Faith or Wealth

34 FAITH OR WEALTH (Mirza Rehan Akram) On visiting a relative’s home in London recently, a message displayed upon a wall caught my attention. It read: ‘Love for money is artificial. True love is for Allah.’ How true we find these words to be when we call to mind not only man’s love for money, as it were, but other similar pursuits of man that are wholly of a materialistic nature. It is not simply the people of those Godless societies, which have day by day drawn away from faith, who have recently introduced a culture dominated and motivated by worldly desires, but such passions have been an evident characteristic of human nature ever since the beginning. It is simply a question of those who have the God-fearing sense to shun the acquisition of worldly knowledge and possessions in preference to faith. Man’s desire to acquire material possessions and his exorbitant eagerness to excel others in wealth, prestige and social position, lie at the foundation of all human discord. From such passions, ill-founded rivalry, and ill-feeling towards others arise. It can ultimately lead to the common human vice of jealousy and envy; and moreover, it is an inevitable prelude to arrogance. The Promised Messiah clearly states: ‘…he who, out of a mistaken conception of his wealth, or status, or dignity, looks down upon his brother, is arrogant because he forgets that his wealth, status and dignity were bestowedupon him by God. He is blind and does not realise that God has the power to so afflict him that in a moment he might be reduced to the condition of the lowest of the low, and to bestow upon his brother, whom he esteems low, greater wealth than him. So he who is neglectful of prayer on account of his dependence upon his faculties is arrogant for he has not recognised the Fountainhead of all power and strength, and relies upon himself.’ (Nuzulul Masih, pp. 24-25) Acquisitiveness, in many cases, ‘accounts for the neglect and abandonment of the higher values of life and the rewards to be found in faith. Herein, one can find peace and tranquillity of heart, which can only REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 35 be achieved by submission to the Will of God. The Holy Quran explains: ‘Surely, the right way has become distinct from error: so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking.(2:257) It is also man’s unfortunate trait that his enthusiasm for earthly gain recognises no limits, and leaves him little time to think of his Creator and the life hereafter. La his book Fateh Islam, published in 1890, the Promised Messiah describes in Persian verse, the very relevant condition of Muslims at that time: ‘It behove the eyes of every faithful one to shed tears of blood over the distress of Islam and the disappearance of true Muslims… Before your very eyes Islam has fallen into the dust, what excuse will you offer to God, O Muslims, who pass your lives in the lap of luxury?…. The well-to-do are eager in pursuit of their joys and pleasures, passing their time in laughter and in the company of beautiful women… O Muslims, are these the signs of your spirituality that while the faith is in such distress you are occupiedwholly with the pursuit of the carrion of the world?’ \e sad fact remains, that those who pursue their world at present and not the world hereafter, never come to appreciate that it is Allah alone, the Benefactor of mankind, Who bestows and blesses not only spiritual, but also material gain. It is not, therefore, simply the perseverance or hard work of men that allows them to excel in wealth, or attain position and respect in society, but the will of Allah, without Whom man could achieve little or nothing. It is Allah Who can retract and retrieve as quickly as He bestows. However, those who attain worldly success and are grateful to Allah, and spend in the way of their Lord, always receive a greater reward in return. The Holy Quran states: ‘Those who spend their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, have their reward with their Lord; on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve.(2:275) 36 FAITH OR WEALTH With such divine reassurances, it is misfortune that lies ahead for those who subordinate the infinite and limitless blessings of the hereafter to the finite values that are found in the material world that surrounds us. It is most obvious that material possessions acquired in our lives are found to be futile in the world beyond. The only wealth that Allah, the Almighty looks to, is that which is found in our hearts and souls. Those who neglect the clear and beautiful teachings in the Holy Quran remain entirely engrossed in their ill-founded pursuits till it is time for their demise. Only then, when their actions are irrevocable, do they realise and accept that they have wasted their valuable time in superficial occupations. Islam certainly does not prohibit the use or seeking of the good things of this world; but it certainly condemns those who make them the very object of their life. In conclusion, the following verse of the Holy Quran beautifully illustrates and sums up this message: Fair seeming to men is made the love of desired things-women and children, and stored-up heaps of gold and silver,, and horses of mark and cattle and crops. That is the provision of the present life; but it is Allah with Whom is an excellent home.(3:I5) Admit Your Mistakes This precept is nearly always a good one. No honest man need ever fear the result of admitting an error. If the error is unnoticed do not call attention to it, if there is possibility of harm arising from its concealment if it is noticed, and you attempt to dodge it, the result will be disastrous. A ready, straightforward acknowledgement of an error has a breezy air of frankness about it that always charms and captivates. Dishonest people generally seek to circumlocute and explain away their errors. (Edmond Shaftesbury)