Home Insights and Teachings Squandering: An un-Islamic attitude

Squandering: An un-Islamic attitude

By His Eminence, the late Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra)

Squandering money is spending money in a wasteful and extravagant way in terms of both the quality and the quantity, from which man would not benefit; but rather, it leads to a state of practical and intellectual imbalance with regard to the purpose behind money in life, which can be summed up by fulfilling man’s general and private needs within their limited scope without any excessive increase. Therefore, squandering represents an attitude emanating from a certain psychological whim resulting from psychological illnesses that coincide with corruption away from any significant interest in life.  

Thus, we realize that the nature of squandering meets with irresponsible spending which signifies messing with money and derailing it from its functional role in man’s life, which includes spending some money in the wrong or illegitimate ways, and it does not include spending even all one’s money in the rightful places, for the loss of money in the latter case entails some sort of compensation through the benefit he gets back in return.

This is what Islam wants man to abstain from, for it confirms that nothing in life should be spent without return, which represents a benefit for life.

Allah says: “Surely the squanderers are the fellows of the Shaitans” with whom they meet over the attitude of going after their whims and rejecting logic in their actions and what their desires drive them to. This moves them away from Allah by moving away from the line of belief in Allah and His oneness and recognizing His messengers and messages; the line Satan wants them to pursue and adopt in all their life aspects. “And the Shaitan is ever ungrateful to his Lord,” for he acts in rebellion against Allah and expresses his ungratefulness and moves man away from the practical line of obeying Allah…  Thus, Allah aims at revealing that practical deviation in any field, even the financial one, represents a deviation from the line of faith, and not a mere sudden or insignificant state, for there are two lines in the practical behavior; the line of Allah and the line of Satan. If one moves away from the line of Allah, he will follow the line of Satan which drives him to look thoroughly into his practical steps to know to which of the two lines he belongs through the work’s implication of faith, as well as the points of weakness and strength it enjoys.

Allah’s saying: “And do not make your hand to be shackled to your neck” signifies the line of spending in a balanced manner, in the sense that Allah does not want man to abstain from spending any money, as if his hands are tied to his neck and he cannot give out and allot anything, implying absolute forbiddance of stinginess. “Nor stretch it forth to the utmost (limit) of its stretching forth,” meaning that man should not give out all what he has as if he is stretching his hand forth to its utmost reach, keeping nothing for himself for the future, “lest you should (afterwards) sit down blamed” living a state of psychological state of blaming yourself for not keeping any money for yourself to preserve your dignity and honor in life, and “stripped off” facing people while in need, which eventually leads to many financial and moral problems in your life with people.

A question cannot be but asked in this sense: How do we make a balance between this principle which forbids man from giving out all what he got and the principle of altruism the Quran mentions as a human spiritual value? The principle is based on maintaining a state of balance when giving, in the sense that man should keep something for himself to help him benefit himself and others by reinvesting and increasing what is left for him. as for altruism, it calls on man to make the others’ interests come in the first place before his, in the sense that if he needed anything, he would be ready to concede that thing if the people who are also in need of it asked for it, even if it was all what he has got left. Thus, the principle of altruism and that of not giving all what one has differ in terms of their significations and meanings, for giving should be balanced between tying one’s hand to his neck and extending it to the fullest, so that life, in itself, would be balanced according to what sets people’s affairs straight in this world, so that man would give whoever he wants to give and not give whoever he does not want to give, yet in a balanced way; i.e. he would not give it all nor keep it all.

[(Interpretations) inspired from the Holy Quran]