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In the world of great economic recession and thriving business fields, wealth is a topic that has aggravated the son of Adam with immense force. While many individuals are anxious about earning livelihood and supporting their families, there is also a group of people who have no clue how to spend the wealth they have been blessed with. This ironic contrast can be evened out by the Islamic values, if followed appropriately – the two sides could draw closer, enriching the society with peace and brotherhood envisioned by the Prophet (sa). Moreover, the Quran has repeatedly asked the believers to spend in the way of Allah (swt), because this worldly wealth is only temporary. Likewise, the Quran advises to gather those deeds which would assist us in hereafter.
“O you who believe! Spend of that which We have provided for you, before a Day comes when there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession. And it is the disbelievers who are the Zalimun.” (Al-Baqarah 2:254)
Where and on Whom to Spend?
Many Muslims believe that paying Zakah lifts from them the responsibility for whatever goes on in the society. Zakah is indeed an obligatory act, but its payment does not expiate the liability off the rich elite because they possess the power to bring change – they should deal with the deprivation of the poor. Allah (swt) has also asked the believers to spend whatever is beyond their needs, as mentioned in the following verse:
“And they ask you what they ought to spend. Say: That which is beyond your needs. Thus Allah makes clear to you His laws, in order that you may give thought.” (Al-Baqarah 2:219)
Therefore, what is left after meeting one’s needs has to be used up in the path of Allah (swt).
Spending in the way of Allah (swt) or Infaq fee Sabeelillah could be carried out in a variety of ways. A rich Muslim’s Dunya must be marked with deliberate attempts to help people whose impoverishment could be scaled down. Likewise, one can also become involved with Dawah organizations or maybe enable a person (who cannot afford it physically or financially) to perform Hajj.
Abu Qatadah (rtam) related that the Prophet (sa) said: “If anyone would like Allah (swt) to save him from the hardships of the Day of Resurrection, he should give more time to his debtor, who is short of money, or remit his debt altogether.” (Muslim)
Islamic teachings strictly ban hoarding: “O you who believe! Verily, there are many of the (Jewish) rabbis and the (Christian) monks who devour the wealth of mankind in falsehood, and hinder (them) from the Way of Allah (i.e. Allah’s Religion of Islamic Monotheism). And those who hoard up gold and silver [Al-Kanz: the money, the Zakat of which has not been paid], and spend it not in the Way of Allah, announce unto them a painful torment.” (At-Taubah 9:34)
A person bestowed with wealth has to go through thorny bushes throughout his or her life, because the Fitnah that accompanies this blessing is also quite astronomic. Allah (swt) foretells the believers the following: “Your wealth and your children are only a trial, whereas Allah! With Him is a great reward (Paradise). So keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can; listen and obey; and spend in charity, that is better for yourselves. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, then they are the successful ones.” (Al-Taghabun 64:15-16)
A rich person may undermine the value of virtuous deeds because of the temptations and apprehensive feelings provided by the wealth. As Allah (swt) has warned the Muslims: “Shaitan (Satan) threatens you with poverty and orders you to commit Fahsha (evil deeds, illegal sexual intercourse, sins etc.); whereas Allah promises you Forgiveness from Himself and Bounty, and Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.” (Al-Baqarah 2:268)
It is up to the believer to distinguish the whisperings of Satan from the values provided by the Deen and follow what is morally right. Satan is to the mankind an “avowed enemy”, and one must not slip into his trap out of blindness. This could be done by maintaining a close and true relationship with the word of Allah (swt) and following the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa), who lived in great material deprivation and yet enjoys the highest standing before Allah (swt).
The Way of Life
Amr bin Auf (rtam) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sa) 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) This Hadeeth provides an excellent reflection of the insatiable hunger that accompanies wealth and eventually overtakes the heart.
In today’s society, the rich elite are busy competing with each other in numerous fancy affairs. Their issues are far removed from the problems of ordinary people and, at times, may seem quite absurd, such as queuing up for an extravagant designer lawn. It seems a part of our nation is suffering from the loss of shelter due to floods, while another is indulging in frivolous matters, totally unaware of the hardships others go through.
Amr ibn Shuaib (rtam) on his father’s authority said that his grandfather related that the Prophet (sa) said: “When you eat, drink, give charity, and wear clothes, let no extravagance or pride be mixed up with what you do.” (Ibn Majah and Nasai)
To sum up, the life of rich Muslims has to be marked with the colours of faith, as their accountability will be stricter. They have to ensure that they spend in an appropriate manner, providing for the basic necessities of all the people around them. They have to make an optimum use of all their resources, including health and time. The magnitude of what they do in this world will be witnessed in the hereafter.