REFRAIN FROM LUST AND ILL GOTTEN WEALTH
Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph.D.,
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane, Louisville, KY 40242, USA
Daytime Phone: (502) 287-6262, FAX: (502) 287-6908
The true spirit of worship of Allah is submission to Allah and preference of the After-life (Aakhirah) over the temporal life. It would, therefore, be better if we look into other religions. The Prophets before our, Rasool Allah (SAS) who invited their people to the Divine religion assured them that by following them (Prophets) they would not only earn the benefits of the After-life but of this world as well. The Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) told his people:
Â“Seek pardon of your Lord. Lo He was ever forgiving, He will let loose the sky for you in the plenteous rain. And will help you with the wealth and sons, and will assign unto you Gardens and will assign unto you rivers.Â” Quran, 71: 10-12.
Similarly did Prophet HUD (11:52).
Â“And the fair word of the Lord was fulfilled for the children of
Israel because of their endurance.Â” (7: 137).
Because of their inclination towards Allah and steadfastness on the path of Truth, their wretchedness was changed into prosperity. Not only that, they were even assured of the principle that as their gratefulness to Allah and observance of His injunctions increased, they will be blessed with more and more Divine favors.
Â“And when your Lord proclaimed: If you give thanks
I will give you more.Â” (14:7)
So long as they were grateful to Allah the world saw that the Divine promise was fulfilled. It was fulfilled so magnificently that they attained the highest peak of national glory and no other nation of the world was able to come up to them in honor and prestige. Referring to this glorious period of their history Allah reminded them in the QurÂ’an:
Â“Oh Children of Israel: Remember My favor wherewith I favored
You and how I preferred you to (all creatures)Â”. (2: 47).
When they abandoned their attitude of gratefulness, submission and adherence to religion they were stripped of this role of honor. (Diaspora, Temple of Solomon destroyed in 70 CE).
Â“And if the people of the township had believed and kept from evil, surely
We should have opened for them blessings from the sky and from the earth. (7:96).
The Verdict to those who adhered to the path of righteousness is given in the following words of the QurÂ’an:
Â“So Allah gave them the reward of the world and the good reward of the Hereafter.Â’ (3:148).
For submission and obedience unto Him, Allah will grant prosperity in the Hereafter but endow upon them affluence, honor and power in this world as well. These illustrations also reveal that whenever a nation adopted the way of obedience and submission, the Divine promise and principle were unfailingly fulfilled. Not only the welfare of their After-life was assured; they thrived in this world also.
Addressing the people in Mecca and Medina, the Noble Prophet (SAS) assured them:
Â“If you will accept the message I have brought it will be for you a source of Good luck in this world and in the Hereafter.Â’ (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I).
Â“Faint not, nor grieve, for you will overcome them if you are (indeed) believers.Â” (3: 139)
It is an established fact of history that Islam gave to the Muslims everything they could possibly need.
RELATION BETWEEN THE OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION AND PROSPERITY.
When religion orients one towards the After-life and wants him to be indifferent to this world, how is it that he or she attains success in the world as well? How is it that he or she maintains a firm grasp of the religion but at the same time enjoys the good things of this life also?
Firstly: Wealth, honor, power and similar things, which are regarded as the corner stones of the prosperity of this world are not despicable (to look down on with contempt or aversion or worthless or distasteful) by themselves. In fact these are the bounties of Allah. The Quran has regarded them as such. The 5th Surah of the QurÂ’an, al-MaÂ’ida (The Table Spread), is an example in point. While making mention of the people of Israel it describes the honor and power they enjoyed in their past as the bounties of Allah:
Â“Remember AllahÂ’s favor unto you, how He placed among you
Prophets, and made you kings.Â” (5: 20).
Â“Then disperse in the land and seek of AllahÂ’s bountyÂ”, Surah, Jumuah, (62: 10).
Secondly: Man has been created as a Caliph and vicegerent of Allah and this office enjoins that he should keep the management of the world in his own hands and run it in accordance with the injunctions and pleasures of his Master (Allah).
