By By Husain Zakariyya Yawale.
“The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things), until ye visit the graves.”
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. All Praise is due to Allah! We praise Him and we seek help from Him. We ask forgiveness from Him. We repent to Him; and we seek refuge in Him from our evils and bad deeds. Anyone who is guided by Allah is indeed guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah, the Only One without any partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and final messenger to mankind. May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon His last and final Apostle, his Household, his companions and all his followers till the end of time.
It is an undeniable fact that money is an important and integral part of life since its creation. It has served man and will continue to make difference in his life; either bad or good. The ancient man understood it as a mere instrument of exchange for services and goods whenever the need for either or both arose. As time goes the essence of money became very sophisticated and complicated such that without access to it at the moment of wants or needs, life becomes meaningless. So, man had to put on extra time and energy to make sufficient money to off-set his liabilities and that of his immediate families; and in some cases for the distant ones also.
In Islam there are stipulated ways of making legitimate wealth. The essence of money making is not the ultimate at all where the end justifies the means. One must strive to access only legitimate or halal funds. That means it is not only what you do with your money that matters; how you get it get matters more.
The Shari’ah lays down clear principles that no individual is absolutely free to acquire or exploit wealth independently by drawing a line between what is lawful and unlawful. It is for Allah that owns the absolute right to draw this line and no none else. The Qur’an condemns the people of Midians, an ancient Arabian tribe for claiming to hold to unrestricted right to acquiring and expending wealth without recourse to the laid down principles expounded by the Shari’ah. Allah says:
“They said: “O Shu’aib! Does Thy (religion of) prayer command Thee that we leave off the worship which our fathers practised, or that we leave off doing what we like with our property? Truly, Thou art the one that forbeareth with faults and is right- minded!”[Hud: 87]
Though Islam allows ownership and administration of wealth by individuals, it is not without bounds and regulations. Every type of wealth must be administered in line with the stipulated laws both in the process of acquiring and administering it. There certain rights in one’s wealth which must be attended to. There are zakator annual dues, sadakat or occasional charity, rights of kith and kin, parental rights, and religious obligations. All these expenditures should be attended to by the rich.
In the not very distant past, people work very hard to earn legitimate wealth. When in the end they were able to do so, they prostrate to Allah in thankful to Him. Today, people have devised smarter ways of making huge wealth within a short period. When they eventually did, they indulge in sinful ways with impunity thinking that enjoyment is found in immorality!
In Islam, therefore, wealth is not an exclusive right of their owners with limitless freedom to expend it without resistance to gratification of one’s whims and desires. The wisdom is that both acquiring and expending of wealth are considered as acts of worship. This position has been strengthened by the original purpose of creation of man. The Qur’an says:
“I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me. No sustenance do I require of them, nor do I require that they should feed Me.”[az-Zariyat: 56-57]
Another verse that brings more the essence of creation is thus;
“Say: “Truly, My prayer and My service of sacrifice, My life and My death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds: No partner hath He: This am I commanded, and I am the first of those who bow to His will.”
Thus, you and your possessions are exclusive rights of Allah; for He is the Giver, the Provider and the Cherisher of every living thing on this earth and elsewhere.
Similarly, in Islam it is not how much you wealth you possess, but how you acquired and expend it. What concern Allah about one’s wealth are the means to its attainment and administration. The usual questions which should preoccupy a wealthy man’s instinct should be how he acquired it; was it in accordance with set rules and regulations of wealth acquisition in Islam or not? Secondly, how did hedisburse it; was it also in the same manner or otherwise? Thus, theprocesses of acquisition are as important as the processes of administering it. In fact, the rewards are the awe-inspiring, just as the punishmentgruelinglysevere!
In Islam also, the heaps of one’s wealth may not be basis for happiness or contentment. Happiness cannot be bought by money, nor contentment attained by the amount of one’s wealth! A wealthy is happier when he looks around him and sees many people happy as a result of his benevolence and generousity. The more a wealthy man puts smiles in the faces of his family, his friends, his neighbours and the community he resides, the more he enjoys his wealth. The more you touch the lives of poor people directly or indirectly the more you attain much scanty happiness and satisfaction. Thus, an idle wealth is a curse to its owner. It does not give him the joy that is usually associated with it.
In Islam, the amount of wealth is not an indication of God’s preference of a rich man over a less affluent. How many less prosperous men are happier than stingingly rich men and women? Everyday we read in the newspapers and television headlines of celebrities committing murders and homicides by hanging without any sensible justification. Their reasons generally are not unconnected to lack of happiness and contentment. The memories of Robin Williams a comedian and actor and an American fashion designer L’Wren Scott, committed suicide by hanging are still very fresh. While those of Lee Thompson Young a TV star and Don Cornelius the creator of the famous Soul Train show also shot himself in head! These and many famous rich men and women commit suicides despite their quantum of wealth and fame, is enough evidence that wealth is not synonyms with contentment and joyfulness! It is also not in-synch with the assumption that the more wealth you have, the happier you become! So the question; how much is enough to make one happy, still remains unsatisfactorily unanswered!
“Say: “In the bounty of Allah. and In His Mercy;In that let them rejoice”: that is better than the (wealth) They hoard.”[Yunus: 58]
Finally, may Allah in His infinite mercy grant us contentment with the little blessed sustenance we possess!