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In Pursuit of Wealth

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By Umm Muslim Shayeda Miah

Wealth, a topic of great interest at the moment due to the recession and credit-crunch, is something that has troubled the children of Adam from the very beginning of creation. Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the messenger of Allah (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The son of Adam (i.e. man) grows old and so also two desires grow old with him; love for wealth and a wish for a long life.” [Bukhari : Book 8 : Volume 76 : Hadith 430] The question of how much wealth and property one owns, or how many of the luxuries and pleasures of the world one enjoys, have preoccupied the thoughts of each and everyone of us at one point or another in our lives. Wealth has been the cause of wars, the cause of suicide, the cause of marriages, and divorces, amongst many others. But what exactly is wealth?

Believers are troubled when they see that the wicked, the corrupt and the perpetrators of evil have whatever they wish for in terms of wealth and perceived power, whilst those who are virtuous, good and honest are deprived of it all. This can lead them to wonder, and often doubt, whether goodness, honesty and virtue have any real value, since they often go hand in hand with poverty and deprivation. Some may also think that Allah only gives in abundance to someone who enjoys a privileged position with Him. However, believers must always remember the corruptive nature of wealth and the fitna (trials) and evil that may accompany it. Allah (azza wa jal) warns the believers that: ‘Satan threatens you with poverty and bids you to conduct unseeingly. Allah promiseth you His forgiveness and bounties. And He careth for all and He knowth all things.’ {2:268} So we should always strive to maintain honesty and righteousness regardless of the corruption that surrounds us. We should never give into the temptations of this world nor the whisperings of Satan, as he is to mankind ‘an avowed enemy’. Believers must also remember that the best of creation, our beloved Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) lived in extreme poverty and suffered great material deprivation. Yet, he is the most beloved to Allah and will have the highest standing amongst the entire creation, in the Hereafter.

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The Qur’an separates the riches and luxuries of this world from the values which Allah approves of. It states that Allah grants wealth or poverty to whomever He wills, out of His mercy, and that it is not an indication of whether He is pleased or displeased with them. This is because often a person’s wealth, position and offspring can in fact be a trial and test for them. Allah says in the Qur‘an: ‘Your riches and your children may be a trial: whereas Allah, with Him is the highest reward. So fear Allah as much as ye can; listen and obey; and spend in charity for the benefit of your own souls. And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls, – they are the ones that achieve prosperity.’ {64:15-16}

Allah tests his servants with wealth and with poverty, and each will be rewarded or punished according to how they conduct themselves. On the Day of Judgment, a person will be asked about how he or she acquired their wealth and how they spent it, and will be judged on whether or not they were grateful to Allah for it. The wealthier a person is, the more responsibility that wealth carries. A person who is poor cannot be asked about how they acquired or spent their wealth if they did not posses any in the first place. Therefore, there is less chance that they will be punished for being ungrateful for the blessings bestowed upon them by Allah (azza wa jal). Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the messenger of Allah (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Anyone whom Allah has given wealth but he does not pay its Zakah, then, on the Day of Resurrection, his wealth will be presented to him in the shape of a bald-headed poisonous male snake with two poisonous glands in its mouth and it will encircle itself round his neck and bite him over his cheeks and say, “I am your wealth; I am your treasure.” Then the Prophet recited this Divine Verse:– “And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounty.” {3.180} [Bukhari : Book 6 : Volume 60 : Hadith 88]

The mercy and wisdom behind Allah (azza wa jal) withholding wealth from a person is explained in the following ayah, when Allah says: ‘If Allah were to enlarge the provision of His servants, they would indeed transgress beyond all bounds through the earth; but He sends it down in due measure as He pleases. For He is with His servants well acquainted, Watchful.’ {42:27} Allah clearly tells mankind that the reason that wealth has been withheld from some of them is because if they were to possess it, it would lead them to transgress the boundaries set by Allah. And ultimately lead to their destruction. It can be seen from the stories in the Qur’an that the people who posses power and privilege in the world, like Firawn and the mushrikin of Makkah, are the ones who reject the signs of Allah out of arrogance and are the most despised by Him. Wealth corrupts the soul of man because money opens the doors to fitna, which would otherwise remain closed. It also becomes a source of arrogance, one of the traits hated by Allah and the quality possessed by the worst of creation, Iblis.

Allah warns the believers that: ‘Certainly, We shall test you with fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits; but give glad tidings to those who persevere, – those who say, when a misfortune strikes them, “Surely to Allah we belong, and surely to Him we return;” these are the ones on whom blessings from their Lord descend, and mercy, and these are the ones who are rightly guided.’ {2:155-157} Thus, a true believer shows gratitude and thankfulness for the countless blessings bestowed on them by Allah and displays patience and submission during times of poverty and affliction. Those who are wealthy may enjoy their affluence in this life, however, they may be denied the wealth of the hereafter, which is far better and eternal.

Allah says: ‘To any that desires the tilth of the Hereafter, We give increase to his tilth; and to any that desires the tilth of this world, We grant somewhat thereof, but he has no share or lot in the Hereafter. {42:20}

True wealth is attained in the hereafter. ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Who among you considers the wealth of his heirs dearer to him than his own wealth?” They replied, “O Messenger of Allah! There is none among us but loves his own wealth more.” The Prophet said, “So his wealth is whatever he spends (in Allah’s Cause) during his life (on good deeds) while the wealth of his heirs is whatever he leaves after his death.” [Bukhari : Book 8 : Volume 76 : Hadith 449] It can be seen from this hadith that wealth is only beneficial to you if it is spent in the way of Allah, rather than hoarded. Because that which man leaves behind after death will not benefit him; unless it is pious offspring, religious knowledge or on-going charity. The money stored way in his bank account will not profit him in the least. Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that ‘While I was walking with the Prophet in the Harra of Medina, Uhud came in sight. The Prophet said, “O Abu Dharr!” I said, “Labbaik, O Messenger of Allah!” He said, “I would not like to have gold equal to this mountain of Uhud, unless nothing of it, not even a single dinar of it remains with me for more than three days, except something which I will keep for repaying debts. I would have spent all of it (distributed it) amongst Allah’s slaves like this, and like this, and like this.” The Prophet pointed out with his hand towards his right, his left and his back (while illustrating it). He proceeded with his walk and said, “The rich are in fact the poor (little rewarded) on the Day of Resurrection except those who spend their wealth like this, and like this, and like this, to their right, left and back, but such people are few in number.” [Bukhari : Book 8 : Volume 76 : Hadith 451]

The fitna that accompanies wealth also renders it harder for the wealthy to enter Paradise. The more wealth you have, the more responsibility and corruption accompanies it. Usama (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “I stood at the gate of Paradise and saw that the majority of the people who had entered it were poor people, while the rich were forbidden (to enter along with the poor, because they were waiting the reckoning of their accounts), but the people of the Fire had been ordered to be driven to the Fire. And I stood at the gate of the Fire and found that the majority of the people entering it were women.” [Bukhari : Book 8 : Volume 76 : Hadith 555] And ‘Amr bin ‘Auf (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘“By Allah, I am not afraid that you will become poor, but I am afraid that worldly wealth will be given to you in abundance as it was given to those (nations) before you, and you will start competing with each other for it as the previous nations competed for it, and then it will divert you (from good) as it diverted them.”’ [Bukhari : Book 8 : Volume 76 : Hadith 433 ]

The insatiable hunger which accompanies the hoarding of wealth diverts believers from their religious obligations towards Allah, because it increases their love of the world, which is fleeting, at the expense of the hereafter, which is enduring. The more people become obsessed with acquiring wealth in this world, the more they begin to love this world and the less likely they are to want to leave it. Acquiring money becomes the sole purpose of their lives, when it should be worshipping Allah, as Allah says in Surah Ad-Dhariyat: “I created not man and jinn, except to worship me.” However, for the lovers of wealth, the worship of Allah is replaced with the worship of money! Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No doubt, good produces nothing but good. Indeed it is like what grows on the banks of a stream which either kills or nearly kills the grazing animals because of gluttony except the vegetation-eating animal which eats till both its flanks are full (i.e. till it gets satisfied) and then stands in the sun and defecates and urinates and again starts grazing. This worldly property is sweet vegetation. How excellent the wealth of the believer is, if it is collected through legal means and is spent in Allah’s cause and on orphans, poor people and travelers. But he who does not take it legally is like an eater who eats but is never satisfied and his wealth will be a witness against him on the Day of Resurrection.” [Bukhari : Book 4 : Volume 52 : Hadith 95]

However, it can be seen from the above hadith that wealth, when acquired by permissible means and spent in the way of Allah, can be an immense blessing. Allah also says in the Qur’an that: ‘Those who (in charity) spend of their goods by day and night, in secret and in public, have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.’ {2:274} Many pious predecessors, such as Uthman bin Affan and Khalid bin Waleed, were wealthy and they successfully spent their wealth in the cause of Allah.

