3(e) Consumption Behaviour

The Islamic injunctions on food and the order of priority in consumption should provide us some interesting insights to understand the nature of consumer’s behavior in Islam. In course of analyzing the consumer’s behavior one may take a narrow and static view by saying that consumer’s behavior in an Islamic society is to be guided strictly by the list of prohibited items (i.e. eating pork meat, drinking wine, wearing silken dress and gold ring for men, etc.). While the prohibited items have definite validity in the Shari’ah and Muslim consumers must not indulge in consumption of such prohibited items for social discipline, Islamic unity and spiritual significance, the author is however inclined to take a wider view of consumer’s behavior. To me, the key to its understanding lies not merely in prohibited items but in the concept of “moderation” in consumption guided by the altruistic behavior of Muslim consumer. What is needed then is to determine whether the current consumption level in a community is below or above the moderation level. In the context of present Muslim societies, it would be naive to assume that Islamic stress on moderation means lowering the level of already low level of consumption.
Consumption is essentially a positive concept in Islam. The prohibitions and injunctions concerning food and drinks should be seen as a part of the efforts to improve the quality of consumption behavior. By discouraging wasteful and unnecessary consumption expenditure, Islam stresses on the altruistic behavior on the part of the consumer. Moderation in consumption behavior comes then as a logical outcome of Islamic consumption style which is relative and dynamic in nature.