| 2 Summary of Ethics

Miserliness and Avarice

Overall Meaning: The Meaning of Miserliness and Avarice

Bukhl linguistically: bukhl, bakhl, bakhal, and bukhul are all of one meaning. It is withholding what is owned from whom it is impermissible to do so. Bakhala bi-kadha means one has become stingy with what he owns and not generous. [771] al-Mufradat, al-Raghib (1/109); Mukhtar al-Sihah, al-Razi (1/73); al-Mu`jam al-Wasit (1/41-42).

Bukhl technically: is preventing what is asked for from what is purchased. The worst of it is that which is asked with full right to do so, and even more so when it is from other than the wealth of the one being asked. [772] Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajar (10/457).

Shuhh linguistically: is miserliness with covetousness. Shahihtu tashahhu, shahahtu tashuhhu wa tashihhu (I was avaricious, exercising avarice). A man who is shahih (sg. avaricious) and a people who are shihah and ashihhah (pl. avaricious). [773] al-Sihah, al-Jawhari (1/378).

Shuhh technically: is miserliness in fulfilling rights, and covetousness for what is not one’s. [774] Sharh al-Nawawi `ala Sahih Muslim (16/222). Or it may be described as excessive covetousness for a thing. [775] Tafsir al-Tabari (9/282). Dispraise of Miserliness and Avarice in the Qur’an and Sunnah

❖ Allah, exalted, says: “Those who are miserly with what Allah has granted them out of His grace should not think that it is good for them; on the contrary, it is bad for them. Whatever they meanly withhold will be hung around their necks on the Day of Resurrection. It is Allah who will inherit the heavens and earth: God is well aware of everything you do.” Al `Imran: 180. Meaning, that which they were stingy with will be made into a chain around their neck as a punishment for them. [776] Tafsir al-Sa`di (p. 158).
❖ He, exalted, also says: “Whoever is saved from the avarice with their own souls, it is they who are truly successful.” al-Hashr: 9.
❖ Anas ibn Malik, Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Prophet ﷺ used to say: ‘Allah, I seek refuge in You from anxiety and grief, impatience and laziness, cowardice and miserliness, being heavily in debt, and being overpowered by men.’” [777] Reported by al-Bukhari (6369) and this is his wording, as well as Muslim (2706).
❖ Jabir ibn `Abdillah, Allah be pleased with them both, narrated that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: “Beware of oppression, for oppression is darkness on the Day of Resurrection indeed. Beware of avarice, for avarice destroyed those before you. It brought them to a degree where they split each other’s blood and violated each other’s honour.” [778] Reported by Muslim (2578). Quotes of the Predecessors and Scholars on Dispraising Miserliness and Avarice

❖ `Ali, Allah be pleased with him, said: “Miserliness is the dress of self-inflicted neediness, while the generous may enter the Garden due to his generosity.” [779] al-Adab al-Shar`iyah, Ibn Muflih (3/310).
❖ al-Hasan ibn `Ali, Allah be pleased with them both, was asked about miserliness and said: “That one sees what he spends as loss, and what he withholds as prestige.” [780] The previous source (3/299).
❖ al-Mawardi said: “Covetousness and avarice is the root of all dispraise and the cause of every lowliness. Avarice prevents one from fulfilling rights, and incites severance and undutifulness” [781] Adab al-Dunya wa al-Din, al-Mawardi (p. 224). Impacts of Miserliness and Avarice [782] al-Tafsir al-Munir, al-Zuhayli (4/180).
Being prohibited from the reward of spending in outlets of good. It is a cause of weak faith and its diminishment due to what it includes of having bad expectations of Allah. People dislike it. It is a hateful and disliked characteristic, even by the closest of people to the miser, like their spouse and children. It may even reach the state where they supplicate against Him, and wish for his death, just so that they may enjoy what they are forbidden from of his wealth. It is a cause for prohibition from provision. Just as spending is a cause for abundance in providence, likewise miserliness and avarice are a cause for constriction. Falling into sin due to what miserliness brings about of withholding others’ rights. The miser forbidding himself and others from the permissible fancies of this life. It is a cause for one’s faults being revealed to the masses. The Most Severe Level of Miserliness

