The New World Order of Islam (10): Abolishment of Luxuries

Islam gives another meaning to happiness than consumer societies do
[Islam] points out that comfort and happiness have not the same meaning as has been given to them in Europe and America. In those continents comfort and happiness are understood to mean luxurious living and methods of indulgence. The object of the different equalitarian movements is to provide all these for everybody. Against this, Islam seeks to bring about equality by prohibiting luxury and indulgence even in the case of the rich.

Islam persuades its followers to adopt a simple mode of living
It is true that the object to be aimed at is universal happiness, but Islam, while encouraging the pursuit of happiness, also desires to raise the moral standard, so that a striking difference between the objectives aimed at by these movements and that aimed at by Islam is that whereas these movements seek to spread happiness through luxury and indulgence, Islam desires to bring about equality by persuading everybody to adopt simple modes of living.

Islam discourages excessive ideas of pleasure
That is why wine, dancing etc., are prohibited in Islam. In Europe when the poor sections complain of hardships, they point out that whereas they can get only a glass or two of beer a day, the rich are able to drink as much wine as they feel inclined to. This grievance is admitted to be just and the governments then proclaim that they will take steps to enable the poor of their countries to drink more wine and beer!Against this, Islam would say, ‘Your grievance is just but the remedy is that neither the rich nor the poor shall be permitted to indulge in the drinking of wine or beer; for, this habit is injurious both for body and for soul.’

Again, poor people complain that the rich have many facilities for going to balls and dances, while the poor are deprived of any such pleasure. The reply of those in authority is that dance halls must be provided for the poor also and that the rich must contribute towards this object. Islam would say that dancing leads to moral deterioration and that equality is brought about not by providing facilities for dancing for the poor, but by prohibiting dancing altogether, so that the moral standards of the community should suffer no deterioration, and true culture and civilization should rise. (…)

Islam brings about equality with less expense
Islam can restore peace and comfort to mankind with much less effort and expense than is possible, for instance, for Christianity. Islam prohibits the wearing of silk by men; it prohibits eating and drinking out of vessels of gold and silver; it prohibits the erection of stately buildings for the sake of pomp and show. Similarly, it prohibits Muslim women from spending large sums upon ornaments. It makes the drinking of wine, gambling and betting unlawful. The object of these prohibitions is to enforce simple standards of living among the rich so that they can be persuaded to contribute their surplus for the relief of the poor. On the other hand, the poor would have no desire to indulge in these luxuries as they will have no temptation to imitate the rich in respect of them.

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, The New World Order of Islam (1942), Islam International Publications, Tilford UK 2005 (pdf); p. 105-108. Subheadings by the editor.

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