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Fatima is Fatima

by : Dr. Ali Shari'ati

Back You are here: Home Books Ethics A Muslim in Society

A Muslim in Society - Spending Wealth

Article Index

The Messenger of Allah (s) said:

“We (prophets) were not sent to amass the wealth, but to spend it.”

Indeed Allah created the earth and supplied it with ample provision for all human beings. In it we find grains, fruits, vegetables, trees, animals, seas, fish, metals like iron, gold, silver, platinum, copper, etc., and oil. Other materials lie in the depths of the earth to satisfy the needs of the people, like diamonds, coal, etc.

If these provisions are distributed equally among mankind, no one on this earth will remain in poverty.

People are classified into two groups:

1. The first group are those who work in fields such as agriculture, industry, technology, science, etc., and earn their living and needs through working. They do not need help.

2. The second group are the old, orphans, refugees, poor and disabled who need help because they are unable of doing such work. There are also people who can work but either cannot find work, or work but their salary does not cover their needs.

It is obligatory for the first group to spend out of their possessions and to pay the poor-rates zakat in order to provide the second group with their needs so they do not remain in want.

The Prophet of Allah (s) explains to the Muslims how to distribute property, provisions and charity to all people. He says: Surely Allah sent the prophets to spend wealth on the needy and to teach people the way of spending. Allah never sent prophets to amass wealth and forget the poor. The prophets forbade the rich from amassing wealth and saving it in banks and treasuries while others are left to live in miserable poverty.”

The Prophet of Allah (s), through this tradition, explains to the Muslims that he came to teach them how to spend their wealth on the poor by charitable deeds, like building mosques, schools, hospitals, bridges, irrigation systems, roads, etc., and forbid them from amassing wealth and depriving the poor of a reasonable standard of living by refusing to spend their wealth in charitable and beneficial ways.

Responsibility Towards Society

“Surely Allah commands justice and the doing of good (to others), and giving to the kindred, and He forbids indecency and evil and rebellion. He admonishes you that you may be mindful. And fulfill the covenant of Allah, when you have made a covenant, and break not your oaths after confirming them; and you have indeed made Allah your surety. Surely Allah knows what you do.” Holy Qur'an (16:90-91)

If we read these holy verses and ponder on their meaning, what do we learn? How do we reform ourselves and society?

These verses certainly train a Muslim in the best behavior, and order them to form a strong Islamic society. They also order justice among the people. For example, they order man to be just among his children when giving them money or when buying them clothes or dealing with them at home. He should not differentiate between them (i.e. to prefer one above the other). Further, they order the judge to pass judgement with justice and not to be unjust over the rights of others. Allah is Just and loves justice.

The Holy Qur'an explains that it is obligatory for Muslims to practice justice in both their deeds and their speech so no one will be oppressed or lose his right. The Qur'an also warns Muslims to do good and charitable deeds voluntarily.

Whoever helps the poor or removes enmity between two persons or visits his neighbour or teaches others the way of guidance and belief is indeed the doer of good and beneficence.

Surely, giving charity and doing good and striving towards its spread among the society makes up a strong and homogeneous society in which love, co-operation and progress flourish.

The Holy Qur'an wants a Muslim to be beneficent. Surely Allah is the Beneficent, Who loves beneficence.

The Qur'an, through these verses, orders Muslims to give their relatives their rights and help the needy and the sick, to ask after those who move away, and to maintain good relations with them.

The Prophet of Allah (s) also orders the Muslims to have good relations with their relatives when he says:

“Treat your relatives with compassion even it be (only) by a salutation (salam).”

The Qur'an also forbids Muslims against committing indecency, evil and rebellion including those harmful deeds that cause the halt of progress in society, misery to mankind and the collapse of nations. The Holy Qur'an also orders Muslims to fulfill their promises and forbids them from giving promises without fulfilling them. Muslims should respect their covenants and promises when they deal with others. They should strive towards doing deeds that please Allah and never go against Islamic laws.

What do These Holy Verses Teach Us? These verses teach Muslims the best social behaviour that reforms human society, strengthens relations among people and encourages goodness and happiness.

Briefly, they teach us the following:

1. Muslims should practice and follow justice in society and achieve it among their people: for example, distributing wealth and benefits among the needy, giving just verdicts in courts of law, treating family and relatives equally, and practising justice in every facet of life.

2. Muslims should do good deeds and have good relations with their relatives,

3. Muslims should fulfill their promises and covenants if these promises and covenants are according to Islamic laws.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.