Thursday, 24 May 2007

Is It Okay To Be Wealthy ? - Part II

Let us expand this discussion, InshaAllah. Hopefully the first post has helped us to realign our thoughts, and inculcate eagerness in ourselves to learn how to perform things correctly; and live our lives correctly, InshaAllah.

The Income and Expenditure of a True Muslim

Ways and means of income, earning one's livelihood and spending such income should conform with the Shari'ah.

Abdullah ibn Mas'ud RA narrates that Rasulullah SAW said:

"On the Day of Qiyamah no one will be able to move (on the occasion of the Hisab / Reckoning) until a reckoning of five things has been taken..." (Riwayat Tirmidhi)

Among the 'five things' mentioned in the above Hadith, two questions pertain to income and expenditure.

One will be asked:

"How did you earn your living and how did you spend your income?"

Earnings and expenses are also matters controlled and regulated by the Deen. Thus, in this aspect too, there should be no contraventions of the Shari'ah. Income must not be derived by unlawful means e.g. riba, dealing in unlawful items, usurping the rights of others, cheating, defrauding, withholding the inheritance of any one, etc.

Many people violate the Shari'ah Laws of Inheritance and deprive the rightful heirs of their Islamic share of the inheritance. In this way the usurpers add to their income, what is Haraam and what does not belong to them.

Ignoring More Important Things

Among the ways of earning which conflict with the Deen, is to become so intensively involved in trade and commerce, to such an extent that even Solat is neglected, Akhirah is forgotten, Zakat is not discharged, Hajj is not performed, and no time remains for one to acquire the essential teachings of the Deen.

One should not become so involved that there remains no time to sit in the company of the scholars and the pious, and to learn from them the essentials of the Deen. Association with the pious is an important requirement for the spiritual progress of a Muslim. This facet of live should, therefore, never be neglected.

Correct Spending and Wrong Spending

Income should not be expended in such ways, avenues and practices which are condemned by Deen. Extravagance, spending in customs which have no sanction in the Shari'ah, spending for the sake of gaining name, spending in unnecessary luxuries - luxuries which are far in excess of one's needs, etc. are all evil ways which bring about ruin in both mundane and spiritual life.

What Are The Core Rules for Accummulating Wealth ?

There is nothing wrong with earning and accumulating wealth provided that one abstains from extravagance, Haraam and all ways and means unlawful in Islam. Wealth should be used constructively for one's own benefit as well as for the benefit of others and for rendering service to Deen. There are a variety of Deeni activities which require wealth. Therefore, a man of wealth can obtain great reward by earning and employing wealth in accordance with the Shari'ah. Aiding the poor and needy, contributing to Deeni projects such as mosques, madrasahs, works of da'wah and tabligh, etc. are wonderful channels in which to employ wealth and thereby build up one's capital in the Akhirah.

Abdullah RA narrates that Rasulullah SAW said:

"The seeking of a Halal earning is the (next) Fardh (obligatory duty) after the Fardh (Solat)." (Riwayat Baihaqi)

Abu Khimari RA narrates a lengthy Hadith in which Rasulullah SAW said:

"The world is for four (types) of persons. (One among the four) is a man whom Allah granted wealth as well as understanding of the Deen. He fears his Rabb and is kind (and renders service) to his relatives. And, in regard to the wealth he follows the commands of Allah and discharges rights. The man is the noblest..." (Riwayat Tirmidhi)

Abu Saeed RA narrates a lengthy Hadith, whereby Rasulullah SAW said:

"Wealth is an object of pleasure. Wealth acquired in a rightful way (in accordance with the Shari'ah) and spent in a rightful way will be an aid for its owner." (Riwayat Bukhari & Muslim)

Amr ibn Al-Aas RA narrates that Rasulullah SAW said:

"Wholesome (pure) wealth for a noble person is good." (Riwayat Ahmad ibn Hanbal)


According to Sufyaan Thauri RA, wealth during the time of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad SAW was not preferable since their hearts were ennobled with strong Imaan. Since they possessed a very strong Imaan there was no need for them to seek strength and confidence in wealth. In view of the evils normally attendant to wealth, the Sahabah RA and the early Muslims refrained from its acquisition.

However, now wealth has become the shield of a Mu'min. Since Imaan is no longer as strong as it was during former times, poverty creates worry and frustration in people. The result is deterioration in the worldly and spiritual conditions of Muslims as they no longer are able to stand up to the rigours of poverty, they compromise their Deen for worldly comforts.

