Saturday, January 23, 2010

Is it forbidden to live a luxurious life in Islam?

Islam prohibited the individual from luxury, considered it a sin, and He warned the luxurious ones with torture.

Allah سبحانه وتعالى said:

وَأَصْحَابُ الشِّمَالِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الشِّمَالِ
فِي سَمُومٍ وَحَمِيمٍ
وَظِلٍّ مِّن يَحْمُومٍ
لَّا بَارِدٍ وَلَا كَرِيمٍ
إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ مُتْرَفِين

"And those of the left hand: What of those of the left hand? In scorching wind and scalding water, and shadow of black smoke. Neither cool nor refreshing. For they were, before that, indulged in sinful luxury." [Al-Waqi'a: 41-45]

i.e. they were arrogant, who do what they wish.

Allah سبحانه وتعالى also said:

حَتَّى إِذَا أَخَذْنَا مُتْرَفِيهِم بِالْعَذَابِ إِذَا هُمْ يَجْأَرُونَ
"Till when We grasp the (town's) luxurious ones with punishment, behold! They started to supplicate." [Al-Mu'minun: 64]

The luxurious ones here means the arrogant tyrants.

Allah سبحانه وتعالى said also:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِّن نَّذِيرٍ إِلَّا قَالَ مُتْرَفُوهَا إِنَّا بِمَا أُرْسِلْتُم بِهِ كَافِرُونَ

"And We sent not unto any township a warner, but its luxurious ones declared: Lo! We are disbelievers in that which you bring to us." [Saba'a: 34]

The luxurious ones are those who are haughty (arrogant) towards the believers because of their high level of wealth and children.
Allah سبحانه وتعالى said:
وَاتَّبَعَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ مَا أُتْرِفُواْ فِيهِ

"The wrongdoers followed that by which they were made surrounded with luxury." [Hud: 116]

What is meant by those who were surrounded with luxury is that they turned towards their whims i.e. followed their whims.

Allah سبحانه وتعالى said:

وَإِذَا أَرَدْنَا أَن نُّهْلِكَ قَرْيَةً أَمَرْنَا مُتْرَفِيهَا فَفَسَقُواْ فِيهَا
"And when We would destroy a township We send commandment to its tyrant folk (luxurious ones) and afterward, they commit abomination therein." [Al-Isra: 16]

What is meant by tyrant folk is their tyrants who live at ease.

Allah سبحانه وتعالى said:
وَأَتْرَفْنَاهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا
"We made them luxurious in the worldly life" [Al-Mu'minun: 33]

that is We made them insist on their tyranny out of their arrogance i.e. We made them arrogant.

Luxury (Taraf) linguistically means vanity and arrogance due to living a life of ease and comfort. When we say wealth made somebody luxurious, we mean it made him arrogant and corrupted him. That the person became luxurious means that he insisted on tyranny. He also transgressed and became haughty.

Therefore the luxury (Taraf) which the Qur'an condemned, and Allah سبحانه وتعالى prohibited and considered a sin is the Taraf that linguistically means haughtiness and arrogance due to ease of living, but not the ease of living itself. Therefore it is wrong to interpret Taraf as enjoying the wealth and ease of living by that which Allah سبحانه وتعالى provided, because ease of living and enjoying the provision of Allah are not condemned by Shari'ah.

Allah سبحانه وتعالى said
قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللّهِ الَّتِيَ أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالْطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنَ الرِّزْقِ
"Say: Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought for His servants and the good things of His provision?" [Al-A'raf: 32]
At-Tirmidhi narrated from Abdullah ibn Amr who said:
‘The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "Allah likes to see the signs of His favour (bounties) on His servant,'"

i.e. He loves for His servants to enjoy His favour and enjoy the good things He has provided for him.

But Allah سبحانه وتعالى hates the haughtiness, arrogance and transgression that may result from a life of ease. So Allah سبحانه وتعالى hates the life of ease if it produced haughtiness, transgression, arrogance and tyranny. Since a life of ease and comfort by the abundant wealth could lead some people to arrogance, tyranny and haughtiness; that is it creates Taraf in them, Islam prohibited that type of luxury. So Islam prevented corruption if it resulted from the abundance of wealth and children, making people arrogant and tyrannical. Islam prohibited that strongly.

So when it is said that Taraf is Haram it does not mean the life of ease is Haram, it rather means that arrogance which results from the easy use of wealth is Haram, as Taraf would mean linguistically, and as luxury (Taraf) would mean from the verses of the Qur'an.

The above is an excerpt from the book "Economic System in Islam" by Hizb ut-Tahrir

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