USUALLY a person feels two types of thirst; the first is caused by the lack of water or moisture in the body and the other is the thirst for money.
The first is satisfied immediately on drinking a glass of water; it occurs a few times a day and is subsequently quenched. The other thirst is for money which is never-ending, even if one has piled up bundles of money in all his stores. This type of thirst remains permanently throughout one’s life. It is much stronger than the other type of thirst and ultimately destroys one’s peace of mind.
There is no doubt that all of us need money for day-to-day living. It enables us to fulfil our daily requirements, maintain our lifestyle and be comfortable when there are untoward circumstances. The shortage of money makes our life miserable and at times destroys our peace of mind.
But excessive money also takes away one’s peace of mind. Therefore, one needs to strike a fair balance between the lack of money and excessive money. The essence of happiness and contentment in life is through balance. Anything that robs our peace of mind, robs us of the most precious thing in life. Those who lack money are usually advised to work hard, search for bounties and pray for blessings. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) says that Al-Kasibu, Habibullah (one who strives is a friend of Allah).
Millionaires often neglect the higher purpose of life.
However, one must be mindful that money should not become the ultimate goal in life. Otherwise, it will rob us of our peace of mind and make life toxic. Presently, there are some people who are in the grip of idolatry of money. They lose their peace of mind by anxiously trying to acquire more money than one can spend prudently. They want to become multimillionaires or billionaires overnight and are mostly preoccupied in accumulating money by hook or by crook.
Excessive money ruins their life as anything in excess ultimately becomes poisonous. They erroneously think that money so earned will bring happiness in their lives but hardly anyone gains real happiness from money.
Money is not the key to happiness; rather it is a tool of living and serving the community. Money earned through legal and constructive work is the money most likely to be useful. More money usually brings more accountability, more responsibilities, more difficulties, more tests and more insecurity.
The Holy Quran mentions the story of a wealthy person named Qaroon who lived in Hazrat Musa’s time. He was one of the richest men of his society but his riches made him ungrateful and arrogant. He used to claim that all riches are due to his skills and knowledge (28:76-78). Likewise, any wealthy person of our time can become Qaroon by acting like him; it will invite disaster for himself and for his family.
A man’s happiness and peace of mind depend on his sharing money; therefore, Islam has emphasised generosity and philanthropic activities in society. Islam does not oppose earning money through legal means; however, it emphasises that excessive money, if any, should be used for the benefit of society. This will strike a good balance between insufficient and excessive money.
In every society, there is a weaker segment who have a right over the money of its members. As the Quran says “And those within whose wealth is a known right; For the petitioner and the deprived” (70:24-25). Islam abhors those who love money extensively and think that it will remain forever. In the Quran Allah says “Woe to every (kind of) scandal-monger and backbiter, Who collects wealth and [continuously] counts it; Thinking that his wealth would make him last forever! Nay, but verily he will be flung to the Consuming One” (104:1-4).
Presently, there are many new notions at work of generating wealth such as free enterprise and online business etc. Though these are good notions, they should be followed within the Islamic value system. It is important that one should ask oneself what I have to do with the money earned.
This world has many millionaires and even billionaires; though surrounded by flunkeys many of them are miserable inside. More money propels them in the race of power and possession. They often neglect the higher purpose of life. They regard themselves solely as flesh and blood whose primary interests are material ones. From morning to evening they think, talk and work for the improvement of the material aspect of life.
However, correct self-understanding shows that a human is not a creature made up of only body; feelings, thoughts and spirit matter as well. Material progress can only be sustained when one struggles side by side for some progress in the spiritual aspect of life. Only a few people think about the inner aspect of life. Real happiness can only be attained with spiritual progress.
The writer is an educationist with an interest in religion.
Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2019