Money, money, money – wanting it, pinching it, spending it and repaying it

Money, money, money - wanting it, pinching it, spending it and repaying it

Khaula Al-Ansanya (may Allah be pleased with her)* narrated that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

وَعَنْ خَوْلَةَ اَلْأَنْصَارِيَّةَ ‏-رَضِيَ اَللَّهُ عَنْهَا‏- قَالَتْ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اَللَّهِ ‏- صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏-{ إِنَّ رِجَالاً يتخوَّضون فِي مَالِ اَللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ, فَلَهُمْ اَلنَّارُ يَوْمَ اَلْقِيَامَةِ } أَخْرَجَهُ اَلْبُخَارِيُّ

“Some men wrongfully acquire (and spend) from the wealth of Allah, so they will enter the Hell-Fire on the Day of Resurrection.” [Bukhari]

Though this hadith is a very short hadith – barely one line, it addresses a very deep problem in our society and in our nature, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) as always is providing solutions.

First we will look at the overview and then the details. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is addressing the issue of temptations. The three great temptations for mankind as Allah stated in the Quran are money and intimate relations and food. Imam Ghazali examined two of these desires in great detail in his book, Ihya Ulum al Din in the 12th and 13th volumes, called Kitab Kasr al Shahwatayn, ‘Breaking the Two Desires’, which are for food and intimacy.

Desire for money

In this hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is addressing the issue of man’s desire for money, which is inbuilt in our system. Allah mentioned this attraction in the Quran, when He said:

Adorned for the people is the love of desires: women, and children, and piles upon piles of gold and silver, and branded horses, and livestock and fields. These are the conveniences of the worldly life, while with Allah is the best place to return. (3:14)

It is also mentioned in other surahs, such as Surat Humazah Allah when He warns of the severe punishment for those who are collecting money and enjoy piling up wealth:

Woe to every backbiter, slanderer, who amasses wealth ˹greedily˺ and counts it ˹repeatedly˺, thinking that their wealth will make them immortal! (104:1-3)

This is our desire for more and more – in one word, greed.

Having some desire is not just healthy but necessary for living (for giving us an appetite to eat and reproduce), but to have a desire to hoard is not.

Where did our wealth come from?

Firstly we have to consider the source from which we obtain our money not only this but how we spend it? The Prophet (peace be upon him) told us in various narrations that we will be asked about how we utilised the blessings we were given by Allah, in particular  4-5 of them depending on the narration but of these for sure, one is wealth:  

“The son of Adam will not be dismissed from his Lord on the Day of Resurrection until he is questioned about five issues: his life and how he lived it, his youth and how he used it, his wealth and how he earned it and he spent it, and how he acted on his knowledge.” (Tirmidhi)

How do we spend our wealth?

It may be that your acquired it from a halal source, but how did you spend it? Some people are very keen on earning their money from halal means, which is good, but once they have money they waste it, put it in the wrong place, or give it the wrong people.

Wealth of Allah (Bait al Mal)

In the hadith, “Some men wrongfully acquire (and spend) from the wealth of Allah, so they will enter the Hell-Fire on the Day of Resurrection” the ‘wealth of Allah’ has been explained by scholars in different ways, but they agree that it refers to the booty which used to won in battle, as well as the wealth of the orphans, the wealth of waquf – endowments where the wealth has been put aside for a purpose e.g. knowledge seekers, for the mosque, the poor etc.; and therefore has to be spent as per those conditions.

Another opinion, which is broader, says it is restricted to these types of wealth, but any money Allah has given you, because all wealth is from Allah, is originally from Him, and belongs to Him, and part of His provision to us. Though we may make an effort to earn it, it cannot be ours without Him.

There is a great deal of evidence that supports this understanding as Allah Almighty says in the Quran:

 ‘So spend from the wealth of Allah that He made you trustees of that wealth.’ [57:7]

This means that we are trustees of the wealth that we own – it’s not our money although we earn it. In the first place Allah gave us the ability and the energy to work, as well as the health and the intellect to do it. Thus all wealth belongs to Allah Almighty and we are guardians of it.

Again, Allah Almighty says:

‘O you who believe, you should spend from what you have been entrusted with.’ [57:7]

Zakat money is also the wealth of Allah Almighty. 

Though the translation refers to ‘men’ this is means mankind in general and is not exclusively referring to the male sex, as women can wrongfully acquire wealth.

The third interpretation of Allah’s wealth is public money – the government’s money, or the state’s money which has been allocated for specific projects. No one is allowed to take this money and utilise for something else.

In old traditions, baitul maal referred to the Treasury. One of the sins is to take from this money to spend on one’s own luxury. However this money is not meant to be used for personal enrichment and luxury, yet unfortunately we see this commonly in today’s world in different countries by government officials all over the globe. They find a way to access public money and often appropriate it using loopholes in the system. This is haram.

Wording of the hadith

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned ‘some men’, this is not restricted to men, butanyone in charge. Those who have access to this money, and can tap into this resource should not abuse the power which Allah has given to them and they should not take what does not belong to them. Though they can do it, they have to exercise restraint and probity.

