If you are rich, fear Allah and remember if you die with excess wealth, you have denied Allah's money its rightful place.
Say, [O Muhammad], "If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and struggle in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people." (At Tawba, verse 24).
Most of us have been conditioned to secure our place in life through education, jobs and wealth: in short, material status. From young, we have been brought up to equate success with wealth, appearances and social standing. This is why we tend to be courteous to the rich, but rude to the poor. Using these values as our moral compass in life, we divert our life efforts in pursuit of the wrong endeavours and live our lives trying to impress the wrong people.
In the eyes of Islam, there is nothing wrong in being rich, provided that the money is spent for the path of Allah.
Examine your household excesses – clothes, cars, money, vacations, real estate, toys, jewellery. How much of this is necessity and how much of this is for self indulgence or to keep up with the neighbours? When you meet Allah, can you legitimately justify why you allocated your expenditure for these purchases instead of spending in His path?
This is not to be confused with zakat payments, which is obligatory as part of the pillars of worship and is the bare minimum for a Muslim. The remainder wealth is something that we also hold on trust. However we came to such wealth, whether through our inheritance or our own efforts, the wealth was ultimately given by Allah. It is not for us to luxuriate in and spoil our family with. It is not for us to spend as we please without accountability. It comes with a responsibility and it is a test on how we will spend what Allah has entrusted onto us. It is a means to perform good deeds and to mind the affairs of the needy. Any wealth that is abused in luxuries and excesses will bear witness against us.
The Muslim population is enormous, and many are in need. We should not turn a blind eye to those in hardship. Rasulullah SAW warned that whoever does not care about the affairs of the Muslim is not from among us.
Our love of Allah is proportionate to what we are willing to sacrifice for His pleasure, be it by time, effort or money. For instance, a person may be intelligent and would love to be a doctor. Yet, he attends parties instead of classes, does not prepare for his exams and refuses to attend the practical training. Will anyone take his ambition seriously? Similarly, we can claim to love Allah, but if none of our actions evidence that love, then what have we done nothing to substantiate that claim?
Allah in His justice, values what we spend in relation to what we own, not in relation to its monetary value in the market. Hence, a millionaire and a poor person might donate the same amount of money, but what is spare change to a millionaire might actually be a month's salary for another person.
What motivates one's actions? Some are so devoted to their careers that they fall severely ill, and even have to be administered with intravenous drips because their bodies are undernourished and cannot cope with the work stress. How come all these obstacles don't dampen their career aspirations? It is the faith in and worship to the job, and their determination to be recognised as high achievers, which fuels their burning ambition to advance regardless of the sacrifices involved.
We would only voluntarily sacrifice something if we believe in what we are sacrificing for. The more conviction we have in something, the keener we will be to sacrifice for that belief. A university may charge double the fees of another, but if we believe in the value of the degree, we would find a way to pay the extra fees.
If we have conviction that the best thing we can do is to sacrifice for Allah, then, we would pull all stops for it.
The utmost is to sacrifice everything that we own, which is the example displayed by the two people closest to Rasulullah (SAW) – his wife, Khadijah (RA) and his trusted friend, Abu Bakr (RA). They were both rich in their lifetimes but died as paupers having sacrificed all they had for the sake of Allah and to advance the spread of Islam.
"Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah] from that which you love. And whatever you spend - indeed, Allah is Knowing of it." ( Ali Imran, verse 92.)
Can we pay an architect a hundred dollars and realistically expect him to build us a house with an attached swimming pool? Yet this is what we do to Allah – we give spare change in His cause, and hoard the rest of the money to finance our desires. We then expect an eternal palace in Jannah for a price that would not even buy us a month's rent in dunia. We refuse to spend in the sake of Allah and are annoyed when pressed to help others. If we love something of the material world, we refuse to part with it, even for akhirah. At the end of it, we want to believe that a red carpet will line our way to jannah even if none of our worldly actions showed belief in the superiority of the hereafter?