Expatriates live amidst societies overwhelmed by economic prosperity and plentitude of money. It is a blessing from Allah Almighty. However, as is the case with many of His blessings, it has changed, with regard to some people, into curses as a result of misuse and lack of right direction. You must avoid over-spending as well as being creative in finding new ways in spending it to the limit of extravagance, wasting and carelessly abusing resources. The beneficiaries of these blessings have proven to be ingrates to the Almighty: Gratitude for a blessing means rightfully benefiting from it, not wasting and squandering it.
Wealthy people have discovered in these societies the right grounds for absorbing and draining people's money, so they haveworked hard in producing instruments of opulence, becoming artistic in diversifying them in a way which attracts attention. So, people have kept spending on them huge sums of money out of their love for anything new, seeking convenience which they never found nor will they ever find. Rather, these monies became a cause for the economic, psychological and physical troubles due to laziness, too much rest and very little physical effort.
One of the most obvious causes of opulence and indolence which suck-in money is the common practice these days of upgrading models of merchandise which have very high prices. Soon afterwards, a newer model arrives which replaces the old one that might differ very slightly. All this is done to control people’s spending habits, prompting them to heavily advertise, use different advertisement methods behind which the beneficiaries stand to suck-in money from people without them being aware of it. People are unaware of all of this; they have been fooled; they lost the right guidance.
So, the believers, may Allah Almighty grant them success, especially the expatriates who live amidst such societies that are immersed in indolence and are fond of these matters, must be aware of the reality of the matter and must not be carried away in their spending without sensibility and discretion, thus their money, with which Allah Almighty blessed them through their hard work and toil, will disappear uselessly, only to satisfy whims and trivialities imposed by the condition of these corrupt over-powered societies.
Let these expatriates follow the etiquettes of their religion and derive guidance from them in running their affairs, for all of this is not in harmony with the teachings of great Islam and its economic outlook of life's different fields because it is quite obvious that enjoying what is good and benefiting from useful things, though good and not held by the Sharia in contempt, yet spending on it in such a way is the most obvious manifestation of extravagance and waste which the Sharia prohibits as stated in the Holy Book (Qur'an) and articulated by the Holy Prophet and his pure Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them all).
We ought to refer here to some sacred verses and revered traditions which provide the general outlines for Islam's economic outlook. Allah Almighty says, "And render to their kindred their due rights, as (well as) to those in want, and to the wayfarer: But do not squander (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Truly spendthrifts are brothers of the satans, and Satan was surely ungrateful to his Lord. And even if you have to turn away from them in pursuit of the mercy which you expect from your Lord, speak a word of kindness to them. Do not (like a stingy person) make your hand tied to your neck, nor should you stretch it forth to its utmost reach, so that you [eventually] become blameworthy and destitute” (Qur'an, 17:26-29).
The most Praised One has also said, "It is He Who produces gardens, with trellises and without, and dates, and tilth with produce of all kinds, and olives and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in variety): Eat their fruit in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the Day that the harvest is gathered. But do not waste by excess, for Allah does not love the extravagant” (Qur'an, 6:141); "O children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: Eat and drink, but do not waste by excess, for Allah does not love the wasteful. Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah, which He has produced for His servants, and the clean and pure things (which He has provided) for (their) sustenance?” (Qur'an, 7:31-32). The Almighty has also said, "…Those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor stingy but hold a just (balance) between these (extremes)” (Qur'an, 25:67) and "They ask you how much they are to spend. Say: “What exceeds your needs” (Qur'an, 2:219).
In a tradition narrated by Abu Hamzah al-Thumali, Imam Zainul-Abidin (peace be upon him) quotes the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) as referring to three things which save one from perdition,and he said of the third thing: “Moderation (in spending) during prosperity and poverty.”[i] Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) quotes the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) as saying, "One who is not extravagant in spending on his livelihood will be sustained by Allah, and one who squanders will be deprived by Allah."[ii]
In a tradition narrated by Dawood al-Raqqi, the Imam (peace be upon him) is quoted as having said, "Moderation (in spending) is something loved by Allah Almighty, while extravagance is hated by Allah Almighty, including throwing a date-stone, for it is good for something, and even your disposing of whatever remains of your drink."[iii] The Imam (peace be upon him) said so during a time when date-stones could be used as fuel or feed for domesticated cattle at homes.
In a tradition narrated by Ishaq ibn Ammar, the latter says: I asked Imam Abu Abdullah [al-Sadiq] (peace be upon him), "Can a believer have ten garments?” He said, "Yes.” I asked him, "Twenty?” He said, "Yes". I asked again, "Thirty?!” He said, "Yes, this is not extravagance; extravagance is when you use good clothes in same manner you use your lesser clothes."[iv] What the Imam (peace be upon him) meant is this: Extravagance is wearing luxurious outfits with which people beautify themselves in the presence of the public, yet he wears them at home, where beautifying oneself in not required.
In another tradition which he narrates, the Imam (peace be upon him) says, "The minimum measure of extravagance is disposing of water which remains in the container, covering yourself with luxurious clothes at home and throwing away date-stones."[v] One of his companions came to him and saw him wearing a garment with a patch. He kept looking at it. Imam Abu Abdullah (peace be upon him) asked him what he was looking at, and the man said, "A patch on your garment?!” The Imam (peace be upon him) said to him, "Put your hands on this book and read what is in it.” A book was in front of the Imam or near him. The man looked and read this: "There is no faith for one who is shameless; there is no wealth for one who does not know its value, and there is nothing new for one who has nothing old."[vi]
In a tradition narrated by Ammar, the latter says that Imam Abu Abdullah (peace be upon him) has said, "There are four types of persons whose supplication is not answered. One of them is used to having wealth but he abuses it, so he says, 'Lord! Grant me sustenance!” Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, would say, 'Did I not order you to economize?'"[vii]
Allah Almighty has placed limits for even spending in ways of goodness and charity; one who goes beyond these limits is extravagant, wasteful; he goes out of the teachings of Islam. Reason is above everything; wisdom and good conduct are the most important things which Islam commends, the religion of perfection in all fields of life. In a tradition related by Ibn Abi Umayr, the latter quotes some of his companions saying that Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) was asked once about the meaning of this verse: "…They ask you how much they are to spend. Say: 'Whatever exceeds your needs.'” The Imam explained that moderation is implied in this verse.
In a tradition narrated by Hisham ibn al-Muthanna, a man asked Imam Abu Abdullah [al-Sadiq (peace be upon him)] about the meaning of the verse saying, "…Eat their fruit in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the Day that the harvest is gathered. But do not waste by excess, for Allah does not love the extravagant” (Qur'an, 6:141). The Imam (peace be upon him) said, "So-and-so Al-Ansari —naming him— used to have a farm. Whenever he gathered the fruit of his farm, he gave it away in charity, remaining with his family with nothing, so Allah Almighty regarded that as "extravagance".[viii]
In a tradition narrated by Ajlan, the latter said that he was once in the company of Imam Abu Abdullah (peace be upon him) when a beggar asked him for charity. The Imam (peace be upon him) stood up to fill his hand with dates in a measuring container and gave it to him. Another beggar came and the Imam (peace be upon him) did the same, and a third one as well came. The Imam (peace be upon him) likewise gave him dates. When a fourth beggar came, the Imam (peace be upon him) said to him, "Allah has sustained us and yourself.” Then he said that whenever the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) was asked for anything of this world, he would give it away. A woman once sent him her son. She said to her son, "If he tells you that he has nothing to give you, ask him to give you his garment.” The Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) did, indeed, give his garment to the boy, whereupon Allah Almighty corrected him to be moderate in giving saying, "Do not (like a stingy person) make your hand tied to your neck [without giving anything by way of charity], nor [should you] stretch it forth to its utmost reach, so that you (eventually) become blameworthy and destitute” (Qur'an, 17:29).
In a tradition narrated by Mas'adah ibn Ziyad, the latter quotes Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) citing the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) saying that there are three types of people whose supplication is not answered [by the Almighty]: One who loaned another man a loan until a certain term but did not write it down, nor did he have witnesses; a man who invokes the Almighty's wrath on one of his relatives; and a man whom Allah, the most Praised One, blessed with wealth which he spent it all by way of charity and out of piety, leaving nothing of it with him. Yet the latter calls on Allah to grant him sustenance! To him, the Lord, Blessed and Exalted is He, says, "Did I not grant you sustenance, making you free of want? Why did you not be moderate, and why were you so extravagant?! I do not love the extravagant ones.” There is another man who stays at home while supplicating to Allah to grant him sustenance. He does not go out and seek Allah's favors as Allah had commanded him. To him, Allah says, "My servant! I did not keep the world out of your access, nor did I harm your faculties. My earth is spacious, why do you not come out and seek your sustenance? If I deprive you of it, I will have excused you, and if I grant you sustenance, it is what you seek."[ix] Traditions dealing with this topic are too numerous to quote here in their entirety.
One who is wise should make a balance between his income and expenditure. One whose sustenance is expanded by Allah Almighty should give out without extravagance or unnecessarily. And one whose sustenance the Almighty straitened should give away as much charity as he can. A poor person should not spend beyond his means in order to brag about it or compete with what a wealthy person gives away, exhausting himself in the process, so much so that he may end up in a tragic situation. Allah Almighty has said, "Let the man of means spend according to his means, and the man whose resources are limited, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any beyond what He has given him. After a difficulty, Allah will soon grant ease” (Qur'an, 65:7).
In a tradition narrated by Umar ibn Yazid, the latter quotes Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) saying that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) said, "A believer follows Allah's norm of conduct: If He grants him more, he gives out [for charity] more, and if He withholds, he, too, withholds."[x] In a tradition relatedby Rifa'ah, the Imam (peace be upon him) is cited as having said, "If Allah, the most Praised and Exalted One, grants you generously, you, too, must be generous in giving away, and if He withholds from you, withhold. Do not try to be more generous than Allah, for surely He is the most Generous One."[xi]
In a tradition narrated by Abu Baseer, the Imam (peace be upon him) is quoted as having said, "There may be a poor man who is more extravagant than a rich one: The rich man spends of what he is given, whereas the poor one spends without being first given."[xii] There are many such instructions and etiquettes contained in traditions by the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them all) on the economic side which we cannot cite here in their entirety.
[i]Wasaail al-Shi'a, Vol. 15, p. 259.
[ii]Ibid., Vol. 15, p. 259.
[iii]Ibid., Vol. 15, p. 257.
[iv]Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 352.
[v]Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 376.
[vii]Al-Kafi, Vol. 4, p. 56. Wasaail al-Shi'a, Vol. 15, p. 261.
[viii]Wasaail al-Shi'a, Vol. 15, p. 258.
[ix]Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 90, p. 355; Wasaail Al-Shi'a, Vol. 4, p. 1161.
[x]Wasaail Al-Shi'a, Vol. 15, p. 249.
[xi]Ibid., Vol. 15, p. 259.
[xii]Ibid., Vol. 15, p. 263.