The punishment

Those who do not exercise rectitude in financial matters have been warned that they will receive the punishment of hellfire for being immersed in the wealth that does not belong to them. The word used by the Prophet (peace be upon him) was yatawa dhuna, which evokes the image of someone wading through water and being surrounded by it. Here it is being used metaphorically to describe someone who is completely immersed in all sorts of temptations and has surrendered to them. Therefore they have no qualms about taking the money they were entrusted with to protect. If this is the case, although it might not be the caught by anybody, Allah is The Watchful. He knows that you have taken what does not belong to you then be prepare for severe punishment on the Day of Judgement even it might be punishment in the dunia before the day of judgement but for sure on the Day of Judgement he/she will be punished for that.

In addition to appropriating the wealth of Allah Almighty, as in public money, trust money, or zakat money it might be your own earning, which is the broader meaning. How do you do injustice to your own wealth? When you spend it on what is haram and when you waste it and squander it. For instance, by gambling it away, or investing in haram projects or on useless things as that is wasting blessings (ni’mah) that Allah gave to you.

As Allah Almighty says that he does not like wasteful people:

إِنَّ ٱلْمُبَذِّرِينَ كَانُوٓا۟ إِخْوَٰنَ ٱلشَّيَـٰطِينِ ۖ وَكَانَ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ لِرَبِّهِۦ كَفُورًۭا

Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful. [17:27]

The hadith has different narrations, this is one of the narrations by Khaula Al-Ansanya (may Allah be pleased with her) from Bukhari. In another narration in Tirmidhi, there are slight differences.

Green and sweet

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِنَّ الدُّنْيَا حُلْوَةٌ خَضِرَةٌ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ مُسْتَخْلِفُكُمْ فِيهَا فَيَنْظُرُ كَيْفَ تَعْمَلُونَ

“The world is sweet and green. Verily, Allah will make you successors in it to see how you will behave.” (Muslim)

Hakim bin Hizam narrated:

حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ الزُّهْرِيَّ، يَقُولُ أَخْبَرَنِي عُرْوَةُ، وَسَعِيدُ بْنُ الْمُسَيَّبِ، عَنْ حَكِيمِ بْنِ حِزَامٍ، قَالَ سَأَلْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَأَعْطَانِي، ثُمَّ سَأَلْتُهُ فَأَعْطَانِي، ثُمَّ سَأَلْتُهُ فَأَعْطَانِي، ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏ “‏ هَذَا الْمَالُ ـ وَرُبَّمَا قَالَ سُفْيَانُ قَالَ لِي يَا حَكِيمُ ـ إِنَّ هَذَا الْمَالَ خَضِرَةٌ حُلْوَةٌ، فَمَنْ أَخَذَهُ بِطِيبِ نَفْسٍ بُورِكَ لَهُ فِيهِ، وَمَنْ أَخَذَهُ بِإِشْرَافِ نَفْسٍ لَمْ يُبَارَكْ لَهُ فِيهِ، وَكَانَ كَالَّذِي يَأْكُلُ وَلاَ يَشْبَعُ، وَالْيَدُ الْعُلْيَا خَيْرٌ مِنَ الْيَدِ السُّفْلَى ‏”‏‏.‏

I asked the Prophet (for some money) and he gave me, and then again I asked him and he gave me, and then again I asked him and he gave me and he then said, “This wealth is (like) green and sweet (fruit), and whoever takes it without greed, Allah will bless it for him, but whoever takes it with greed, Allah will not bless it for him, and he will be like the one who eats but is never satisfied. And the upper (giving) hand is better than the lower (taking) hand.” (Bukhari)

In another narration says, Khawla bint Qays (may Allah be pleased with her) alsonarratedthatthe Prophet (peace be upon him) called property ‘green and sweet’ (khadiratul hulwa) – green, it is pleasing to the eye, and that is why we love greenery. And secondly sweet, as sweet things appeal to our palate. Similarly, wealth appeals to our senses, evokes desire and is addictive. This means it is tempting on many levels and it is harder to resist its temptation. That is why those who manage to restrain themselves and acquire it lawfully, it will be blessed for them. While, those who take it illicitly will have the barakah removed from it.

Punishment for following one’s desires

Those who follow their desire, and do not abide by the laws of the Sharia are putting their pleasure before the commands of Allah. They are failing to fulfill the amanah in accordance with the conditions that please Allah, and will be punished.

Unfortunately we see this happening around us all the time. Corruption is so rife it is considered normal in many places. To employ one’s own family members to positions in the government with no qualifications, issuing contracts to family and friends including during the Covid pandemic and the most advanced countries are not immune to corruption, they are just subtler in concealing it.

Giving is better than taking, easy money, and haram money

The hadith points out that it is better to be the one who gives than receives wealth.This means that if you can work, you should not be on benefits. If there is money allocated for the unemployed, it is for those who cannot find work, not those who are not declaring their income. One may think one is clever to earn cash, avoid tax and to get money from the government but this money is haram. This is the Sharia – whether you like it or not. Some people stay on benefit from the government by faking illnesses or circumstances so they can qualify for it, but they do not have real disabilities and again this is haram.

