Is purchasing expensive items Israaf (extravagance)?

Question:

Selam Alaykum dear Mufti,
I am from the Hanafi Madhab.
Can a Muslim, who gives his Zakah and Al Fitr and earns his money through halal ways, spend his many in luxorious things or save it up instead of giving more money to others? For example, paying expensive cars, houses etc, phones etc with seeing in them a use?
Would this be considered waste? What is haram waste exactly in Islam? Does a Muslim have other obligatory obligations besides Zakah and al Fitr?
Jazake Allahu khayran.
Make dua for this brother of yours.

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Islam allows one to spend their wealth in permissible venues, even if it may be above minimum necessity but at the same time it also advises us to spend in moderation.

Allah Ta’ala mentions in the Holy Qur’aan,

إِنَّ الْمُبَذِّرِينَ كَانُوا إِخْوَانَ الشَّيَاطِينِ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِرَبِّهِ كَفُورًا

Surely, squanderers (the extravagant) are brothers of satans, and the Satan is very ungrateful to his Lord. (17: 27)

Wealth is a gift and a trust (Amaanah) from Allah and should be used wisely. While the Zakaah is obligatory, The Prophet has encouraged the believers, and shown by example to spend excessively in many other optional forms of charity.  The more a person spends in the path of Allah, by giving Sadaqah, assisting Masaajid, students of deen etc. a person’s rewards in the hereafter will multiply and one will gain Barakah and increase in his wealth.

If Allah has gifted a person with wealth through Halaal means, one is however allowed to purchase expensive items for one’s use, e.g. an expensive vehicle or phone.

Mufti Muhammad Shafi رحمه الله comments in Maariful Quraan, under Ayaah 32 of Suraah Al A’araaf,

Many among the early righteous elders and juristic Imams of Islam whom Allah had been blessed with good means would often times wear elegant, even expensive dresses. Our own master, may the blessing of Allah and peace be upon him, when his means allowed it, has adorned his body with the best of dresses. According to one narration, once when he came out, there was on his blessed body a Rida’ the price of which was one thousand dirhams. As reported by Imam Abu Hani-fah, he had used a Rida’ worth four hundred guineas.

Similarly, Imam Malik (Rahimahullah) used decent and elegant dress. For him, someone had taken it on himself that he would provide three hundred and sixty pairs of dresses annually for his use. And a pair which adorned his body for a day would not be used again because after having been worn for one day, he would give this dress to some poor student

The reason is that the Holy Prophet has said: When Allah Ta’ala blesses a servant of His with extended means, He likes to see the effect of His blessing on things around him, his dress being one them.

Therefore, to let such blessing become visible is also a form of gratitude. In contrast, there is the attitude of wearing worn-out or untidy clothes, despite having the means, which is ingratitude.
However, it is necessary to guard against two things, that is from hypocrisy and exhibitionism, and from pride and arrogance. It means that one should not dress well simply to show off before others or to establish that they were superior or special as compared to them.”

 In other verses Allah Ta’ala warns against Israaf and extravagance.

وَكُلوا وَاشرَبوا وَلا تُسرِفوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لا يُحِبُّ المُسرِفينَ

Eat and drink and do not be extravagant. Surely, He does not like the extravagant (7.31).

Mufti Muhammad Shafi رحمه الله further comments,

‘Israf means to cross the limit. Then, the crossing of limits takes many forms. One of them is to cross the limits of Halal and land into the area of Haram, that is, one starts eating and drinking things which are prohibited. This is Haram.

On the same analogy, eating and drinking beyond the limits of hunger and need is also what Israf or extravagance is. It is for this reason that Muslim Jurists (fuqaha) have written that eating more than needed to remove hunger is not permissible (Ahkam al-Qur’an and others). Then, it also falls under the ruling governing Israf or extravagance that one eats much less than needed, despite having the ability and choice, which makes him weak and unable to fulfill what is en-joined upon him.

It was to forbid both these kinds of extravagance that the Qur’an has said:
The extravagant are brothers of the satans – 17:27.

Then, in Surah Al-Furqan, it was said:

وَالَّذينَ إِذا أَنفَقوا لَم يُسرِفوا وَلَم يَقتُروا وَكانَ بَينَ ذٰلِكَ قَوامًا
(True servants of Allah are) those who, when they spend, would not over-spend and under-spend and the moderate behavior is between that. – 25:67.

And this command for moderation in eating and drinking mentioned in this verse is not restricted to eating and drinking alone. The truth of the matter is that the course of moderation is very desirable in wearing what one wears and living where one lives, in almost everything.

Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas Radhuallahu Anhu said: Eat and drink what you wish and wear what you like. But, take care of two things:
One, that there be no Israf (excess from the measure of need) in it.
Two, that there be no pride and arrogance about it.


Therefore, the message of the verse is that Allaah’s blessed servants are neither spendthrifts nor misers but in the matter of spending they take the middle path. (Ma’aariful Qur’aan)

There is a saying of the Holy Prophet

من فقه الرجل رفقه في معيشيه

That is “It is the sagacity of man to adopt the middle path in spending”

In another Saying quoted by Sayyidnā Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud the Holy Prophet said:

ما عال من اقتصد

That is “The person who sticks to the middle path and moderation in spending will never become a destitute and poor”. (Imām Aḥmad – Ibn Kathir).

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Arshad Ali

Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)

www.fatwa-tt.com /www.jaamia.net