Building Wealth In Islam: The Upper Hand Is Better Than The Lower Hand

02/18/2024 03:04 PM

Islam provides a balanced approach to wealth creation, encouraging its accumulation while emphasizing its ethical use and distribution. This article explores how Muslims can build wealth in accordance with Islamic principles, with a focus on the hadith of the Prophet (ﷺ) 

"The upper hand is better than the lower hand (i.e. he who gives in charity is better than him who takes it). One should start giving first to his dependents. And the best object of charity is that which is given by a wealthy person (from the money which is left after his expenses). And whoever abstains from asking others for some financial help, Allah will give him and save him from asking others, Allah will make him self-sufficient. (Sahih Bukhari Vol. 2, Book 24, Hadith 508 English Edition

Earning Halal Wealth

The foundation of building wealth in Islam lies in earning income through halal (permissible) means. This involves avoiding occupations that are harmful, exploitative, or involve usury (riba). Muslims are encouraged to engage in honest work, treat employees fairly, and prioritize ethical business practices. The Quran emphasizes this in Surah Al-Baqarah (2:188): "And eat up not one another’s property unjustly (in any illegal way e.g. stealing, robbing, deceiving, etc.), nor give bribery to the rulers (judges before presenting your cases) that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully."

Success in one's endeavors ultimately comes from God's (Allah's) provision. Muslims are encouraged to work hard, persevere through challenges, and trust in Allah's plan. This doesn't negate effort, but rather encourages a work ethic combined with faith. 

Building Successful Businesses

While there are many ways one can build wealth, when one looks at the lives of the sahabah and the Prophet, we see that some of the most righteous of companions like Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Abdurrahman Ibn Auf (رَضِىَ اللّٰەُ عَنْهُ) were all engaged in business.

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) himself was a successful merchant, known for his honesty, integrity, and fair treatment of customers. Muslims can emulate these qualities by prioritizing ethical business practices, building trust with customers and suppliers, and offering excellent products and services.

Furthermore, Islamic teachings emphasize community support and cooperation. Muslims can leverage their networks to find investors, partners, and customers who share their values. Collaboration and knowledge-sharing within the Muslim community can foster innovation and growth. By combining strong business acumen with Islamic principles, Muslimscan build thriving businesses that contribute positively to their communities and become the "upper hand" not just in terms of wealth, but also in terms of ethical and social impact.

The Importance of Charity: Zakat and Sadaqah

Building wealth in Islam goes hand-in-hand with fulfilling one's obligation to charity. Zakat, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, is a mandatory annual levy placed on specific types of wealth. This purifies wealth and ensures its circulation within the Muslim community. Zakat is calculated at specific rates depending on the type of wealth and is distributed to the poor, needy, and other designated categories outlined in the Quran (Surah At-Tawbah 9:60).

Voluntary charity, known as Sadaqah, is another cornerstone of Islamic wealth management. Muslims are encouraged to give generously to those in need, regardless of their religion or background. Sadaqah can take various forms, from monetary donations to volunteering one's time and skills. 

 Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “Charity extinguishes sin as water extinguishes fire.” Al-Tirmidhi (614); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani

Striking a Balance: Avoiding Extravagance

The Hadith "The upper hand is better than the lower hand" highlights the virtue of giving over receiving. However, Islam also discourages excessive accumulation of wealth and encourages living a moderate lifestyle. Muslims are advised to avoid extravagance and unnecessary debt. The Quran warns against wastefulness in Surah Al-Isra (17:27): "Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayâtîn (devils), and the Shaitân (Devil-Satan) is ever ungrateful to his Lord."

Financial responsibility is key. Muslims are encouraged to plan for the future, save for emergencies, and avoid impulsive spending. This financial prudence allows for both fulfilling one's obligations and helping others.

Building a Legacy of Generosity

Ultimately, building wealth in Islam is not just about material possessions. It's about using wealth for good and leaving a positive financial legacy. This can be achieved by providing for one's family, contributing to charitable causes, and supporting future generations.

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