L yulyadi Arnakim
In Islam, Muslims should not put wealth above everything,especially the sustainer, Allah WEALTH IN ARABIC is al-glwi a, which means "no needs or needs less", and wealthy is known as al-ghaniyu, which means "self-sufficient", one of attributes of God. As Allah said, " To Him bel ongs all that is in the heavens and on the earth: for verily God - He is free of all wants, worthy of all Praises" (Quran: 22:64). In another verse (Quran: 6:133), Allah said, "Thy Lord i s self-sufficient, full of mercy..." From the above verses, wealth in Islam basicall y con sists of two elements of life; physical and spiritual. The first dimension depicts the possession of material things, which i s known as maal ( pl ural: amwaal), which means "property, assets or whatever mankind possesses". The spiritual dimension refers to knowledge and virtue that reside in the soul of man.
The interrelationship between the two dimensions is strong. Wealth is an outcome of interactions between mankind and its surroundings, which include all things in the heavens and in/on the earth, things that faci litate convenience for manki nd in this world. In Arabic tradition, the first dimension of wealth was usually cattl e, as the wealthy families were those who possessed the most camels. Nevertheless, it does not mean that wealth is only derived from animals. It can be deri ved from any thing or form. Today, many people possess different forms of prop erty. It may be in the form of cash, shares, land or houses.As Allah said, " ..God has subjected to your (use) all tilings in the heavens and (all things) on earth..." (Quran 31:20). The first dimension of wealth is also very attractive to the nature of mankind, as Allah said, "Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the pos sessions of this world's life, but in nearness of God is the best of the goals (to return to) " (Quran 3:14). However, when people consider that material wealth is everything, then it may become their master. They may do whatever is required solely to gain wealth, and once obtai ned, they worry about losing it. Gradually, their wealth unconsciously becomes their most beloved one. At this point, people may become greedy and stingy, as illustrated in Qarun's story (see Azman Ismail's article, "Wealth is not wrong", Personal Money, January 2004, page 69). Undoubtedly, wealth does not grant mankind happiness. The second dimension of wealth is food of a spiritual nature such as knowledge and virtue. Logically, the first dimension of wealth may be used as a means to gain the second dimension through education and training.
Knowledge is complete comprehension and interaction in the depths of the soul and conscience, which is then followed by harmonious action. As Muslims are taught to recite the prayer, "O Lord, give us useful knowledge and wealth, and spare us any form of illness and disease".
On the other hand, knowledge may also yield the first dimension of wealth. It will enable mankind to explore and utilise the resources available. As insisted by the Prophet, "anyone who wants this worldly life, he should have knowledge, and any one who wants the life of the hereafter, he should have knowledge, and he who wants both this life and the hereafter, should also have knowledge". Furthermore, when the prophet's son-in-law, Ali
Abi Thalib, compared the two di mensions of wealth, he said, "knowledge will take care of you while you protect your property".
Muslims should use both elements of wealth in rendering service to Allah. Wealth in Islam is rizq, which connotes subsistence or means of living. This means of living is not necessarily an outcome of man's effort. It is indeed an endowment or a gift from Allah because He is the one who sustains mankind's life. The effort of man kind is considered a process, which will lead to either positive or negative results. As Allah said, "Say: O God!
Lord of Power (and Rule). Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou stripest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: in Thy hand is all good. Verily over all things thou hast power. Thou causest the night to gain on the day, and Thou causest the day to gai n on the night: Thou bringest the living out of the Dead, and Thou bringest the Dead out of the Living; and Thou givest Sustenance to whom thou pleasest, without measure." (Quran: 3:26-27).
Wealth, in Islam, can be used to test whether a person is a true Muslim or not; he will be tested, whether he is wealthy, or not. As Allah says, "Now, as for man, when his Lord trieth him, giving him honour and gifts, then saith he (puffed up), 'My lord hath honoured me'. But when He trieth him, restricting his subsistence for him, then saith he (in despair), 'my Lord hath humiliated me!"' (Quran 89:15-16).
For Muslims, dealing with wealth is not as easy as dealing with thei r other obligations. In fact, many Muslims perform their obligations to God - such as praying,fasting, and other ritual worships - but they fail in wealth management. Thus, the Arabic wise words: "Prayer is a custom, fasting is an affordable act, see and analyse peo ple through their dealing with wealth." As prayer is obligatory, it may become a custom that people will not regard as special and extraordi nary. After fasting for a month each year, Muslims celebrate Ramadan. Since it occurs only once a year, it becomes an affordable activity. While wealth is an essential part of life, many people would not be able to pass this trial. As Allah said, "Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere." (Quran 2:155). Who are they? They are those " Who say, when afflicted with calamity: 'To God we belong, and to Him i s our re turn'.'" (Quran 2:155-156).
In summary, wealth is not an entity that a Muslim should love, for the one who should be loved is the giver and sustainer, which is Allah The Al mighty. As such, a person will be very happy and contented with what his beloved One (God) gives. In order to get happiness in this world and the hereafter, Muslims should strive to man age their wealth in accordance with the ijunctions of Allah, use it as a means to worship and submit to him.
* An associate consultant with the Hijrah Strategic Advisory Group Sort Bhd and a member of the expert committee of Islamic Economic Forum for Indonesia Economic Development (ISEFID). He managed che International Islamic University Malaysia Endowment Fund.
Sources : Personal Money : June 2004