By Shaykh-ul-Hadīth, Hadrat Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh
There are many aspects of our day to day lives which we do not consider to be a part of Dīn. One example of this is purchasing and wearing clothes. When buying clothes and wearing them many of us only think about how we will appear to others. Due to lack of knowledge of Islamic teachings in this regard we fail to act correctly. In order to make this necessity of life into an act of virtue, the first thing we need to consider is our intention.
Intentions when Spending
Different people have different motives when buying and wearing clothes. A person can purchase clothes with either of the following intentions:
• To look clean and tidy: When a person purchases clothes to appear neat and tidy for the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā, this will be regarded as a good deed which will bring reward. Such a person will be following the hadīth of our beloved Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam:
Allāh is Beautiful and He loves Beauty. (Muslim)
• To make others happy: When one has the intention to please one’s family, friends and close associates, this will also be an act of virtue, as giving happiness to others will earn the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā.
• To utilise the bounty of wealth to express gratitude that Allāh ta‘ālā has bestowed upon me the favour of wealth. This also brings the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā. Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam said:
Allāh loves to see His servants utilising and exposing the bounties He has bestowed upon them [as an expression of gratitude]. (Al-Bayhaqī)
• To have a distinct appearance in order to stand out, be admired or show one’s status amongst society; such intentions are impermissible. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has said:
Allāh ta‘ālā does not look at that person (mercifully) who wears a garment, with which he intends to boast and attract the attention of people, as long as that garment remains on him.” (At-Tabaranī)
If a person does not have any of the above explicit intentions, then he will neither earn reward nor will he be questioned in the hereafter.
Whether or not one has the correct intention for wearing good clothes can be gauged from the person being ready to wear clothes that are against his taste, but will make his dear ones happy. This point is beautifully illustrated in an episode from the life of Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānwī rahimahullāh. Mawlānā Thānwī rahimahullāh had a personal disliking for wearing a collarless coat-like garment known as Sherwani and also for clothes made from shiny cloth. Once, on the night before ‘Īd, his wife gave him a Sherwani as a surprise gift. It was made of shiny cloth which she had secretly sewn by hand throughout the month of Ramadān. She desired that Hadrat Thānwī rahimahullāh wear this on ‘Īd! Despite not having any inclination towards the garment, he still wore it to the ‘Īd salāh to make her happy.
As explained in the hadīth above, Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has given a grave warning for those who wear clothes for show. It is this incorrect intention which also usually leads to one indulging in extravagant spending. Allāh ta‘ālā describes those who spend extravagantly in the Glorious Qur’ān as:
Without doubt, the extravagant ones are the brothers of the Shayātīn… (17:27)
Spending for show and to maintain one’s status in front of others can apply to clothing as well as other forms of expenditure. A person may move home to live in a particular area; buy a particular model of car; hold a wedding in a certain venue; buy a mobile phone of a particular brand, just to have a unique standing amongst his family, friends and community, or at the least to keep up and not appear backward and out of touch. It is concerning to note that a large element of our community is engaged in spending with such motives, which leads to the displeasure of Allāh ta‘ālā, and for which we will be questioned on the Day of Judgement.
Therefore, before purchasing anything, we must correct our intentions and also avoid extravagance. We can buy nice things with the correct intentions mentioned above and without spending excessively. For example, if we have a choice between two coats both of which will fulfil our needs, but one costs £50 and the other £90 due to the brand, then we should not purchase the one costing £90 only because it will show off our status.
The Spending of the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum
Whilst we are all aware of the unparalleled physical and monetary sacrifice that the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum gave for the sake of Dīn, we find incidents of the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum using expensive items. For example, it is reported that:
Sayyidunā ‘Abd-ur-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf radhiyallāhu ‘anhu would wear a garment or suit of clothing worth four or five hundred (dirhams). (At-Tabaqāt Al-Kubrā ibn Sa‘d)
We must be very careful not to use such incidents from the lives of the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum, to justify extravagance in our expenditure. The following points will help us to understand the context of their actions:
• After the demise of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, when Islām spread across many countries, Allāh ta‘ālā bestowed the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum with so much wealth that even after spending vast amounts in the Path of Allāh ta‘ālā with an open heart, they still had surplus wealth from which they spent on themselves. It was never the case that the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum spent a large share of their wealth on expensive items for their own use and ignored other avenues of spending. They always gave priority to the life of the hereafter over this world;
• Whenever they bought anything nice or expensive, it was not out of pride, to feel good or to show their status; rather their motive was to practice on the following hadīth of Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam:
Allāh loves to see His servants utilising and exposing the bounties He has bestowed upon them [as an expression of gratitude and not boastfully]. (Al-Bayhaqī)
Through the blessed company of Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum had purified their souls. Therefore, when spending upon themselves they were able to do so with the intention of practicing upon this hadīth, without falling victim to pride or the intention of showing off, by acquiring expensive items;
• Another motive for such spending by the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum was to increase in their gratitude to Allāh ta‘ālā. It is human nature that the greater a favour or blessing one receives, the greater will be the feeling of gratitude. The Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum acquired expensive items to increase their gratitude to Allāh ta‘ālā. Again, it was the result of purifying the soul that they were able to do so, without corrupting their intentions for spending in such a manner;
• Finally, it should be noted that the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum were indifferent as to whether they possessed something expensive or cheap. Unlike us, it wasn’t the case that they would become happy with nice things and unhappy if they possessed items of a low quality. The books are filled with stories of their spending wholeheartedly in the Path of Allāh. Rather, if they felt an inclination to a particular worldly possession they would spend it in the Path of Allāh ta‘ālā to practice upon the following verse of the Glorious Qur’ān:
You shall never attain true righteousness unless you spend from what you love. (3:92)
Therefore, we must not compare ourselves to the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum. Our hearts are filled with love for expensive things and are inclined towards them. In order to achieve a balance, we should look from the other perspective and think that despite desiring expensive things, I will make a sacrifice for the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā; I will use a cheaper item and spend the remainder in the Path of Allāh. Due to our weak spiritual condition, we should be seeking to act upon the Ahādīth that encourage abstinence from the luxuries of this world such as:
He who renounces exquisite garments, despite him being able to obtain and don them, Allāh ta‘ālā will clothe that person with garments of honour. (Abū Dāwūd)
Therefore, when we are buying and wearing clothes we should make the good intentions noted above and avoid wearing clothes for show and spending extravagantly.
Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has said:
Eat, drink, wear clothes and spend in charity without extravagance and pride. (Al-Bukhārī)
May Allāh ta‘ālā grant us the correct understanding of the whole Din and the ability to make every aspect of our lives into acts that earn His pleasure. Āmīn.
© Riyādul Jannah (Vol. 27 No. 1, January 2018)