Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|A novel definition of wealth|
|08/08/01 at 01:32:05|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
A novel definition of wealth
Everyone loves to be rich. Even those who place their principles and values above wealth would not object to being wealthy if by getting rich they do not have to compromise any of their values or principles. People normally feel that when they are rich they can enjoy what they want in this world.
They like to be free of the worry of how to ensure for their families all that they need. Moreover, a wealthy person normally enjoys respect by his community. People envy his ability to buy what he desires and are, on the whole, prepared to overlook his minor faults. Position, respect and independence, which are enjoyed by a wealthy person, make wealth a universally desirable asset.
All that makes an explanation of a certain quality in terms of wealth and its effects a highly effective way of driving one's point home to one's audience. This is particularly so when the aim is to define true wealth. We know that the Prophet [saw] was always keen to make his meaning clear to people. He wanted his words to be understood and appreciated by everyone. Hence, he used what is significant to all people whenever he wanted to explain a common principle.
The following Hadith which aims to stress the importance of being content is a very good example. It is authentically reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet [saw] once said: "Wealth is not defined in terms of how much property one owns; true wealth is to be content." (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others).
The Hadith begins by a negative statement which dispels the notion that only through owning property, and much of it at that, can one be rich. It may be true that acquiring much property and material riches gives the proprietor an air of being rich.
This is, however, a narrow view. It is only through being content that true wealth is achieved. That is the message of the second, positive part of the Prophet's [saw] Hadith. When we examine it carefully, we find that it is absolutely correct.
To start with, a person who is content does not look to other people for the accomplishment of what he wants. Nor does he humble himself at any time to request their assistance, whether financial or otherwise.
He only seeks God's help. He may be of limited means, but he finds satisfaction with what he has got. He knows that it is sufficient for his own and his family's basic needs. That is certainly true because God has guaranteed that every living soul will have what is enough for it to survive. He may have only a little, but that little goes a long way when one is content. Moreover, he can always pray God for more. To pray God to increase one's means is in no way contrary to being content.
We praise God for what He has given us and ask Him for more, because what He gives us does not decrease His kingdom by even the smallest amount. It is authentically reported that God says in a sacred, or qudsi, Hadith that if all human beings and jinn prayed God for whatever they desired and He granted everyone of them his request, that does not decrease His kingdom except by as much as a needle decreases the water of the ocean when it is dipped once in it. Moreover, praying God strengthens one's feeling of content. We know that God answers prayers in His good time.
So, when we pray Him, we trust that He will grant us our wishes. We also know that He does not hold it as a favour against us when He grants our requests.
All that gives a contented person all the good effects of being wealthy. He feels himself to be strong, since he does not have to go to any human being with a humble request for his assistance. He is assured of God's help, so he is independent of all human beings. Moreover, the fact that he does not begrudge anyone what God has given them earns him great respect within his community. Thus, he combines self-sufficiency with independence and respect by his fellow human beings. If these are compared with their counterparts which are generated by owning much property, these will definitely be found to be more precious in the case of the contented person. That is why the Prophet [saw] defines true wealth as a state of being contented.
The Prophet [saw] himself was exemplary, in his contentedness. He was not only content with what property he owned, but he was content with whatever help or service he received. Anas ibn Malik was only a boy when his mother brought him to the Prophet [saw] and said that he was a bright lad. She requested the Prophet [saw] to allow Anas to serve him. Anas later reported: "I have served the Prophet [saw] (peace be on him) for ten years. He never said to me the word 'Ugh', nor did he ever say about something which I had omitted, 'Would it not have been better if you had done it,' or to anything I did 'Why have you done that'?" (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and At-Tirmithi).
This Hadith speaks of a very rare quality of contentedness. Moreover, it indicates an exemplary degree of forbearance. It is only to be expected that a servant in his teens should make mistakes, omitting certain things and doing some others wrongly. It is true that Anas was a highly dedicated servant who loved the Prophet [saw] dearly. He was also a bright lad, as his mother rightly described him. Yet, perfection is not a human quality. It cannot be expected from an adolescent. The Prophet [saw], however, was extremely kind hearted. He never showed his servant that he was dissatisfied with what he did. He did not express that in gestures, nor in words. He never questioned Anas why he did one thing or omitted another. While this speaks much of Anas's eagerness to please the Prophet [saw] and do what he liked, it also speaks more of the Prophet's [saw] forbearance and that he would tolerate what other people cannot tolerate from their servants.
This was only to be expected from the Prophet [saw] who was granted this inclination to be forbearing and tolerant with people by God's grace. This is what God states in the Qur'an: "It was by God's grace that you, Prophet [saw], dealt gently with them (i.e. your companions). For if you had been harsh and hard of heart they would indeed have broken away from you. Pardon them, then, and pray that they be forgiven." (3:159)
The Prophet [saw] indeed showed a great measure of kind-heartedness and forbearance which put him on a level of his own. This is particularly significant in the Arabian tribal society which observed a very strict system of social hierarchy. It was unheard of that a servant or a young girl could speak to their master without showing humility. With the Prophet [saw], it was very easy for any young girl or servant to put their request. An authentic Hadith tells us that "Even a young girl could take the Prophet [saw] by the hand wherever she wanted until he did for her whatever she needed of him." This is a great measure of kind-heartedness.
The Prophet [saw] realized that even a slave girl may need what is particularly important for her. By helping her, he was helping a human soul who experienced the same feeling as any other human being. Therefore, he never showed boredom when he was called upon to assist such a girl. In fact, he showed all the kindness which he had in a uniquely great measure. He allowed such a girl to take him by the hand and walked with her wherever she wanted until she was able to accomplish the mission on which she was sent by her people.
By doing so, the Prophet [saw] gave a great example to his followers and to Muslims in all generations. Such a generosity of heart earns great reward.
[i]By Adil Salahi - Arab News - 21 May 1999[/i]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Haniff (with 2 f's)
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