If we did not have wealth, the wealthy worldly people (those puffed up with pride) would have despised us, held us in contempt and trampled over us in any way they wished. Thus, whoever is in possession of wealth should increase it and not squander it because in this age the first thing which win suffer in the event of poverty and want is one's Deen. Since people, on account of weakness of Imaan, are no longer capable of enduring the rigours of poverty, they compromise their Deen for worldly comforts.


Thus, collaborating with the previous paragraphs - a true wealthy pious slave of Allah will have immense wealth but will fully use this wealth for the purpose of Deen. He will not use this wealth for extravagance and needless wants and desires. He himself will live simple but will toil to obtain wealth for the service of Deen, and he will not ignore his Deeni obligations as well as give substantial time to learn and improve his Deeni knowledge and practices. In short, everything that he has earned and spent will go through an honourable Hisaab (reckoning) on the Day of Judgement. Such people are of the likes of Uthman bin Affan RA, Talha bin Ubaidullah RA, Abdurrahman bin Auf RA and Umar bin Abdul Aziz RA.

Acquiring Excellent and Noble Qualities Of Wealthy Muslims

Abu Saeed RA narrates that Rasulullah SAW said:

"An honest and upright trader will be with the Ambiya, Siddiqeen and Shuhadaa (on the Day of Qiyamah)." (Riwayat Tirmidhi)

The great significance of lawful trade is stated in this Hadith. The lawful trader who is honest and upright will enjoy the association of the Ambiya, Saints and Martyrs in the Hereafter.

Lawful Earning & The Nobility of Manual Works

Miqdam bin Ma'di Karuba RA narrates that Rasulullah SAW said:

"The noblest food ate by one is that from his (lawful) labour. (The prophet) Dawud (AS) ate from the labour of his hands." (Riwayat Bukhari)

Islam teaches the nobility and dignity of work and labour. The Ahadith explain much significance of labour. the Prophet Dawud AS earned his living by making armour. However, this significance applies to only such occupations which are in accordance with the teachings of Shari'ah. Haraam forms of labour and occupations, are Haraam forms of earning. The proceeds from unlawful occupations are likewise unlawful.

Abu Hurairah RA narrates that Rasulullah SAW said:

"There was not a Nabi who was not sent as a shepherd."

The Sahabah RA asked:

"You also tended to sheep?"

Rasulullah SAW replied:

"I tended the goats of the people of Makkah." (Riwayat Bukhari)

This Hadith too asserts the significance of manual labour.

The Prophets AS were shepherds who would look after the sheep and goats of people. The Prophet Musa AS remained a shepherd, and tended the goats and sheep of The Prophet Shu'aib AS for eight or ten years. (Riwayat Ahmad & Ibn Majah)

The episode of Musa AS being a shepherd is narrated in the Holy Qur'an as well. This again brings out the significance of manual labour.

Hiring Land

Thaabit ibn Dhuhak RA narrates that Rasulullah SAW permitted hiring out of land. Income derived from land and property hiring is also a lawful occupation in Islam as this Hadith indicates.


Among the noble ways of earning is farming. Much significance of farming has been mentioned in Ahadith. Anas bin Malik RA narrates that Rasullah SAW said that if any man, animal or bird eats from any tree or farm planted by a Muslim, its owner obtains the reward of Sadaqah thereby.

Not Expecting From Others

Anas bin Malik RA narrating a lengthy Hadith says that a man from among the Ansar came to Rasulullah SAW and requested something. Rasulullah SAW sent someone to bring a mug and a mat from one house. These items RasuluHah SAW auctioned among the Sahabah RA. With the money obtained for the items Rasulullah SAW bought some food and an axe. Giving these to the Ansari, Rasulullah (SAW) said: "Go (to the forest), cut wood and see it. This is better for you than begging which will be a blot of disgrace on your face (on the Day of Qiyamah)." (Riwayat Abu Dawud & Ibn Majah)

This Hadith establishes that a lawful occupation, no matter how menial and inferior, is better than begging.

Abdullah ibn Umar RA narrates that Rasulullah SAW said:

"Allah Ta'ala loves a Mu'min who engages himself in lawful means of earning a living." (Riwayat Tabrani & Baihaqi)

Saving Money

It is a person's own interests that he saves up some money to ward off worry and despondency. It is a fact that most people are not able to undergo hardship. When in need of money, they resort to practices which are unlawful and adopt Haraam measures to obtain money in order to satisfy their needs. It is therefore necessary to abstain from waste and at the same time save up money. According to a Hadith, even Rasulullah SAW would give his wives expenses at one time for the whole year. Rasulullah SAW also advised the Sahabah RA to retain some wealth as this is better for peace of mind. This was specifically stated by Rasulullah SAW to Ka'ab Ibn Malik (RA) who had expressed his desire to contribute all his wealth in the path of Allah Ta'ala.