Things that are bounties and favors of Allah cannot be forbidden to the pious people. In fact the Divine verdict in respect of such things is:
Â“Say: such good things on the Day of Resurrection, will be only for those who believed during the worldly lifeÂ” (7: 32)
It means that in fact only such people deserve these things who are obedient to Allah. If they are really the people who deserve these things how could they be denied access to them? One who knows Allah, runs from His chastisement and not from His favor. Allah wants that man should use his authority in accordance with His commands so that His wish is fulfilled in this world, as it is to be fulfilled in other worlds.
Â“Our Lord! Give unto us in the world that which is good and in the Hereafter
That which is good.Â” (2: 201).
This prayer is certainly granted if man establishes that he deserves it. Islam despises and forbids those things, which make a man forgetful of Allah and negligent of his religious duties. Forgetfulness of Allah and negligence of religious obligations relate to the self of man and not to worldly things. Ordinary men lose their balance even with small amount of wealth but a man like Â‘Umar bin Â‘Abdul Â‘Aziz (known as the 5th Khalifa -e-Rashidah- the rightly guided Caliphs) does not, for a moment, become forgetful of Allah even while looking after the greatest empire of his times.
The fact is that things like wealth, honor, and power are not intrinsically evil and need not be arbitrarily shunned. Actually it is oneÂ’s own thinking and use of these things, which render them harmful for him. Since Islam assumes that a Muslim does not misuse these things, as they are bestowed upon him by Allah, and utilizes them in accordance with His pleasure and commands, these things do not constitute the kind of world which is condemned. Instead they make up the world, which is good and sanctioned.
To prefer the After-life to the temporal life does not mean the abandoning of worldly life. What it actually means is that in the pursuit of material gains, and after their attainment, one should not become so oblivious of the religious injunctions as to harm the interests of the After-life (Aakhirah).
A Muslim is enjoined to prefer the After-life to this world; the way to worldly welfare has been to a reasonable extent, kept open for him. That is to say that while the welfare of the After-life is the prime object of his life, the way Islam prescribes for its attainment does not ignore the welfare of the temporal life but is deeply involved it. Ayah 148, in Surah Al-i-Â’Imran of the QurÂ’an, will clearly show that those who are true believers and do good deeds are rewarded handsomely not only in the After life but in this world also. Â“So Allah gave them the reward of the world and the good reward of the Hereafter.Â” (3:148).
An Essential Condition for Material Prosperity
In the end it may be reminded that true belief and good conduct are not only essential for the welfare of the Hereafter, they are also equally important for temporal welfare. It means that the doors of the worldly blessings are thrown open to someone only when he or she fulfills the pre-conditions of true belief and good conduct. Muslims were given victory over the infidels with the words: Â“If you are true believersÂ’. Ruling power was given for those who qualify for it by virtue of their true belief and good conduct.
Â“Allah had promised such of you as believe and do good works,Â” (24: 55)
AllahÂ’s promise for rewards is subject to true belief and good conduct. Example of Shah of Iran, President Saddam Hussein, etc. It means, leaving aside the matter of welfare in the Hereafter, even the welfare of the worldly life cannot be attained without true belief and good conduct. Even the success in worldly life cannot be achieved without recourse to religion.
Individuals in their own life can only get the good things of temporal life, such as peace of mind, honor, popularity and other material necessities, when at least in their own capacity they cherish) love for Allah and show preference for the Hereafter as Muslims should indeed do.
The Nobel Prophet said Â“One who make the After-life his ultimate aim, Allah sets his affairs right and makes his heart generous and this world bows to him in obedience.Â” (Ibn Majah).
A Muslim nation can attain power and glory in this world only when it really behaves as a nation submissive and it is borne out by the history of the last fourteen centuries. As long as Muslims behaved as true Muslims they enjoyed such political power and economic affluence, which even America and Russia, do not enjoy today. As the Muslims declined from the position of Â“a Nation submissiveÂ” to an ordinary nation they lost their eminent position. Now the Muslims have reached a stage where they have become insignificant. A look at the MuslimsÂ’ share in Nobel Prizes, Olympic Gold Medals, Research and Publications, etc proves the point. Muslims will not regain their true glory unless they transform themselves. The future of the Muslims can only be different from their present if they go back to their past. They will be endowed with the gifts of true honor and power only if they let the religion of Allah dominate their lives. When the religion of their mosques is the same as is the religion of their parliament and assemblies. The Divine promise is always there to be fulfilled. Whenever the Muslims will earnestly desire and endeavor for it, it will be fulfilled.
