Bare Necessities or a Comfortable Life

Q: I think that instead of leading a simple life, we waste much money on appearances, comforts and luxuries. Is that acceptable? When a small family can lead a simple and comfortable life in small house, why should that family try to live in a villa?

A: When God created man and placed him on earth, He made him the distinguished kind of all creation and master of this planet. God has given human beings certain instincts, desires and motivations. These influence people and spur them to do things in a certain fashion, and helps them to set goals in life. Progress and advancement are so essential to human life, otherwise, human intelligence would be of no value. You will certainly agree that it is intelligence that distinguishes the human species and makes man so different from other creations. It is an essential characteristic of human beings to seek comfort and to obtain what gives pleasure. This applies to all spheres of life. Besides, Islam acknowledges this and does not consider it in any way undesirable as long as its satisfaction does not involve disobedience to God. In the Qur’an we read:
“Say: ‘Who is there to forbid the beauty which God has brought forth for His creatures, and the good things from among the means of sustenance’?” [the Heights — “Al-A’araf” 7: 32]
This rhetoric question implies that anyone who forbids such beauty, adornments, luxuries and comforts has no justification, as long as enjoying such matters does not involve anything forbidden. In fact, the opposite is true. When God bestows some blessings and comforts on one of His servants, He likes to see that person enjoying that blessing, and loves to see him or her acknowledging God’s grace and doing what expresses gratitude to God for bestowing it.
Thus if a person is given plenty of money, then God likes to see him giving his family a comfortable living, including a good house and plenty of provisions. However, God would also love to see that person giving out his Zakah and helping poor people and his community in other ways as well. In short, there is nothing wrong with a rich family choosing a large house or villa for living, although it may still be comfortable in a flat with two bedrooms. However, that family must not be arrogant. It must always be generous to the poor.

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