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.
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Useless Anti Terror Fatwa launches in London

Tahir-ul Qadri, the leader of Minhaj al-Quran will be launching a 600 page fatwa tomorrow prohibiting terrorism and suicide bombing at a press conference in Westminster, London. The fatwa will be aimed at suicide bombers, condemning them to hell-fire.

Shahid Mursaleen, spokesman for Minhaj ul Quran’s British wing, described the fatwa as an attempt to sow doubt in the minds of wannabe extremists.

“[Shaikh Dr Qadri] has hit hard on the terrorists as it prevents Islamists from considering suicide bombers as ‘martyrs’. This fatwa injects doubt into the minds of potential suicide bombers. Extremist groups based in Britain recruit the youth by brainwashing them that they will ‘with certainty’ be rewarded in the next life and Dr Qadri’s Fatwa has removed this key intellectual factor from their minds.”

The Quilliam Foundation, an anti-extremist think thank comprised of former Islamists, described it as a “significant step” in countering Saudi and extremist rhetoric.

“Fatwas by Wahabi-influenced clerics and Islamist ideologues initiated modern terrorism against civilians,” a spokesperson said. “Terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda continue to justify their mass killings with self-serving readings of religious scripture. Fatwas that demolish and expose such theological innovations will consign Islamist terrorism to the dustbin of history.”

Source: The Independent

So much controversy over nothing. How hard is to write a 600 page thesis on prohibition of killing innocent people? Common sense really. And what are the chances of any so called ‘extremist’, ‘Islamist’ type Muslims giving Tahir-ul Qadri the time of day especially when he’s being praised by menaces like the Quilliam Foundation? We all know what Quilliam Foundation is but here is a glimpse of Tahirul Qadri being entertained by his followers (which also goes to show the kind of followers he has).

Youtube Video : Watch the very last minute to see this individual break all rules of Sufism – money thrown at him, he throws money at singers, walks over a man with complete public display of arrogance and extravangance.

Who will take this individual and his crazy followers seriously?? Giving Tahirul Qadri this kind of platform is a complete waste of time and resources.

The Imam, Committee and the Mosque

Our troublesome local mosque makes regular appearances in the local paper, nothing good, the journalist always finds something controversial to report. In the last few years the headlines were generated by the local Pakistani factions (made of tribalistic (biradery) bonds) fighting over the management committee also known as the mismanagement committee. Things got so bad, the mosque was policed especially during the Friday prayers and on few occasions the police were forced to storm the mosque (with shoes on) to break the scuffle between the elderly men. This saga ended with the management committee being ousted by an alliance of various (biradery) factions through election, an election which the previous committee does not recognise, and the case continues.

However, the situation has improved since and just when things were getting back to normal, the mosque is making the headlines once again in the local media. This time its the Imam, who has been jailed for punching and kicking a nine-year-old boy, then beating him with a bamboo stick. He pleaded guilty and blamed ‘cultural differences’ to be the cause (as if its some big misunderstanding). The Imam is not new to this country, he was cautioned for similar offence in 2005. In the past 5 years, anyone would think the Imam would’ve overcome or bridged these cultural differences. Despite him coming to terms with the cultural nuances or otherwise, his Islamic knowledge pertaining to such behaviours should have been sufficient in him curtailing the use of his fist. Perhaps this incident highlights the dearth of the Imam in this area too.

These issues are not new. This happens to be the sad reality of mosques up and down the country especially those run by Pakistani Brelawi community. The imported Imams, unqualified, and non-English speaking committee members are often under the illusion that beating (children or anyone otherwise) is key in implementing discipline. Most often issues such as child abuse, excessive use of discipline, and even molestation are casually brushed under the carpet in a bid to avert unwanted attention to the mosque, its members and/or the community.  In this particular case, the committee members were politically motivated in their desire for the active removal of the Imam -as part of their agenda since the recent take over of the mosque management.

Our local mosque is one of the biggest in the borough generating thousands of pounds through friday collection and donations. Where does it all go? The mosque has failed to organise a single memorable event addressing the issues of the Muslims community let alone warm invites to non-Muslim members of community. They probably never will nor allow anyone else to. I guess we will just have to wait for these elders of ‘backhome’ mentality to pass on before even considering any  serious changes to the entire mosque management system.

Swiss Minaret Ban Advocate – Converted to Islam

Quite recently there was some furore being made in Switzerland and beyond regarding the banning of minarets on mosques across the country. Much was made and discussed of the decision made by the so-called neutral state, who has a small minority of Muslims residing in its land.

A while ago, there has been news of the main advocate for the minaret ban, Daniel Streich – member of the Swiss People’s Party has converted to Islam. Supposedly Daniel had converted 2 years ago but this news remained secret until recently. The only coverage of this has been in the Nation and Jewish blog.

Pondering on this, I wonder about the issues this throws up in the air. Whilst being Muslim he was campaigning for a ban on minarets. Perhaps he had introduced this campaign prior to becoming Muslim, and in its duration changed his views.  Or maybe he subscribed to the strict Salafi understanding and wanted the minarets banned in accordance of forbidding “evil innovation -bidah”

Maybe the whole story is a hoax! More to come….

Useless Shia channels on TV

Whilst flicking through channels on our sky box, I couldn’t help notice the number of Muslim channels which have sprung up over the last year or so of which the most prominent being those running Shia themes. Muharram maybe over for most of us, but it seems for these handful of channels it may never be over. Day in day out, we have  programmes, documentaries, lectures and wailing continuously glorifying the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the events leading to Karbala and the aftermath.

Fair enough, if you have to mourn, dedicate a few days or even the whole month for this, but carrying on as if the  whole of Islam revolves around this particular incident is a bit too much. All of us, Sunnis and Shias recognise the brave steps Imam Hussain (ra) and the Ahlul Bayt took to protest, demand and protect their rights through a struggle which serves an example for the rest of Muslims and generations to come.  An example and practical guide for us when it comes to seeking  justice and freedom in times of tyranny and oppression. So why not use this time to learn and reflect upon these important lessons rather than to remain in constant state of mourning throughout Muharram and the rest of the year??

I don’t have a problem with the Shia channels, but what a waste of resources to dedicate most of the airtime narrating, glorifying, reproducing and might I add exaggerating events which took place over a thousand years ago. Events which have very little to do with the very basis of our belief in Islam, its legal maxims and laws which emanate from them. An event which has no relevance to the modern world, except the striking resemblances to the time of Imam Hussein, where Karbala today along with most of the Muslim world is run by tyrannical  despots, dictators implementing crude Capitalism and oppressors far worse than Yazid ibn Muawiyyah. In light of our current situation, what good is the constant wailing, self harm and being stuck in history?

The problems faced by Muslims in the modern world are far complex, with tremendous differences ranging from east to the west. For so long Muslims have cried for lack of Muslim run Media to unspin the biases of western Media and its misrepresenting and doctoring of facts. Isn’t it a shame that we now have so many Muslim run channels both Sunnis and Shias but they seriously lack all the qualities of Muslim Media, instead are engrossed in fueling sectarianism, preaching hate, presenting  feuds of political nature with an Islamic twist and spiritual/political agendas of their own.

A waste of resources? I think so.