Many people mistakenly assume that true wealth and real treasure is that of money. It is indeed true that wealth is a great blessing from Allah which He bestows upon His servants. And the one who earns it purely, and spends it properly, and gives it to those that deserve it, without a doubt earns a great reward from Allah.
But at the same time, wealth is not the greatest blessing that can be given to mankind. Furthermore, no matter how much wealth a person has, eventually it will leave him, and pass on into the hands of others. The Prophet ﷺ reminded us of this when he asked the Companions,
“Who amongst you loves the money of his inheritors more than his own money?”
They replied, “O Messenger of Allah! There is no one of us except that he loves his own money more than he loves the money of his inheritors.” So the Prophet ﷺ replied,
“But his money is only that which he sent forth, and the
money of his inheritors is what he left behind.”
So in reality most of the money that a person owns will eventually end up in the hands of his or her inheritors, and only that part which was spent for the sake of Allah will actually benefit one in the hereafter.
Allah emphasizes this point in the Qur’an with the teaching that,
|“Wealth and children are the adornments of the life of this world. But the permanent righteous deeds are better in your Lord’s Sight (to attain) rewards, and better in respect of hope.” [Surah al-Kahf, 46]|
So money and children can be a comfort and a pleasure of this life, but righteous deeds are what will remain permanently not one’s family or wealth. It is these righteous deeds which will bring a person Allah’s Pleasure, and through which a person can hope for an ever-lasting reward in the Hereafter. The Qur’an clearly states,
|“And it is not your wealth, nor your children that bring you nearer to Us, but only he (will please Us) who believes, and does righteous deeds; for such (people), there will be a double reward for what they did, and they will reside in the high dwellings (of Paradise), in peace and security.” [Surah Saba’, 37]|
The great student of Ibn Abbas, Qatadah al-Sadusi, said commenting on this verse,
|“So do not judge people based on the amount of money and children they have! Even a disbeliever might be given money, whereas the Muslim has been withheld from it.|
In a well-known and oft-repeated parable, the Qur’an compares the life of this world to a crop that flourishes after rainfall, only to wither up and shrivel in a short period of time. The Qur’an states,
|“Realize that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children. It is like the vegetation (that sprouts forth) after rain, whose growth is pleasing to the disbeliever. Soon it dries up, and you see it turning yellow, then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers). And indeed, the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” [Surah Hadid, 20]|
Imam al-Sa’adi summarised the commentary of this verse when he wrote, in a very beautiful passage:
In this verse, Allah informs us of the true nature of this world, and what it is really based on, and He explains its end, and the end of the people in it. He informs us that it is a mere play and amusement, so our bodies play in it, and our hearts are amused at it. And we see that this is exactly what the people that are following this world are upon, so you find that they have wasted their entire lives so that they can amuse their hearts. They are in total ignorance about remembering Allah, and what they are about to face of rewards and punishments (in the Hereafter). You see them taking their religion as an amusement and pastime.
And this is in contrast to the people of awareness, and the ones that strive for the Hereafter. Their hearts are alive with the remembrance of Allah, and His knowledge, and His love. And they have busied themselves with actions that will bring them closer to Allah, whether those actions will benefit themselves only, or also others. And the phrase, ‘.. .zinah…,’ or ‘pompness,’ means that they will try to beautify themselves in their clothes, food, drinks, the means of transportation, their houses and palaces, their prestige, and other matters. The phrase,’…mutual boasting amongst you…,’ implies that everyone is attached (to this world), trying to outdo others, so that he will be the victor in all its matters. He wishes that he can satisfy all of his desires through it. And (this occurs in money and children), so each one wants to be the one that has more than the other, in money and children. And this is what is occurring amongst those that love this world and are content with it.
But this is in contrast to the one who realizes this world and its reality, so he made it a passage, and not the goal. So he competed in coming closer to Allah, and he took the necessary means to ensure that he would arrive at the promised destination. So when he sees someone who tries to compete with him in money and children, he instead competes against him with good deeds!
Then, Allah drew for us a parable of this world. It is like a rain that falls to the earth, and then mixes with the vegetation that is eaten by men and animals, until, when the earth spreads forth is beauty, and the disbelievers those who cannot see beyond this life are amazed at its fruits, the command of Allah comes upon it. So it is destroyed, and it withers up, and dries, and it returns to its previous state, as if the land never gave any greenery, and as if no beauty were ever seen on it!
And this is how this world is! While it is at its prime for its companion, sprouting forth with beauty, whatever he wants of its treasures he can take, and whenever he wants to obtain anything of it, he finds the doors to achieve it are open, when, all of a sudden, Allah’s decree falls upon it. So all of it is removed from his hands, and his control over it is gone, or he himself is removed from it, so he leaves it with absolutely nothing of it in his hands, having gained nothing from all of it except a shroud (that is placed on the dead body). So woe to him who makes it his goal, and sacrifices everything for it, and strives and devotes his entire life to it!
