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We believe that a true and comprehensive understanding of Islam would not be possible without careful recognition of the Prophetic Tradition and the Prophet's Household. And Allah is the Source of Strength.

Ar-Raaziq: Sustaining Faith, Avoiding Fitnah

Every grown up today who i know, who bears the responsibility of his family, irrespective of social class and religious back grounds, has one thought troubling him every day, and that thought is Tomorrow! Although tomorrow is uncertain and brings a new day everyday, the major point of concern is sustenance, or rizq as you may call it. Today i have some money with me, but what about tomorrow? The company is not doing well, the country is not doing well, the business is not doing well, the law and order situation is not helping, so what will we do tomorrow? How will we pay for our children, their education, or our family's medical and social needs? Those who are well off, are also thinking about tomorrow, how to increase their income, how to expand their business, how to safeguard their investments.

Not that it is a crime, the thought comes naturally and rightfully so.

In this turbulent thoughts, we are either always occupied with mental troubles, overcommitted to our financial interests (where we do not have time for other things in life) and/or commit transgressions to the limits set by Allah, ie. Fraud, theft, unjust distribution of wealth, stock-piling, tax evasion, money laundering, under-invoicing, becoming slaves to our bosses and alot of crimes associated with finances.

But i must remind you all that it is the same gold and silver about which it is said;

O you who believe! most surely many of the doctors of law and the monks eat away the property of men falsely, and turn (them) from Allah's way; and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah's way, announce to them a painful chastisement, On the day when it shall be heated in the fire of hell, then their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it; this is what you hoarded up for yourselves, therefore taste what you hoarded.
Quran [9:34-35]

The problem is not about making money, or thinking about how to make money. It is incumbent on every muslim to make himself, and then, those around them, financially stable, so that they too can rise above their carnal desires and come towards Allah. So that they do not have an excuse for not doing anything for God or in the name of God, because remember, a poor man's God is the bread, or the bread provider. You cannot pray if your stomach does not allow you to. That is why Prophet (SAW) himself had prayed for protection from poverty;

Narrated By 'Aisha: The Prophet used to seek refuge with Allah (by saying), "O Allah! I seek refuge with You from the affliction of the Fire and from the punishment in the Fire, and seek refuge with You from the affliction of the grave, and I seek refuge with You from the affliction of wealth, and I seek refuge with You from the affliction of poverty, and seek refuge with You from the affliction of Al-Masih Ad-Dajjal"
Sahih Bukhari, Vol 8, Book 75, Hadith #387

The problem is, being overwhelmed by it, being stressed by it, by being uncertain of it and by taking it in your own hands. Why so? Because such emotions and uncertainty regarding sustenance and wealth are a destructive force to the true spirit of our Kalimah.

1. Sustenance is Pre-Destined [Measured and as Allah Wills]

A saying associated with Imam Hussain (AS) states not to go away from the Haqq in fear of people, because they can neither bring death closer to than it actually is, nor can they take away the sustenance which has been bestowed on us.

And there is no animal in the earth but on Allah is the sustenance of it, and He knows its resting place and its depository all (things) are in a manifest book.
Quran [11:6]

That is why there is no set of rules for success or failure. You will see more capable and talented men in jobs lower than yours, and less competent men in higher paid jobs, you will see people earning in all sorts of businesses and you will see people struggling in all sorts of businesses. If your friend has success in the stock market (or is lucky) does not mean you can replicate his success and follow his footsteps, it will ensure nothing.

Allah sends sustenance, and according to a measure, and as he pleases.

And if Allah should amplify the provision for His servants they would certainly revolt in the earth; but He sends it down according to a measure as He pleases; surely He is Aware of, Seeing, His servants.
Quran [42:27]

Do they not see that Allah makes ample provision for whom He pleases, or straitens? Most surely there are signs in this for a people who believe
Quran [30:37]

Your sustenance will find you like death will, but hard work is mandatory. Maybe Allah has destined our sustenance with our share of work, after all that is what the day has been made for;

And We made the day for seeking livelihood.
Quran [78:11]

2. And we bring our Sustenance with ourselves

As Imam ZainulAbideen (AS) said, that our sustenance is brought to this earth, in the form of our mother's milk, before we are even sent to this earth. Further, Imam (AS) continues to be surprised at man and the way he thinks, that how when he is small and weak and helpless yet Allah provides him through his mother (the umbilical cord) and the child nourishes through the nourishment of the mother, yet when he grows up to be strong and move about, he thinks Allah has forsaken him without provision?

And do not kill your children for fear of poverty; We give them sustenance and yourselves (too); surely to kill them is a great wrong.
Quran [17:31]

Every child born to a parent receives his share of sustenance and we do not realize this.

3. It is Shaitan who threatens us with Poverty

We allow the Satan to rule our emotions and thoughts, about tomorrow, and then it drains our motivation, energy and time in worrying only, which we could have used more productively and constructively for ourselves, our families and our society.

