Wealth in Arabic term is known as ‘al-ghina‘, which means ‘no needs or needs less’ and wealthy is known as ‘al-ghaniyu‘ means ‘self sufficient’, which is one of attributes of God. As Allah says, “To Him belongs all that is in the heaven and on the heart: for verily God – He is free of all wants, worthy of all prices” (Qur’an: 22:64) and in another verse, Allah says, “Thy Lord is self sufficient, full of mercy…” (Qur’an: 6:133,). From the above verses, basically wealthy in Islam consists of two elements of life; physical and spiritual. The first dimension depicts the possession of materials which is known as ‘Maal‘ (‘amwaal‘ in its plural form), which basically means ‘property, assets or what ever mankind posses’. The latter indicates spiritual dimension such as knowledge and virtue that reside in their souls.
The natural relationship between the two dimensions is closely interrelated. For wealth is an outcome of interactions between mankind and their surroundings include all things in the heaven and in/on the earth such as flora, fauna and the like that can facilitate mankind to gain a convenient life in this world. In Arabic tradition, the first dimension of wealth was usually cattle for traditionally the Arab wealthy families were those who possessed more camels. Nevertheless, it does not mean that wealth is only derived from the animals. It can be from any things and any forms. Currently, many people possess different forms of property. It may be in the form of cash money, shares, land, house and other goods. As Allah says, “…God has subjected to your (use) all things in the heavens and (all things) on earth…” (Qur’an 31:20).
The first wealth is also very attractive to the nature of mankind, thus every man inclines to have wealth as Allah says, “Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world’s life; but in nearness of God is the best of the goals (to return to)” (Qur’an 3:14).
Moreover, when people consider that the wealth is every thing then it may become their master. They may do what ever it is requested solely for the wealth, and they are worry of their wealth for being lost from their hands. As a result their wealth is gradually and unintentionally felt as the most beloved one. At this point people may serve their wealth and they are consequently being greedy and niggardly kind of people as what happened to Qarun (as it is explained in the story of Qarun, see Azman Ismail, “Wealth is not wrong”, in Personal Money, January 2004, p. 69.). Undoubtedly, this wealth does not grant happiness to the mankind.
The latter dimension of wealth is food of spiritual such as knowledge and virtue. Presently, first dimension of wealth may be used as means to gain the second dimension of wealth that is knowledge and virtue through education and training. Knowledge is complete comprehension and interaction with this comprehension in the depths of the soul and conscience, which is then followed by action in harmony with them. As what Muslims are thought to recite a prayer: “O Lord, give us useful knowledge, large property and release us from any kind of illness and disease”.
In addition, knowledge may also yield the first dimension of wealth. As it was known, that knowledge will lead to the profession, and this profession consequently will resolve the scarcity of ability of mankind in utilizing and exploring the resources. As what was been insisted by the prophet peace be upon him by saying, “any one who wants this worldly life, he should have knowledge, and any one who wants the life of the hereafter, he should have knowledge, and who wants both this life and next hereafter, he should also have knowledge“. Furthermore when the prophet’s son in law, Ali bin Abi Thalib compared the two dimensions of wealth, he once said, “knowledge will take care of you while you will protect your property”.
Muslims should use both elements of wealth in rendering the service to Allah. Wealth in Islam is “rizq” that connotes subsistence or means of living. This means of living is not necessarily as an outcome of man’s effort. It is indeed an endowment or a gift from Allah. Because He is the one who sustains mankind’s life. The effort of mankind is considered as a process, which will consequently lead to either positive or negative result. As Allah says, “Say: O God! Lord of Power (and rule). Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou stripest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: in Thy hand is all good. Verily over all things thou hast power. Thou causest the night to gain on the day, and Thou causest the day gain on the night: Thou bringest the living out of the dead, and Thou bringest the dead out of the living; and Thou givest Sustenance to whom thou pleasest without measure” (Qur’an: 3:26-27).
The wealth in Islam, may also function as means of trial and test to find out whether a person is a true Muslim or vice versa; being wealthy he is being tested and being poor or wealth-less he is also being tested. As Allah says, “Now, as for man, when his Lord trieth him, giving him honour and gifts, then saith he (puffed up), ‘my lord hath honoured me’. But when He trieth him, restricting his subsistence for him, then saith he (in depair), ‘my Lord hath humiliated me’” (Qur’an 89: 15-16).
Dealing with the wealth is not as easy as Muslims’ dealing with other obligations. In fact, many Muslims perform their obligation towards their God such as performing prayers, fasting, and other ritual worships, but they fail in wealth management. Thus Arabic wise word says, “Prayer is a custom, Fasting is an affordable act, see and analyze people through their dealing with the wealth”. Prayer for being an obligatory thing it may become a usual thing that people do not regard it as special and extraordinary. Thus it gradually becomes a custom. Fasting is also an obligation that Muslims perform it only a month in a lunar year, and where Muslims join together to celebrate the month, thus it becomes affordable activity. While wealth is an essential part of life, many people could not be able to pass this trial. As Allah says, “Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere” (Qur’an 2:155). Who are they?… then Allah explains in the following verse, “Who say, when afflicted with calamity: ‘To God we belong, and to Him is our return‘” (Qur’an 2:155-156).
In sum, wealth is not an entity that a Muslim should love, for the one whom should be beloved is the giver and sustainer, which is Allah. As such a person will be very happy and content with what his beloved one (God) gives. In order to get happiness in this world and hereafter, Muslims should successfully manage their wealth in accordance with the injunctions of Allah, use it as means to worship Allah, and submit every thing to Him after we have accomplished jobs, for mankind plan and execute, while He decides the result.
by L. Lulyadi Arnakim