Acquiring Wealth and life of ease in Islam

Reading an excerpt from Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali’s book on ‘The Evil of Craving for Wealth and Status’ left me wondering if there is a balance between craving and acquiring of wealth. Islam teaches us to acquire wealth in order to provide for those under our responsibility, yet orders us to restrain our hunger and thirst for wealth should it alone become the purpose of our life. Wealth, status,  luxury can no doubt become source of arrogance and haughtiness but does that mean if one has the gift and ability to acquire wealth and luxury should give it all away??

Here is an excellent example from the best of the Men including those amongst the Asharan Mubasharah (10 promised Jannah) as recorded by Imam Ibn Khaldun.

{Al-Mas’udi says: “In the days of ‘Uthman, the men around Muhammad acquired estates and money. On the day ‘Uthman was killed, 150,000 dinars and 1,000,000 dirhams were in the hands of his treasurer. The value of his estates in Wadi I-Qura and Hunayn and other places was 200,000 dinars. He also left many camels and horses.

The eighth part of the estate of az-Zubayr after his death amounted to 50,000 dinars. He also left 1,000 horses and 1,000 female servants. Talhah’s income from the ‘Iraq was 1,000 dinars a day, and his income from the region of ash-Sharah was more than that.

The stable of ‘Abd-ar-Rahman b. ‘Awf contained 1,000 horses. He also had 1,000 camels and 10,000 sheep. One-fourth of his estate after his death amounted to 84,000.

Zayd b. Thabit left silver and gold that was broken into pieces with pickaxes, in addition to the (other) property and estates that he left, in the value of 100,000 dinars. Az­Zubayr built himself a residence in al-Basrah and other residences in Egypt and al-Kufah and Alexandria. Talhah built one in al-Kufah and had his residence in Medina im­proved. He used plaster, bricks, and teakwood.

Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas built himself a residence in al-‘Aqiq, (a suburb of Medina). He made it high and spacious, and had balustrades put on top of it. Al-Miqdad built his residence in Medina and had it plastered inside and out.

Ya’la b. Munyah left 50,000 dinars and estates and other things the value of which amounted to 300,000 dirhams.” End of the quotation from al-Mas’udi.

Such were the gains people made. Their religion did not blame them for (amassing so much), because, as booty, it was lawful property. They did not employ their property wastefully but in a planned way in (all) their conditions, as we have stated. Amassing worldly property is reprehensible, but it did not reflect upon them, because blame attaches only to waste and lack of planning, as we have indicated. Since their expenditures followed a plan and served the truth and its ways, the amassing (of so much property) helped them along on the path of truth and served the purpose of attaining the other world…” (Maqaddamah, Ibn Khaldun).

Imam Ibn Khaldun also presents an example of the striking balance between enormous wealth and arrogance:

“…They took away the royal authority of (the Persians and the Byzantines) and confiscated their worldly possessions. They amassed enormous fortunes. It went so far that one horseman obtained, as his share in one of the raids, about 30,000 gold pieces. The amounts they got were enormous. Still, they kept to their humble way of life. ‘Umar used to patch his (sole) garment with pieces of leather. ‘Ali used to say: “Gold and silver! Go and lure others, not me!” Abu Musa refrained from eating chicken, because chickens were very rare among the Arabs of that time and not (generally) known to them. Sieves were altogether non-existent among (the Arabs), and they ate wheat (kernels) with the bran. Yet, the gains they made were greater than any ever made by other human beings….”

“Say: Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought for His servants and the good things of His provision?” [Al-A’raf: 32]

At-Tirmidhi narrated from Abdullah ibn Amr who said:

‘The Prophet said, “Allah likes to see the signs of His favour (bounties) on His servant…'”

Allah ta’aala allows for His servants to enjoy His favours and enjoy the good things from His provisions acquired through permissable means. But Allah ta’ala prohibits the life of ease if it produces haughtiness, transgression, arrogance and tyranny. Since a life of ease and comfort by the abundant wealth could lead some people to arrogance, tyranny and haughtiness; Islam prohibited that type of luxury. So Islam prevented corruption if it resulted from the abundance of wealth, making people arrogant and tyrannical. Islam prohibited that strongly.

There is a great misconception that desert lifestyle or complete isolation from ‘dunya’ is the ideal Muslim lifestyle, when in reality this ‘dunya’ is a test and we have to live it, face it and make the most of it whilst preserving our Imaan.

They took away the royal authority of (the Persians and the Byzantines) and confiscated their worldly possessions. They amassed enormous fortunes. It went so far that one horseman obtained, as his share in one of the raids, about 30,000 gold pieces. The amounts they got were enormous. Still, they kept to their rude way of life. ‘Umar used to patch his (sole) garment with pieces of leather.302 ‘Ali used to say: “Gold and silver! Go and lure others, not me!” 303 Abu Musa 304 refrained from eating chicken, because chickens were very rare among the Arabs of that time and not (generally) known to them. Sieves were altogether non-existent among (the Arabs), and they ate wheat (kernels) with the bran.304a Yet, the gains they made were greater than any ever made by other human beings.

Posted on March 4, 2010, in Islam, Lifestyle, Muslims, Sufism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Wealth in itself is neither good nor evil.The amount of wealth one acquires does not matter.The real question is HOW you acquired them.If a person acquires a single cent by haraam means then he is a sinner.

  2. Slam alykum, intereting article. Money and wealth are a cause of a lot of problems in life. People react to them differently and sometimes if you have too little or too much it can bring out the worst in you. I believe sharing and giving it away helps breaks the strong relation with money. Muslims are ripping muslims off alll the time. Like when it’s hajj prices go up… or even on the web just checking out sites for muslims singels and this was the only free muslim marriage site i could find. It’s intersting to see ppl behaviour.

  3. Money will make more of what you are. If you’re good, money will make you a rich good person. If you’re evil, it will make you a rich evil person.

  4. There is a lot of negativity about acquiring wealth in the Muslim world. Many people shun wealth because they believe it will make them do evil things. I think this is silly. Without wealth, Muslims as a group will be weak and easily dominated by other powerful nations.

    We all need enough wealth to live without debt, with at least one house to call our home and enough provisions to last a year without needing to get more income. The wealthy person who donates his wealth to others is better than one who does not so lets all of us strive to be wealthy with enough knowledge to keep us out of evil things.

  5. Being wealthy is not haram BUT we don’t have the right to be living in luxury if we have people in our towns who go hungry or without.

    As for what Salamander said above…I think a lot of ppl look down on aquiring wealth in the Muslim world because of all the open corruption that goes on there…well, that and of course the Muslim men who GAMBLE by going abroad and doing haram in hopes that they can return home with that money and decide to become GOOD MUSLIMS with all the money they got. Well, there is that mind set and the other where it’s okay to steal money while in a land of kaffirs. Hahahaha! got love that one!😦

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