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 Hereafter, belong to one entity and one entity only; Allah (SWT). 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 Hereafter. Allah (SWT) 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 (SWT) and the hereafter. 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 (SWT) warns his believers against stinginess and greed, and we must take heed:
“But he who is greedy and thinks himself self-sufficient, And denies Al-Husna. We will make smooth for him the path to evil. And what will his wealth avail him when he goes down (in destruction).” (Quran Surah 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 halal way. It should not be at the cost of losing our place in Allah’s (SWT) 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 (SWT) warns His believers against this:
“O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent.” (Quran 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 (SWT).
Give, give and give some more
Zakat, charity and spending in the way of God 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 Quran, it is mostly used side by side with the five pillars of Islam:
“[True] righteousness is [in] one who believes in God, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives of their wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes Prayer and practices regular charity…” (Quran 2:177)
Our greatest role model is our Holy Prophet (PBUH), who was the most charitable person that ever lived, spending all of his wealth on the needy and in the way of Allah (SWT). 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 (SWT). Whatever wealth God has bestowed upon you, use it to help humanity, for there is no such thing as a ‘small’ charity. As Allah states in the Holy Quran:
“…Be mindful of Allah as much as you can; hear and obey; be charitable – it is for your own good. Those who are saved from their own meanness will be the prosperous ones: if you make a generous loan to Allah, He will multiply it for you and forgive you.” (Quran, Surah Al-Taghaabun 16-17)
Never forget: Allah (SWT) provides for all
Do not fear poverty or hardships in life, for Allah (SWT) 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 (SWT) 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 (SWT) and surrender to His plans. The warning is evident in the following surah:
"Certainly, We shall test you with fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits; but give glad tidings to those who persevere, – those who say, when a misfortune strikes them, “Surely to Allah we belong, and surely to Him we return;” these are the ones on whom blessings from their Lord descend, and mercy, and these are the ones who are rightly guided." (Quran 2:155-157).
In the end, all our necessities and sustenance is in the hands of Allah (SWT) 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 (SWT) for his kindness and generosity. Hardships are trials from God where He tests our patience, resilience and submission to Him during those hard times. If God 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 hereafter. Spend in moderation. Do not be wasteful in your spending for God 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 (SWT) 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, for there is nothing better.
“The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of God is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And God multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And God is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” [Quran 2:261]