The Fitnah of wealth

Al Hamdu Lillaahi Rabbil 'Aalameen was Salaatu was Salaamu 'alaa Ashrafil Anbiyaa'e wal Mursaleen

Wa Ba'd: Alal Muslimeena Jamia'h! Some people hope for wealth as if there is nothing else worth hoping or living for.

There are even some people who deprive themselves of knowledge and sleep because their primary goal is to acquire more wealth. Such individuals deprive themselves of the truth for they imagine wealth to be a goal and not a means. Wealth is like a bridge that rescues us from destruction. How wrong are those who spend their entire lives strengthening the bridge itself while ignoring its purpose. Did our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam not remind us when he said:

"The greatest Fitnah of my Ummah will be their wealth."


People of Imaan! As true Muslims, we must never ever give ourselves up for the love of wealth, instead we should give up wealth for our sake. There are many people who spend their entire lives searching for more wealth and by the time they find it they need another lifetime to spend it.....but alas, that day that they long for shall never come! In one of the most explicit verses in this regard the Most Holy and Noble Qur'an in verse 24 of Surah Al-Tawbah, a Muslim is advised to understand his or her priorities, or suffer the consequences:

"Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight, are more beloved to you that Allah and His Messenger, and striving in His Cause, then wait until Allah executes His Decision (torment). And Allah guides not the people who are rebellious (disobedient to Allah)."

Ayyuhal Muslimoon! There are many wealthy people who abandon the borders of humanity and decency as a result of their intense inclination towards acquiring wealth to the point that they add to their oppression the act of depriving the needy of their rights. Such oppressors have certainly lost the human light in them. Generosity is a factor of human integrity. It is a manifestation of the originality of human feelings and a sign of stable thinking. Generosity is also the best trait among all authentic characteristics.  It is evident that generosity can only be praiseworthy, if nearness to Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala is sought. Bragging, boasting, seeking name and fame should not play a role in generosity. Almighty Allah informs us in Surah al-Taghabun verse 15:

"Your wealth and your children are only a trial (Fithnah).

And Allah - With Him is a great reward (Paradise),"

Ummatal Islam! Some people appear to be very rich but are actually very poor. They possess all the wealth in the world but cannot even spend it on themselves. Their wealth becomes like a chain of gold tied around their necks from which they gain nothing save pain and torture. Here money becomes an affliction and wealth a disaster. In this life our existence is surrounded by certain necessities which hold a tight grip on us from the day that we are born. Some of these necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter are basic and preservation of life's system depends on them. And in verse 28 of Surah al-Anfal we are informed:

"And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial

(Fithnah) and that surely with Allah is a mighty reward."

Ya Ibad Allah! According to natural motives and the sense of need, man seeks wealth and struggles with all his might against all problems and difficulties which may stand in his way to make more money; for to most people wealth - and owning more and more is the great beauty of life. It is natural for the condition of men to vary in this field. For instance, if a man is surrounded by poverty and weakness, he starts to seek sustenance by all means possible trying to eradicate the poverty which surrounded him. If a man has acquired wealth, he becomes inflicted with conceit and arrogance as if there was a direct relationship between wealth and the latter traits.

Shaba bal Islam! Finally, if a man acquires wealth and security for himself, he becomes intoxicated with conceit and arrogance and evil inspirations endlessly battle his mind. Wealth, while one of the greatest blessings that mankind has been given, is at the same time one of the greatest trials and temptations.  Hence, every material possession is only a test and a trial. To make this test even more difficult, the value of wealth is raised high above most other worldly goods. Almost every person has a strong craving for wealth. Almighty Allah informs us in verse 14 of Surah Al-Imran:

"Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, much of gold and silver

(wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present

world's life; but Allah has the excellent return (Paradise) with Him."

Countless verses throughout the Most Glorious Qur'an censure those who hoard wealth in denial of Almighty Allah's rights as we learn from verses 1 to 3 in Surah al-Humazah:

"Woe to every slanderer and backbiter. Who has gathered wealth and counted it. He presumes that his money will make him immortal."

