Wealth or money was referred to as ‘maintenance’ in Islam because you need it to maintain your wellbeing and the wellbeing of those under your care; Allah (SW) said: {Do not give those who are [mentally] incompetent your wealth, for God has assigned you to maintain this [yourself].} 4:5.

The purpose of wealth for humans was described in the Quran using a term that means being a ‘trustee.’ Allah (SW) said: {And you shall spend [charitably] out of that [wealth] over which he has made you trustees.} 57:7. The term ‘trustee’ reflects as Imam Zama’khshari concluded: “Monies are not your true ownership, rather it is God’s gift to you, and you are more of agents to utilize it in that which pleases Him. (SW)”[1]

From these two references in our Holy Book, we can conclude that wealth is meant to be a tool or a means for something honorable. It should maintain you in order to serve your post on earth in the way you were created for, and thereby fulfill your ‘trustee’ purpose. Allah (SW) said: {He produced you from the earth and has settled you therein [to cultivate it] 11:61. This post should mean just distribution of wealth as well as utilizing it in the proper service of humanity, all under the banner of worshiping Allah. (SW)

Omar Ibn Al-Khattab (RAA) spoke of such a philosophy when referring to government money when he said: “Everyone has a share in this wealth, and no one has more right to it than another, and I (Omar) am like everyone else in this.” Ali Ibn Abi Talib (RAA) said in same line: “No poor person shall feel hungry except by the rich person’s extravagance.”

No wonder that scholars listed five things that Sharia is meant to protect when concluding the revelation’s purpose from God to humans: Religion, Self-Preservation, Mind, Honor, and Wealth.

Ethical wealth concepts and regulations:

  • Pay Zakat, remember needy

Islam ordained the concept of Zakat or alms giving. The prophet (SAAW) phrased it as follows: It is a Sadaqah that is taken from the rich and given to the poor.”

  • Inheritance distribution

Islam set rules and guidelines of how inheritance is distributed among family members after someone is deceased. A closer look at the inheritance guidelines in Islam shows that such regulations took in consideration the following: 1) Level of kinship, which means the closer the inheritor is to the deceased the more percentage he/she gets. 2) Age of the inheritor, which means the younger the inheritor the more money he/she gets as they are to face life longer. 3) Financial liability, which means one who has more responsibilities to care for other family members gets more percentage.

  • Invest, do not hoard

Islam urged investment of money and prohibited hoarding without paying Zakat. This idea is meant to keep money circulating in public life to keep the economy stronger. Even in today’s society, financial experts urge the public to spend and invest rather than save and keep wealth hidden when there is a recession.

  • Good loans, not usury

Islam urged good loans and prohibited usury. The whole purpose behind that was stated in the verse: {So that it [wealth] does not merely circulate between the wealthy among you.} 59:7. When you allow companies to take money and lend it in usury, it will be more like a pool of money that remains within these companies while everyone else is forced to borrow from them taking all the risks on themselves with no risks to the lender.

  • No false means allowed

Islam prohibited all forms of wrongdoing in financial dealings. From stealing, to deceiving, to bribery, to gambling, to obscure or unclear contract terms, etc.  These wrongdoings were summarized in one verse as Allah (SW) said: {Moreover, you shall not consume one another’s wealth by false means, nor proffer any of it to [bribe] those in authority, in order to sinfully consume a portion of people’s wealth- while you know [it was wrong]} 2:188.

  • Trust (Waqf)

Omar (RAA) asked the prophet (SAAW) about how he should utilize some money he gained after the battle of Khaibar. The prophet (SAAW) said: “If you wish, you can put in a trust and donate it.” That meant that no one could sell the property for any personal gain but rather it would stay beneficial to the public.

Final thoughts

Let me end by saying that Allah (SW) has set for us our provision (Rizq) in a way that we should earn our income and seek it in a rightful (Halal) way. We should practice moral and ethical values in our financial dealings with people, and most importantly of all, we should not to be distracted from performing our obligated duties towards God through worship while seeking Rizq.

By Sh Kifah Mustapha

[1] Al-Kahsaaf