Bukhl, stinginess, miserliness, “being tight.” Whatever you choose to call it, universally it is a disliked trait. Stinginess in essence is a reluctance to give or spend however, from an Islamic point of view it means not giving or spending from what Allah has blessed you with.
Allah tells us time and time again that He created man weak. That man loves to collect the things of the earthly world. It’s so easy to read and not digest these powerful words. Allah has made our faults clear but do we really take heed?
WHAT DOES THE QURAN SAY ABOUT STINGINESS
In Surah Muhammad verse 38 Allah says:
Here you are – those invited to spend in the cause of Allah – but among you are those who withhold [out of greed]. And whoever withholds only withholds [benefit] from himself; and Allah is the Free of need, while you are the needy. And if you turn away, He will replace you with another people; then they will not be the likes of you.
Allah gives to us so that we will spend and strive in His cause. Allah does not want us to withhold from society, that’s what zakah (the act of giving to purify our wealth) and sadaqah (giving charity) is all about. There is a big difference between being stingy and being frugal but as with most things Muslims have lost the subtle distinction between the two.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) used to seek refuge from miserliness and in Bukhari is noted to have said “what disease is worse than stinginess?”
Stinginess isn’t just withholding money. A man can be stingy by withholding the rights of his wife and vice versa, a child can be stingy in their respect for their parents and believers can be stingy between themselves in a multitude of things.
WE NEED TO EDUCATE OURSELVES ABOUT STINGINESS
There are two traits which cannot exist in a believer. They are stinginess and low ethics [Tirmidhi]
By connecting stinginess and low ethics the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) is doing something powerful. As Muslims, we know our ethics and good conduct (adab) are what the world sees about us. Giving does something incredible, it not only keeps those in mind that need it more than us but it humbles us. It reminds us that yes, we’re giving it away but who gave it to us?
By seeking knowledge and educating ourselves we can break out of this stingy mindset and raise ourselves to the true status of a believer. So, what areas of our life may stinginess creep in and how can we combat it?
STINGINESS WITH MONEY
This is the obvious one that most people think about. Being stingy with money is not exclusive to Muslims, non-Muslims do it too. As an Ummah, we are required to give only 2.5% of our saved wealth for zakah. We still find it difficult.
We’re like magpies when it comes to sharing wealth. We want to hold onto all the shiny things for ourselves and hate to share.
In Sahih Muslim, Abu Hurayrah narrates that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) said that charity does not decrease wealth. But, we will still hold onto, question and debate about that 2.5% as if such a small amount could benefit us financially.
To us that have it to give it is a miniscule amount. But in some parts of the world, and even in your own local community, that could be the difference between eating or not eating. Heat or food.
I challenged myself at the start of last year to put all the change I was carrying in my pocket in the masjid sadaqah pot if I went in to pray salah. Since doing so I have seen so many amazing transformations in my life I can only put it down to this simple act.
Giving money doesn’t have to leave a lump in your throat and pains in your chest. Start little and give often and you’ll start to see a change in your life.
STINGINESS WITH GRATITUDE
Who knew you could be stingy with gratitude! How many times have we gone about our day and opened a door for someone only to have them let it shut behind them and not even say thank you? Apart from being annoying, it’s also a form of stinginess.
In Abu Dawood it is narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) said “He has not thanked Allah who has not thanked people.”
This shows the importance of not being stingy in your gratitude to people or Allah.
STEALING FROM YOUR PRAYER
Abdullah ibn Mughafal reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, the worst thieves among people are those who steal from their prayers.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, how do they steal from their prayers?” The Prophet said, “They do not complete its bowing or its prostration. The most miserly of people are those who are miserly with the greeting of peace.” [al-Muʻjam al-wasat 3503]
Did you know you could be stingy with your prayer?
We need to start playing the long game, especially when it comes to the prayer. We’ve all been there. Recited the shortest surahs and kept our ruku and sajdahs brief. It’s the first thing we’re asked about and the first thing to be accounted for. Not our charity, not our good deeds.
We steal from our prayers because we think we don’t have time but Allah says in Surah Asr “By time, Indeed mankind is in loss.”
By worrying about time, we are making ourselves the losers. And no one likes being a loser.
GIVING THE GREETING OF PEACE
Our fellow Muslims have six rights over us. The first of which mentioned in a hadith narrated in Sahih Muslim is to give the greeting of peace.
Picture yourself walking down the road. There’s a Muslim walking towards you and you give them salaam and they ignore you. Or just smile and carry on walking. Aside from it being embarrassing, it’s a lost chance to gain good deeds.
By the One in Whose control is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not have all the qualities of the righteous believers until you love each other. Shall I not direct you to something that if you do it, you will love each other? Spread the greeting of peace amongst yourselves [Muslim].
Giving the salaam does not take away from you in any way, in fact it increases you! There are great rewards for the one who gives the salaam first and even greater rewards if you reply with what is better. You don’t even need to know the other person, they just need to be Muslim. A simple Sunnah, a good deed and a way to ban this type of stinginess from your life.
As you can see, stinginess can creep into any part of your life. It’s not all about money. By being stingy with others, we are in fact being stingy with ourselves. Don’t be short changed on the Day of Judgement. Kick stinginess to the curb, go out there and spread some generosity!