وَأمّا حَقُّ المَالِ، فَأَنْ لا تَأْخُذَهُ إلاّ مِنْ حِلِّهِ، ولا تُنْفِقَهُ إلاّ فِي حِلِّهِ، وَلا تُحَرِّفْهُ عَنْ مَوَاضِعِهِ، ولا تَصْرِفَهُ عَنْ حَقَائِقِهِ، ولا تَجْعَلْهُ إذا كَانَ مِنَ اللَّهِ إلاّ إلَيهِ وَسَبَباً إلَى اللَّهِ. ولا تُؤثِرَ بهِ عَلَى نفْسِكَ مَنْ لَعَلَّهُ لا يَحْمَدُكَ، وَبالْحَرِيِّ أَنْ لا يُحْسنَ خِلافَتَهُ فِي تَرِكَتِكَ ولا يَعْمَلُ فِيهِ بطَاعَةِ ربكَ فَتَكُونَ مُعِينًا لَهُ عَلَى ذلِكَ أَو بمَا أَحْدَثَ فِي مَالِكَ أَحْسَنَ نَظَرًا لِنَفْسِهِ، فَيَعْمَلَ بطَاعَةِ رَبهِ فَيَذْهَبَ بالْغَنِيمَةِ وتَبُوءَ بالإثمِ وَالْحَسْرَةِ وَالنَّدَامَةِ مَعَ التَّبعَةِ. وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا باللهِ.
And the right of your property is that you should not attain it except by legitimate means and you should only spend it for legitimate causes. You should not spend it improperly, you should not use it wrongfully, and you should only use what is from God in His way and as a means to approach Him.
In it (your property) you should not prefer above yourself one who does not show gratitude to you, and in fact will neither use your legacy well nor use it in obedience to your Lord. In that case you will be an aid to him in that. Or you may bequeath your property to one who spends it in the way of obedience to God in ways better than you do. Then he will gain the benefits, and you will be left with the sins, the regret and the remorse together with the ill consequences. And there is no power but in God.
We can summarize this as follows:
1 Proper ways to obtain wealth, and give charity.
2 The proper direction of use of property and its due right.
3 The source of wealth is God. Therefore, wealth must be spent in His way.
4 Wealth should be used wisely. Otherwise, it will be left as inheritance. The inheritors might use it properly and gain the related benefits of this world and the Hereafter. The loss might be left for the one who earned it in the first place.
Wealth is not stable. It might belong to us one day and belong to others later. We read the following in the Holy Qur’an:
الْمَالُ وَالْبَنُونَ زِينَةُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا
“Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Kahf 18:46]
There are two forms of ownership: true ownership and virtual ownership. True ownership is the form of ownership in which the owner has absolute control over things he owns. Examples include the ownership of the cause over the effect or the mind over imagination. God is the true owner of all things as we can see in the following verse:
وَللّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ وَكَانَ اللّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّحِيطًا
“But to God belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And He it is that encompasseth all things.”[The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:126]
True ownership cannot be transferred from the owner. However, virtual ownership is the form of ownership in which the owner can use the property and prevent other people from using it. This is like the ownership of man over his wealth. This form of ownership has been developed through the social association of people with one another. That is why it is called virtual. There is no true developmental relationship between the owner and the property. This form of ownership is transferable.
As viewed by Islam, man is the center of God’s creation. Everything else is created to be subject to him. The Holy Qur’an counts the blessings and considers them to be for man’s use as we can read in the following verse:
هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُم مَّا فِي الأَرْضِ جَمِيعاً
“It is He Who hath created for you all things that are on earth.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:29]
Also, consider the following verse in this regard:
أَلَمْ تَرَوْا أَنَّ اللَّهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ
“Do ye not see that God has subjected to your (use) all things in the heavens and on earth?” [The Holy Qur’an, Luqman 31:20]
And the following verse:
هُوَ أَنشَأَكُم مِّنَ الأَرْضِ وَاسْتَعْمَرَكُمْ فِيهَا
“It is He Who hath produced you from the earth and settled you therein." [The Holy Qur’an, Hud 11:61]
And the following:
وَآتُوهُم مِّن مَّالِ اللَّهِ الَّذِي آتَاكُمْ
“Give them something yourselves out of the means which God has given to you.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nur 24:33]
Thus, we see that God has given man a central role in creation, and everything is created for man.