CONFUSION AND ITS REMOVAL
Numerous instances can be quoted of persons who are good Muslims yet their life is very ordinary, and is even spent mostly in great hardships. As Opposed to them, there are Muslims who have only a remote interest in Islam but are rich and enjoy great fame. To understand this confusion one must be aware of the Islamic concept of Â“Material Prosperity.Â” The QurÂ’anic verses which carry the promise of prosperity for a true Muslim:
Â“Whosoever doeth right, whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily
We shall quicken with good life.Â” (16: 97).
Â“Whoso followeth My guidance, he will not go astray nor come to grief. But he who turneth away from remembrance of Me his will be a wretched lifeÂ”
(QurÂ’an, Surah, Ta Ha, 20: 122,123)
These verses disclose that the welfare of this world, which a man gets by virtue of his faith and good conduct, is Â“good life,Â” It is a life free of tension and anxiety. In other words it does not lie in the abundance of material wealth, palatial houses, cavalcades (procession) of cars, armies of servants, rich food and costly dresses. Instead it comprises the necessities of life and contentment of heart, A wealth which makes one dependent on sleeping pills for sleep, which makes the mind a storehouse of worries and which keeps the heart ablaze with fear and greed cannot be regarded as such by any stretch of imagination. It is in fact the worst agony. Such a wealth is not a source of prosperity but lands one in a miserable plight. Here the words, wretched life does not mean a life of poverty, It means a life deprived of the peace of mind, even though one may be a millionaire or the ruler of a vast empire. For the one, who will run away from the Â“AdmonitionÂ” of Allah, will always be suffering from the pangs of a guilty conscience and deprived of the peace of mind and real happiness.
The disbelievers of Makkah (and all the foolish people of the world) judged a manÂ’s worth by his wealth and worldly prosperity and not by his faith and righteous conduct. They thought that the one who was enjoying all the good things of life was a favorite of Allah, even if he had erroneous beliefs and did wicked deeds. On the other hand, they considered the one who was poor and indigent to be under the wrath of Allah, even though he was righteous. That is why in their judgment Â“the Chiefs of the QuraishÂ” were far superior compared to the followers of our Rasool Allah (SAS). They would say, Â“You can see for yourselves that Allah is with the Chiefs of the Quraish.Â” In this verse, Allah warned them that they are absolutely wrong in drawing such a conclusion from the worldly conditions of the people. Allah gives His provisions to the people abundantly or sparingly for reasons different from those, which they presumed, and richness and poverty is no criterion by which to judge the worth of people. The real criterion of judging the worth of the people is their beliefs and deeds. The one, who has righteous beliefs and does good deeds, shall be higher in rank than the one who has wrong beliefs and does evil deeds. Thus the real criterion is the quality of oneÂ’s deeds and not the possession or the lack of wealth.
LOOK AROUND AND SEE THE FATE OF OUR LEADERS. One gets this kind of wealth when one abandons the love of Allah and stops striving for the betterment of his After-life. In consequence of his defalcation (EMBEZZLEMENT) he gets a wealth whereby he becomes poorer than a starving creature and worse than a wretched soul.
Against that man whose heart is full of love for Allah and which feels pleasure in striving for the betterment of the After-life, is as good as blessed with King SolomonÂ’s wealth even if he gets only a bare living. He is also blessed because the wealth, which we call the peace of mind, emanates from the remembrance of Allah.
Â“Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.Â” (13: 28).
If oneÂ’s heart is not negligent in the remembrance of Allah, he will certainly attain piety (Taqwa) and one who is endowed with piety has a firm promise from Allah that he will not be wanting in food and clothes. Allah has assured that it is His responsibility to see that such a person is provided with his needs.
Â“And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, Allah will appoint a way for him. And will provide for him (a quarter) whence he hath no expectation.Â” (65: 2-3).
There are Muslim countries, which show no love for Islam and claim to be independent and powerful, but are really dependent on America and Russia. What kind of independence and power do they enjoy? Muslim countries that are governed by Islamic Law but are stooges of the West are not Islamic States in the true sense. They suffer from lack of confidence and incomplete faith. They will never attain power and glory; instead Allah has prescribed humiliation for such countries.