How to Manage the Household Finance in Islam -part 3
Expenditure and Consumption Pattern in Islam
Expenditure or financing is about how to manage lawful wealth or property in order to obtain both the spiritual and material benefits which in turn could help the family members in fulfilling their needs. Regarding this concept, there are several types of expenditures that could benefit the future generation, and expenditure that is done in the form of righteous deeds such as zakat and alms, to obtain the rewards in the Hereafter.
The shari’a of Islam taught its followers several rules that regulate the muslim family’s expenditure or expenses, amongst which – in general- are:
1. Commitment of financing the expenses and fulfilling the financial needs belong to the husband
A husband is fully responsible to earn the living of his wife and children, according to their needs and the limit of his abilities. Allah decreed, “Whoever has abundant means, let him spend according to his means; and he whose means are straitened, let him spend out of what Allah has given him. Allah does not burden any human being beyond the means that He has bestowed upon him. Possibly Allah will grant ease after hardship.”(QS. At-Thalaq/The Divorce :7)
The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said, “Whoever spends his wealth for the living of his wife, children, and member of his household, then he has given alms (it is similar to giving alms, -ed).” (Narrated by Thabrani). This hadith indicates that the fulfillment of financial needs or the family expenditure will transform, from the material expenses to spiritual expenses (alms) that will bring blessings of Allah. The Messenger -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said, during the hajj of Wada’ (the parting hajj), “Take care of the women (the wives) because of Allah, since they are your mutual partners. You have married them by Allah’s mandate, and they have became lawful to you by the words of Allah (the marriage contract, -ed). You are entitled to prohibit them to let a person you hate to enter your residence. They are entitled to have you to fulfill their needs of living and clothing in a proper way.”
Upon answering the question of a companion about the responsibility of husband towards his wife, the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said, “He (should) give her food as he eat, and clothes as he dress, and he shouldn’t leave her but only to have separate beds in the house. He shouldn’t hit her face and badmouth her.” Hindun bint Utbah, the wife of Abu Sufyan, ever came to the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- and told him about Abu Sufyan, that he was a stingy husband,” He never give me and my children an enough living. Thus I ever stole his money without him knowing it.”
The the Messenger of Allah said, “Take his wealth in a decent way, according to what suffice you and your children.” (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim).
A companion told the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- that he had one dinar. The Messenger of Allah said, “Spend it in charity for your own sake.” Then the companion asked, “What if I have another one?.” The Messenger of Allah replied, “Spend it in charity for your wife.” Then he asked, “And what if I have another one?”. The Messenger of Allah replied, “Spend it in charity for your servant.” (HR. Muttafaq ‘Alaih).
2. Obligation to Provide Living for the Parents who need it
Among the obligations a child is to provide the living of his elderly parent, as one form of doing good to parents, as revealed inside the Qur’an: “Your Lord has decreed: (i) Do not worship any but Him; (ii) Be good to your parents;” (QS. Al-Isra/The Night Journey:23). The Messenger of Allah said, “Both parents might eat from the wealth of their children in a decent way and a child should not eat from the wealth of his parents without their permission.” (Narrated by Ad Dailami).
According to Ibn Taimiya, a child who has plenty of wealth is obliged to provide the living of his father, mother, and siblings – if they are still small kids. If he doesn’t fulfill his obligation, it means that he has disobeyed his parents and severed the family tie. Beside that, husband and wife should believe that providing the living of the parents is an obligation, just as paying some debts to them, and that it is binding obligation and not just a voluntary deed. It is not the same as giving alms to other relative who needs it, which is a form of goodness.
3. A wife is Allowed to Help the Financial condition of Her Husband
If a husband couldn’t fulfill all of the needs of his household, because he was a poor man, then his wife might help him by working or trading. It is a form of mutual assistance in goodness and piety, which is suggested in Islam. Beside that, a wife might also give her zakat to her husband, if he was a poor man, or give some loans to her husband if he was not a poor who deserved of receiving the zakat.
4. A wife is responsible in Managing the Household Finances
It is already explained that a husband is obliged to work to obtain lawful wealth, and a wife is obliged to manage the expenses and family consumption in order to realize the five aims of shari’a, that is, in order to preserve the religion, intelligence, honor, soul, and wealth. The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said, “A wife is a protector of her husband’s household, and will be ask of her responsibility towards the household assets that she protected…” (Narrated by Bukhari). “If a wife spent or donated some foods without harming her family needs, then she would get rewards from her deed. Likewise, her husband would get the rewards from her deed, and her servant would get the share of rewards without reducing their rewards at all.” (Narrated by Thabrani).
5. A Wife is Obliged to be Frugal and Economical
The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said, “”A person who spends wisely will not become poor.” (Narrated by Ahmad). Beside that, she should be realistic in accepting whatever she got (qana’ah). The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said, “Really lucky, those who converted to Islam, and were given ample sustenance and accepted what Allah has given them.” (HR. Muttafaq ‘Alaih).
