Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, in his well-known book, The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam, states: “Islam has prohibited the use of gold and silver utensils, and of pure silk spreads in the Muslim house. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) warned that anyone who deviates from this path may incur severe punishment in the Hereafter. On the authority of Umm Salmah, Muslim reported in his Sahih the Prophet’s saying, “Whoever eats or drinks from gold or silver utensils is indeed filing his stomach with the fire of hell.”
Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of al-Hudhayfah: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) forbade us to drink or eat from gold or silver dishes or to wear silken garments or to sit on silken cloth. He said, ‘They are for them (the unbelievers) in this world and for us in the Hereafter.’ Moreover, what is prohibited for practical use is also forbidden to be given as a gift or used as an ornament.
These prohibitions concerning utensils, spreads, and similar articles apply to men and women alike, for the purpose of this legislation is to rid the house of excessively luxurious items. Ibn Qudamah expresses this idea in clear terms as follows:
Men and women are equal in this regard because of the generality of the hadith, and because the reason for this prohibition is the show of extravagance and pride on the one hand and the injury to the feelings of the poor on the other. The wearing of gold and silk has been permitted to women so that they may beautify themselves for their husbands; this is an exemption which does not extend to other uses. If it is said, ‘If the reason you have stated is correct, then utensils made of rubies and other precious materials would also have been prohibited because they are more expensive (than gold and silver)’ to this we reply, ‘The poor are not familiar with such things, and their feelings will not be injured even if they see the rich using them.’ Moreover, the rarity of such things in itself makes their use prohibitive, and hence the need for prohibiting them on the basis of extravagance becomes superfluous. (Al-Mughni, vol. 8, p. 323)
Earlier we mentioned the economic reasons for prohibiting the use of gold ornaments for men. In the present case this reason is even wei
ghtier and more obvious. Gold and silver are universal monetary standards which facilitate the establishing of prices and the carrying out of transactions between nations, thus promoting trade and commerce. It is Allah’s favor that He guided people to use them as a means of exchange. The proper economic usage of gold and silver, then, is their free circulation; they are not to be hoarded in houses as coins or, worse yet, to be tied up in household articles and ornamental objects.
Imam al-Ghazzali has beautifully enunciated this point in the chapter entitled “Al-Shukr” (Thankfulness) in his book, Ihya’ `Ulum ad-Din, in the following manner:
Anyone who melts down gold and silver coins to make vases and containers is ungrateful for Allah’s bounty and is worse than the one who hoards them. It is like using the mayor of a city for sweeping its streets or for sewing garments, or to do jobs which are normally carried out by the lowliest of people. To imprison him would be less insulting. Now, materials such as porcelain, iron, lead, and copper can replace gold and silver for making vases and containers, but they cannot replace them as money or as standards of exchange. If a person cannot grasp this point (through his own reasoning and knowledge), we would tell him that the spokesman of Allah has explained it: “Whoever eats or drinks from gold or silver utensils is indeed filling his stomach with the fire of hell.” (Ihya `Ulum ad-Din. see vol. 4, Thanksgiving and Praise)
Let no one suppose that this prohibition constitutes a severe restriction on the Muslim in his own home, for among wholesome and permissible things there is a great variety from which to choose. What beautiful vases, containers, and pots have been made of glass; porcelain, copper, and many other materials! Likewise, bedspreads, cushions, and tablecloths of great beauty are fabricated from
cotton, linen, and various other materials.”