Corrupt MPs

Don’t let money tempt you to satisfy your desire for luxuries – unlike the numerous cases of MPs who fiddled their expenses, took bribes, and accepted money for holidays. Later many were exposed and had to pay it back, but this is fraud. It’s succumbing to the temptation of getting money without any effort.  Free money.


Charities and those who take zakat money have a responsibility to spend the money strictly on what the money was given for. It cannot be spent on sending employees on business class flights to 5 star hotels. This is haram. You can only spend the bare minimum on costs. Whether charities are Islamic or not they are answerable to their donors and have to channel it to the poor and needy. Unfortunately, several well-known charities were rocked by scandals on how they abused the trust of their donors and misused funds. This is wrong not just by Islamic standards but by all moral standards.

Interview with Allah

Those who give in to their desires are digging their own graves. This is why in another narration, by Abdullah ibn Amr, that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يَكُونَ هَوَاهُ تَبَعًا لِمَا جِئْتُ بِهِ

“None of you have faith until his desires comply with what I have brought.” al-(Sunnah li-Ibn Abī ‘Āṣim)

Until you make your desires in line with the Sharia, you won’t be safe. So if you want to twist and circumvent the Sharia, to legitimise what you want, and what your desire is dictating to you, this is haram.

There are other narrations saying the same thing – let money enable you to survive and fulfill your needs, but don’t be consumed and controlled by your whims and desires and take money from any source. You will be asked where you got it from on the Day of Judgement. It’s not an easy interview and everybody will meet Allah Almighty and have to answer this question.

Barakah in the halal

In the narrations of Hakim bin Hizam and Khawla bint Qays, we are told that money is blessed when it is from a halal source. A halal source may appear to be a low wage compared to a higher wage from a doubtful source, but the halal is preferable. If your intention is to please Allah Almighty and to avoid the haram, Allah will put barakah in your money. You have to have this intention, and you have to have contentment inside. Sometimes you settle for the halal option but grudgingly, regretting that you did not get the other job and have lost out. This ruins the intention. Shaytan will easily play you.

Deep down in your heart you have to feel satisfaction and believe that Allah will replace it with something better, and put the barakah in the money which He has provided you. This is why in the hadith, Abu Qatadah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ أَبِي قَتَادَةَ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِنَّكَ لَنْ تَدَعَ شَيْئًا لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إِلَّا بَدَّلَكَ اللَّهُ بِهِ مَا هُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكَ مِنْهُ

“Verily, you will never leave anything for the sake of Allah Almighty but that Allah will replace it with something better for you.” (Musnad Aḥmad)

Our belief is that when you leave something for Allah’s sake with complete conviction and ikhlas (sincerity) Allah will replace you with something better.

Breach of people’s right will not be forgiven

When one is in a position where they are in charge of big financial projects or funds and you can easily take out large sums without anyone noticing, it can be very tempting. How many people are in that position and stop themselves? Few, I believe. However Allah knows that this is not your money and you did not take it in the halal way, so you have to fear Allah. Allah Almighty is watchful.

So anyone who is in that position, position of authority, to deal with money; whether he’s a governor, whether he’s responsible for a fund, whether he’s responsible for charity money, whether he’s responsible for an endowment money, whether he’s responsible for accounts in the bank etc. anyone who has the money of the orphans, money of waquf, public money, it’s a trust, an amanah. So don’t allow the shaitan to make you breach the amanah because this is so difficult.

When you repent Allah will forgive you all your sins if your repentance was sincere but one thing Allah will not forgive is the people’s right. So if you have taken someone’s money, Allah will not forgive you. How to get forgiveness, return the money then Allah will forgive you. Some people think, ‘I will do this and then I’ll repent.’ No!

Importance of financial obligations

Fulfilling financial obligations are so important that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would not pray the janaza prayer over someone who had outstanding debts when they passed away. This emphasized the need to honour financial obligations and teach the community that if you have taken some money from someone or bought something from somebody, you must not treat it lightly.  This is why, once the companions had repaid the debts of the deceased person, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would then pray the funeral prayer for him.

Pay off your debts

We have all at some point experienced irritation when we have lent some one something and they have not bothered to return it. People have a tendency of hanging on to money, and not giving it back. However the Sharia instructs us to  give it back. It is the greed within us that causes this, whereas Islam teaches us to override it and to be grateful to the one who helped you when you were in difficultly or gave you financial support. Therefore we do not abuse those who help us otherwise we put them off from helping others in the future.

Moreover we should still try our best to help whoever we see in financial difficulty, as much as possible.

These hadith send out a strong and clear message that if you do not manage wealth properly– whether it is your own, or public, or belonging to a trust or a charity, then the fire will be your final abode.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Sunday Hadith Class

Transcribed by Rose Roslan

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.