6. Balance between Income and Useful Expense
A wife shouldn’t burden her husband with financial burden that is out of his ability. She should be able to manage the family expenditures as efficient as possible according to the priority and what suits the income of her husband, without being extravagant. (See: chapter Al Baqara/The Cow:236, 286). Abu Bakr once said, “I dislike the family member who spend or finish off the provision for several days just in a day.”
Islam suggested its followers to work properly. Islam also suggested them to spend the result of their work on a good and useful thing.
In managing their expenses, a muslim family should hold the principle of consumption pattern in Islam, which orientates in needs and utilities, thus they will only spend on what they need, and they’ll only need useful things. (See: chapter Al-Baqarah:172, Al-Maidah/The Table Spread:4, Al-A’raf/The Height:32). In running their household affairs, a couple should have a concept that expenditures will bring rewards if it is spent on good things and that suits the religious order. The Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said, “Indeed, you didn’t spend something sincerely, because of Allah, but you would get the rewards.” (Muttafaq ‘Alaih).
7. Expense Scale of Priority (Needs vs Wants)
Islam taught the muslims family to prioritize their expenses in the purchasing of their main needs to fulfill the shari’a aims. There are three kinds of household needs, namely:
a. Primary needs, that is the primary livings for men that could realize the five aim of shari’a (to preserve the soul, mind, religion, descendant, and honor). These needs comprises the need for food, drink, housing, health treatment, security, knowledge, and marriage.
b. Secondary needs, that is a kind of need used to ease life, to distance the hardship. This need doesn’t have to be met until all primary needs are covered. It is still connected to the five aims of shari’a.
c. The supplemental needs. That is a kind of need that could add up goodness and prosperity of men’s life. The fulfillment of this need depends on the primary and secondary needs, and all are related to the aim of shari’a.
Priority in consumption and expenses also related to the priority of rights, that it the rights of self (family), Allah (religion), and other people. Other people are also considered according to the closeness of lineage, thus the most important ones are parents, then after that the siblings (as in chapter Al Anfal/The Spoils of War: 75). Application of the above rules demands the role of a housewife to take account of household expenses on a monthly basis based on the three requirements above, but still by adjusting it with the income, thus the muslim household will be hindered from economic problems caused by wasteful behavior in pursuing the non primary things.
Islam prohibited extravagance in expenses and lifestyle, because it could bring destruction and havoc to the society. Allah decreed, ” When We decide to destroy a town We command the affluent among them, whereupon they commit sins in it, then the decree (of chastisement) becomes due against them and thereafter We destroy that town utterly. “(QS. Al-Isra’/The Night Journey:16).
Beside that, extravagant lifestyle is one of the attributes of those who are unthankful of the favor of Allah. Allah decreed, which can be translated as, “The notables among his people who had refused to believe and who denied the meeting of the Hereafter, and those whom We had endowed with ease and comfort in this life,…” (QS. Al-Mu’minun/The Believers :33). The Prophet also loathed the extravagant lifestyle, (as in his saying), “Eat, drink, and dress as like you like, because what made you do mistake are in two things: live extravagantly, and prejudice.” (Narrated by Ibn Umar and Ibn Abbas).
8. Spend Wisely
Islam taught its followers to be wise and take the middle way (being proportional) in everything, including in managing the expenses, that is by not being extravagant, nor stingy or niggard. Being extravagant is an attitude that will destroy the soul, wealth, and society as a whole, whereas stingy is an attitude that will cause accumulation of goods, monopoly, and wasting of the wealth. Both of these extreme patterns in consumption are close to wasting of the wealth. Allah decreed, which can be translated as, “(The true servants of the Merciful One are) those who are neither extravagant nor niggardly in their spending but keep the golden mean between the two;.” (QS. Al-Furqon/The Criterion :67). “(vi) Do not keep your hand fastened to your neck nor outspread it, altogether outspread, for you will be left sitting rebuked, destitute. “(QS. Al-Isra’/The Night Journey:29). “(iii) Give to the near of kin his due, and also to the needy and the wayfarer. (iv) Do not squander your wealth wastefully, for those who squander wastefully are Satan’s brothers, and Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (QS. Al-Isra’/The Night Journey: 26-27)
The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said, “Allah will bestow His grace upon a person who works decently, spends wisely, and is able to spare the excess to anticipate the days he become poor, and in the need of it.” (Narrated by Ahmad). “A person who spends wisely will not become poor.” (Narrated by Ahmad).
If we’ve already manage our expenses according to the Islamic rules, then Allah will advance our business and multiply His rewards and blessings. Even more, Allah will give us the extra of the result of our works, so that we could save it in order to anticipate the unexpected things, or to support the life of our future generations.
May this article be useful for you!
Prof. Muhammad (Dean of Sekolah Tinggi Ekonomi Islam (STEI) Yogyakarta)
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