11th Jan2014

The Fitna of Money | Wealth

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We are living in an era which is full of fitnas, where the corruption inside the man in regards of worldly and religious affairs is prospering by leaps and bounds. At one side, we see people rich or poor committing corruption in their limited or unlimited capacity in matters of religion by committing Bidaah, matters of Shirk, and major/minor sins while on the other hand, we see people involved in corruption in their Mu’aamlaat (dealings with people). One is hardly saved from it.

This Fitan of “wealth” or “money” has gone to the extent where it has totally diminished today moral, cultural and religious values altogether. It’s a pity that today people meet each other, help each other in order to gain reward from the person and not from Allah swt. The word “for the sake of Allah” has become the most misunderstood word of today. People use it extravagantly yet they don’t know its meaning just like one uses the phrase “I fear Allah” yet does not know what is exactly meant by “fearing Allah”. While everyone claims he is giving favor to someone for sake of Allah swt yet he/she expects heavily the return from the person whom he has given the favor instead of Allah swt. On the other side, surprisingly, the one who has been helped out in a calamity, considers himself as a big “Muhsin (favor  giver)” by reminding himself small favors that he might have done in his capacity for the helper in past, forgetting that he should have done it “for the sake of Allah” in the first place. And this vicious thought cycle continues and the person becomes more and more disgrateful to his “Muhsin”.

Moreover, we see today relationships being built around this factor such that “Money” is the main tie between families. Alas ! no relationship far or near, family members or far relatives, are saved from it.  People run after another and honor each other as long as their helper  fills their bellies with money.  And then they turn their back on them, and sometimes disrespect and dishonor them, once the financial assistance is taken off.  A God fearing person would never fall into this sin as the one who is thankful to Allah swt by prostrating before him at least 5 times a day, by fulfilling and implementing his Shariah in his life would also be grateful to his human helper.

One who is not thank ful to Allah swt (the creator, the sustainer) with his words and actions, how can he/she be thankful to his creation?

As Our prophet (saws) said:

Whoever does not give thanks to the people does not give thanks to Allaah.

[a saheeh hadeeth narrated by Imaam Ahmad, 2/258, At-tirmidhi and also by Ibn Habban)].

Now let’s see the other aspect of wealth as fitan.

An unrighteous life of wealth and worldly enjoyments is not a blessing, but rather a curse.

In truth, man is tested both in wealth and in poverty:

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 straitening 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!

[Surah al-Fajr, 15-20] 

So great is the fitnah of wealth that this was the main fear that the Prophet (SAW) expressed for his nation. He stated,

I don’t fear poverty for you, but rather I fear that you will compete with one another (to see who has more possessions).

[Reported by al-Hakim (2/543) and others. Al-Hakim stated that it was authentic, and al-Dhahabi agreed with him, as did al-Albanl in Sahih al-Jami’ (# 5523)]

In describing the evils of greed, he (SAW) gave a beautiful parable:

Two hungry wolves, if let loose amongst a flock of sheep, cause less harm than a man’s eagerness to increase his money and his prestige.

[Reported by al-Tirmidhi (# 2373), Ahmad and others. Al-Tirmidhl considered it authentic, as did al-Albani in Sahih al-Jami’ (# 5620)].

In another hadith, he (saws) stated:

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 Allah in secret and public, and moderation in poverty and richness, and fairness in anger and pleasure.

[Reported by al-Bazzar (# 80), Abu Nu’aym in his Hilya (2/343), al-Hayhaqi in his Shu ab al-Iman (2/382) and others, with various chains. Al-Mundhiri wrote (1/162), “All of these chains, even though none of them is safe from criticism, put together raise the hadith to the level of hasan, Allah-willing.” And al-Albani agreed with that (see al-Sahihah, # 1802)].

Extreme love for this world cannot exist in a heart devoted to Allah. The Prophet (saws) 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 Allah.

[Reported by al-Hakim (4/324) who declared it to be authentic, and al-Albani agreed with him {al-Sahihah, # 1510)].

There is a direct relationship between a love of this world and loss and loss of devotion to Allah; the more a person loves this world, the less he loves Allah, and vice-versa.

