if a person is frugal and restricts his needs to the essential, he will find enough sustenance to live on in unexpected ways. The verse guarantees it. Yes, there are two sorts of sustenance:1
One is true sustenance, which is enough to subsist on. As the verse decrees, this is guaranteed by the Sustainer. So long as man’s inclination towards evil does not interfere, he will find this essential sustenance under any circumstances. He will be compelled to sacrifice neither his religion, nor his honour, nor his self-respect.
The second sort is metaphorical sustenance, due to which and its abuse, inessential needs become like essential ones, and owing to the calamity of custom and tradition, people become addicted to them and cannot give them up. Such sustenance is not guaranteed by the Sustainer, so the obtaining of it is extremely expensive – especially at the present time. These unfruitful, inauspicious goods are obtained by first of all sacrificing one’s self-respect and accepting degradation, and sometimes stooping to what is in effect begging, kissing the feet of the vile, and sometimes sacrificing the sacred things of religion, which are the light of eternal life.
Also, at this time of poverty and hardship, the distress people with consciences feel at the anguish of the hungry and needy sours any pleasure to be had from unlawfully acquired money. As far as doubtful goods are concerned, one has to make do with them to the minimum degree necessary during strange times such as these. For according to the rule, “Necessity is determined according to its extent,” if compelled, illicit goods may be taken to the minimum degree necessary, not more. Someone in dire need may eat prohibited meat, but he may not eat his fill. He may eat enough only to remain alive. Also, one could not fully enjoy more than this in the presence of a hundred people who are hungry.
The following is a story showing that frugality is the cause of dignity and distinction:
One time, Khatim Tay, who was world-famous for his generosity, was giving a large banquet. Having given his guests a superfluity of presents, he went out to walk in the desert. There he saw a poor old man carrying a load of thorny bushes and plants on his back. The thorns were piercing his skin and making him bleed. Khatim said to him: “Khatim Tay is giving a large banquet and giving away gifts. Go there and you will be given five hundred kurush in return for your load worth five kurush.” The frugal old man replied: “I raise and carry this thorny load with my self-respect; I am not going to become obliged to Khatim Tay.” Later, they asked Khatim
See, al-Jurjani, Tarikh Jurjan, 366; al-Ghazali, al-Maqsad al-Asna, 85-6.