Islam Detests Being Lazy

In one Hadith, Abdullah ibn Mas'ud RA narrates that Rasulullah SAW said:

"I detest a man who is useless. He is neither engaged in any worldly activity nor any Akhirah activity." (Riwayat Ahmad & Baihaqi)

Indolence and inactivity are detestable attributes. A man who is not engaged in Deeni work should involve himself in some lawful worldly activity and earn his livelihood. He should not remain idle and waste away his life. On the other hand, those fully involved in Deeni activities, should repose their trust in Allah Ta'ala. He is the Provider. He will most certainly provide for them. Workers of the Deen should not in the least be worried in regard to their Rizq.


Extravagance or waste is evil. The Shari'ah prohibits waste.

Allah Ta'ala states in the Holy Qur'an:

"Do not waste. Verily, the wasters are the brothers of Shaytaan."

How do we define extravagance? Let's take the case of a man who has many books. He has so many books that he needs to buy a shelf. He then visits the furniture shop and sees the various types of shelves in display. There is a cheap one that looks of low quality, there is a sturdy one which is quite expensive, and there is another sturdy one which has been minted with glossy decarations and an array of elaborate timber art. The posh shelf is twice more expensive than the sturdy one. Thus - if that man buys for the reason of quality, then the first sturdy shelf would not be regarded as being extravagant. But paying double just for artistic value would be extravagance, as that money could be used for charitable Islamic causes.

There may be people who may argue that the third shelf is also permissible to buy; and yes, indeed we will not argue on this point; but the reckoning will be more severe in the Hereafter. Those who are endowed with the conscience of what he will have to endure on the Day of Judgement will not risk the unnecessary for endless bliss in Paradise. A simple rule of thumb to adhere to in our lives is to be ever-conscious that- for Haraam things, there will be Azab (punishment); and for Halal things, there will be Hisab (reckoning).

Moderation - The Middle Route - The Easy Route

In the strife for piety, many Muslims find it difficult to define what is best for them. Sometimes, it may get so confusing that people see things in one extreme or the other.

The Companions RA of the Prophet Muhammad SAW - Anas Abu Umamah RA, Ibn Abbas RA and Ali RA narrate that Rasulullah SAW said:

"Walk along the middle path."

This means the adoption of moderation. Moderation in spending is the instruction of Islam. Spend only when necessary. If people are moderate in expenditure and abstain from extravagance, they will never be dependent on others. They will not be forced to ask others, thereby bringing disgrace upon themselves. Overspending and carelessness towards budgeting one's income lead to debt which in turns brings disgrace, worry and frustration. People are financially ruined and along with such worldly ruin comes spiritual ruin as well.

Among the worst of calamities is debt, especially if one has no means of paying the debts. Rasulullah SAW has sounded dire warnings in regard to unpaid debt. Even martyrdom is no absolution for debt. A Shaheed (martyr) will be forgiven of all his sins, but his debts will still remain. Debt will be demanded even in the Akhirah.

In this regard, Rasulullah SAW said:

"I take oath by That Being in Whose possession is my life - that the man who is in debt will not enter Jannah (Paradise) even if he is martyred (in the Path of Allah); then is resurrected and again martyred; then again is resurrected and again martyred. He will not enter (Jannah) until his debt is paid." (As narrated by Targheeb, Nimbi, Tabrani and Hakim)

However, there are exceptions.

If the debt was incurred on account of a real need and one has the intention of paying and at the same tone makes effort to pay, then the warning stated in the above Hadith will not apply to such debt. In such cases, even if the debt remained unpaid Allah Ta'ala will settle the rights of the creditors on behalf of the sincere debtor who was genuinely unable to pay.

So to conclude:

1. Wealth acquired lawfully and spent in accordance with the Shari'ah is indeed a bounty from Allah Almighty.

2. Wealth becomes an evil when it is acquired and expended in contravention of the Shari'ah.

3. When wealth (including wives and children) impedes one's spiritual development and interfere with one's Deeni life, then indeed - wealth will be an evil.

4. A Mu'min should make use of the bounties of Allah Ta'ala like an obedient slave who follows the order of his Master; and not like a hedonist, whose aim in life is only to satisfy his desires and wants.

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