Obtaining Wealth for Virtuous Ends
Shaykh Manzoor Nu‘maani
It is related by Abu Hurayrah radhiyallahu anhu that the Apostle of Allah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “Whoever seeks to obtain wealth by legitimate means (and) with the object that he may not have to beg from others and can provide his dependants with the necessities and pleasant conditions of life, as well as lend a helping hand to neighbours, will appear before Allah on the Day of Judgment, in such glory that his face will be radiant like a full moon. And whoever seeks, though by legitimate means, to obtain wealth with the object that he may become very rich and can give himself airs before others and be able to practice liberality in order to win the admiration of men will appear before Allah in such a state that He will be severely displeased with him.”
It shows that the earnings of wealth by lawful means and for a worthy purpose is not only permissible but a virtue of such a high order that there will be a special favour of the Lord on him on the Day of Judgment due to which his face will shine like the full moon. But if the aim and purpose of obtaining wealth may only be to become rich and important and to make an ostentatious display of one’s prosperity, even if it is earned fairly and honestly, it will be so sinful that Allah will be very angry with such a bondsman on the Day of Requital. Ill-gotten wealth, in any case, is a curse of the highest degree.
It is related by Abu Kabshah el-Anmari radhiyallahu anhu that he heard the Apostle of Allah sallallahu alayhi wasallam say: “There are three things for which I can swear and, in addition to them, there is another thing which I want to tell you. So, remember it. The three things for which I can swear are:
(i) No one will become poor by spending in the way of Allah (i.e., Allah will bestow prosperity on him and multiply his wealth);
(ii) Injustice will not be done to a bondsman Ð an injustice on which he remains patient, Allah will raise him in esteem in return for it (i.e., when a wrong is perpetrated on a person and he bears it patiently, Allah will cause an increase in his high rank and good reputation); and
(iii) No one will open the door of begging but Allah will open the door of poverty for him (i.e., whoever will make it his habit to extend a begging hand towards others will be condemned to want and indigence by Allah).
The thing that I want to tell you and which you should remember, apart from these, is that this world is for four types of men (i.e., four types of men are found here).
(i) The bondsmen whom Allah has granted wealth as well as the knowledge of the correct way of life; they fear Allah in the expenditure and utilisation of their goods and show kindness to relatives by means of them and spend them in the way it ought to be done for the good pleasure of the Lord. These persons are of the highest grade.
(ii) The bondsmen whom Allah has endowed with correct knowledge (and the right spirit) but has not given them wealth; their intention is sound and they (honestly) feel and say that if they come into wealth, they too will spend and utilise it as such-and such a (virtuous) man does. The recompense of both these types of men is equal (i.e., people of the second category will be rewarded in the same way as those of the first due to the purity of their intention).
(iii) The bondsmen whom Allah gave wealth but not the knowledge (and spirit) of using and spending it properly; they spend their goods foolishly and in wrong ways and without the fear of Allah, and do not show kindness to relatives through their worldly possessions nor spend them as they ought to be spent. These are the worst kind of men.
(iv) The bondsmen whom Allah gave neither wealth nor right knowledge (and spirit); they say that if they obtain wealth, they, too, will spend it as such-and-such a (wasteful and self-indulgent) man does. Such is their intention and the sin of both these types of men is equal (i.e., the fault of the people of the last category will be identical, due to their evil intention, to that of the people belonging to the third category owing to their misdeeds).
The meaning of the above Tradition have been explained in the course of the translation. It is, however, necessary to bear in mind that the intention of evil conduct which has been condemned here as equivalent to the evil conduct itself belongs to the class of resolve and determination, i.e., the bondsman may be eager and bent upon committing a sin but cannot do so owing to an incapability or lack of opportunity. When the intention of a person is of that degree, it will amount to the commission of the sin and will be deserving of punishment in the same way as the transgression upon which his heart is set.