Islam and the Consumer

Abdul Wahid Hamid


How, why and where should you as a Muslim spend your wealth? There are four possibilities:

1. You may spend to satisfy needs;
2. If your income is in excess of your needs, you make savings;
3. You may hoard your savings as gold, silver, other jewellery, or other    liquid assets;
4. You may invest your savings in production.

As a consumer, your level of spending for consumption is not only determined by your income, but depends on other economic, social and moral requirements. You are not supposed to spend your income on any things forbidden by the Shari’ah, for example, on alcoholic beverages, gambling, or illegitimate leisure or entertainment.

You must refrain from luxurious and conspicuous consumption:

"verily God does not love any of those who, full of self-conceit, act in a boastful manner; (nor) those who are niggardly and bid others to be niggardly, and conceal whatever God has bestowed upon them out of His bounty… And (God does not love) those who spend their possessions on others (only) to be seen and praised by men, the while they believe neither in God nor the Last Day…"
[surah an-Nur; 4:36:38]

You should also limit the level of consumption by quantity and keep away from waste: "O children of Adam! Look to our adornment at every place of worship and eat and drink but be not extravagant and wasteful. Indeed He does not love those who waster." [7:31]

"Lo, the squanderers are brothers of the Satans, and Satan is ungrateful to his Lord."

Borowwing and debt

Try to relate your consumption to your income remembering the saying of the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam): "May God prevent me from sin and borrowing." You are not supposed to borrow unless it is necessary. If it is necessary to borrow, you should make a written agreement with sincere intention to repay.
"When you contract a debt for a fixed term, record it in writing" [surah al-Baqarah; 2: 82]

Pay back in right time for it is unjust to extend the repayment time if you are able to repay a debt in time. To do so is a blameworthy act.
"Whoever borrows with pure intention, God will pay for him; and whoever borrows with the intention of being extravagant and wasteful, God will ruin him."

Nowadays, it is very easy for individuals and nations to fall into debt. The availability and widespread use of credit cards make it very easy for people to run up large shopping bills and debts. Instead of being a facility, credit cards have become a source of burden and a millstone for many people. Resulting debts create mental strain and worry and also family and social tension.

"I seek refuge with Thee from poverty. And I seek refuge with Thee from the over-powering of debt and the oppression of men," is part of an oft-repeated supplication of the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam).

Regulating the type and level of your consumption has several benefits:

· You do not fall into debt easily;
· You refrain from provoking the jealousy of the poor
· You will more likely have extra funds either for increasing investment for   economic development, or for giving loans, or for giving in sadaqah   (charity);
· You therefore help to create greater prosperity and social balance.

These principles concerning the type and level of consumption can also be applied to countries, and make for better international relations.


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