Ultimately our provisions are in the care of Allah (azza wa jal) who is the Most Beneficent, the Most Generous and the Most Loving. Our fate was written whilst we were still in the wombs of our mothers, so subhan’Allah there is no need for us to worry as whatever comes from Allah is the best for us. Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Allah has appointed an angel in the womb, and the angel says, ‘O Lord! A drop of discharge (i.e. of semen), O Lord! a clot, O Lord! a piece of flesh.’ And then, if Allah wishes to complete the child’s creation, the angel will say. ‘O Lord! A male or a female? O Lord! wretched or blessed (in religion)? What will his livelihood be? What will his age be?’ The angel writes all this while the child is in the womb of its mother.” [Bukhari : Book 4 : Volume 55 : Hadith 550]

The most important thing for a believer to remember is that we were created for the sole purpose of worshipping the Lord of Creation alone, and this life is just a means of testing our obedience and faith in Him. Whether we are granted abundant riches or severe poverty we must always strive to obey the commands of Allah (azza wa jal) and to fulfill our duties towards Him. A believer’s honour lies in Islam. The words of Allah (the Qur’an) and the Sunnah should be our guides, not the desires of the society surrounding us, which places great value on wealth and materialism. We are merely travelers in this world and we will soon move on. What we will take with us from this world will be our good deeds. They will be our wealth on the Day of Judgment and they are what we will be judged on. He whose deeds are heavy on the scale, will have succeeded and gained something that all the wealth of this world cannot buy, the pleasure of his Lord and eternal paradise.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. abu Abdullah

    June 3, 2010 at 2:33 AM

    excellent reminder. jazak Allah khayr.

    • daanish

      February 25, 2016 at 3:38 PM

      Salaam dear brother…

      With reference to this statment: A person who is poor cannot be asked about how they acquired or spent their wealth if they did not posses any in the first place. Therefore, there is less chance that they will be punished for being ungrateful for the blessings bestowed upon them by Allah (azza wa jal).

      Is this based in hypothesis or are there verses that support this?

      Also arent poor people obliged to seek wealth from Allah swt to fulfill their obligations? Are there not fitnas associated with being poor that could lead people who accept poverty without making dua for wealth to fulfill their responsibilities to danger in this world and hereafter?

    • Abu Dawd

      July 15, 2016 at 5:57 AM

      Reading this essay exemplifies to be Muslim to be poor!

      What a nonsense?

  2. stuckbetweentwoworlds

    June 3, 2010 at 5:53 AM

    reading this was so soothing. Ive lived overseas with my family for two years, and its become so distressing for me to see the extreme juxtaposition of the different social classes.

    and in all honesty, I am SO GLAD that Allah has saved the world from the absolutely pathetic akhlaq of the muslim nation as a whole. not saying there arent awesome ppl living overseas in the muslim world. its just the system obviously does not work. and the system is full of ppl who are corrupt.

    the average muslim overseas seems to judge other based on their status/wealth alone. maybe i’m naive but i dont see that hapening so badly in the US. alot of ppl do indeed believe in being just towards others.

    Allah knows best.

  3. Mezba

    June 3, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    VERY unbalanced article. You dwelt on the trials of wealth without mentioning its benefits. I could not find a single mention of Usman – the third Caliph of Islam – who was also called Usman ‘Ghani’ (meaning “rich”).

    There are many hadith (one which I remember but not the exact wording) where the Prophet said being poor is one of the greatest trials of man, and a believer should try not to be poor as the upper hand is better (and the giver is in a better position than the receiver of aid) and so on.

    A little bit research into those would have shown that Islam has nothing against wealth, and indeed WANTS Muslims to be wealthy. It’s just that like all things, we have certain dos and don’ts with wealth.

    Your article paints a picture that to be wealthy is bad, with hardly any balance. That is not Islam.

    • Abd- Allah

      June 3, 2010 at 8:01 PM

      I could not find a single mention of Usman…

      Mezba, you obviously did not read the entire article before wrongly criticizing the article. Uthman may Allah be pleased with him was mentioned in the article, and the article is in fact a good compilation from the Quran and authentic sunnah (Bukhari!). It was balanced and mentioned that wealth acquired through permissible means and spent in the cause of Allah is something praiseworthy, while also pointing out the fitna and corruption that usually accompanies wealth.

      As for what you are referring to about the upper hand being better than the lower hand, then that is talking about a different subject altogether. The article talked about wealth, whereas those other ahadith which you were referring to talk about working to support yourself and not relying on anyone else or asking them for financial assistance. In no way did the article say or imply that we should not work to support ourselves and provide for our families. Hoarding wealth and worldly possessions is different than working to provide for yourself and family instead of depending on others to support you. The other thing is that greed for wealth and making it a priority before your deen and other obligations and going after the worldly matters while neglecting the hereafter is what is this article is talking about.

