As a Muslim you are striving every day to develop the spiritual attributes that are essential in this world and the next. But we also need material things in this world, and we need the means to pay for them. When it comes to acquiring and spending wealth, how does Islam guide us?
As Muslims we know that wealth, and everything else in the Universe, belongs to and comes from God. So how do we deal with our wealth accordingly?
1. Wealth can be enjoyed, but do not let it distract you.
Wealth can give us pleasure in life, but it can also be a distraction from what is truly important. The true believer deals with his wealth as if it is merely a worldly matter because it will not follow her into the afterlife. Muslims are warned in the Quran to be on guard against greed. A Muslim should not save and hoard great sums of money, but should distribute it to those who are in need of it.
2. It is never acceptable to earn a living by doing wrong.
Muslims must earn their wealth in a lawful, or halal, way. It is not to be earned by selling or buying things that God forbids us, such as alcohol or pork, or by engaging in illegal activities. God advises them against this:
“O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent.” [Quran 4:29]
3. Practice charity toward the poor, orphans and those in need.
The faith of Muslims is built on the five pillars of Islam. One of those pillars is giving wealth to charity, or zakat. In fact, in the Quran charity is often mentioned as going along with prayer.
“[True] righteousness is [in] one who believes in God, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives of their wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes Prayer and practices regular charity…” [Quran 2:177]
The Prophet Mohammed provided the ultimate example of a Muslim who spent his wealth in charity. He provided for others before taking for himself. He was a simple man and was never greedy. He himself was an orphan and Muslims are taught in the Quran that their wealth should be spent towards orphans and those who cannot provide for themselves. Even without abundant wealth, you can still give in the cause of God because even the smallest amount is an act of charity.
4. Do not fear poverty. God will provide.
In the time before Islam, the pagans would kill their children in fear of poverty. After Islam was introduced, the companions who used to practice this tradition began to abstain from it.
“[D]o not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them,” [Quran 6:151].
God is the provider of all. A true believer should not fear poverty because God will provide for them. Some believers say that fearing poverty is the same as not trusting in God.
5. Giving of your wealth is the source of true prosperity.
“The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of God is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And God multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And God is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” [Quran 2:261]
When one spends his wealth in the way of God there is no decrease in wealth. Charity increases wealth because God replaces it with something better and greater.
These are just a few examples of the many ways Muslims are taught to think about and handle their wealth. Your wealth should always be gained through lawful means if you wish to be considered a true believer. And you can avoid the pitfalls of greed by giving charity as often as you are able after bills, debts and other obligations have been met. Islam teaches that the wealth a Muslim spends in charity will never decrease.