God has created everything including wealth for man’s benefit. The economic system is an important part of the overall Islamic system. It has been set up to meet man’s basic needs such as food, clothing, housing, defense, recreation, health and hygiene, as well as his psychological needs such as man’s desire for beauty.
We can group the verses of the Holy Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet and the Immaculate Imams regarding the life of this world into three distinct groups. First, let us look at the Qur’anic verses in this regard:
1 - There are some verses that blame the life of this world to be play and amusement as we read in the following verse:
إِنَّمَا الحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ
“The life of this world is but play and amusement.” [The Holy Qur’an, Muhammad 47:36]
Also, consider the following verse:
وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلاَّ لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ
“What is the life of this world but play and amusement?” [The Holy Qur’an, al-An’am 6:32]
And the following verse:
وَمَا هَذِهِ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا لَهْوٌ وَلَعِبٌ
“What is the life of this world but amusement and play?” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ankabut 29:64]
And the following:
اعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ
“Know ye (all) that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying, (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Hadid 57:20]
2 – In the second group of verses the life of this world and its associated things are considered to be good and desirable as we read in the following verses using the Arabic word “Fadlihi”:
وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ عَيْلَةً فَسَوْفَ يُغْنِيكُمُ اللّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ إِن شَاء إِنَّ اللّهَ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ
“And if ye fear poverty soon will God enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty. For God is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Tawbah 9:28]
وَتَرَى الْفُلْكَ مَوَاخِرَ فِيهِ وَلِتَبْتَغُواْ مِن فَضْلِهِ
“And thou seest the ships therein that plough the waves, that ye may seek (thus) of the bounty of God.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naĥl 16:14]
الَّذِينَ يَبْخَلُونَ وَيَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبُخْلِ وَيَكْتُمُونَ مَا آتَاهُمُ اللّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ
“(Nor) those who are niggardly or enjoin niggardliness on others, or hide the bounties which God hath bestowed on them.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:37]
وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ لَمَسَّكُمْ فِي مَا أَفَضْتُمْ فِيهِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ
“Were it not for the grace and mercy of God on you, in this world and the Hereafter, a grievous penalty would have seized you in that ye rushed glibly into this affair.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nur 24:14]
And using the Arabic word ‘Khayr’ in the following verses:
كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ إِن تَرَكَ خَيْرًا
“It is prescribed when death approaches any of you if he leave any goods.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:180]
“Whatever of good ye give benefits your own souls, and ye shall only do so seeking the "Face" of God. Whatever good ye give, shall be rendered back to you, and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly.”[The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:272]
وَإِنَّهُ لِحُبِّ الْخَيْرِ لَشَدِيدٌ
“And violent is he in his love of wealth.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-‘Adiyat 100:8]
وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الْخَيْرُ مَنُوعًا
“And niggardly when good reaches him.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ma’arij 70:21]
And using the Arabic word ‘Rahmat’ in the following verses:
وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَا الإِنْسَانَ مِنَّا رَحْمَةً ثُمَّ نَزَعْنَاهَا مِنْهُ إِنَّهُ لَيَئُوسٌ كَفُورٌ
“If We give man a taste of Mercy from Ourselves, and then withdraw it from him, behold! He is in despair and (falls in) blasphemy.” [The Holy Qur’an, Hud 11:9]
قُل لَّوْ أَنتُمْ تَمْلِكُونَ خَزَآئِنَ رَحْمَةِ رَبِّي إِذًا لَّأَمْسَكْتُمْ خَشْيَةَ الإِنفَاقِ
“Say: If ye had control of the Treasures of the Mercy of my Lord, behold, ye would keep them back, for fear of spending them!” [The Holy Qur’an, Bani Israel 17:100]
فَأَرَادَ رَبُّكَ أَنْ يَبْلُغَا أَشُدَّهُمَا وَيَسْتَخْرِجَا كَنزَهُمَا رَحْمَةً مِّن رَّبِّكَ
“So thy Lord desired that they should attain their age of full strength and get out their treasure - a mercy (and favor) from thy Lord.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Kahf 18:82]
And using the Arabic word ‘Hasana’ in the following verses:
فَإِذَا جَاءتْهُمُ الْحَسَنَةُ قَالُواْ لَنَا هَـذِهِ
“But when good (times) came, they said: This is due to us!” [The Holy Qur’an, al-A`raaf 7:131]
إِن تُصِبْكَ حَسَنَةٌ تَسُؤْهُمْ
“If good befalls thee, it grieves them.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Tawbah 9:50]
There are also some verses in which worldly deprivation under some circumstances is considered a form of divine chastisement.
