“Do not keep your hand fastened to your neck nor outspread it, altogether widespread, for you will be left sitting rebuked, destitute.”
(Al-Qur’ān – 17:29)
‘To keep one’s hand fastened to one’s neck’ is an Arabic idiom that denotes miserliness, and ‘to outspread it, altogether widespread’, denotes extravagance. Human beings are required to act in financial matters with moderation. They should neither prevent the flow of wealth out of miserliness, nor should they waste financial resources by irresponsible extravagance. Instead, they should have such an instinctive sense of balance and moderation that they should not shrink from spending when that is genuinely needed, and should abstain from spending when it is not truly needed or is not justified. If fact, every misdirected expense which is made at the expense of genuine needs and beneficial purposes amounts to ingratitude to God for His bounty. It is for such reasons that those who indulge in extravagance have been dubbed ‘brothers of Satan’.
The provisions that have been laid down here are not simply moral exhortations or mere guidelines for individual conduct. They rather suggest that through moral instruction, social pressure and legal measures people should be prevented from indulging in unjustified expenditure. When the state of Madinah came into existence, it adopted various practical measures to implement the purposes underlying these provisions. Through zakah and sadaqat, a blow was struck at miserliness and steps were taken to prevent acquisitiveness which prevents free flow of wealth. This enabled people to distinguish between generosity and wasteful expenditure, and between miserliness and judicious moderation in expenditure.