Being a Muslim, we constantly strive to achieve the pinnacle of spiritual consciousness and devotion needed for us to be able to set foot into the Heavenly realms we aspire to reach. However, no one can deny the use of material things needed in this world in order to sustain ourselves and the means through which these material gains can be attained; essentially money and wealth. So one does wonder, seeing as how Islam is a complete way of life, what’re the Islamic teachings regarding the whole concept of earning and spending money?
Here, one needs to be conscious of the fact that money, wealth and everything else that resides in this world and the Aakhirah (Hereafter), belong to one entity and one entity only; Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). He is the Creator, the Giver, the Sustainer, and the Nurturer that provides for all His creations.
Nevertheless, man has no choice but to sustain himself along with his family and loved ones during his time on Earth. This is where man must learn how to balance between the dues of this world and the Aakhirah. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) tests his believers with wealth and poverty and each circumstance will be judged according to how it is executed.
Hence, it all comes down to the question of how one is to handle material wealth.
Enjoy it, but never lose sight of what’s truly important
As tempting as it is to dwell in the pool of riches and luxury, one must never lose sight of the ultimate reality; everything in this life is temporary. Nothing is eternal, except for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and the Aakhirah. As a true believer, one must internalize this fact and treat this worldly wealth as a transitory substance that will not surpass us in the next world. Money has been ascribed to man as a gift and a trial. Time and again, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) warns his believers against stinginess and greed, and we must take heed:
وَأَمَّا مَنْ بَخِلَ وَاسْتَغْنَى• وَكَذَّبَ بِالْحُسْنَى • فَسَنُيَسِّرُهُ لِلْعُسْرَى • وَمَا يُغْنِي عَنْهُ مَالُهُ إِذَا تَرَدَّى [الليل: 8-11]
“But the one who is miser and deems himself self-sufficient and rejects the best (religion and its teachings). We will facilitate for him the way to extreme distress. And his wealth will not help him when he will fall down (into Hell).” (Al-Lail, 92:8-11)
Never seek illicit wealth
Never, by any means, should you earn even a single penny that is not lawfully and rightfully yours. As true believers, we must earn our money and wealth in an honest and Halaal way. It should not be at the cost of losing our place in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s good books and in the Heavens. As a Muslim, and a good human being, it is not permissible to earn our wage by either committing fraud, lying, cheating, misleading, corruption or taking over someone else’s lawful wealth. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) warns His believers against this:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُمْ بَيْنَكُمْ بِالْبَاطِلِ إِلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً عَنْ تَرَاضٍ مِنْكُمْ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيمًا [النساء: 29]
“O you who believe! Do not devour each other‘s property by false means, unless it is trade conducted with your mutual consent.” (An-Nisaa 4:29)
In a world dipped in corruption and unlawful practices, live an honest life and earn through lawful means, and rest assured, you will surely be rewarded by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).
Give, give and give some more
Zakaah (Obligatory charity) and Sadaqaat (Optional charity) spending in the way of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) resides at the heart of Islam. The essence of being a Muslim is to not just look out for ourselves but to serve as a benefactor for the people around us as well. The significance of charity is as such that, in the Quraan, it is mostly used side by side with the five pillars of Islam:
لَيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَنْ تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ [البقرة: 177]
“Righteousness is not (merely) that you turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteousness is that one believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Book and the Prophets, and gives wealth, despite (his) love for it, to relatives, and to orphans, the helpless, the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and (spends) in (freeing) slaves and observes the Salaah (Prayers) and pays Zakaah (Charity) — and (the act of) those who fulfill their covenant when they enter into a covenant, and, of course, those who are patient in hardship and suffering and when in battle! Those are the ones who are truthful, and those are the Allah-fearing.” (Al-Baqarah 2:177)
Our greatest role model is our Holy Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam), who was the most charitable person that ever lived, spending all of his wealth on the needy and in the way of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). He cared for his people above all else, even himself. There was never a simpler or a more humble man than him. You do not need piles of wealth in order to spend in the way of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Whatever wealth Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has bestowed upon you, use it to help humanity, for there is no such thing as a ‘small’ charity. As Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) states in the Holy Quraan:
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ وَاسْمَعُوا وَأَطِيعُوا وَأَنْفِقُوا خَيْرًا لِأَنْفُسِكُمْ وَمَنْ يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ oإِنْ تُقْرِضُوا اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا يُضَاعِفْهُ لَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ شَكُورٌ حَلِيمٌ [التغابن: 16-17]
“So, observe Taqwaa (total obedience to Allah in awe of Him) as far as you can, and listen and obey, and spend (in Allah‘s way), it being good for you. And those who are saved from the greed of their hearts are the successful. If you advance a good loan to Allah, He will multiply it for you, and will forgive you. And Allah is Appreciative, Forbearing.” (At-Taghaabun 16-17)
Never forget: Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) provides for all
Do not fear poverty or hardships in life, for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) never leaves you alone and is ever watchful. He is the provider for all His creations and our sustenance is solely dependent on Him. Trust in the fact that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) never forsakes His believers, He merely occupies them with certain hardships and barriers so that man will turn to Him and put his faith in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and surrender to His plans. The warning is evident in the following Soorah (Chapter):
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنْفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ • الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُمْ مُصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ • أُولَئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ وَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ [البقرة: 155-157]
“Surely We will test you with a bit of fear and hunger, and loss in wealth and lives and fruits, and give good tidings to the patients who, when a suffering visits them, say: ‘We certainly belong to Allah, and to Him we are bound to return’. Those are the ones upon whom there are blessings from their Lord, and mercy as well; and those are the ones who are on the right path.” (Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)
In the end, all our necessities and sustenance is in the hands of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) who is the Most Generous and Most Caring. He has prescribed a certain fate for each of us, so we should be patient and should not despair, instead, we should put our full faith in the fact that Allah (SWT) will provide for us.
Be grateful, spend moderately and you will know true contentment
No matter what circumstances or hardships we may face in life, we must never forget to be grateful. For whatever little or in abundance we may have, a true believer must always be grateful and thankful to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) for his kindness and generosity. Hardships are trials from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) where He tests our patience, resilience and submission to Him during those hard times. If Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has bestowed wealth upon you in abundance, be conscious and always grateful, because the one who provides can just as easily take it away. Those who get lost in their materialistic worlds of wealthy gains may have temporary happiness and contentment, but not in the Aakhirah.
Spend in moderation. Do not be wasteful in your spending for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) does not like those who spend in extravagance for no good reason. Identify what your needs are, so you can distinguish between a necessity and a luxury.
The more you run after wealth, the more it feeds your insatiable hunger for materialism and distracts you from the path of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and instead you find yourself chasing temporary pleasures. Choose the path of simplicity, humbleness, and righteousness, and instead of getting attached to your wealth, treat it as a passerby in your life and spend it in the way of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), for there is nothing better.
مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنْفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنْبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنْبُلَةٍ مِائَةُ حَبَّةٍ وَاللَّهُ يُضَاعِفُ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ [البقرة: 261]
“The example of those who spend in the way of Allah is just like a grain that produced seven spikes, each spike having a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (the reward) for whom He wills. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing” (Al-Baqarah 2:261)