3 - The third group of verses describe the above two groups and attempt to clarify the seemingly contradictory nature of the above classifications of the life of this world. In these verses, we are told that the life of this world is good when it is directed towards the life of the Hereafter as a preparatory stage for it. However, if the life of this world on its own is stressed upon, then it is blameworthy. Consider the following verse in this regard:
إَنَّ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءنَا وَرَضُواْ بِالْحَياةِ الدُّنْيَا وَاطْمَأَنُّواْ بِهَا وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِنَا غَافِلُونَ
أُوْلَـئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمُ النُّارُ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكْسِبُونَ
“Those who rest not their hope on their meeting with Us, but are pleased and satisfied with the life of the present, and those who heed not Our Signs - their abode is the Fire because of the (evil) they earned.” [The Holy Qur’an, Yunus 10:7-8]
Imam Ali said:
الدُّنْيا مَتْجَرُ أوْلِياءِ اللهِ.
“The world is a trade center for God’s friends.”1
The Noble Prophet said:
الدُّنْيا مَزْرَعَةُ الآخِرَةِ.
“The world is a farm for the Hereafter.”2
He also said:
نِعْمَ العَونُ الدُّنْيا عَلى الآخِرَةِ.
“The world is the best aid for the Hereafter.”3
He also said:
نِعْمَ المَالُ الصّالِحُ لِلعَبْدِ الصّالِحِ.
“How good is wealth for a good servant!”4
Thus, we can conclude that this world is an intermediate step and a means to reach the Hereafter. The phrases “trade center”, “farm”, and “helper” used in these traditions to refer to this world imply that one cannot attain prosperity in the Hereafter without using the life of this world. However, if we forget the role of this world and consider it the ultimate goal for man, then we will become negligent and seek our absolute welfare in this world. The Holy Qur’an says:
وَلَوْ بَسَطَ اللَّهُ الرِّزْقَ لِعِبَادِهِ لَبَغَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ
“If God were to enlarge the provisions for His servants, they would indeed transgress beyond all bounds through the earth…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Shura 42:47]
It also says:
كَلَّا إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَيَطْغَى أَن رَّآهُ اسْتَغْنَى
“Nay, but man doth transgress all bounds, in that he looks upon himself as self-sufficient.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-‘Alaq 96:6-7]
In addition, in another verse we read:
وَإِذَا أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَى الإِنسَانِ أَعْرَضَ وَنَأَى بِجَانِبِهِ وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ كَانَ يَؤُوسًا
“Yet when We bestow our favors on man, he turns away and becomes remote on his side…” [The Holy Qur’an, Bani Israil 17:83]
That is why divinely guided leaders have always stressed the concept of sufficiency in this world. In a tradition from the Prophet of God we read:
اللّهُمّ ارْزُقْ محَمَّداً وَآلَ محَمَّدٍ وَمَن أحَبَّ محَمَّداً وَآلَ محَمَّدٍ العَفافَ وَالكِفافَ
“O God! Grant Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and those who love Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, chastity and sufficiency.”5
It is also written in Nahjul Balaghah:
وَلا تَسألوا فِيها فَوقَ الكِفافِ وَلا تطْلُبوا مِنها أكْثَرَ مِن البَلاغِ.
“Do not ask herein for more than what is enough and do not demand from it more than sufficiency.”
Through these verses and traditions it became clear that wealth and its role in economy is very important in life. We also realize that our life should be accompanied by a strong belief. Now let us consider how Islam views obtaining wealth and spending it.
All men like wealth. Is this love for wealth and motivation to own, a part of man’s nature or is it an acquired form of behavior? Some people believe this to be a part of man’s nature since even animals have an instinct to own which can be observed from their behavior. Some scientists consider this love for ownership not to be an independent instinctive force.
Rather they think it is a means by which man can fulfill other instinctive needs such as eating, clothing, housing, sex, and child-rearing. Animals exert their ownership over objects that they need for specific purposes. The various forms of this ownership can be seen regarding their food, companions, and nest or a place to live. The tendency to own is stronger in animals regarding their stronger inclinations such as hunger, sex and child-rearing.
