By Dr. Muhammad Kamal Al-Shareef


When a believer tries to acquire vast riches, his efforts will remain 
within what serves God's cause unless he aims at self-glorification, tries 
to spread corruption or resorts to forbidden means to earn his income.

When people avoid forbidden intentions and means, whatever they do could 
serve God's cause, and what serves it is an act of worship, for which 
people may expect God's reward.

By nature, man loves what is good and beneficial. In some verses of the 
Qur'an, the term "good" means money.

God has included wealth and children among the reward He promises His 
servants in order to encourage them to believe in Him and to be 
God-fearing. But God also describes wealth and children as being the 
"adornments of this world's life", which means that His promise to 
believers is not confined to the reward He gives in the life to come. He 
also promises His good servants something in this life, so as to enhance 
their motivation. Islam works with human nature, without opposing it.

The Prophet Noah mentions what he promised his people if they would only 
believe. Relating this promise in the Qur'an, God says: "I called on them 
openly; and I preached to them in public; and I spoke to them secretly, in 
private; saying: 'Ask your Lord to forgive you your sins, for He is indeed 
all-forgiving! He will shower upon you heavenly blessings in abundance, and 
will aid you with much wealth and children, and will bestow on you gardens 
and running waters'." (71: 8-12)

This means that had Noah's people believed and sought God's forgiveness, He 
would have forgiven them and sent them rain in abundance, to transform 
their land into gardens and running waters. He would have also given them 
much wealth and children. All this would have given them a life of plenty 
and strength. Had any of this been disliked by God, He would not have 
promised it to people in reward for believing and praying for forgiveness 
of their past sins.

While affluence is, in itself, a means of test, it imposes on those who are 
affluent certain duties: to thank God for it, and to refrain from using it 
as a means of self-glorification, or in sinful actions, or to spread 
corruption on Earth. God says in the Qur'an: "If they keep firmly to the 
right path, we shall certainly give them abundant water, so as to test them 
by this means. For, he who shall turn away from the remembrance of his 
Lord, him will He cause to undergo most grievous suffering." (72: 16-17)

When people are genuinely grateful for the blessings God has given them, He 
grants them an immediate reward, which is an increase of His favors: "Your 
Lord made this (promise) known: 'If you are grateful (to Me), I shall most 
certainly give you more and more; but if you are ungrateful, My punishment 
will be severe indeed'." (14: 7) He indeed promises greater provisions as a 
reward for following a course of action based on piety and God-fearing: "To 
everyone who is God-fearing, He (always) grants a way out (of unhappiness), 
and provides for him in a manner beyond all expectation." (65: 2-3)

God also states that the good and pious believers pray Him for favors in 
both the life of this world and the life to come. They do not see what may 
be enjoyed in this present life something mundane that is unbecoming for a 
believer to pray for: "Among them are such as pray, 'Our Lord! Grant us 
good in this world and good in the life to come, and keep us safe from 
suffering through the fire'." (2: 201)

A major element of being grateful to God for His favors is that believers 
should use these favors to improve their prospects in the life to come. 
This means that they use God's favors for good works and in ways that 
facilitate obedience to God. However, believers are urged not to neglect 
their portions in this life.

That is also God's gift. When believers move away from showing off, 
boasting of their position, using their wealth in vain glory, or to indulge 
in grave sin, and other forms of corruption, their share of this life will 
not use up all their wealth, if they are rich: "Seek, by means of what God 
has granted you, (the good of) the life to come, without forgetting your 
own rightful share in this world, and do good (to others) as God has done 
good to you, and do not seek to spread corruption on Earth. Surely, God 
does not love those who spread corruption!" (28: 77)
This life wants God-fearing people to seek it, so that some of them would 
be rich business people, highly skilled professionals, reputable scientists 
and serious artists. This life is tired of the fact that unscrupulous 
people seek its riches, while good people turn away from it. It wants to 
see honest businessmen who neither cheat nor resort to monopoly and similar 
wicked means to push up prices. It needs rich people who do not use their 
wealth to spread corruption or to look at other human beings with contempt. 
It looks for the human being who realizes the nature of the role assigned 
to him as he is placed in charge of the Earth. Such a person provides the 
role model for others, showing them what it means to fulfill man's 
vicegerency on Earth: a vicegerency given the task to work and build, 
without arrogance, corruption, cheating or indulgence in sin.

The advocates of God's faith should understand the importance of this fact 
so that they could help God-fearing people in their efforts to overcome 
their reluctance to seek a good life of plenty on Earth. Such people need 
to correct their misconception which implies that riches and pleasures are 
unbecoming of a good believer, despite the fact that people are naturally 
desirous of them, and that life needs both to be set on an even keel. 
Indeed God includes both in His reward to attract people to faith and 
piety. The advocates of Islam should draw people's attention to the 
benefits God may grant them in plenty in this life, if they would believe, 
seek God's forgiveness of their sins and follow a God-fearing path. When 
people realize this, they are better motivated to accept the faith, and 
will after that have a strong motive to do good.
Some believers may think lightly of committing a sin, because they hope 
that they will eventually receive God's forgiveness. But few of them are 
prepared to lose some of what God has allotted to them of sustenance, if 
that would be the punishment of a sin they may commit. This fear of loss 
may provide a person with a strong motive to steer away from what is 
forbidden. The Prophet says: "Nothing increases a person's life span except 
goodly actions, and nothing averts fate except supplication. People may be 
deprived of some sustenance as a result of a sin they may commit." (Related 
by Ibn Majah).

The question of motive in the life of Muslims today should receive greater 
attention. That would help Muslims to throw away their shackles which 
impede the fulfillment of their role in this life. That is a role that 
makes Muslims feel compassionate toward other people, offer them the good 
they have, enjoy their portion of the life of this world, increase their 
strength and become an example to be followed by others.