Almighty Allah says in the Glorious Qur’an,
(O children of Adam, look to your adornment at every place of worship and eat and drink but do not be extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant.) (Al-A`raf 7:31)
(But seek the abode of the hereafter in that which Allah has given you and neglect not your portion of the world, and do good (to others) as Allah has done good to you, and seek not corruption in the earth; surely Allah does not love the corrupters.) (Al-Qasas 28:77).
Today, America is in the grip of a terrible financial crisis. Chicago-based psychologist Nancy Molitor said, “It is not a Wall Street crisis — it is affecting the entire consumer economy and almost every individual that I see …. I have never seen something that has affected such a wide range of people. The number of people seeking mental help because of finance-related stress has skyrocketed over the last month.”
She further said, there is a sense of total helplessness, which if it goes on long enough, it becomes depression. A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that eight in ten Americans say the economy is a major source of stress in their lives. Nearly half say they are worried about providing for their families’ basic needs.
Causes of the Crisis
Multiple factors have brought about this crisis: greed, corruption, mismanagement, extravagance, injustice, war, exploitation, riba (usury), etc. Fixing this crisis and bringing the situation back to normal may take years. Meanwhile, it is our turn to learn how to deal with this situation for our own sake and for the sake of our children. When people are in a financial crunch, they normally try to find scapegoats.
In political or financial crises, minorities (whether racial or religious) often suffer more, and we, Muslims, are already under great stress due to negative propaganda. For us, Muslims in America, it is even more important to understand this financial challenge and to face it with wisdom.
According to the Qur’an, money is both a blessing and a trial. It is sometimes called khayr (a blessing) as in Verses 180 and 215 of Surat Al-Baqarah. It is called qiyam (a mean of support) as in Verse 5 of Surat An-Nisaa’. It is also called fadl (a bounty) as in Verse 198 of Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 10 of Surat Al-Jumu`ah, and Verse 20 of Surat Al-Muzzammil.
However, it is also called mata` (a temporary thing) as in Verse 60 of Surat Al-Qasas. It is called fitnah (a trial) as in Verse 28 of Surat Al-Anfal.
In the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), we are reminded again and again to earn in the ways that are honest and halal (permitted by Allah). We are reminded to avoid deceiving, defrauding, cheating, stealing, and being greedy. We are also told that we should use our wealth carefully, without waste or extravagance.
As for the current crisis, I suggest that every one of us deals with it as follows:
1. First and foremost, observe taqwa (piety and fear of Allah) and tawakkul (trust in Allah). Allah has promised in the Qur’an,
(And [for] whosoever keeps his duty to Allah, He will appoint a way out for him and give him sustenance from whence he thinks not, and [for] whosoever trusts in Allah, He is sufficient for him; surely Allah attains His purpose; Allah has indeed appointed a measure for everything.) (At-Talaq 65:2–3)
In this situation, observing taqwa and tawakkul would mean that — first of all — we should not panic; we should remain steadfast and content. It would also mean working hard without doing anything that is haram (prohibited by Allah) or illegal (opposed to the law of the land).
2. Second, remember that Islam teaches us to live debt-free. Avoid taking loans as much as possible. However, if you take any loan, pay it off as soon as possible.
Loan with interest is a great wrong that should be completely avoided. The worst loans are those of the credit cards. They can easily be obtained, and they have the highest interest. They already ruined the lives of many middle-income people. Wise people should treat their credit cards just like cash. They should not get into what is called “buying what you do not need with the money that you do not have.”
3. Third, be careful with your resources. Wastefulness, extravagance, show-off, and unnecessary expenditure are signs of ungratefulness toward Allah. Those who waste their resources and indulge in extravagance are called devils’ brothers. Almighty Allah says,
(Surely the squanderers are brothers of the devils, and the devil is ever ungrateful to his Lord.) (Al-Israa’ 17:27).
4. Fourth, learn how to save money for yourself and for your children. The Prophet said,
“Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before your becoming [too] busy, your life before your death.” (Al-Hakim in Al-Mustadrak)
5. Fifth, be smart with your money. Invest it very carefully and always in halal ways. Also, do not be fooled by telemarketers or people who will try to take away your money by giving you many incredible “lucrative” ideas. Some of them may even come to the mosque (also with a very pious look) and then deprive you of your precious earnings or savings. Check out every proposal very carefully and consult with others.
6. Sixth, take care of your health. Health costs drain the savings of many people. Find a good health plan and keep it up.
7. Seventh, pay your zakah (obligatory alms) in due course and give sadaqah (optional charity) regularly. This is the best way to receive Allah’s blessings and to avoid stumbling in difficulties. Help the poor and the needy. Help those who are out of job and are in difficulties. Those who help others will be helped by Allah. The Prophet said,
“The most beloved to Allah among the people are those who are most beneficial to others. The most beloved deeds in the sight of Allah are bringing happiness to a Muslim, removing his or her difficulty, paying off his or her debt, and removing his or her hunger. Going out with my Muslim brother [or sister] to take care of his [or her] need is more beloved to me than spending a month of i`tikaf[spiritual retreat in the mosque]. For those who control their anger, Allah will cover their shortcomings. For those who subdue their revenge that they can carry on, Allah will fill their hearts with happiness on the Day of Judgment. For those who walk with their brothers [or sisters] to take care of their needs, Allah will establish their feet on the Day when the feel will stumble. Bad temper spoils the deed as vinegar spoils honey.” (Reported by At-Tabarani in the Kabir and by Ibn Abi Dunya. Al-Albani said it is a good hadith)
I pray to Allah so that He would keep us all on the right path and save us from all difficulties in this world and the hereafter. Amen.”
By: Muzammil H. Siddiqi
President of Fiqh Council — North America