Will you explain the attitude of the Prophet (pbuh) in the face of wasting/extravagance?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Hz. Muhammad (pbuh), the prophet of Islam, is a model for Muslims. Allah states the following in the Quran regarding the issue:

“Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.” 1

The Prophet (pbuh) tried not to waste in his family. For, wasting means spending unnecessarily and acting extravagantly; therefore, it has been forbidden by Allah. It is necessary to benefit from the boons given by Allah as much as one needs. According to the Prophet (pbuh), it is extravagance to overstep the limits and to act immoderately related to anything. Allah prohibits extravagance by saying, “…Eat and drink: But waste not by excess...”

The Prophet (pbuh) led a very plain life. He was engaged in trade when he was young and after marrying Hz. Khadija, and became rich. However, he never gave up his plain lifestyle. His clothes were plain and away from show off. He avoided wasting related to household goods. He did not buy anything that was unnecessary; he used only what was necessary. He also avoided wasting related to foods. His family never threw away bread that remained. They never wasted food and did not have many types of food at the table. The wedding of the Prophet’s daughter, Hz. Fatima, was very plain; they avoided luxury and extravagance.

Once, the Prophet (pbuh) saw a Companion wasting water while making wudu. He asked, “What is this extravagance?” Thereupon, the Companion asked, “Can there be extravagance in wudu?” The Prophet (pbuh) said, (asm): “Yes. Even if you make wudu near a river, it will regarded as israf (waste) if you spend too much water.”

The Prophet (pbuh) prohibited wasting with the following statement: “Eat, drink and wear clothes without conceit and extravagance and give sadaqah.” 2 This incident, which we find remarkable, gives us an idea that is enough to show how meticulous Islam is regarding the issue wasting:

Once, the Prophet visited Sa’d. He was making wudu. When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saw that he used too much water, he asked, “What is this extravagance?”  Sa’d asked, “Can there be extravagance in wudu?” The Prophet (pbuh) said, (asm): “Yes. Even if you make wudu near a river, it will regarded as israf (waste) if you spend too much water.” 3

It is both a natural and religious duty to take enough food in order to survive and work. When man fulfills his duties, he has to take enough food. Our religion does not approve of decreasing the intake of food and hence losing one’s power; it prohibits eating and drinking more than necessary.  (al-A’raf, 7/31)

Man should not fill his stomach to the brim but he should not go hungry in a way that will make him weak. The Prophet (pbuh) said,

“Man has not filled a container worse than his stomach. A few morsels that will enable him to stand upright are enough for him. When he eats, he should allocate one-third of his stomach to food, one-third to drinks and one-third to breathing.” 4

Thus, he attracts attention to the harm that eating too much will inflict.

Extravagance in Dressing

The clothes a person wears is related to his financial state. The Prophet indicates that Allah likes it when the signs of the boons He has given to a rich person is seen on him unless he feels conceited and shows off. The Prophet (pbuh) warned a rich person who entered into his presence with shabby clothes as follows: “Allah likes to see the traces of His boons on His slave.”5

When a person who is well off wears clean and nice clothes, it means he appreciates the boons he has. However, one should not waste and show off while trying to wear nice clothes. He should not throw away the clothes that can be worn thinking that they are out of fashion.

Waste of Time

One of the most valuable concepts for man is time. For, everything comes into being, exists, develops and disappears in time. Knowledge, wealth and many other values that have an important place in man’s life are gained in the course of time. Those who make use of time as it is necessary will attain peace both in the world and the hereafter.

It is very significant that the importance of time is emphasized in the Quran through a chapter: “By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), Verily Man is in loss...” (al-Asr, 103/1-2) This verse indicates the importance of time. The Prophet (pbuh) attracts attention to the importance of time and health by saying, “There are two blessings of whose value many people are unaware: They are health and free time.” 6

What can be more saddening than consuming the boon of life given by Allah wastefully and irresponsibly?

“No slave will be able to leave his place on the Day of Judgment before he is questioned about where he spent his life, what he did with his knowledge, how he earned his wealth and how he spent it, where he used his body and whether he acted in accordance with what he knew or not.” 7

With the hadith above, the Prophet (pbuh) pointed out the main issues that man would be called to account.

Footnotes:

1. al-Ahzab, 21.
2. Tirmidhi, Birr 41, .IV, .343.
3. Ibn Majah, Taharah, 48.
4. Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 47. .V, .590. With some different words, Ibn Majah, At'ima 50, II, 1111;  Ahmad, IV, 132.
5. Tirmidhi, Adab, 54, .V, .124.
6. Bukhari, Riqaq, 1, .VII, 170; Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 1, .V,.551.
7. Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 1, .IV, .612.

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