Local Time

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Limits of Luxury and Privation

If we go back to the first stage of Islam, we find a poverty-stricken country in which hardship and penury were common; it is for this reason that we find the Messenger saying, as he limits luxury, "No son of man has any claim to possess more than three things: the house in which he lives, the garment which covers his nakedness, and a crust of bread and water."

Islam does not demand hardship so long as that hardship is not necessitated by the conditions of the environment or by the state of the community. It is true, nonetheless, that the wearing of silk and saffron-dyed clothes or of embroidered garments is harmful to the status of men; it encourages them to become soft and cowardly in time of war; and such softness cannot exist in a community where the economic level does not permit it. But, the Messenger did not carry the idea of hard living to the point of neglecting and overlooking one's dress.

Jabir told this story of him. The Messenger of Allah came to visit us once, and seeing a dishevelled man with untidy hair, he said, "Could this fellow find nothing to keep his head in order?" Then, seeing a man wearing dirty clothes, he said, "Could this fellow find no way of washing his clothes?" In the same strain Abul al-Akwas al-Jashmi tells the story on the authority of his father: The Prophet once saw me wearing old clothes, and said, "Have you any property?" I said, "Yes." He asked, "Where did you get your property?" and I said, "From all that Allah has given me in the way of sheep and camels." He said, "Then, since Allah has given you property, let Him see you wearing some of the results of His favour and generosity."

It is the general standard of living in the community that must be the limiting factor in both luxury and privation. For, when Allah granted to the Muslims the conquest of the neighbouring countries, when the general wealth increased and the standard of living rose, clothes became more elaborate, and the Muslims enjoyed things that they had never known before. Yet no one reproved them for such conduct so long as they did not exceed a reasonable limit.

But, when there are millions who cannot afford the simplest dwelling, who in the twentieth century have to take tin cans and reed huts as their houses; when there are those who cannot even find rags to cover their bodies, it is an impossible luxury that a mosque should cost a hundred thousand guineas or that the Kaba should be covered with a velvet covering, embroidered with gold. And it makes no difference that it is the Kaba or that it is a mosque. For, people are more deserving of the money that is spent in this way.

Source:
"Social Justice in Islam" - Sayyid Qutb, pp. 160-162

Dictionary

English to Arabic to English Dictionary
Find word:
Exact Word / Starting Word Sub Word
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
www.SearchTruth.com

Please Feel Free to Donate