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Is affluence impious?

By: admin

Question

By the grace and providence of God, I have lived comfortably up until now (and insha’Allah hope to continue to). However, after reading more about the Prophet’s life, I have learned that he emphasized simplicity, humility, and modesty with respect to one’s standard of living. We are commanded by the Qur’an to follow his example, for it is an excellent one to emulate (though not in all respects, as you have clarified in one of your recent articles). There is no doubt in my mind that Islam is against extravagance and ‘piling up wealth.’ But the supplication “Our Lord, grant us blessings in the life of this world and blessings in the life to come, and save us from the torment of the Fire” seems to avoid precluding the pursuit of affluence in life, on the condition that this pursuit remains ancillary to the real pursuit – that of the everlasting bliss in the Hereafter.

Is it within the bounds of piety to live affluently while thanking God for all His blessings and fulfilling the practical responsibilities that arise from them (to the best of our abilities)? Or, on the contrary, must we relinquish affluence for the sake of the sheer simplicity (i.e. having only a few garments, using modest sleeping materials, etc.) that the Prophet advocated with regard to a Muslim’s standard of living?

Thank you.

 

Reply

Neither does the Prophet (pbuh) nor does Islam recommend or prescribe any particular standard of living for all its adherents.

You are correct in saying that Islam wants its adherents to live a simple, non-pompous life. Nevertheless, simplicity should not be judged on the basis of the number of one’s clothes or the number of times one changes one’s clothes during the day. Simplicity is an attitude rather than a particular standard of behavior. A rich and affluent man may be equally ‘simple’ by his own standards as any poor man, while a poor man can be as pompous, by his own standards, as the richest man on earth.

The Qur’an has referred to wealth as “خير” (i.e., blessing or favor of God), which is clearly indicative of the fact that wealth and affluence are among God’s favors. A person bestowed with this blessing has the right to enjoy it, while thanking God for His great favors and while realizing and fulfilling the responsibilities that this – like any other – favor of God entails.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

UIUK team

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