Therefore, one’s love for money will harm him 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 grave. The Prophet (SAW) stated,

The two feet of the son of Adam will not move on the Day of Judgement in front of his Lord until he is asked about five things: about his life, and how he spent it? And about his youth, what did he consume it in? And about his money, how did he earn it? And what did he spend it on? And how much did he act upon what he knew?

[Reported by al-Tirmidhi (2/67) who declared it hasan sahih, and others. See al-Silsilah, (# 946)].

Out of these five questions, two deal with money.

For the above reasons, the majority of businessmen and traders will be resurrected amongst the sinful on the Day of Judgement. The Prophet (saws) said,

The businessmen will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement amongst the sinful (fujjar), except those who have taqwa of Allah, and are honest and truthful.

[Reported by al-Tirmidhi (1/228 ) who declared it hasan sahih, and al-Hakim (2/6) who authenticated it, as did al-Albani (al-Sahihah, # 994)].

This hadith shows that dealing with money, in general, leads a person to injustice and sin. The more one is involved with increasing his wealth, the greater the chance that he or she will fall into sin while trying to accrue such wealth. Only the person who truly has the fear of Allah (taqwa) will be able to save himself from such temptation. We have examples of the Sahabah who were affluent such as Uthman bin Affan, and Abdul Rehman bin Awf radillahu anhu ajmayeen and many others.

As for the poor, they will not have great amounts of money which they will have to account for. For this reason, they will enter Paradise long before the rich; while the rich are standing in front of Allah, answering for every penny that they earned and spent, the poor will have finished their examination and moved on to their assigned fate. Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet (saws) said:

The poor will enter Paradise before the rich by half a day, and that is five hundred years.

[Reported by al-Tirmidhi (# 2353) who said it is hasan sahih; Ibn Majah (# 4122); and Ahmad (2/513); and it is as al-Tirmidhi said].

A day in the sight of Allah is like a thousand years, thus half a day is equivalent to five hundred years. So the rich will have to wait this long period of time — a time that is equivalent to more than ten generations — while the poor are enjoying the blessings of Paradise.

It is for all of these reasons that the Prophet (SAW) used to pray:

O Allah! I seek your refuge from the evils of the fitnah of wealth, and the evils of the fitnah of poverty.

[Reported by al-Bukhari (11/176) and Muslim (# 2078)].

Both poverty and wealth are fitnahs — ways by which Allah tries and 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 fulfilment of illicit worldly desires and the path to the pleasure of 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 the Prophet (saws) in which he said:

The plentiful (i.e., the rich) will be the lowest on the Day of Judgement, except he who distributed his money left and right (i.e., at all times), while he earned from pure (means).

[Reported by Ibn Majah (# 4130), Ibn Hibban (# 807), Ahmad (2/340), and others, with various similar wordings. Al-Busayrl said (2/278), 10 This is a Sahih chain; its narrators are all trustworthy,” and al-Albani also considered the hadith authentic (al-Sahihah # 1766)].

Lastly, being rich is not a fitan rather a blessing more rewarding as long as one does not turn his back to Allah swt.

Abu Dharr (ra) reported that some of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (saws) said to him:

O Messenger of Allah, the rich have taken away all the rewards. They observe the prayer as we do, and they keep the fasts as we do, and they give sadaqah (charity) from their surplus riches.” Upon this he (the Prophet) said: “Has Allah not prescribed for you (a course) by following which you can also do sadaqah? Verily in every tasbih (i.e. saying Subhanallah) there is a sadaqah, every takbir (i.e. saying Allahu Akbar) is a sadaqah, every tahmid (i.e. saying Alhamdulillah) is a sadaqah, every tahlil (i.e. saying Lailaha illallah) is a sadaqah, enjoining of good is a sadaqah, forbidding of evil is a sadaqah, and having sexual intercourse with your wife is a sadaqah. They (the Companions) said: “O Messenger of Allah, is there reward for him who satisfies his sexual passion among us?” He said: “Tell me, if he were to devote it to something forbidden, would it not be a sin on his part? Similarly, if he were to devote it to something lawful, he should have a reward.

[Saheeh Muslim]

May Allah swt save us from becoming a trap of this fitan and be thank ful to Allah swt in whatever blessings He has bestowed upon us.

– Article authored by hasbunallah