And in verse 77 of Surah Mariam Almighty Allah makes things crystal clear:

"Have you seen him who disbelieved in Our Verses and (yet) says: 'I shall certainly be given wealth and children."

Beloved Ummah of Rahmatul Liel Ala'meen Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam! Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala threatens such people with the warning that is made clear to us in verse 178 of Surah Al-Imran:

"And let not those who disbelieve ever think that (because) We extend their time (of enjoyment) it is better for them. We only extend it for them so that they may increase in sin, and for them is a humiliating punishment."

By these sacred verses, we come to understand that an unrighteous life of wealth and worldly enjoyments is not a blessing, but rather a curse (balah). In truth, man is tested both in wealth and in poverty for Almighty Allah informs us with words of wisdom in verses 15 to 20 in Surah al-Fajr;

"As for man, when his Lord tries him by giving him honour and gifts, then he says (puffed up): My Lord has honoured me. But when He tries him, by straightening his means of life, he says: My Lord has humiliated me!. Nay! But you treat not the orphans with kindness or generosity! And urge not on the feeding of the poor! And devour inheritance - all with greed! And you love wealth with a great love!"

Three things destroy, and three things save. As for the three things that destroy, they are: greediness that is obeyed, and desires that are followed, and a person becoming self-conceited (and proud) with himself. As for the three things that save, they are: the fear of Almighty Allah in secret and in public, and moderation in poverty and richness, and fairness in anger and pleasure."

Ih'watal Imaan! Extreme love for this world cannot exist in a heart devoted to Allah. The Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam said: "The Day of Judgement has come close, and mankind will only increase their desire for this world, and they will only go farther and farther away from Almighty Allah Subhanahu Waya'ala. There is a direct relationship between a love of this world and loss of devotion to Almighty Allah; the more a person loves this world, the less he or she loves Allah, and vice-versa.

Ayyatuhal Muslimeen! Therefore, one's love for money will harm him or her in this world, and in the Hereafter as well. On the Day of Judgement, every single person will be questioned about the money that he or she has earned. In fact, this questioning will take place as soon as one is resurrected from the Qabir. Our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam stated: "The two feet of the son of Adam will not move on the Day of Judgement in front of Almighty Allah until he or she is asked about five things: about one's life, and how it was spent? About our youth, and what we consumed in it? About our money and how it was earned? How was our wealth spent? And how much did he we act upon that which we knew. Out of the five above questions, two deals directly with money. It is for all of these reasons that the Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam used to pray:

"O Allah! I seek Your refuge from the evils of the Fithnah of wealth, and the evils of the Fithnah of poverty."

Ya Ummatal Tawhid! Both poverty and wealth are Fitnahs - ways by which Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala tests us.A person cannot remain upon two divergent paths, or retain a tight grip on two items moving in opposite directions. Given that the path to fulfillment of illicit worldly desires and the path to the pleasure of Almighty Allah travel in different directions, excessive love of wealth risks compromising obedience to Allah, and the blessings to be gained from seeking His pleasure. This section can be summarized in the hadith of our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam in which he said: "The plentiful (i.e. the wealthy) will be the lowest on the Day of Judgement, except he who distributed his money unselfishly which was earned from pure Halal means."

Ya Bani Adam! The vast wealth of the rich does not deceive the poor. Wealth is like salt water - the more you drink the thirstier you become. Wealth is not everything in man's life, nor does his real happiness lie in collecting money. Many people today make the mistake of believing that money is the be all and end all of life. They waste the primes of their life seeking wealth while depriving themselves of everything else. We struggle to acquire grand palaces, fancy cars, the latest fashions, etc. thinking that they are the way to earthly happiness while in fact they only bring disappointment and deprivation to us. Hazrat Ali R.A. said: "A greedy person is a captor of humiliation, whose captivity does not cease."

And Almighty Allah knows best.

Imam Abdul Hamid

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