William James considered ownership to be a form of social expression of personality or a form of psychological volumetric expansion. He said: “The word me does not imply my psychological forces only. Rather it also includes my clothes, my house, my automobile, my property, my bank account, etc. All these things arouse the same senses in me.”6
Even though the love for wealth is not instinctive, it has slowly become a value in the society since wealth can help fulfill many of man’s desires. The Qur’an says:
وَإِنَّهُ لِحُبِّ الْخَيْرِ لَشَدِيدٌ
“And violent is he in his love of wealth.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-‘Adiyat 100:8]
Imam Sadiq said:
لا خَيرَ في مَن لا يحِبُّ جمْعَ المَالِ مِن حَلالٍ يَكُفُّ بهِ وَجْهَه ويَقْضي بهِ دَينَه ويَصِلُ بهِ رَحمَهُ.
“There is no good in one who does not like to legitimately earn wealth to safeguard his honor, pay back his debts and establish the bonds of kinship.”7
Once when the Prophet of God was sitting with a few of his companions, he saw a strong young man who was working hard and had been working since dawn. The companions expressed their unhappiness about that man’s acts and said: “We wish this young man used his strength and youth in God’s way.” The Prophet said:
لا تَقولوا هَذا! فإنَّهُ إنْ كانَ يَسْعى عَلى نَفْسِه لِيَكُفَّها عَن المَسْألَةِ وَيُغنِيَها عَنِ النّاسِ فهُوَ في سَبِيل ِاللهِ، وإنْ كانَ يَسْعى عَلى أبَوَيْنِ ضَعِيفَينِ أو ذُرِّيَّةٍ ضِعافٍ لِيُغْنِيَهُم وَيَكُفَّهُم فهُوَ في سَبِيلِ اللهِ، وإنْ كانَ يَسْعى تَفاخُراً وَتَكاثُراً فَهوَ في سَبِيلِ الشَّيطانِ.
“No. Do not say this. If he is working so hard in order to prevent himself from asking from people and to be free of need of them, then he is working in God’s way. If he is working hard to fulfill the needs of his weak parents or children, to make them free of need, then he is working in God’s way. However, if he is working hard to collect a lot of wealth and show off to others, then he is working in Satan’s way.” 8
Thus we realize that whoever works hard to fulfill his needs and safeguard his honor is serving God and such acts of earning wealth are not only not blameworthy, but are considered to be a duty for every man as well. The deeds and types of behavior of the Immaculate Imams are a strong document to support this. Let us read what Muhammad ibn Monkadir said about Imam Baqir . Imam Sadiq said that Muhammad ibn Monkadir once said: “I did not think that Ali ibn Al-Husayn 9 would appoint a better leader after himself.
However, once I saw his son Muhammad ibn Ali 10 and decided to advise him. However, it turned out that he advised me instead. I was in the outskirts of Medina on a very hot day when I saw him working on the farm. I asked myself why such an old man from the Quraysh tribe is working so hard seeking wealth on such a hot day. After greeting him, I asked him why he was working so hard seeking worldly gains.
I said: May God improve your condition. Why is a noble man from the Quraysh tribe seeking worldly gains at this time of day? What would happen to you if the angel of death comes to take your life in this condition? Then he greeted back and said: “If the angel of death arrives while I am working so hard as I am doing now in order to earn a living for myself and children so that I do not have to beg from you for my needs, then I will be found in a state of servitude of God. I should be worried to be caught by the angel of death in a sinful state.”
Then I said: “Yes, you are right. May God have Mercy on you! I wanted to advise you, but you were the one who gave me advice.”11 Thus, we see that our religious leaders made an effort to earn their living so that they did not have to ask others for what they needed. They also taught their followers to earn their own living and not beg.
Those who are working to earn a living for themselves, their wife and children are considered to be in the ranks of those who participate in a holy war in Islam. Imam Sadiq said: “Whoever strives to earn a living for his wife is like one who is fighting in the way of God.”12 In addition, one who abandons his wife and does not fulfill her needs is deprived of God’s Mercy. The Noble Prophet of God said:
مَلعُونٌ مَلعونٌ مَن يَضِيعُ مَن يَعولُ.