Shaitan threatens you with poverty and enjoins you to be niggardly, and Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and abundance; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.
Quran [2:268]

4. Allah is responsible for our Sustenance

Allah has not created a creature, from the smallest of the bacteria or insect, to the largest of the mammal, but its sustenance is on this earth. Allah has promised sustenance to each of its creations, whether it be a worm in the deepest and darkest and polluted of waters, or an insect on the hottest and the driest of the deserts.

And how many a living creature that does not carry its sustenance: Allah sustains
it and yourselves;
and He is the Hearing, the Knowing
Quran [29:60]

Say: Who gives you the sustenance from the heavens and the earth? Say: Allah. And most surely we or you are on a right way or in manifest error
Quran [34:24]

If Allah wills to hold off our sustenance from us, a trial or a punishment, then who can provide for us?

Or who is it that will give you sustenance if He should withhold His sustenance? Nay! they persist in disdain and aversion.
Quran [67:21]

5. And Allah surprises us with sources of our Sustenance

What we are today, we could not imagine 5 years, or maybe 5 months, or maybe 5 weeks ago. So much to celebrate and so much to cherish. We all have outshone our own expectations and we all receive frequently, food, income and other forms of sustenance from where we never expected it to come from. Remember that day when nothing was cooked at your house and a neighbor sent in a meal?

And give him sustenance from whence he thinks not; and whoever trusts in Allah,
He is sufficient for him;
surely Allah attains His purpose; Allah indeed has appointed a
measure for everything
Quran [65:3]

6. Allah sustains beyond life of this world

Allah is our master and our provider and the onus is on him to make ways for our sustenance. And he has promised the same to the living;

Allah is He Who created you, then gave you sustenance, then He causes you to
die, then brings you to life. Is there any of your associate-gods who does aught of it?
Glory be to Him, and exalted be He above what they associate (with Him).
Quran [30:40]  

Even the martyrs are provided sustenance, while we worry we will be forsaken while we can still breath and are men of God?

And reckon not those who are killed in Allah's way as dead; nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord;
Quran [3:169]

Sustenance does not end with life on this earth. Men of paradise shall have their sustenance from Allah as well;

The gardens of perpetuity which the Beneficent Allah has promised to His servants while unseen; surely His promise shall come to pass. They shall not hear therein any vain discourse, but only: Peace, and they shall have their sustenance therein morning and evening.
Quran [19:61-62] 

To summarize;

  1. Sustenance is Pre-Destined [Measured and as Allah Wills]
  2. And we bring our Sustenance with ourselves
  3. It is Shaitan who threatens us with Poverty
  4. Allah is responsible for our Sustenance
  5. And Allah surprises us with sources of our Sustenance
  6. Allah sustains beyond life of this world

The Kalimah alone is not sufficient. It demands firm faith, that our Wali, Allah himself, is our provider. Only Allah controls the sustenance.

You only worship idols besides Allah and you create a lie surely they whom you
serve besides Allah do not control for you any sustenance, therefore seek the sustenance
from Allah and serve Him and be grateful to Him
; to Him you shall be brought back.
Quran [29:17]

When this is the requirement of our Kalimah, then any ungratefulness, any slavery of man, any spooning of bosses for promotions, any unfair means of income (whether it be theft or it be tax evasion) tantamounts to kufr. Because by such actions, we are doubting the promise of Allah and are taking our sustenance in our own hands.

The love of desires, of women and sons and hoarded treasures of gold and silver
and well bred horses and cattle and tilth, is made to seem fair to men; this is the provision of the life of this world; and Allah is He with Whom is the good goal (of life).
Say: Shall I tell you what is better than these? For those who guard (against evil) are gardens with their Lord, beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and pure mates and Allah's pleasure; and Allah sees the servants.
Quran [3:14-15] 

Therefore earning by Halal means, and spending it on Halal, is one of the biggest acts of worship today. Interest free earnings, spending on Khums and Zakaat, giving charity, helping your poor relatives, investing in the society, providing for your wife and children, spending in the way of Allah, patience during hard times, avoiding extravagance and exorbitance, are all the works of a saint today and not any human. Because Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had said, that those who avoid sin even when having the power to commit one, shall be risen with martyrs and saints.

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had also foretold;

Hazrat Ka`b bin `Iyad reported: Messenger of Allah said, "Verily, there is a Fitnah (trial) for every nation and the trial for my nation (or Ummah) is wealth.''
al-Tirmidhi, 2336

Is the Ummah failing its trial? Is the weakest or poorest part of our society earning unfairly (as shopkeepers and cart owners unfairly measure incorrectly and try to make 5 rs more by measuring less) and is the strongest or elite part of our society earning unfairly (tax evasion, money laundering, under invoicing). This is other than the elements of our society, which rob, steal and loot. This is yet again is other than the pious of our society, who wed their daughters and sisters with Quran (as in interior Sindh) so that the property remains in the family, who break off ties with their poor relatives so that they do not have to help them, who kill brothers and fathers over property disputes and who loose good brotherly friends over business dispute. Additionally there is another element of our society who do not give Sadaqa, Charity, Zakat, Khums, help the needy. All of them, our poor and our rich, our pious and our wicked, or brothers and our friends, are busy in multiplying their sustenance, forgetting that it is Allah who gives what he pleases and stops what he pleases. We think that our wealth and our sustenance which we acquire this way will help us in our time of need, will help us Tomorrow?!

