Cut Your Coat According to Your Cloth

There is an Arab proverb that says:

عَلَى قَدْرِ الغِطَاءِ أَمُدُّ رِجْلَيَّ

I stretch my legs according to the size of the blanket


New Words

عَلَى
At, On or Towards.

قَدْرٌ
Size, Extent or Scope.

غِطَاءٌ
Safety, Cover or Case

مَدَّ
Stretch, Spread or Extend

رِجْلٌ
Leg or Foot


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Know Your Worth

The proverb “I stretch my legs according to the size of the blanket” means that the edges of the blanket are the limits for one to stretch their arms and legs when sleeping. If he overextends his legs past the edges of the blanket, his legs will be exposed to external factors like cold weather. On the other hand, if he avoids stretching them, he becomes inconvenienced and may not sleep comfortably.

Essentially, this proverb advises us to know our worth; do not fall short of or go beyond our capacity. This proverb is similar to the saying “cut your coat according to your cloth”. He who bites more than he can chew will soon fall into trouble and find himself in a difficult situation. This applies to planning, spending resources, and managing affairs.

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The Rewards of Knowing Our Limits

Shaykh Ibn Uthaimeen said; “When a man knows his limits, he submits to his Lord and knows he cannot do without Him. Likewise, he knows his status among the people; he does not look down on them or show arrogance towards anyone.”

With this, we see that the Islamic legislation is just. No one has been ordered to go beyond the scope of their capability. No one has been given burdens they cannot bear. Allah SWT has promised in the Quran:

يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ –

[Quran 2:185]

Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship.

An example of this in the Quran is where Allah, in His wisdom and mercy to His servants, says that one should spend according to his means and resources. The rich should not spend like the poor and the poor should not overburden themselves with more than they can handle. He then promises that after the hardship comes ease.

لِيُنفِقْ ذُو سَعَةٍ مِّن سَعَتِهِ ۖ وَمَن قُدِرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقُهُ فَلْيُنفِقْ مِمَّا آتَاهُ اللَّهُ ۚ لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا مَا آتَاهَا ۚ سَيَجْعَلُ اللَّهُ بَعْدَ عُسْرٍ يُسْرًا –

[Quran 65:7]

Let a man of wealth spend from his wealth, and he whose provision is restricted – let him spend from what Allah has given him. Allah does not charge a soul except [according to] what He has given it. Allah will bring about, after hardship, ease [i.e., relief].

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