The Standard of Simplicity in Islam
By: Allama Sayyid Muhammad Razi
If we could thoroughly understand, what simplicity really implies we would always lead a simple life and dislike all things of mere pomp and show and would never attach any importance to external appearances of things. It may be noted that some people make wrong use of simplicity as they try to lead a simple life with a view to be admired by people; this very wish to look simple in the eyes of others is in itself an a sort of external exhibition quite contrary to the demands of simplicity. This sort of simplicity is not the simple life taught by Islam and is contrary to what has been demonstrated practically by the Rasulullah S.A.W.A.S. and his Aal (progeny) A.S..
According to the teachings of Islam, a simple life is one, which is free from all sorts of items of mere show and formality. A Muslim is not expected to spend his wealth to exhibit grandeur and riches. It is however to be noted that the standard of simplicity varies from each person according to individual status, vocation etc. and as such one common standard cannot be fixed for the whole society. The main object of leading a simple life is not to spend on items of mere external show. For us the life of Rasulullah S.A.W.A.S. is an ideal pattern of simple life. Allah had bestowed upon him full sovereignty and control over all the treasures of the world but he always led a simple life and never liked things of mere show. He had a natural aversion to such things. For example, he would sit on Earth or on rough matting.
The Holy Prophet would eat whatever food was placed before him, and would always wear cheap and course clothes. By this discussion of simple life, a person should not conclude that Islam teaches a man to forsake the worldly life and keep himself deprived of all material pleasures. In fact, Islam is not at all anti-social and never supports the idea of complete renunciation from the material life. On the other hand, Islam requires that a Muslim's life should be such as to lead to a happy social atmosphere, and should therefore be free from lavishness and extravagance as lavish life harms the society as a whole.
To give an example we can refer to the amount we spend on marriages. We should keep in mind the way and procedure adopted by Rasulullah on the occasion of the marriage of his only and most beloved daughter Fatimah az-Zahra S.A. at a time when he was full fledged sovereign of the then Islamic world. We should note what amount of money was spent and how much Jahez (paraphernalia) was given by the Holy Prophet S.A.W.A.S. to his daughter. The articles he gave to his daughter comprised of one shirt, one water skin, one manual stone-mill for making flour, one leather sheet to serve as bed, and a few ordinary utensils for domestic use of quite ordinary value.
This was an ideal marriage of the choicest lady in the estimation of Allah and going to be the wife of the Lion of Allah, Imam Ali A.S.. At this moment we should consider to what extent, we follow this great precedent set by our Holy Prophet S.A.W.A.S. and what extravagant expenses we incur for mere pomp and show. These huge amounts of money that we spend on such occasions for mere external appearance of dignity can well be spent in other constructive propositions more beneficial to our own sons and daughters for improvement of their future life. This is all done only for a show and those who do not possess enough money to exhibit an equal show keep their daughters unmarried and thus deprive them of starting their own life.
It is satisfactory to note that our government (Pakistan) has laid down certain restrictions on expenses on marriages and it is hoped that it will prove a boon to those who are not in a good financial position to marry their daughters according to the customary scale of expenditure on items of pomp and show, including the giving of Jahez beyond one's means. Similarly, there are other items where we spend more than we should, and if we abide by the standard of a simple life as taught by Islam, we can benefit ourselves as well as the society as a whole.
The Holy Qur'an aims at perfecting the morals of the Muslims and so it teaches us that;
1 And shun vain words. (22:30)
2 Render back the trusts to their owner. (4:58)
3 Adopt moderation, and enjoin virtue and turn away from the ignorant ones. (7:199)
4 And conceal not evidence. (2:283)
5 And when you judge between men, to judge with justice. (4:58)
6 Forget not generosity among yourselves. (2:237)
7 O' you who believe ! Fulfill the contracts (made by you). (5:1)
8 Then speak to them a kindly word. (17:28)
9 Why do you say what you do not practise? (61:2)
10 Avoid much suspicion, for verily suspicion (in) some (cases) is a sin. (49:12)
11 And (shall do) good to parents, and to the kindred and the orphans and the needy. (2:83)
12 And bestow not favours (expecting) that you may receive them back increased. (76:6)
13 Woe to every slanderer, defamer! (104:1)
14 And find not fault with your own selves nor you call one another by nick names. (49:11)
15 And say not, and let not some of you backbite others. (49:12)
16 And draw not near to shameful deeds. (6:151)
17 And be not a pleader for the treacherous. (4:105)
18 And maintain the measure with justice and do not cut short in the scale. (55:9)
19 So, to an orphan, oppress not! (93:9)
20 And be patient, for verily Allah suffers not to be lost the recompense of the righteous (ones). (11:115)
21 And seek help (from Allah) through patience and prayer (Namaz). (2:45)
22 Is the recompense for good aught but good? (55:60)
23 So assert not the purity of yourselves. (53:32)
24 Secret counsels are stimulated only by Shaitan (Satan). (58:10)
25 Engages you (your) vying in exuberance. (102:1)
26 And who restrain (their) anger, and forgive the (faults of) men, and Allah loves the doers of good (to others). (3:134)
27 And walk not in the Earth exulting, verily Allah loves not every self-conceited boaster.(31:18)
28 And be patient against what befalls you. (31:17)
29 Who so keeps his promise and guards himself (against evil), for verily Allah loves those who guard themselves (against evil). (3:76)
30 On Allah should the believers rely. (3:159)
31 Allah loves those who deal equitably. (5:42)
32 O you who believe! Be you the helpers in the cause of Allah. (61:14)
33 And help one another in righteousness and piety, and help not one another in sin and aggression. (5:2)
34 Verily my Namaz and my sacrifice and my life and my death, (are all only) for Allah the Lord of the Worlds. (6:163)
35 Verily prayer restrains one from filth and evil. (29:45)
36 It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, righteousness is this that one should believe in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Book and the Prophet, and gives his wealth out of love for Him to the kindred and the orphans, and the poor and the wayfarer and for the needy and for those in bondage; and establishes prayer and pays the poor rate; and those who fulfill their promise when they make a promise, and the patient ones in distress and affliction and in the time of war; these are they who are the Truthful and these are they who are the Pious. (21:77)