Thursday, 6 October 2011

When is buying a large house considered extravagance?


My wife insists that we must buy a big house with a garden and swimming pool. While I insist on living in a small house (3 bedrooms for example) without the extra luxuries such as a garden and swimming pool. What is the solution for this problem? I cannot force her to be ascetic. We must live together and I know that her wanting to live a luxurious life is not an enough justification for divorce, but I do not want to live just for the pleasure of this world. What shall I do? If I buy a big house as my wife wishes, will I be rewarded? Bearing to mind that I do not mind living in a small house; I do not need but a ceiling that conceals my family and me. Will I be considered of those who Allah says about them: “You received your good things in the life of the world, and you took your pleasure therein.

Praise be to Allaah.


The Muslim should not make this world his main concern, and
poverty is not what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) feared for his ummah, rather he feared that the world would open up to
them and they would compete in worldly gain, for that could lead to their
doom and destruction. 

It was narrated that ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf (may Allaah be pleased
with him) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
said: “Allaah, it is not poverty that I fear for you, rather what I fear for
you is that worldly riches may be given to you as they were given to those
who came before you, and you will compete for them with one another as they
competed with one another, and you will be destroyed as they were

Narrated by al-Bukhaari (2988) and Muslim (2961). 

Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said
concerning the lessons learned from this hadeeth: 

Competition in worldly gains may lead to destruction of
religious commitment. 

Fath al-Baari (6/263). 

And he said: 

Ibn Battaal said: This shows that the one to whom the
delights of this world open up should beware of their bad consequences and
the evil of their temptation, and he should not be at ease with its
adornments or compete with others for them. 

Fath al-Baari (11/245). 

The one who is distracted from the Hereafter by worldly
pursuits is a loser, for this world is but play and there is nothing lasting
or perfect in it; the Hereafter is better and more lasting. Allaah has
likened this world to the plants which grow and flourish, then they soon
become straw scattered by the wind; there is nothing lasting for man in this
world, hence he must make the Hereafter his goal. 

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“Know that the life of this world is only play and
amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of
wealth and children. (It is) as the likeness of vegetation after rain,
thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you
see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there
is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers ___evildoers), and (there is)
forgiveness from Allaah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers __
good‑doers). And the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment”

[al-Hadeed 57:20] 

“And put forward to them the example of the life of this
world: it is like the water (rain) which We send down from the sky, and the
vegetation of the earth mingles with it, and becomes fresh and green. But
(later) it becomes dry and broken pieces, which the winds scatter. And
Allaah is Able to do everything.

46. Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of
this world. But the good righteous deeds that last, are better with your
Lord for rewards and better in respect of hope”

[al-Kahf 18:45, 46] 


One of the signs that people may be destroyed by their
competing in worldly gains is their buying houses with riba-based loans. A
person exposes himself to the wrath and anger of Allaah for the sake of
competing with others in building a house and in decorating it and making it
spacious, but they may be among those who used up all their good things in
this world, because they did that which Allaah has forbidden for the sake of
pleasure and enjoyment. As for the one who builds or buys a house with
halaal wealth and enjoys it, he is not included among these people. 

We have stated that it is haraam to buy houses through
riba-based banks in the answers to questions no.
21914 and


Hence we know that there is no reward in building a house per
se, otherwise the rich who build palaces for millions would occupy the
highest degrees of Paradise! The dinar that a Muslim spends on building his
house will not be reciprocated in the Hereafter. A man may be free of sin,
and if he is rewarded it will be only for his intention in protecting his
family and household from indignity, and sheltering them in a house that
protects their dignity and honour. But there is no reward merely for
building a house, and he may be exposed to sin and punishment if he is
extravagant and his aim is to show off and boast. 

The scholars of the Standing Committee quoted a number of
ahaadeeth which criticize building, after which they said: 

With regard to these ahaadeeth and other similar reports,
some of them are saheeh, some are hasan and some are not sound. Those of
them which are regarded as sound are to be understood as criticizing the one
who does that to show off and as an act of extravagance. This varies from
one situation, person, place and time to another. It is proven in Saheeh
Muslim in the hadeeth of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah have mercy on
him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said,
when Jibreel asked him about the signs of the Hour: “When you see the
barefoot, naked, destitute shepherds competing in the construction of lofty
buildings.” Ibn Rajab said, commenting on this hadeeth: What is meant is
that the lowest of the people will become their leaders, and their wealth
will increase, until they compete in building tall buildings, and adorning
them. Al-Nawawi mentioned the same meaning in Sharh Saheeh Muslim,
where he discussed this hadeeth. 

