It is Not a Sin to Be Rich

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It is Not a Sin to Be Rich

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Money is not everything, but money is something very essential. Some people are fond of saying that money cannot give happiness. This is a negative perception, especially a refuge for people who have not been successful in acquiring wealth in a competitive world. Money does give happiness to most people or in the least it can keep them away from suffering because of financial problems, loan borrowing, deprivation of essential needs and comforts, struggle to make both ends meet and being obligated to others in times of distress. We often hear people say: “money does not matter”. Money does matter. Let us call a spade, a spade. When people say that money is not important to them, in most cases they are lying or they are just making a casual statement without meaning it or maybe because they are over-fed. I have seen such persons vigorously bargaining with the vegetable and fruit seller for a pittance of amount.

Money and Essential Needs
We need food, shelter and clothes for our survival, and we need money for that. Leaving apart the gifts, the other possessions in our house have been bought with money. We need money to survive in this world. Once our essential needs are met, we take strides to improve the quality of our life. What we eat, what we wear, how we travel, how much we invest in business and on properties depends on our paying capacity. The amount of money we have, determines the quality of education we can give to our children, the quality of medical facilities we can avail and the variety of leisure activities we can undertake. I have seen many persons who are negligent or lazy about earning money, but have always been in the forefront to receive scholarships, charities and zakat. In many slums where Muslims reside, you will find many men who do not work and who do not earn. The wife works as a maid servant or takes up any other small-time job to feed the family. This is the reality we easily gloss over.

Be a Giver and Not a Taker
I tell such persons to be a “giver” to society, rather than being a ‘taker”. If you are earning well and are free from pressing financial needs, you will have the freedom to donate money for charities, to pay zakat, perform Haj and Umrah and spare time for community service. I may be faulted for advocating a materialistic attitude. For the detractors, let them ask a widow how she feels when her child is deprived of taking the examination for non-payment of fees. Ask a poor person who is not able to clear the hospital bills of his wife who has undergone an operation. Ask the parents who are struggling to arrange money for their daughter’s wedding. Earning a livelihood is a very important priority in the life of most of the people. Let us not discourage our youngsters from striving to do it with a pseudo philosophical talk. My message to our youth is to go forth. Strive. Sweat it out. Earn money. Become self-sufficient.

Building a Financially Strong Community
Society and community need citizens who are financially strong and economically prosperous. A poverty-stricken community without sound economic backing will become weak, voiceless and dependent on others. It is estimated that the global Muslim population is on average around 20% poorer than the rest of the world. We lag behind in metrics such as health, education, innovation and income equality. It is the collective duty of the Umathto rectify this anomaly. When individuals become self-sufficient, the society becomes prosperous and marches ahead on the path of development. Forever bemoaning that as per Sachar Committee Report we are at the bottom of the economic ladder is not going to help us in any way. Nobody will improve our lot by offering it on a platter. Once Hazrath Umar (RA) saw some people sitting in the masjid just praying and doing zikr. On questioning, they explained that they were the ones who had tawakkul (perfect trust in Allah and reliance on Him alone) and therefore they did not go for work. Hazrath Umar (RA) in his customary fashion, beat them out of the masjid with a stick. Out of the ten Companions (sahaba) of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who were promised Jannat (paradise), Hazrath Abdur Rahman bin Auf was extremely rich. Thus, it is evident that it is not a sin to be rich.

Good Deeds Which Only the Rich Can Do
Being rich is not a disqualification for a person to get into paradise in the after-life, provided the wealth was acquired in a halal way and it was also spent in the right way. The following Hadees is pertinent in this regard: “There is no envy except in two: a person whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it in the right way, and a person whom Allah has given wisdom (i.e., religious knowledge) and he gives his decisions accordingly and teaches it to others” (Bukhari). In Islam, wealth belongs to Allah and He gives it to whom he wills. “Allah provides sustenance to whom He pleases, without measure” (Qur’an 3:37). The wise among the wealthy utilise this wealth given by Allah to earn benefits in the hereafter. One such deed is to dedicate their property as waqf for the benefit of the poor and needy. Here is one such glorious example.

An Outstanding Waqf
When the Muslims migrated to Madinah, there was a well in a part of Madinah which was the only source of water. A Jew who owned this well, charged exorbitant amounts for the water. Following an appeal given by Prophet Muhammad (saw), Hazrath Usman (RA) bought this well and opened it for Allah’s sake and allowed people to fetch the water free of cost. This is one of the earliest Waqf in Islamic history. After the demise of Hazrath Usman (RA), plenty of date palms grew on the surrounding land which kept on increasing during the Ummayad dynasty and also during the Abbassid period too. Much later, the Saudi Arabian government organised it into a modern plantation growing around 1550 date palm trees. The income thus generated is shared in two parts. Half of the income from the plantation is given in charity, mainly to widows and orphans and the other half is remitted to a Bank account which exists to this day in the name of Usman bin Affan. Utilising the amount accumulated over the years, a land was purchased around Masjid-e-Nabavi in Madinah. A big hotel with fourteen floors named “Waqf Hazrath Usman bin Affan Hotel” has been constructed on this land to provide accommodation for visitors to the mosque. I was surprised to see this Hotel listed with the same name in many hotel booking apps. Half of the income from this Hotel is again given out as charity and the other half remitted to Hazrath Usman bin Affan’s Bank account to be reinvested. It is said that the charity given from this Usman bin Affan waqf is more than 50 million Saudi Riyals annually. This Waqf shows the ideal way of developing waqf property, while at the same time continuing the charitable activities. This prudently managed waqf institution has added assets and kept on increasing its income, while continuing to give rewards (sawab) on charity to the original waqif (donor) Hazrath Usman (RA) for more than fourteen centuries.

You Can Take Money to Your Grave
Wealth is a means to an end and should not be loved as an end itself. The best of the rich persons are those who have earned their wealth by fair, ethical and halal means. After becoming rich they acquire more responsibility and have to fulfil many obligations. In comparison, a poor person or a beggar will not have to answer for the mode of acquisition and spending of wealth or riches, since he doesn’t own any. However, a rich person is in an advantageous position to give zakat, spend on charity and be of use to his community and society. The aim should be to become a ‘zakat giver’ and not a ‘zakat taker’. Muslims should shed the attitude of asking: will you take money to the grave? (kya paisa qabar ko lekarjaayega?). Don’t be surprised if my reply is’yes’. Money can be taken to the grave provided your money has been invested in sawab-e-jariya. Money spent for good causes will earn rewards till the day of judgement and beyond, Allah willing.

It may be remembered that not everyone can become a billionaire. But, he or she can better his/her earnings by at least a few digits more. However, it is very very important that earning money should not distract one from the worship of Allah. The Qur’an and the Ahadeeshave laid down strict guidelines as to how money has to be earned by fair and halal means. Islam also encourages moderation in spending. Extravagant spending and miserliness are both discouraged and Muslims are asked to strike a balance between the two. To conclude, it has to remembered that money is a good servant but a bad master.

COMMENTS

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    Jameel Ahmed 3 months ago

    Very well written article sir. Keep up the great work.