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What exactly does "excessive" mean in Islam?

For example, lets imagine we have 2 people, person 1 and person 2:

Scenario 1:

Person 1 makes $1000 a month, but in one of those months he spends $600 on a phone. That is 60% of his monthly income on something he doesn't need. Is that excessive? considering as he normally has $0 left by the end on the month. Meaning that his family will have hardship for the rest of that month, meaning that he might even have to get an interest based loan out to get through the month!

Person 2 makes $1,000,000,000 a month, but in one of those months he spends $600,000,000 on a boat. That is 60% of his monthly income on something he doesn't need. Is that excessive? considering as he normally doesn't have the time/energy/resources to spend the remainder of his monthly income to leave him with $0 every single month. As it's fact that the super rich can't spend money faster than they are making it!

I personally believe that Person 1 is being more excessive than person 2 in these 2 scenarios. I understand that my definition of excessive might be different from the Islamic definition of excessive, which is why I am asking this question.

Which of these 2 people are considered excessive according to Islam? Sunni > Hanafi view preferred if available. If not, then any view which closely resembles the Sunni > Hanafi style of thought is fine.

Scenario 2:

Person 1 and Person 2 are extremely wealthy. Person 1 has a 3 person family. He has a house with 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 kitchen, and 2 living rooms. All his interior walls and floors are made of gold, diamonds, and silver tiles.

Person 2 also has a 3 person family, but has a much larger house. He has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 3 kitchens, 3 living rooms, 3 study rooms, 3 gym rooms, 3 swimming pools, 3 guest rooms. However, he does not use expensive materials such as gold, silver, and diamonds anywhere in the house.

I personally believe that the guy with the smaller house is excessive in this example. Again, I understand that my definition of excessive might be different from the Islamic definition of excessive, which is why I am asking this question.

Which of these 2 people are considered excessive according to Islam? Sunni > Hanafi view preferred if available. If not, then any view which closely resembles the Sunni > Hanafi style of thought is fine.

So the question clarified is this:

Is a person who buys a phone for $600 who doesn't have enough money to feed his family an excessive spender, or a person who buys a $600 million boat who still has plenty of money remaining for his family and charity an excessive spender according to Islam?

According to me, the person who buys the phone would be an excessive spender.

Or from the second example, is a large house excessive, or a small house made out of gold, silver, and dimonds excessive?

According to me, the gold/silver/dimond house would be excessive and the larger house wouldn't, but this question is not about what I think, its about what Islam says about this matter.

  • I'm not sure exactly what you're asking here: in what context would an Islamic definition of "Excessive" be necessary (as compared to the English definition of "Excessive" which is easily found in any dictionary)? – goldPseudo Jul 21 '13 at 18:26
  • @goldPseudo, I've added a clarified version of the question below the main question. – oshirowanen Jul 21 '13 at 20:02
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    This is a good question. In Arabic, this concept is called "israaf" (with saad). – ashes999 Jul 21 '13 at 20:17
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    @ashes999 wouldn't it be a seen (اسراف)? Or are you talking about a different word? – goldPseudo Jul 22 '13 at 15:33
  • @goldPseudo I'll have to check my notes again. You're probably right. – ashes999 Jul 22 '13 at 16:29
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This is the closest answer I can find:

Narrated Abu Huraira, the Prophet (saw) said, "The dunya is a prison for the believer and Paradise for the kafir (disbeliever)," [Sahih Muslim, vol.4, #7058]

Once when Imam Ibn Hajar al Asqalani, a famous scholar in the past who died in 852 AH, who wrote the commentary of Sahih al Bukhar entitled ‘Fath al Bari’, was walking with his grand entourage through the town, they came upon a miserable, poor and dejected Jew. When the Jew recognized Ibn Hajar, he called out to him, "O scholar of Islam! Is it not true that your Prophet has said that this life is a prison for the believer and Paradise for the kafir? How is it that you are living in lavish wealth being a so-called believer, and yet I live this meager and miserable existence?" Ibn Hajar responded, "What you say of the Prophet (saw) of what he has said is true. You should know that this opulence you see me living in, is a prison compared to what awaits for me in the Hereafter. And, you should know that what you are living is Paradise compared to what Allah has prepared for you in the akhira."

This tells me that living an opulent lifestyle is not a sin, as clearly the famous scholar Imam Ibn Hajar al Asqulani lived such a lifestyle.

The difference is that when a Muslim lives a luxury or poor lifestyle, it is still a prison for him (even the luxury lifestyle) compared to what's to come in the next life. However, when a non Muslim lives a luxury or a poor lifestyle, it will be paradise for him (even the poor lifestyle) compared to what's to come in the next life.

In other words, a muslim, poor or wealthy, i.e. if he has everything he could want in this world, it will be nothing compared to paradise for him, therefore, being a billionaire is nothing for a muslim. However, for a non muslim, if he is a billionaire or a poor person, this world will be paradise for him, even if he lives in a card board box, because hell will make a card board box feel like paradise.

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You can apply the general definition of excessive to the two situations. Both are excessive, esp that you are left with no saving after spending on the phone and on the boat. Use comman sense what is excessive and what is not.

google definition of excessive

More than is necessary, normal, or desirable; immoderate.

Islamic Definition

In Islam anything that you spend not in way of Allah way is excessive. Basically you are not allowed to hoard gold, wealth etc and not spend in the way of God. Even spending $10 on a toy that you may want to please yourself is excessive. Islamic way of spending that $10 would be to spend it in the way of God, to give it to poor or Islamic charity or mosque etc. Islamic forbids from hoarding money and not spend in the way of Allah.

"O you who believe! Lo! many of the (Jewish) rabbis and the (Christian) monks devour the wealth of mankind wantonly and debar (men) from the way of Allah. They who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of God, unto them give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom" (Quran 9:34).

This link contains some more info.

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    Even spending $10 on a toy that you may want to please yourself is excessive <-- this is one brave claim. Islam does not forbid enjoying this life as long as it is done within the boundaries of halal. Can you show any fatwa that says one should not be spending his halal earned money on his enjoyment? – ozbek Jul 21 '13 at 15:24
  • @shoerat this might not be excessive as such but will come in the category of spendthrift. It is a good point and can make an independent question by itself. – muslim1 Jul 21 '13 at 15:37
  • @Ifoundthetruth, what does it mean by hoarding gold? If a person spends on his family, and gives plenty to charity, i.e. more than 2.5% a year, i.e. 75% a year and still ends up with $1,000,000 a month, is he considered a gold hoarder according to islam? – oshirowanen Jul 21 '13 at 16:15
  • @oshirowanen I am interpreting the verse as it is They who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of God,unto them give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom. I believe this is consistent with Islamic teaching I am aware of where spending on worldly things to please oneself is prohibited. But I may be wrong, if a better answer arrives. – muslim1 Jul 21 '13 at 18:22

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