And as for the actions of the Hereafter, then that is what will truly benefit. It will store for its owner (the fruits of his work), and will accompany him forever. This is why Allah stated, ‘But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers).’ So, the Hereafter will be one of these two matters only.
As for the punishment, then it will be in the Fire of Hell, and its pits and chains, and all of its horrors. And this will be for one who has made this world his goal, and the end of his journey, so he freely disobeyed Allah, and rejected His signs, and did not thank His blessings.
And as for the forgiveness from Allah for one’s sins, and the absolvement of all punishment, and the pleasure of Allah, then this will be for one who strived for the Abode of Enjoyment (Paradise) the one who realised the true nature of this world, and therefore strived a real striving for the Hereafter.
So all of this should make us lessen our desire for this world, and increase our desire for the Hereafter, and this is why Allah said, ‘And indeed, the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.’ So, this (life) is an enjoyment that a person can benefit from, and take his needs from. No one except a person of weak mind will be deceived by it, and become content with it, and these are the ones that Allah will allow to be deceived by the Deceiver (Shaytan). 
No matter how much money a person earns, in reality he only utilizes a very small fraction of it. Ponder over the wise reminder from the Prophet (SAW|). ‘Abdullah ibn al-Shakhir reported, “I entered upon the Prophet ﷺ and he was reciting “Alhakum al-takathur” (The mutual rivalry [for trying to compete with one another in worldly matters] diverts you) [al-Takathur; 1]. He said,
| ‘The son of Adam cries out: “My money! My money!” But do you have, O son of Adam, anything of your money, except that which you eat, so it is wasted, or that which you wear, so it wears out, or that which you gave as charity, so you have sent it forth (to get its rewards in the Hereafter)?'” |
In this hadith, the Prophet ﷺ reminded us that, in reality, all of our money is utilised in only three ways. Firstly, the food that we eat, and this eventually is transformed into waste product. Secondly, the clothes that we wear, and this eventually wears out so that it is unusable. Thirdly, the money that has been spent for the sake of Allah, and this is the only part whose benefits remain and return to us. So of what benefit is it for a person to gloat over ‘his money’, and boast about it, and be eager for it, when in reality so little of it is actually spent in such a way as to provide eternal benefit?
Because of these factors, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ reminded mankind that wealth is not proportionate to the amount of material possessions a person owns. True wealth is to be content with what one has, and then to use it to strive for the everlasting reward of the Hereafter. The Prophet ﷺ said,
| “Richness is not in the quantity of possessions (that one has); rather, true richness is the richness of one’s self (or contentment).”|
He ﷺ also stated,
| “That which is little yet sufficient is better than that which is much but distracts.”|
And in a third hadith,
| “He is indeed successful who has been guided to Islam, and his sustenance was sufficient for him, and he was content with it.”|
| “The best sustenance that you are given is that which is sufficient.”|
So true success and wealth is found in the peace and satisfaction which results from sincerity in faith and practice. The contentment of the heart is what makes a person realise and appreciate this true richness. The Prophet ﷺ described this richness in another hadith, where he said,
| “Whoever amongst you wakes up, secure in his house, healthy in his body, having the bare amount of food that he requires for the day, then it is as if the entire world has been captured for him, with all that it contains!”|
This hadith has many benefits that can be obtained from it. ‘Whoever amongst you…,’ means the Muslims, indicating the first and greatest blessing, namely, that of Islam; ‘…wakes up…,’ means that one has been blessed with life;’. ..secure in his house..,,’ means without fear of attack upon one’s safety or the safety of one’s family; ‘…healthy in his body…,’ means that Allah has saved him or her from diseases and sicknesses; ‘…having the bare amount of food that he requires for the day…’ indicates that even the minimal amount of sustenance is a great blessing from Allah, for this is what the body and health requires, and many people do not even have this amount; and lastly, ‘.. .it is as if the entire world has been captured for him, with all that it contains,’ indicating that this is all that a person needs of this life, and everything that is in addition to this bare minimum is an unnecessary luxury.
