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Pocket money for a wife
Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi [ra] has dealt in his guiding sermons with some topics with special emphasis. I intend to reproduce two or three of these in this discourse, as they are generally overlooked by the people. Firstly. the liabilities about a wife does not mean that she should be provided only with food and clothes. It is also a part of this cost that she should be paid a suitable amount as pocket expenses in addition to the cost of living, making her free to spend this additional amount as she likes. There are persons who arrange for food and clothes but do not care for pocket expenses. Hazrat Thanawi has said that payment of some amount as pocket money is also necessary, because there are many items when a person feels ashamed to disclose to other that she needs a certain thing. The wife should, therefore, must have some extra amount as pocket money so that she may not seek other means to satisfy her needs. Hazrat Thanawi [ra] has warned that those who do not provide pocket money to their wives are blamable.
Being generous for Family
Another point to note is that one should be generous and liberal in spending money on the needs of the household. One must not limit expenses to basic needs. One should provide money with a generous hand so that the expenses of the household may be met with ease and freedom according to the financial means of the house-keeper. Some people complain that, on the one hand, there is stress that one should not be extravagant and at the same time there are instructions not to be miser in spending money on the household. A question now arises as to what is the line of demarcation between the two. What is extravagance and what is not extravagance?
Simple or comfortable accommodation both are lawful
To remove this confusion Hazrat Thanawi [ra] has said: that accomodations are of two kinds, a place which is just enough to accommodate the members of the family. It may be an ordinary hut, it is possible for a man to live some how even in such structures. This is lawful in the first degree. The second kind is that the house should provide living accommodation as well as a reasonable degree of comforts. For example, the house should be concrete-built, equipped with fans and electric lights. If a person provides this service in his house in order to make life easy and comfortable, this cannot be regarded as extravagance.
Decoration is also lawful
In the third degree, along with means of comfort a house should also have some decoration. For example, a man has a concrete built house with plastered walls, electricity and fans, but it has no paint on it. Even an unpainted house like this is fit for living, but without white-washing and proper painting it lacks in decoration. If the house owner gets the house colour washed and painted for the sake of decoration this too is lawful in the laws of the Shari'ah.
In short to live in an ordinary house is lawful, it is also lawful to live in a house provided with certain comforts and amenities as well as some decoration. Decoration here means some additional improvement made in the house, like painting, etc, which is pleasing to the eyes and cheering to the heart. There is no harm in this and is permissible in the Shari'ah.
Show off is not lawful
Then follows the fourth degree which is mere “Show off’. The house-owner is doing something which aims neither at comfort, nor at decoration; the aim is to show his riches. Thereby he wants to impose his superiority on others and to show that he is a big thing. All this comes within the definition of “Show off’ which is not lawful in the laws of the Shari'ah. It is also extravagance.
The limits of extravagance
These four categories also apply to food and clothes, and in all other things of life. A man wears costly clothes in order to receive comfort, to please himself and the members of his household and his acquaintances, friends and visitors, there is no harm. On the other hand there is a person who wears valuable clothes with the intention that he may be considered a rich and wealthy man, a man of exalted position in society, then this is mere exhibition and show and therefore it is prohibited. Hazrat Thanawi [ra] has therefore drawn a clear line of demarcation between the two extremes. If money is spent on something for the sake of meeting a necessity, providing comfort or for decoration for his own pleasure and satisfaction, it is not extravagance.
This is not Extravagance
Once it so happened that I was coming back to Karachi from some other city, and it was the hot summer season. I requested someone to have my seat booked in an airconditioned coach and I gave him the required amount of money. Another man who was sitting nearby at once objected to this because in his opinion I was committing extravagance by sitting in an airconditioned coach. Many people are under the wrong impression that to travel in a higher class is extravagance. Bear in mind that if travelling in an upper class is for comfort, e.g. to save oneself from heat in the summer season, and the man can afford it. It is neither extravagance nor a sin. If one travels in an upper class simply to show that he is rich, then it is extravagance and it is unlawful.
The husband should therefore, keep in mind these degrees in meeting the cost of living of his wife with generosity and liberality. Capacity differs from man to man, Maulana Maseehullah Khan Sahib [ra] once observed: There is a man who is all alone in this world, without relatives, without friends and without acquaintances. For such a man a bed, a dish and a jug are sufficient to pass his life. If he collects more articles, it will mean a show and will be reckoned as extravagance in his case. There is a man who receives guests, has a large circle of acquaintances and friends, and has many relatives. The standard of his needs and extent of requirements will be quite different. If such a man has in his house at times even one hundred sets of pots and beddings, not a single piece of this will be counted as extravagance, because all these are necessities of life. The standard of life differs from man to man.