The Fitnah of Wealth

by Abű Ammâr Yasir al-Qadhî

Wealth, while one of the greatest blessings that mankind has been given, is at the same time one of the greatest trials and temptations. Allah states,

"Your wealth and your children are only a trial (fitnah). And Allah - With Him is a great reward (Paradise)." [Surah al-Taghabun, 15]

He also states,

"And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial (fitnah) and that surely with Allah is a mighty reward." [Surah al-Anfal, 28]

Hence, every material possession is only a test and a trial. To make this test even more difficult, the value of wealth is raised high above most other worldly goods. Almost every person has a strong craving for wealth. As Allah says,

"Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world's life; but Allah has the excellent return (Paradise) with Him” (Surah Aal ‘Imran, 14)

In one of the most explicit verses in this regard in the Qur'an, the Muslim is advised to understand his priorities, or suffer the consequences:

"Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight, are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving in His Cause, then wait until Allah executes His Decision (torment). And Allah guides not the people who are rebellious (disobedient to Allah)." [Surah al-Tawbah, 24]

Countless verses censure those who hoard wealth in denial of Allah's rights:

"Woe to every slanderer and backbiter. Who has gathered wealth and counted it. He presumes that his money will make him immortal." [Surah al-Humazah, 1-3]

And:

"Have you seen him who disbelieved in Our verses and (yet) says: 'I shall certainly be given wealth and children."[Surah Maryam, 77]

Allah threatens such people:

"And let not those who disbelieve ever think that [because] We extend their time [of enjoyment] it is better for them. We only extend it for them so that they may increase in sin, and for them is a humiliating punishment." [Surah Al- Imran, 178]

By these verses, we come to understand that 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)."[1]

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."[2]

In another hadith, he (SAW|) 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." [3]

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

"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." [4]

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?" [5]

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 (SAW|) 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." [6]

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.

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 (SAW) said,

"The poor will enter Paradise before the rich by half a day, and that is five hundred years." [7]

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." [8]

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 summarised in the hadith of the Prophet (SAW) 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)." [9]


1 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).

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

3 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).

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

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

6 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).

7 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.

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

9 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).

Extracted from “15 Ways to Increase Your Earnings” published by Al Hidaayah UK


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