make sure that we are expedient in providing our family all of the food, clothing and other things they need. If we buy a house, we should get one according to our income and family needs. We should also do everything in our power to stay away from an interest-based loan and try and support the growth of Islamic options.
If we buy a car it must be without interest and we should not spend thousands of dollars collecting cars. I know a brother who keeps a nice Porsche that he drives a few times a year in the spring and summer. This is wasteful.
If we buy or cook food we need to make enough for the people eating and not so much extra that will be wasted. At the same time if we take food we only take what we need, not dive in head first at the mosque iftar; be considerate of others. We avoid eating more than satiating our appetite and we never throw away food unless we are directly giving it to birds or cats.
My dear sisters need to refain from pressing their husbands or fathers to buy a new dress for a new celebration every few months (to the extent that they literally have a closet full of brand new clothes that have not seen daylight). If you have NEW clothes or shoes that you haven’t worn in over a year then there is a problem. We only have one body to cover. There are thousands of bodies on earth that do not have a sheet to cover their back. Give what is extra for you, to them.
Every Friday Prayer we attend we must have at least $10 for the collection as our good deed. And before the students and those who are struggling say ‘we can’t afford that!’ I remind you we are all rich, and however much you give in Allah’s cause will come back to you ten-fold. It’s a guarantee. Unfortunately in most communities we only average $2 /$3 a person at Jumu’ah collection. That is almost $7 less than most Churches and Synagogues. We should direct our expenditure in supporting Muslim causes, keeping local ones in priority so we can build a comfortable infrastructure for Islam in America. If we see someone in need of what we have , then we should help them.
For those who are homeless or beggars, it is best to get them actual food or clothing because of the high probability of them using money for unlawful means. We should set the bar for our needs and the required savings for our future below that which goes for the sake of Allah.
This is the true balance of Islam – spending from His wealth that he has blessed us with, in His name for the greater good. May Allah guide us to be balanced spenders!