Friday, 11 May 2007

Some Differences Between Knowledge & Money


Even from the first moments after birth, a child begins to learn. Some children speak at the age of two and some; well before. But how does a baby learn when it doesn't know the difference between right and wrong?

Knowledge is not only gained by mentally assigning yourself, but it is also gained through features given by Allah SWT e.g. the eyes and the ears, just to name a few priceless bounties. The correct use of these blessings is to thank Allah SWT for them.

Most of us know that knowledge is something very good. But how important exactly is knowledge ?

In a Hadith it states:

"It is compulsory on every Muslim (male or female) to seek (religious) knowledge."

This Hadith clarifies that to seek and obtain knowledge is compulsory for every Muslim, but what knowledge is regarded here?

People who can afford to study, complete their studies finishing with PhDs and Masters in particular subjects, the Hadith states, "on every Muslim".

What will be the difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim if we all acquire the same knowledge? The emphasis on, "on every Muslim" - in this Hadith indicates knowledge specific to a Muslim, which infers the Deen of Allah SWT.


Every human being needs food, requires shelter, clothing etc. Each person must earn in order to fulfil their necessities.

It is clear that humans need to earn for their necessities, but what is the difference between a Muslims earnings and a non-Muslims earnings? Muslims know that they have to earn money the Halal Way - that is, they have to work rightly for their living; they must not steal, deceive or work in such a manner wherein the rules of Islam are broken; for example - Muslims are not allowed to work in pubs, nightclubs, or gambling centres.

Also, once the earner has earned enough money to match the requirements of Zakat - then he/she must pay his Zakat, which is also compulsory if the conditions are met.


The differences - as listed below - are mentioned by our Pious Predecessors RA and generally explain the difference between those who run after money and neglect Deen, as compared to those who spend their lives in the path of Allah SWT, only for Allah's pleasure.

Once a person came to Saiyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib RA and asked him:

"What shall I gain; knowledge or wealth?"

Saiyidina Ali RA answered:

"Gain knowledge because it is more beneficial than gaining wealth."

The person then asked for some benefits of gaining knowledge over wealth.

Saiyidina Ali RA replied:

- Knowledge is the inheritance of the Prophets (AS), and wealth is the inheritance of Fir'aun and Qarun;

- The more knowledge you gain, the more beloved you become in the eyes of people and the more wealth you gain, the more people hate you out of jealousy;

- As time passes, the value of money decreases and the value of knowledge increases;

- Wealth needs to be looked after, whereas knowledge protects you;

- You will always fear the theft of money, but knowledge cannot be stolen from the heart;

- On the Day of Judgement, Allah Ta'ala will ask you two questions regarding your wealth - "how it was earned" and "how it was spent". These are two separate questions regarding wealth whereas one question regarding knowledge will be asked - "how much you acted upon it";

- Knowledge helps you gain money but money cannot buy you knowledge;

- Excess money brings pride;

Once Muhammad Shafi'i RA questioned his students:

"What is the meaning of knowledge?"

One of them replied:

"It is to know."

Another student said:

"It is 'to recognise'."

Like this the other students said different things they thought knowledge meant.

Muhammad Shafi'i RA remained in disappointment to the answers he received from his students.

After some time, a student asked Muhammad Shafi'i RA what he recalled the meaning of knowledge.

He replied:

"Knowledge is that light, which once it is gained; you cannot resist acting upon it, and until you don't act upon it; you are not content. This is the meaning of knowledge, or else knowledge is a burden."

The difference between people who run after money and those who go in the Path of Allah SWT and gain his knowledge is briefly explained above.

The moral of this topic of discussion is not so that one stops earning so that he may gain knowledge, as to earn for one's family is equally as important. The main point is to recognise that excess money could ruin us in this world, and in the next. Also, if we can take some time out and study the Deen of Allah SWT, then Inshallah it will be of great benefit in both Worlds.

The thing is - what will we do with all that excess money earned? After we die, it is going to be inherited by others or perhaps the State in the form of Inheritance Tax. How will this benefit us and help us in the Hereafter? Whereas the knowledge we earn will help us to pass this life peacefully and help us in our Afterlife whilst answering the Angels etc. The truth about wealth is - those who has wealth can make their Hereafter good, by spending it in the correct manner; by helping the poor and giving it wherever it is needed most in the world through reputable Islamic Charities. You are part of the Ummah and people are in need. This is how wealth should be spent.

Unfortunately people earn so much wealth and by just giving a drop or two from their wealth to the Ummah, they already think that they have fulfilled the right of the poor and needy. Many of the same people also say that they should only give what they feel sincere about. This is literally true. But let us remember - for Haraam things committed - there will be Azab (Punishment) from Allah SWT; and for Halal things we earm - there will be Hisab (Reckoning) from Allah SWT. Reckoning on the Day of Judgement is one thing that shreds the rich to pieces. This is why we hear from hadith that the majority of the inmates of Paradise are poor people.

Ikhlas and sincerity is not obtained by giving only what we feel comfortable with. Ikhlas is obtained with Istiqamah (persistency), Istighfar (beseeching forgiveness from Allah SWT) and doing good things which we find ourselves reluctant, but we still perform it - only for Allah's pleasure.

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