Contentment with Allah’s provision, whether large or small, is contentment with life, and hence, the best wealth that a person can have. The Prophet ﷺ stated,
| “Verily Allah tests His servant with what He has given him. So whoever is content with whatever he has been assigned, then Allah will bless him in it, and give him more! But whoever is not content (with what he has been given), then he will not be blessed in it.” |
Those who are content with their own provision and lot in life will lose concern over the wealth and status of others. Such people have no concern as to how much money others have, what types of cars they drives, or the size of the houses they live in. Those with clean hearts in this respect love Allah, and are grateful to Him, knowing that the goods of this world cannot buy happiness, or the blessings of faith and contentment. In return, they are loved by Allah, and by fellow men and women. This principle is so clearly outlined in the noble Prophetic tradition:
| “Give up (hope of attaining) this world, Allah will love you. And give up (hope of) whatever is in the possession of other people, and the people will love you.”|
In another narration, a person came to the Prophet ﷺ and asked him, “O Messenger of Allah! Narrate to me a hadith, and make it short!” So he ﷺ replied,
| “Pray your prayer as if it is your last, as if you are seeing Him (Allah), for even if you do not see Him then He sees you. And give up hope (of obtaining) what other’s possess, then you will live a rich life. And beware of anything that you might (later) have to make an excuse for.” |
So whoever sets as a primary goal the pleasure of Allah and the rewards of the Hereafter will be loved by Allah, and whoever avoids competing with fellow Muslims concerning worldly matters will be loved by the people. And this wealth – the love of Allah and that of mankind is far greater than any richness that money can buy.
The pious predecessors of this nation also realised this principle. Awn ibn Abdillah [14 ]said, “The greatest blessing is that when this world is straightened for you you appreciate what you have been given of the blessings of Islam.” [15 ]So next time you are in severe financial circumstances, instead of looking at the material and temporary pleasures that you have not been afforded, ponder instead over the treasure of iman that Allah has blessed you with, and appreciate the great fortune of being a Muslim!
Likewise, when you are overjoyed or distressed due to some monetary gain or loss, remember the statement of Muhammad ibn Suqah, who said,
|“There are two characteristics which, even though Allah does not punish us for them, are reason enough for our punishment: we are overjoyed at a small gain that we receive from this world, and yet Allah has never seen us so happy for a good deed that we do, and we are so worried about a small matter that has missed us concerning this world, and yet Allah has never seen us so worried about a sin that we commit.”|
This section is concluded by quoting the verse in which Allah reminded the Prophet ﷺ and the believers not to long for the wealth of this world wealth that has been given to those that have rejected submission to Allah – but rather to strive for the richness of the Hereafter:
|“And strain not your eyes in longing for the things that We have given for enjoyment to various groups of them (the disbelievers) – the splendour of the life of this world – that We may test them thereby. And indeed, the provision (rizq) of your Lord is better and more lasting.” [Surah Ta Ha, 131]|
1 In other words, who amongst you loves the money that is in the hands of the people who will inherit from him when he dies (such as one’s sons and daughters) more than the money that he himself owns.
2 Reported by al-Bukhari (4/217) and others.
3 Reported by al-Tabari in his Tafsir.
4 Tafsiral-Sa’adi, pps. 780-781.
5 Reported by Muslim (8/211) and others.
6 Reported by al-Bukhari (4/219) and others.
7 Reported by Abu Ya’la (1/295), Ibn Adi (7/2)and others, and al-Albani
authenticated it in al-Sahihah, (# 947).
8 Reported by Muslim (3/102) and others.
9 Reported by Ibn Hibban (# 2323). See al-Silsilah al-Sahihah, (# 1834).
10 Reported by al-Tirmidhi (# 2347) who considered it hasan gharib; al-Bukhari in his al-Adab al-Mufrad (# 300), Ibn Hibban in his Taqasim (# 2507) and others. Al-Albani agreed with al-Tirmidhi in his Silsilah (# 2318).
11 Reported by Ahmad (5/24), with an authentic chain, as mentioned in al-Sahihah,(# 1658).
12 Reported by Ibn Majah (# 4102), al-Hakim (4/313) who considered it
Sahih, and others. Al-Albani also graded it as authentic in al-Silsilah, (#
13 Reported by al-Bukhari in his al-Tarikh (3/216), and al-Tabarani in his al-
Awsat (# 4588) and others. Al-Haythami, in his Majma al-Zawaid (10/
229) said: “There are, in its chain, people that I do not know.” However,
this narration has supporting evidences, including the hadith of Sa d ibn
Abi Waqqas, and ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (in al-Tabarani’s al-Awsat, #
5907), due to which al-Albani considered it acceptable in his al-Sahihah
14 The grand-nephew of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud. When he used to narrate
hadith, his beard would become wet with tears. He died around 115 A.H.
(see Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, 3/338).
15 Ibn Abi al-Dunya, al-Qana ah wa al-Ta afuf, (# 151).
16 Of the major students of the tabi’in. Sufyan ibn’Uyaynah said, “There were
three people in Kufah, if they were told, ‘You are going to die tomorrow’
they would not have been able to increase any of their good deeds (due
to the fact that they were doing so many). Of them is Muhammad ibn
Suqah.” (See Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, 3/584).
17 Ibn Abi al-Dunya, al-Qana ah wa al-Ta’afuf, (# 153).