The Test of Wealth


Sunday, 04 November 2007 16:31

Among the fundamental beliefs of a Muslim is the belief in the reality of life after death. A Mu’min believes that the grave is either a garden of Jannah, which the inmate of the grave enjoys or it is a part of hell wherein the inmate suffers. He also firmly believes that the Day of Judgment will come and every person will have to give an account of his life in this world. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “On the Day of Judgment no person will move from the spot he is standing on until he is asked four questions: How did he spend his life? How did he spend his youth? How did he earn his money and where did he spend it? How much did he practice upon the knowledge of Deen he possessed? (Mishkaat).

The aspect clearly understood from the above Hadith is that one’s entire life is a test. And indeed, one’s wealth is also a test. Unfortunately this reality often escapes the mind. Generally, only hardships and calamities are regarded as a test. How often have we heard a person who suffered a major loss being consoled with the words: “This is a test from Allah Ta’ala. Be patient. Allah Ta’ala will reward you abundantly.” Yet, does it ever cross the mind when one is enjoying all the comforts and luxuries of this world and money that this is also a test? Indeed it is a test — a severe test regarding which none other than Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was concerned about. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “I do not fear poverty overcoming you. However I fear that abundant wealth may come to you as it came to those before you. Then you will begin competing with one another (in amassing more wealth) as was done by the previous nations, hence the wealth will destroy you as it destroyed those before you” (Mishkaat)

 A person struck by some calamity will often resort to Salaatul-Haajah and dua. He will beg Allah Ta’ala to ease the test for him. On the contrary, how often does a person in the lap of luxury make dua to Allah Ta’ala thus: “O Allah, this wealth is your ni’mat (bounty). It is also a test. I am grateful for Your bounty and I ask Your help to pass successfully through this test!”

A test requires one to be patient. If the test is a calamity, (may Allah protect us!) patience demands that one should refrain from any complaint against Allah Ta’ala. Also, one should not make a hue and cry about the difficulty. Resort to dua, sadaqah and adopt permissible means to remove the difficulty. If the test is ease, comfort and the pouring down of wealth, patience demands that one refrains from using the wealth in avenues of waste and sin. The bounties of Allah Ta’ala are to be used in a manner that earns the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala — not his wrath. The question that every person, rich or poor, must regularly ponder upon is whether he is exercising patience with regard to his wealth or not?

Hazrath Abdur Rahman bin Auf (R.A.) is reported to have said: “We were tested with adversity and we exercised patience. We were then tested with conditions of ease but we did not manage to be patient” (Tirmizi). The Sahaaba (R.A.) understood that ease and comfort was a test. They declared the slightest inclination towards the comforts and luxuries as “did not manage to exercise patience.” This is similar to the incident of Hazrath Hanzalah (R.A.) when he declared himself a “munafiq” (hypocrite) because the heightened spiritual ecstasy that he felt in the company of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had decreased a little when he returned home. Hence despite the Sahaaba (R.A.) having exercised patience with regard to ease in the true sense of the word, they were still fearful and declared themselves as blameworthy. How often have we taken a few moments to ponder over this test and judge to what extent we have thus far passed or failed?

Undoubtedly there are many individuals who have been blessed with abundant wealth and are apparently passing the test. However on a community level, the situation is extremely tragic to say the least. It is common knowledge, and confirmed by sources that have first hand information, that Muslims are tragically among the biggest drug lords … and consumers. Some have further identified the “Indian Muslim Community” at the top of the list. The question to ponder: Are we passing the test or failing?

Recently a Muslim student who attended a seminar on marketing mentioned something which should be an eye-opener. One of the speakers at the seminar who is associated with the recently opened vice-den in Durban spoke of the “marketing strategy” of its management. According to him, the target market was the Indian Muslim community since they have abundant cash (to feed the gambling machines?) and are accustomed to a lifestyle of “eating out.” Hence several “Halaal” restaurants are also housed in the vice-den complex. While millions of people starve, millions are without proper shelter and countless people are suffering in various ways, many Muslims still resort to feeding the gambling machines!! Are we passing the test or are we inviting the wrath of Allah Ta’ala?

On a more personal level, let us look around our homes. How many items do we have therein that lead to vice and sin? What about the colossal sums squandered on lavish weddings and in other avenues of sheer waste? How does one account for this type of waste, especially when such situations exist around us that some children do not attend Madrasah classes because they are too hungry and weak? Are we passing the test or failing?

Wealth is a gift of Allah Ta’ala. Many nations of the past were also blessed with abundant wealth. However, when some of these nations failed the test, the wrath of Allah Ta’ala engulfed them in this world.

Allah Ta’ala has related the incidents of the people of Saba’ in the Qur’an. They were blessed with lush gardens and an abundance of everything. However, they then turned their backs on the commands of Allah Ta’ala and Divine punishment came upon them in the form of floods. They were totally destroyed. The people of Hazrath Shuaib (A.S.) were also extremely wealthy. Their flourishing businesses distracted them from the commands of Allah Ta’ala. Their end result was utter destruction. These incidents are mentioned in the Qur’an-al-Kareem as a lesson to us. If we follow in the footsteps of these nations, the same end result could befall us, Allah forbid! We therefore must recognise the test — and try our utmost to pass.

The test of wealth stares at us in the face all the time. Does the seller disclose the fault of the merchandise to the customer or not? Will the creditor be paid or will he be kept waiting while one enjoys the luxuries of life? Should wealth be given preference over family ties or should one forego some rights to join family ties? Does one ensure that all inheritors receive their full share of inheritance, or is someone deprived? Does one spend in a certain Haraam avenue or not? Does “making money” come in the way of Salaah with Jama’ah or will the tills be kept ringing and the salaah delayed?… At every step one is faced with the test of wealth. Visualize the day of Qiyamah. Visualize being asked the question: “How did you earn your wealth and where did you spend it?” Do we have the answer? Will we pass or fail?

Thus it is necessary that we stop and ponder over the direction we are taking. Life is a test. Wealth is a test. If Allah Ta’ala has blessed one with abundance, use it to earn the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala.