Concept of Wealth

Wealth has been a subject of study and discussion since time im­memorial. Some of the main differences in the social organizations have always stemmed from the concept and status assigned to wealth in the society. In Islam wealth does not hold a central position in the social matrix. Instead it has been visualised as an instrument to lead life in accordance with the Shari‘ah. The real objective of man’s existence on this earth is to obey the commandment of Allah and to implement His Will as His vicegerant. The resources of worldly life constitute necessary facilities and instruments for carrying out this mission. They are not desirable as an end in themselves; only as a means, even essential means. Therefore, there is little point in entering into a fanatic race for amassing riches of the world. The insignificance of the worldly re­sources and their instability has been stated in the Quran and hadith at several places. The fundamental idea is that the attainment of wealth should not be the focus of all activities in this world. Instead, wealth should be acquired, preserved and used to attain a higher level in the obedience of Allah. This is a major point of departure from the Western concept of wealth, where economic pursuits have come to occupy a central place in the life of the individual and the state. This does not mean that Islam dislikes or discourages economic pursuits. As shall be discussed later in this book, Islam places an equal emphasis on struggle and enterprise in 'worldly life and disdains asceticism. On the continuum of ‘wealth as centre of all activities’ and ‘fatalistic abhorrence of this world’ Islam stands somewhere in the middle.


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Source: Economic Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): A Select Anthology of Hadith Literature on Economics, Muhammad Akram Khan. Republished with permission.