Just enter Youtube and type in “wealth” and you’ll be instantly bombarded by advice on how to get rich, advice given by people who’ve stumbled upon a bit of good luck and seek to make even more money from it be convincing you that you too can “have it all.”
And then there are your peers, who can be probably divided up according to those who say they care nothing for money (but don’t mind spending other people’s) and those who openly and aggressively strive after economic wealth, ignoring the cost to the environment, their relationships, and even their very souls.
Time to turn to the Quran for some perspective. What, in fact, does the Quran say about wealth? Is it good, bad, or indifferent? It all depends . . .
- Wealth is one of the blessings of Allah, but losing it— or in fact never having it in the first place— may be His way of testing you.
And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient . . . [Quran, 2:155]
- Attachment to wealth is not a characteristic of the righteous.
. . . but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives 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 gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. [Quran, 2:177]
- Wealth must always be lawfully gained.
And do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly or send it [in bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful]. [Quran, 2:188]
- The more you have, the more you’re expected to give.
. . . But give them [a gift of] compensation – the wealthy according to his capability and the poor according to his capability – a provision according to what is acceptable, a duty upon the doers of good. [Quran, 2:236]
- Spending your wealth in the way of Allah is the best investment you can possibly make, as it will be blessed many times over.
The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing. [Quran,2:261]
- Spending in the way of Allah must be done with grace and humility.
O you who have believed, do not invalidate your charities with reminders or injury as does one who spends his wealth [only] to be seen by the people and does not believe in Allah and the Last Day. His example is like that of a [large] smooth stone upon which is dust and is hit by a downpour that leaves it bare. They are unable [to keep] anything of what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people. [Quran, 2:264]
- We’re not to be impressed by the wealth of those who don’t believe.
So let not their wealth or their children impress you. Allah only intends to punish them through them in worldly life and that their souls should depart [at death] while they are disbelievers. [Quran, 9:55]
- Wealth can become a false comfort, distracting us and keeping us from striving in the cause of Allah.
O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that – then those are the losers. [Quran, 63:9]
And when a surah was revealed [enjoining them] to believe in Allah and to fight with His Messenger, those of wealth among them asked your permission [to stay back] and said, ‘Leave us to be with them who sit [at home].’ [Quran, 9:86]
- Wealth is good. Good deeds are better.
. . . wealth and children are [but] adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for [one’s] hope. [Quran, 18:46]
- Material wealth is only of benefit in the world, because we can’t bring it with us into Paradise.
The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children . . . [Quran, 26:88]
The next time you start thinking wealth might solve your problems, think again. Keep the words of the Message foremost in your mind, and you may just save yourself a great deal of pointless striving!
May your heart be touched and your mind opened,
The Understand Quran Academy Team