“Cursed, cursed, is one who neglects his dependants.”13
Imam Baqir quoted on the authority of the Noble Prophet during the Farewell Pilgrimage:14
ألا إنَّ الرُّوحَ الأمِينَ نَفثَ في رَوعِي أنَّه لا تمُوتُ نَفسٌ حَتىّ تَستَكْمِلَ رِزْقَها، فاتَّقوا اللهَ وَأجمِلوا في الطَّلَبِ وَلا يحْمِلَنَّكُم اسْتِبطاءُ شَيءٍ مِن الرِّزْقِ أنْ تَطلُبُوهُ بمَعْصِيةِ اللهِ، فإنَّ اللهَ تَبارَكَ وَتَعالى قَسَّمَ الأرْزاقَ بَينَ خَلقِهِ حَلالاً وَلَم يُقَسِّمْها حَراماً، فَمَن اتَّقى اللهَ وَصَبرَ أتاهُ اللهُ بِرزْقِه مِن حِلِّه، وَمَن هَتَكَ حِجابَ السِّتْرِ وَعَجَّلَ فَأخَذَهُ مِن غَيرِ حِلِّهِ قُصَّ بهِ مِن رِزقِهِ الحَلال وحُوسِبَ عَلَيهِ يَومَ القِيامَةِ.
“Indeed, Gabriel informed me that no one shall die before receiving his full share of daily bread. Thus, fear God and be moderate in seeking sustenance. Do not rush to earn your daily bread from illegitimate or sinful ways if your daily bread is delayed a little. Indeed God the Exalted the High has divided legitimate daily bread among his creatures, and has not divided illegitimate daily bread among them.
Therefore, God shall grant whoever fears God and is patient and perseveres, his share of legitimate daily bread. But whoever tears up the covering veil (of innocence) and rushes to obtain wealth by illegitimate means will lose a portion of his share of legitimate daily bread. He will also be held accountable for his illegitimate earnings on the Resurrection Day.”15
Therefore, we learn that patience and perseverance are important. If we do not earn as much as we want, we should not try to illegitimately earn wealth since by so doing we will not only lose a portion of our legitimate daily bread, but we will also be held accountable at the just threshold of God.
Imam Sadiq said:
الرِّزقُ مَقسومٌ عَلى ضَربَينِ أحَدُهمَا واصِلٌ إلى صاحِبِهِ وإنْ لم يَطْلُبْهُ وَالآخَرُ مُعَلَّقٌ بِطَلبِهِ. فالَّذي قُسِّمَ لِلعَبْدِ عَلى كُلّ حالٍ آتيهِ وإنْ لم يَسْعَ لهُ، والَّذِي قُسِّمَ لهُ بِالسَّعْيِ فَينبَغي أنْ يَلتَمِسَهُ مِن وُجوهِهِ وَهُوَ مَا أحَلَّهُ اللهُ لهُ دونَ غَيرِهِ، فإنْ طلبَهُ مِن جِهَةِ الحَرامِ فوَجَدَهُ حُسِبَ عَليهِ مِن رِزقِهِ وَحُوسِبَ بهِ.
“The daily bread is divided into two parts. One part of it will be earned whether you ask for it or not. However, the second part is what you must go out to work for and try to earn. You will obtain the first part no matter what, even if you do not ask for it. However, it is best for you to use legitimate means to earn the other portion that you must seek to obtain. Should you obtain it through illegitimate means, it will still be considered to be a portion of your share of daily bread, but you will be held responsible for it.”16
What was said so far clarifies what Imam Sajjad said about wealth. He also said that your wealth might be left as inheritance for one who might use it right and get its reward in the Hereafter, too. The Commander of the Faithful said:
إنَّ أعظَمَ الحَسَراتِ يَومَ القِيامَةِ حَسْرَةُ رَجُلٍ كَسَبَ مالاً في غَيرِ طاعَةِ اللهِ فَوَرَّثَهُ رَجُلاً فأنْفَقَهُ في طاعَةِ اللهِ سُبحانَهُ فَدَخَلَ به الجَنَّةَ وَدَخَلَ الأوَّلُ بِه النّارَ.
“On the Resurrection Day the greatest regret will be felt by the man who earned wealth through sinful ways, and left it as inheritance for a person who spent it in obeying God. The latter will be rewarded Paradise on that account, while the former one will enter the Fire on account of it.”17
This is a real cause for sorrow! To suffer the hardships of earning wealth, and the chastisement of using illegitimate means to earn it!