Woe to every slanderer, defamer, Who amasses wealth and considers it a provision (against mishap); He thinks that his wealth will make him immortal. Nay! he shall most certainly be hurled into the crushing disaster, And what will make you realize what the crushing disaster is? It is the fire kindled by Allah, Which rises above the hearts. Surely it shall be closed over upon them, in extended columns.
Quran [104:1- 9]

The uncertainty of sustenance is not an individual issue, but a global one and reflects the collective behavior of mankind. We think we will run out of oil, water, resources, and thus we go to war. Communities in the past used to expand horizontally, conquests would be made to expand the empires and increase the gold and the silver. Economies today expand vertically and no conquest is made on a foreign territory to win over slave women, but countries today have trade ties with one another and vested economic interests. We can continue to think that Saudia are our brothers in Islam and Iran is our brother in Islam and Afghanistan are our brothers in Islam but the fact remains that each of us have our own vested economic and social interests which shape our foreign policies.

Did Prophet Muhammad (SAW) face opposition on spiritual grounds or on economic fronts? Were people ready to be killed for idols? Or was it for their socio-economic values the Prophet (SAW) stood to destroy? How would he react whose business pertaining to alcohol would suffer drastically if Islam rose? How would he react who would have to pay tax to the state, zakat to the poor, khums to the poor? How would he react who would have to invest and spend in the name of Allah? An Allah he does not see or trust on for sustenance? We muslims today do not trust Allah for our sustenance and take matters in our own hands as explained above, how would he then react who was taught Islam for the first time? How would he react who would have to leave inheritance to his sons, daughters, wives? How would he react who would have to treat his slave(s) equal to himself and eventually free them?

The caliphate of Mawla Ali (AS) is worth mentioning, but it will slightly make this piece controversial, but so is the personality of Imam Ali (AS) that he makes everything controversial, because Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had said;

The Messenger of God said: O God, have Thy Mercy on Ali. O God, make the right and the truth with Ali in all situations
Sahih al-Tirmidhi, volume 5, page 297

Ali is with the Truth (haqq) and the Qur'an, and the Truth and the Qur'an are also with Ali, and they will be inseparable until they come upon me at Kawthar.
al-Bahrani's Ghâyat al-marâm wa-hujjat al-hisâm, page 539

Wa dara al-haqq ma'ahu haithu dar"
"And the truth (the right path) turns with him (i.e. Ali) wherever way he turns."
Tafsir al-Kabir, by Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Commentary of "al-Bismillah"

So the controversy between Haqq and Baatil shall always remain and the recognition of truth will be that Ali (AS) stands by it. When Ali (AS) became the caliph, he unsheathed his sword against the governer of Syria, Mawiya ibn Abu Sufyan. This was the same Imam Ali (AS) whose opponents were Marhab and Antar and Amroo ibn Abd Wad, and who was the hero of Badr, Uhud, Khaiber and Khandaq. This was the same sword he unsheathed under Rasool (SAW) for 10 years in the Ghazwas. After the demise of Prophet (SAW) when Ali (AS) was 36 years old and when a man is at the peak of his youth and strength, and when the Muslims under Khalifa-e-Rashidun performed many Jihad which saw the global rise of Islam, Ali never unsheath his sword. When Imam Ali (AS) was 60 years old and became the caliph, he unsheath the same sword, against Mawya ibn Abu Sufyan. It is another story covered in various other articles and letters in this website as to why Imam Ali (AS) did not fight Mawiya earlier as he had been governer of Syria for more than 17 years before Imam ALi (AS) rose to power. It is also another story and covered elsewhere how Mawiya countered Imam Ali's rise to caliphate by claiming Imam Ali (AS) had protected and/or defended the murderers of Caliph Usman and was himself directly or indirectly involved in the crime. But do you know why did Imam Ali (AS) unsheathe his sword against Mawiya? Accountability of the Resource of the state, the Bayt ul Maal, accountability of wealth and power and that is what Mawiya resisted to.

So let not any Shia be under a mirage that Mawla Ali (AS) will intercede for his unlawfulness. This is Ali Ibn Abu Talib (AS) who had said that had all the gold equal to a mountain be given to him, as a cost for his services to take away the grain of food from the mouth of an ant, even then he would not do so as he (AS) understood accountability, understood wealth, understood sustenance.

Allah's is the masterplan and who can understand his wisdom? How he tries us? He has promised us our sustenance, but has put uncertainty in our hearts pertaining to it, that we worry about it each passing minute and think of fair and unfair means to increase our wealth mistaking it for our sustenance. And he has not promised us paradise, yet he has put certainty in our hearts pertaining to it (that because we are Muslims, Shias, Sunnis etc, we are bound to enter paradise), that we do not worry about our hereafter even a single moment, for if we did, we would surely rise above the Fitnah Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had warned us about.

We must work hard for our sustenance so that we can return to the society part of it, and we must pray that Allah ba Sadqa Muhammad (SAW) wa Aal e Muhammad (AS) expands our sustenance for us, gives it to us without measure and gives us sustenance from sources of honor, respect and peace.

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