With regard to making a building tall for a legitimate
purpose, such as to provide facilities and accommodation for the needy, or
as a means of earning money, or because one has a lot of dependents and the
like, there is nothing wrong with that as far as we can see, because things
are to be judged by their purpose. The Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) said: “Actions are but by intention, and every man will
have but that which he intended.” This hadeeth was narrated by al-Bukhaari
and Muslim in their Saheehs from ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Razzaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn
Ghadyaan, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Munay’ 

Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have
mercy on him) was asked: 

We have been told that every deed of the son of Adam will be
rewarded except building a house. Is this correct? If it is correct, what is
the reason? Please mention the hadeeth in which it was narrated. May Allaah
reward you with good. 

He replied: 

Yes, this was narrated concerning a man who spent his money
extravagantly on mud, i.e., in building that which he had no need for. As
for building that which a person needs, it is one of the necessities of
life, and if a person spends on himself for the necessities of life, he will
be rewarded for that if he spends it seeking thereby the Countenance of
Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted. But showing off and competing in
constructing tall buildings is something in which there is nothing good,
rather it is nothing but a waste of money. As for that which a person builds
because he needs it, he will be rewarded for that, if he seeks thereby the
Countenance of Allaah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) said to Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas: “Know that you will never
spend anything seeking thereby the Countenance of Allaah, but you will be
rewarded for it, even (the food) that you put in your wife’s mouth.” 

Al-Liqa’ al-Shahri (15/question
no. 6). 

See also the ahaadeeth and comments of the scholars
concerning this issue in the answer to question no.


Hence you may know the ruling on building the house that your
wife wants you to buy for them, and we will sum that up for you in the
following points: 

It is not permissible to buy a
house with money from haraam sources such as riba-based loans or wealth that
was unlawfully seized. 

 There is no reward for simply
building a house, but if the owner intends to shelter his family and protect
them from heat and cold, he will be rewarded for his intention, not just for
the house itself. 

It is not permissible for a
Muslim to build or buy a house with the intention of boasting and showing
off, and if he does that then he is sinning. 

There is no reason why the
house should not have a pool or garden, but that is subject to the condition
that it should not be extravagance or going to extremes with regard to the
size and price of the house. A spacious house is a joy to its owner. 

It was narrated that Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas said: The Messenger
of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“There are four things that are
essential for happiness: a righteous wife, a spacious home, a good neighbour
and a sound means of transportation. And there are four things that make one
miserable: a bad neighbour, a bad wife, a small house and a bad means of

Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh (1232) and
classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (282) and
Saheeh al-Targheeb (1914). 

Al-Manaawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:  

“a spacious home” means: it is very comfortable for its
inhabitants, in which case its spaciousness varies from one person to
another, because what is spacious for one may be small for another, and vice

Fayd al-Qadeer (3/302). 

Determining whether or not the
costs of building or purchasing count as extravagance depends on the
person’s situation. If a man’s wealth is 100 million riyals, for example,
then it is not regarded as extravagance – let alone squandering – if he
builds or buys a house  for 2 million riyals. But if a man’s wealth comes
only from his salary that he takes every month, then it is regarded as
extravagance if he oversteps the limit in building or buying a house. 

The one who is extravagant with regard to houses is the one
who goes beyond the usual limit, and adds extra floors or rooms
unnecessarily. The one who squanders is the one who builds unnecessarily or
spends his money carelessly on construction. 

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have
mercy on him) was asked: 

A man bought a house for two million riyals, then he
furnished it for six hundred thousand. After that he bought a car for three
hundred thousand riyals. Is this man regarded as extravagant and a
squanderer? What is the ruling on buying expensive items for decorating
houses? Please advise us, may Allaah reward you with good. 

He replied: 

Extravagance is that which oversteps the limit. Allaah, may
He be exalted, has stated in His Book that He does not love the extravagant.
If we say that extravagance is overstepping the limit, then extravagance
varies. A thing may be extravagance in the case of one person, but not in
the case of another. This man who bought a house for two million riyals, and
furnished it for six hundred thousand, and bought a car – if he is rich then
it is not extravagance, because this is easy for those who are very rich.
But if he is not rich, then he is regarded as extravagant, whether he is of
moderate means or he is poor, because some poor people want to look good, so
they buy these huge mansions and furnish them lavishly, and they may borrow
money from people for that, and this is wrong. 

So the three categories of people are: 

a rich man who is very well
off, so we say that if he – at present times, but we do not say that it
applies in all times – buys a house for two million riyals, and furnishes it
for six hundred thousand, and buys a car, then he is not being extravagant.

A man of moderate means; in his
case it is regarded as extravagance.

A poor man. In his case it is
regarded as foolishness, because how can he take out a loan to make himself
look good with something that he has no need of?! 

Liqaa’aat al-Baab al-Maftooh
(107/question no. 4) 

And Allaah knows best.

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