References of Ethics
Qur'an • Nahj al-balagha • Misbah al-shari'a wa miftah al-haqiqa • Makarim al-Akhlaq • Al-Mahajja al-bayda' fi tahdhib al-ahya' • Tanbih al-khawatir wa nuzhat al-nawazir • Jami' al-sa'adat • Mi'raj al-sa'ada • Al-Muraqabat
Tabdhīr (Arabic: تَبذیر) is a grave sin, which consists in improperly using, or squandering, one's money and property. Tabdhir is a kind of israf, which is to spend in a wasteful and uneconomic way or to spend for sinful purposes and the disobedience of God. Despite their close connections, there are differences between "tabdhir" and "israf". The notion of israf includes any sort of deviation, such as deviations in beliefs, or ethical, social, and economic deviations, while tabdhir is limited to financial matters.
The Qur'an characterizes tabdhir as a satanic act and those who engage in tabdhir as brothers of the Satan. In Islamic jurisprudential books, tabdhir is enumerated as a ground for a person's hajr, that is, prohibition from seizing or manipulating one's own money.
"Tabdhir" is taken to mean wastefully spending one's money, spending excessively, squandering, wasting one's money and property, and using one's property in an improper way, or using it in unjust ways contrary to the Shari'a. Tabdhir is accompanied with throwing (something) away in a careless and inconsiderate way. The word comes from the root, "badhr" (seed), since seeds can be thrown around carelessly and improperly. Tabdhir is regarded as a kind of israf, because both are deviations from the middle way.
Tabdhir is taken to mean the spending of money and property for sinful purposes and the disobedience of God as well.
Differences with Israf
- Main article: Israf
Tabdhir is regarded as a kind of israf. In some hadiths, the two words are used interchangeably. According to a hadith from Imam Ali (a), israf and tabdhir refer to the spending of one's property in what it is not right to spend, and they are taken to lead to the degradation of the human person before God. However, despite their close similarities, the two terms are said to have differences in meaning.
Israf is a more general notion, encompassing any deviation in one's belief, as well as ethical, social, and economic deviation. However, tabdhir is more often used to refer to economic and financial deviations, and rarely was it used to refer to other cases, such as the wilaya of Imam Ali (a).
Israf is an exit from the middle way between the two extremes, without necessarily leading to any waste. For example, if one wears too expensive clothes, which goes beyond his or her needs, then this will count as israf. However, tabdhir leads to waste of one's money and property. For example, if one has five guests, but prepares foods for ten people, and then throws the leftovers away, this would count as tabdhir.
In his Majma' al-bayan, al-Tabrisi suggests that tabdhir consists in wasting one's property and throwing it away. Thus, to excessively spend one's money without wasting anything does not count as tabdhir, if it is for the sake of the good and recommended donations.
Sometimes, israf refers to excessively doing something permissible and sometimes to improper and inappropriate spending. Thus, israf has two kinds of instances: qualitative and quantitative. However, instances of tabdhir are usually qualitative, that is, improper spending, such as donating money to someone so that he or she commits a forbidden act. Thus, unlike israf, tabdhir is never used to refer to excessively doing something good.
Given the above differences, although tabdhir is usually regarded as a kind of israf, it counts as worse than other kinds thereof, because it involves a forbidden action or donation for the sake of something forbidden.
The word, "tabdhir", and its cognates appear three times in the Qur'an in the Qur'an 17:26,27. These verses refer to the rights of one's relatives, the poor, and travelers who lack provisions. They command donation to these people and forbid wasteful spending. The forbiddance of tabdhir in the verse appears after an order to give relatives and the poor their right, so that one does not donate too much out of personal attachment to one's relatives. Thus, tabdhir is reproached in all circumstances, and the middle way must be observed even in the case of donation. The association of mubadhdhirin (those who commit tabdhir) to devils by calling them the brothers of devils is considered as more emphasis on the prohibition of tabdhir. They count as brothers of devils because they both waste property and money.
The word, "shaytan" (Satan), in the verse twenty seven of the Qur'an 17 is taken to refer to Iblis who was ungraceful to his Lord, originating from wasting God's blessings and deploying the power at his disposal to misguide the servants of God.
In these verses, tabdhir is characterized as a devilish act and a kind of ungracefulness. Just as a believer is honored by being brothers with other believers, mubadhdhirun are humiliated by being brothers with devils.
The abandonment or avoidance of tabdhir is strongly emphasized in hadiths. In some hadiths, even excessive and wasteful donation to the poor and other good acts which involve wastefulness are prohibited as well. There is a hadith according to which a Muslim had emancipated six slaves of his before his death, although he had several children. When the Prophet (s) heard about the story, he said, "Had I known sooner, I would have prevented his corpse from being buried in the cemetery of Muslims, because he has subjected his children to abject poverty."
The forbiddance of tabdhir is regarded as an essential of the religion and a matter of consensus among Muslim jurists. Tabdhir counts as a grave sin, in virtue of which the person will be banned from manipulating his or her own money (thus, it leads to "hajr"). According to jurists, people who wastefully spend their money and property count as insane (safih) in terms of the Shari'a, and at the judgment of the ruler, they will be banned from seizing their own money and property.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from تبذیر in Farsi WikiShia.