Is Credit Card a Problem ?
Yes It Is, Indeed !
Due to the illegal spending of our wealth our food is contaminated with Haram. This is a great obstacle in the spiritual path. Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only that which is good.
The problem of paying interest on credit cards’ spending is a serious issue. Islam is against interest which ruins the societies. Hence the prophet explains that those who earns money on interest (Riba) are those who declare war on Allah the Almighty. Why is interest so harmful ? Because they shake the foundation of the society and create great injustices, making the poor poorer and the rich richer. We read in newspaper that people commit robbery to pay off their credit card debts and do all kinds of illegal things. Some even commit suicide due to their debts. Why these things happen ? Unfortunately we are living in the time of consumerism. It is the most important problem of modern life to consume without looking into the needs and means. Whatever one thinks he/she needs then it becomes one of the most important essential of life. Do we really need everything what we buy or are we following the urge to consume irresponsibly ? Are we only making Satan happy by buying what we do not need ? The following verse describes such irresponsible people as the friends of Shaitan: “Surely the squanderers are the fellows of the Shaitans and the Shaitan is ever ungrateful to his Lord” (Quran 17/27)
Islam is a religion of middle way it does not command us to live a miserable life, therefore Islam forbids miserliness, “And do not make your hand to be shackled to your neck nor stretch it forth to the utmost (limit) of its stretching forth, lest you should (afterwards) sit down blamed, stripped off.” (Quran 17/29)
Money is only beneficial when it is spent timely, otherwise it has no use. A good Muslim is master of his money and not its slave. He spends it when necessary and knows that it belongs not only to him but to all those in need.
The modern life television adverts unfortunately drags people to do shopping. Under the spell of adverts that surrounds us from all corners. Modern people from little kids to elderly everyone is almost hypnotized by these adverts. Everyone is in need of something, a pair of shoes, a laptop, a new car. When we go deep into the roots of these urges unfortunately very few of them are what we really needs. Even among Sufis “The ascetic lifestyle” is being neglected. Nowadays even they spend more than the ordinary peoples on unnecessary things. However, according to Islam we will be interrogated from the halal (legal) spending and of course will be punished for the illegal spending.
Credit Cards are the pillars of consumerism since it continuously urges you to do shopping even you do not have enough money. It tells you buy now pay later. But what it does not tell you is how to pay later. In case you do not pay later, they are not as nice as they appear on the TV adverts. Those smiling faces of the adverts become merciless monsters when it comes to paying back. Many people loose their houses, jobs and in consequences their health and honor due to their Credit Card debts. Hence while we consume we are also consumed by the continous bills and installments.
Hence in order to escape from these modern traps the first thing to do is think whether one really needs Credit Cards. There are millions of people who live without Credit Cards. If one has to spend on Credit Cards then the best thing is to pay the debts on time and not use them unnecessarily. When one goes shopping with Credit Cards he always ends up buying more than what is needed. In addition spending cash brings some extra profits. First of all people do not spend their cash easily; secondly, through using cash one can buy commodities cheaper.
Although the scholars gives legal permission to buy houses and other commodities on credit specially in western countries, it becomes a nightmare for those who has no financial stability. Many people loose their houses after paying their most of the original price. Hence as Muslims we should develop other ways of buying properties. This is not easy but if we like to continue our lives as pious Muslims we should find Islamically acceptable ways of halal earning as well as spending. With this respect using Credit Card is not totally haram as long as one pays his debts on time without falling into the trap of paying extra interest. But dealing on credits such buying houses and other durable things makes one slave to long term installments. People in such situation only think how to pay their debts and forget their debts to be paid to Allah.
In order to balance our life we should check our life styles continuously and interrogate our conception of the worldly life. Are we here forever? What is our primary goal; to satisfy the needs of our animal self or to make Allah happy? If these two ends cannot be compromised at times which should be preferred? These are the essential questions in order to limit our financial attitudes. We should remember that this world is very short and whatever comfort we have here will never last long if we do not stick the Islamic principals: The following Hadith warns us how the amenities of this world which one tried hard to attain, and for which, one violates the injunctions of Shri’ah, will be forgotten with a glimpse of the Hell fire.
Anas Bin Malik (R.A) reported: Messenger of Allah (S.A) said, “Among the inmates of Hell, a person who has led the most luxurious life in this world will be brought up on the Day of Resurrection and dipped in the fire and will be asked: ‘O son of Adam! Did you ever experience any comfort? Did you happen to get any luxury?’ He will reply: ‘By Allah, No.’ And then one of the people of Jannah who had experienced extreme misery in the life of this world will be dipped in Jannah. Then will be asked: ‘O son of Adam! Did you ever experience any misery? Did you ever encounter difficulty?’ He will say: ‘By Allah, No, I neither experienced misery nor passed through hardship.” (Muslim).
The Prophet also warns us against engrossing in the excessive desire of possessing worldly properties. One should not be engrossed in them to the extent that, they become the sole purpose of one’s life and all one’s effort are exhausted to acquire them. Islam never forbids to seek ways of meeting one’s genuine needs of maintaining property, land, industry as long as they do not distract one’s attention from Allah and the hereafter.
Abdullah bin Mas’ud (R.A) reported: Messenger of Allah (S.A) said “Do not crave for property lest you should be absorbed in the desire of worldly life.” (Tirmidhi)
The Prophet and His Companions did not give much importance to the world, they did not consider the comfort of this life as the sole purpose of one’s life. They would do good works and win peoples heart, yet they would not consider getting other peoples property or wealth. Even if they have the means and authority to manage, they would not abuse what is entrusted to them. They would maintain a simple life. This is called Zuhd (asceticism).
Being Zahid (ascetic) in this life i.e not paying much importance to this world, considering the hereafter more important and working for the hereafter is an importand and desirable phenomenon, because the life in the hereafter is very important for the believer. If we cannot lead an austere ascetic life like the early examples such as Ibrahim b. Adham, Hasan Basri but atleast we can refrain from the unnecessary excesses of life. The Muslim World suffering from all kind of poverty is waiting our help.
One can only help others if he saves some money by spending sensibly and learning from the Prophet and as well as the early ascetics. Practicing Sufi ideals in a modern life has gain extra weight due to the materialist lifestyles and Hedonists philosophies. Human being in the past had to live in accordance to the general rules of the society and even they were not religious their behavior was more or less acceptable. However, the modern lifestyles immensely changed and become less and less religiously acceptable. Even those who claim to be religious started practicing unethical things although they are legal. Among such things in particular using Credit Cards is a big problem. Sufis life Ibrahim b. Edhem, Hasan Basri showed us that one can survive with really minimum requirements. Of course one cannot follow them easily but atleast we can learn from them that most of our needs are actually our imaginations, not real needs. The principal of Zuhd (asceticism) practiced by the Sufis proved that a man does not needs everything he think he needs. Abdullah Bin Omar relates that: the Messenger of Allah (S.A) took me by the shoulder and said, “Be in the world as though were a stranger or a wayfarer.” (Bukhari; Nawawi 40 Hadiths) as the wayfarer does not carry but only the basic necessities a Muslim similarly should get rid of unnecessary things of the life.
Due to illegal spending of our wealth our food is contaminated by haram. This is a great obstacle in the spiritual path. Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only which is good. The Prophet (S.A) mentioned [the case of] a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty and who spreads out his hand to the sky [saying]: “O Lord! O Lord!” – while his food is unlawful, his drink unlawful, his clothing unlawful and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can he be answered!” (Muslim). May Allah help us to earn from the halal and to spend halal without falling into excesses of miserliness or squandering.