Fruits for the Week

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The Prophet (saw) said: “Two hungry wolves let loose among sheep are no more harmful to them than a man’s craving of wealth and status are to his religion.” (Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban)

The craving for wealth and status is more harmful to one’s religion than two hungry wolves are to sheep without a shepherd. The wolves will obviously devour the sheep, whose fluffy white coats will become stained with blood. By the same token, one’s adherence to the religion will suffer great consequences.

The fourteenth century scholar Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, in his explanation of this hadith, divides the cravings for wealth and status into two categories each:

Craving wealth

  1. The first form of craving wealth involves loving wealth excessively and pursuing it through lawful avenues. These individuals harm themselves by their excessive efforts and wasting of valuable time. They become preoccupied with amassing wealth, to the extent that they take no pleasure in the process, have no time to spend this wealth, and become neglectful of the goal of the next life.
  2. In the second categories, individuals have the same characteristics as those in the first categories, but they are also willing to seek this wealth by unlawful means. Such people withhold the rights of others and are stingy and unjust. They destroy their religion through their greed for wealth, as is evident in the following hadith: “Beware of greed, for indeed greed destroyed those who came before you. It commanded them to commit evil, so they committed evil.” (Abu Dawud). Jabir (ra) reported that the messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Beware of oppression, for oppression will be darkness on the Day of Resurrection, and beware of greed because it destroyed those who were before you. It incited them to shed their blood and to make the unlawful lawful.” (Muslim)

Craving status

The one who is given a position without eagerly seeking it will be aided by Allah in it. As for those who want positions, status, praises, honor and so on, they will not be aided by Allah. Ibn Rajab warns that craving status is worse for an individual that craving wealth.

  1. The one who craves status may seek it among the corrupt leaders and kings, to the extent that he or she will not act according to or speak the truth if doing so will anger them. In the process, this individual is also willing to live off the wealth of the ummah, using it for his or her own comfort. Ibn Rajab points out that this kind of person seeks to be in a position of importance, where people depend upon and seek their needs from him or her. On the contrary, a believer should be humble, not proud and not desiring praise from the people. The one who craves status will not be happy when people do not praise him or her.
  2. There is another form of craving status that is even more corrupt and dangerous. This involves seeking status in the religion through knowledge, actions and asceticism. These actions should be done to seek reward from Allah, yet some people seek acknowledgement and praise from other people. This also applies to seeking religious knowledge in order to use it as a platform to attain wealth. Some may seek status through their knowledge and religious behavior, intending to compete with the scholars and argue with the ignorant, thus seeking popularity as a result; they do this to attain respect in the eyes of people and to show off. Some of the first people to be thrown into the hellfire will be the scholars who attained religious knowledge and recited and taught the Qur’an just so that people might refer to them as learned ones.

As for those who seek to please Allah, he will honor them in this world and the next. Allah may give them status and honor in the hearts of the believers even though they do not seek that. Allah (swt) said: “Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds-the most Merciful will appoint for them affection.” (Qur’an 19: 96)

It has also been narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said: “If Allah loves a person, He calls Gabriel, saying: Allah loves so-and-so; O Gabriel, love him. Gabriel will love him and then will make an announcement among the residents of the heavens: Allah loves so-and-so; therefore, you should love him also. So all the residents of the heavens will love him, and then he will granted the pleasure of the people of the earth.” (Bukhari)

by Abdul Shahid Drew