Children’s Own Page: Wealth and the Kingdom of Heaven
by Muhammad Yaqub Khan
The Light (Pakistan), 24th January 1937 Issue (Vol. 16, No. 4, p. 2)
You hear so much about socialism these days and of the distribution of wealth. The present capitalistic system, it is said, is the greatest curse of history. It robs you not only of your money; it also robs you of your soul, and subjugates your body and soul. Pirates of old used to demand:
“Your money or your life!”
The present capitalistic system says:
“Your money as well as your life!”
There is a great deal of truth in this. It was not for nothing that Jesus, that sweet Teacher of Galilee, said that a camel may pass through the eye of a needle but not a rich man into the kingdom of Heaven. What does Islam say? you may ask. I will tell you.
Abu Zarr was a great Companion of the Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)]. He relates that one day when he paid his usual visit to the Kaaba, the sacred House at Mecca, he saw the Prophet already sitting there and repeatedly uttering the words, in great concern:
“By the Lord of the Kaaba! Of a certainty, woe unto them! By the Lord of the Kaaba! Of a certainty, woe unto them!”
“My heart was filled with fear,”
says Abu Zarr.
“Who were these people the Prophet was worrying about? Was I one of them, I wondered, and shook with fear. I made it a point to find out. So I approached the Prophet and asked him: ‘Man Ya Rasul Allah? Unto whom? Prophet of God! Woe unto whom?’ ‘Unto those,’ came the reply, ‘who have plenty of wealth, except such of them who do so and so and so,’ and with this the Prophet waved both his hands in all directions to indicate the act of giving away.”
So, this is what Islam says. Wealth in itself is not bad. In one place the Quran calls it God’s fazl (blessing). But it becomes bad when it is not given away for good and noble causes. When it is stored, like a stagnant pool, it stinks and causes social disease. It is a source of health, life and vigour when, like the blood in human body, it is kept in constant circulation; it is lifeblood, no doubt. No individual can do without it nor any society. No cause can flourish without money. The Prophet himself called for and made collections to meet the various national demands of Islam. Once, I remember to have told you before, Umar, in response to the Prophet’s appeal for funds to equip an expedition, brought full one-half of his wealth, hoping, as usual, to out-do Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr also came with his contribution. When the Prophet asked Umar what portion of his wealth he had left behind, he said:
When he put the same question to Abu Bakr, he said:
“God and His apostle.”
That is, he had left nothing behind and brought his all.
remarked the Prophet thereupon,
“is also half of that of Abu Bakr.”
Now what does it show? Firstly, that wealth is good and must be earned. Men like Abu Bakr and Umar earned it and the Prophet wanted it. The mullahs [clerics] who tell you that wealth is bad and God loves the poor are only talking rubbish. It also shows, however, that when the call comes, it must be thrown away, otherwise it becomes the undoing of the possessor. And thirdly, it is also a meter to measure the faith that is within us. How far we are prepared to spend in a good cause is the measure of our faith in God.
As I said before, wealth is your lifeblood. But if you want to keep good health, and enjoy life of the spirit, keep that blood in circulation. You have this on very high authority — the authority of a man who never uttered an untruth — the Holy Prophet. And he emphasized the profundity of this truth with the solemn oath,
“By the Lord of the Kaaba,”
and repeating a number of times that men who hoarded money and did not spend of it on good causes were the losers. Woe unto them, he said.
How prophetic! Don’t you see the fulfilment of these words with your own eyes? Western civilization is a money-hoarding civilization. Westerners have bled the rest of humanity white and made the streams of gold and silver to flow towards their own lands. What is the result? Their own undoing, as the Prophet’s prophetic eye had seen in the Kaaba. Don’t you see how like the very beasts of the woods they fly at one another’s throats, their much-vaunted civilization and enlightenment notwithstanding? Money has dulled the edge of their souls, and notwithstanding the kingdoms of the earth they possess, they have no access to the Kingdom of Heaven, and Europe today presents the spectacle of a vast Hell.
So, dear children, you must equip yourselves to earn honest money, but when you have earned it, you must liberally spend of it to help your poor neighbours, on the education of orphans, to relieve distress and suffering. Then with all your millions you may also rest assured of a ready welcome into the Kingdom of Heaven.