      The Prophet peace be upon him said:

      “Two hungry wolves descending upon a flock of sheep do not cause as much destruction as the greed of wealth and status do to a man’s religion.” (at-Tirmidhi; graded as saheeh by al- Albani)

      “If you love me, then prepare yourself for poverty. Poverty comes swifter to the one who loves me than a flood to its destination.” (at-Tirmidhi; graded as saheeh by al- Albani)

      “The poor will enter Paradise five hundred years before the rich.” (at-Tirmidhi; graded as saheeh by al- Albani)

  4. Mezba

    June 4, 2010 at 8:37 AM

    The article glamourizes being poor.

    However, it can be seen from the above hadith that wealth, when acquired by permissible means and spent in the way of Allah, can be an immense blessing. Allah also says in the Qur’an that: ‘Those who (in charity) spend of their goods by day and night, in secret and in public, have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.’ {2:274} Many pious predecessors, such as Uthman bin Affan and Khalid bin Waleed, were wealthy and they successfully spent their wealth in the cause of Allah.

    This whole paragraph does nothing to balance the article whose main thrust is that be poor and that is the Islamic way. Perhaps you should write an article on how to be rich AND go to heaven. Only then will I consider the article to be balanced.

    • Abd- Allah

      June 5, 2010 at 2:54 AM

      So far brother Mezba, you haven’t provided a single verse or authentic hadith that supports your claims, not to mention that you have completely ignored the ahadith that have been mentioned and you did not address them at all. Why don’t you write “an article on how to be rich AND go to heaven” ? I’m sure MM wouldn’t mind posting it, and I’ll be waiting to see what you have to present, with proof of course from the Quran and authentic sunnah.

      • Khushnood

        December 12, 2014 at 5:41 PM

        When muslims were conquering lands they were acquiring wealth that were being distributed and or used for other projects like building stronger army, schools , hospitals etc. What is wrong is failing to pass wealth on to other people. It could be in the form of helping other businesses, constructing schools, hospitals etc. If you wont acquire wealth than those who do will dominate you( eg non-muslims) and would not let you practice your religion. Islam encourages you to spend your wealth in helping others ( like providing money for other muslim entrepreneur) which is good for overall Islamic economy.

        Islam does not say ” Do not acquire wealth”. What it says is “do not hold on to wealth”. Use it for other projects including starting new business thus creating jobs etc

        *Name has been changed to comply to our Comments Policy*

    • aftan

      August 30, 2015 at 2:16 PM

      Almost majority of articles that deals with wealth in islam , inherently believes that all the wealthy people are going to be using their wealth for immoral aspirations. Also , such articles inherently believe that all the poors are by default good people , they will have not to worry much about being asked in hereafter.

      But as a matter of fact, the people who are poor does similar or even heinous crimes than wealthy people for just a small amount of money, In poor countries, like south asians and afrikans, muslim parents selling their kids for a petty cash in not uncommon. Women getting involved in prostitution, killing/ murdering innocent people for just a small amount of cash is also common. y can’t you guy’z see that the root of all such evil is just a lack of wealth/ money OR in broader sense poverty.

      We need to come out of this believe that “The root of all evil is money.”
      The root of many evil is poverty. Infact most of the evils in today’s world are arising from poverty.

      And above all else,
      The money is just a means , like any other object, , you can use it for your own good or bad.
      there are people who use verses of quran for their own benefit, Does quran becomes bad for them? , NO.
      Quran is a means to reach to allah , it s message from the one who created us. But there are people who have used even this enlightening book for the immoral reasons.

      So what we really need is ,ways to how to be wealthy, generate prosperity for mankind, use it for goodness of our ownself, our family , our community, our country and the entire mankind and still aim of jannah in akhirah.
      Who can get us such topic researched?

    • Taqui Uz Zama

      October 26, 2016 at 8:05 AM

      abd allah..you are taking the hadith in a wrong direction I accept that who should earn HALAL earnings..but it doesnt say that you should not earn..
      Himself Rasool Allah (PBUH) have a source of income and UMAR (R.A) and the others……and ALl the above hadeth says that A momin should not concentrate on earning else he should focus on iman and Taqwa also…….DONT ACT AS A STUDENT OF IMAM BUKHARI

  5. Abu Marjaan

    June 6, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    Jazaakallah khairan for the gentle reminder

  6. Pingback: [dhikrullah.com] – Reminding because it benefits the believers! » In Pursuit of Wealth

  7. Abdul Kadir

    May 16, 2018 at 3:27 AM

    A Muslim should keep Allah in his heart and world in his hand. No poor Muslim can help his family, his religion flourish.

    One video deserves watching.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzcHokuCgYI

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