Narrated Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “The Hour will not be established till …the people compete with one another in constructing high buildings…” [Sahih Bukhari]
Thus, competing in the construction of tall buildings is one of the signs of the Day of Judgement. In a hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim, Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) told us that “you shall see barefoot, naked, penniless shepherds vying in constructing high buildings.” This hadith describes people who become rich all of a sudden and then build not for need but only in competition.
We see this today in the Gulf states, after the oil boom. People who had no money are now competing with one other in erecting tall buildings. They are competing in building taller and taller structures where there is no need to make such buildings, as there is a lot of space! It is not like Singapore or New York or Japan, where people had to build vertically for lack of space.
Building superfluous structures was one of the characteristics of the people of Aad, who were destroyed by Allah’s punishment. Prophet Huud (alaihis salam) questioned their building unnecessary monuments on top of mountains. But do we even question today what kind of “development” is happening? Or are we too busy gloating in this senseless competition with the Kuffar, that if they can build tall buildings, we can build taller?