Ibn Qudamah said: “The most severe of miserliness is that one is stingy with himself whilst being needy. How often does a miser withhold his own wealth, he gets sick and does not treat himself, and fancies a thing then denies it due to his stinginess. How often does a miser have stinginess from himself whilst being needy, and prefers not to spend over himself despite being needy. Morals are bounties from Allah that He places where He wishes.” [783] Mukhtasar Minhaj al-Qasidin (p. 265). Forms of Miserliness and Avarice
Miserliness with wealth and property: this in turn subcategorises into two: miserliness with one’s wealth, miserliness with others’ wealth to others, and miserliness over oneself with others’ wealth. The latter is the ugliest of the three. [784] Fayd al-Qadir, al-Manawi (5/496). Miserliness with the self: like one who is stingy with himself that he should give it cheaply for the sake of Allah due to attachment and care for the worldly life, hating death. [785] Miftah Dar al-Sa`adah, Ibn al-Qayyim (p. 113-114). Miserliness with status: such that one does not intercede when needed to, nor mediate when he is called upon to do so, nor does he seek after the needs of the weak and the needy. Miserliness with knowledge: it is one of the worst and ugliest forms of miserliness. This is when the knowledgeable withhold their knowledge from those who need it, such that he does not educate, advise, nor guide. Allah, exalted, says: “Those who are stingy, promote stinginess among people, and withhold Allah’s bounties. We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating punishment.” al-Nisa’: 37. Reasons for Falling into Miserliness and Avarice 
Weakness of faith from the miser, and his ill faith of Allah. Oppression, as it leads to others' rights being unfulfilled. Love of wealth and attachment to it begets this unsavoury characteristic and ugly quality. Weak ambition, and not caring to have a good mention. Belief that miserliness is a form of intelligence and wit, and that it is a means of planning one’s affairs. Fearing the future and what it holds, and being anxious of poverty which the forsaken devil guarantees humanity. Fear over one’s children and their future. Children are a strong incentive for miserliness and cowardice, as described by the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Not appreciating what awaits the miser of punishment on the Day of Resurrection. Heedlessness of the great rewards of spending, expenditure, and fulfilling necessary rights. Wishful thinking and clinginess to life. Means to Desisting from Miserliness and Avarice [786] `Idat al-Sabirin, Ibn al-Qayyim (6/22).
The one who has good expectations of Allah, honoured and majestic, and that He who commanded him to spend has also guaranteed him increase due to that. It was also said: “A lack of munificence is ill faith in the One worshipped.” Abundant charity, even if it is heavy on oneself, especially those who find themselves leaning to the quality in question. Knowing that fearing poverty and excessive wariness of it is a satanic promise, whereas the Divine promise is one of forgiveness and increase in bounty. Seeking refuge in Allah from miserliness. Curing far-fetched wishful thinking by remembering death and reflecting over peers’ passing. Contemplating over the state of the misers who exerted all efforts to collect and hoard wealth when they end up leaving it to be shared between his inheritors. They may even end up using it in other than obedience to Allah, and it ends up being a means for their destruction. Miserliness and Avarice in Proverbs and Poetry

❖ It is said: “More miserly than a child and a kas`.” It is said that this is the man who is such a miser that he ironed his dog’s anus so that it does not bark and guests subsequently pet it. [787] Majma` al-Amthal, al-Maydani (1/120).
❖ It is also said: “More miserly than one with an excuse.” This is taken from another proverb: “Making an excuse is a part of miserliness.” [788] The previous source (1/114).
❖ Some sages said: “Whoever frees himself from three, gains in their stead three: whoever frees himself from extravagance gains honour, whoever frees himself from miserliness gains prestige, and whoever frees himself from arrogance gains magnanimity.” [789] Adab al-Dunya wa al-Din, al-Mawardi (p. 224).
❖ Another said: “The miser is the guard to his blessings, and the hoarder to his inheritors.” [790] The previous source (p. 185).
❖ `Ali ibn Talib, Allah be pleased with him, said:

“If life is generous to you, be generous back
to all of the people - life is often changing.

Neither does munificence perish it if it comes,
Nor does miserliness keep it when it leaves.”

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