The great error that prevents abundance: the urge to accumulate possessions
Piling up and accumulating possessions is one of those subjects that most occupies and most concerns people who do not live by religious moral values. Why is the accumulation of possession of greater importance than having good moral values for some people, even though it benefits people nothing in the Hereafter?
How Should One Look at Possessions in Order to Earn Almighty Allah’s Approval and Paradise?
In the Qur’an, Almighty Allah has revealed there are certain matters that may bind people very passionately to this world, and warns that they will be tested through them. One of the subjects Almighty Allah reveals people may be tested with in this world is the love of possessions. Having possessions is certainly compatible with Qur’anic moral values and is the perfect right of all Muslims. But the danger described by Allah in the Qur’an is a person squatting on all those goods and possessions that in fact belong to Allah, thus failing to help the needy, and becoming attached to the life of this world as that wealth accumulates. This love that people who do not live by Qur’anic moral values feel for possessions turns into a sickness that binds them to this world as a result of goods not being used and money not being spent. Because they become devoted to it with a desire to increase these assets and wealth. That desire then persists as a passion right up until they die. Allah reveals this in a verse from the Qur’an:
“Fierce competition for this world distracted you until you went down to the graves.” (Sura at-Takathur, 1-2)
What Do Those Who Amass Great Possessions Lose?
They Are Deprived of a Great Religious Obligation
Those who fail to spend their assets on Allah’s path, amassing possessions and being parsimonious with money, are deprived of a great religious obligation and of the mercy of Almighty Allah. Because Almighty Allah warns us on the subject of spending what we own "… give of that to which He has made you successors. Those of you who have faith and give will have an immense reward.” (Surat al-Hadid, 7) It is for that reason a great error to compare oneself with those around one and fall into the erroneous way of thinking reflected as, ‘Why should I give when there are far wealthier people than me around?’ Because there is an important point here that needs to be borne in mind. This secret, possessed only by believers who have achieved maturity of faith, is the fact that a person performs all his religious obligations solely for himself and the Hereafter. From that point of view, if one comes up with all kinds of excuses to justify meanness, those will harm nobody else but oneself. It is oneself who needs to spend on Allah’s path. Someone observing this religious obligation must know that all alms given with a pure intent will receive a great reward in the sight of Allah. People who are parsimonious also damage only their own interests. This is revealed as follows in the Qur’an:
“Here you are then: people who are called upon to spend in the Way of Allah and then some of you are tight-fisted. But whoever is tight-fisted is only tight-fisted to himself. Allah is Rich and you are poor…” (Surah Muhammed, 38)
They Lose the World
Someone who amasses many assets and appears to own a great many possessions actually possesses things entrusted to him by Almighty Allah. Because Almighty Allah is the sole Lord of all the goods and assets in the universe, and He gives as much of this to whoever He so wishes, and for as long as He so wishes. In those terms, there is no rhyme nor is reason in anyone being parsimonious. In addition, if our Lord so wishes, He can entirely take away everything a person has accumulated. The way that someone’s property can turn into a pile of ruins in a natural disaster is the clearest example of this. The example of this cited in the Qur’an is Qarun. His wealth is revealed in the verse “…We gave him treasures, the keys alone to which were a heavy weight for a party of strong men...” (Surat al-Qasas, 76) But because he grew proud and was mean, “We caused the earth to swallow up both him and his house. There was no group to come to his aid, besides Allah, and he was not someone who is helped.” (Surat al-Qasas, 81) This shows that Qarun’s wealth and property availed him nothing in the face of the power of Almighty Allah, and that he eventually lost the whole world. Those who are parsimonious with the goods of this world bestowed on them by Allah will only realize their error with disasters visited on them by Him. If they continue in their heedlessness despite these disasters, then this will lead them to Hell, a place filled with the eternal suffering of Allah.
They Lose the Hereafter
Even if people do amass possessions the time they can enjoy them in this world is limited to just a few decades. However, non-believers remain unaware of this throughout the course of their lives. They lose this world with death, and their greed for the things of this world is of no benefit to them in the Hereafter and causes them to lose Paradise as well. Almighty Allah reveals this in the Qur’an:
“Who has amassed wealth and hoarded it! He thinks his wealth will make him live for ever. No indeed! He will be flung into the Shatterer. And what will convey to you what the Shatterer is? The kindled Fire of Allah.” (Surat al-Humaza, 2-6)
What Does Spending One’s Possessions on Allah’s Path Gain One?
Believers enjoy the excellent consequences of giving alms to the needy and of spending on Allah’s path both in this world and in the Hereafter. This reward in the life of this world is the abundance they accumulate and Allah’s approval. The recompense in the Hereafter is Paradise they attain as a mercy and blessing from Allah.
They Acquire Plenty and Abundance
People who do not believe always evaluate criteria in this world in terms of cause and effect. They imagine that they will become even wealthier if they hide their possessions away and never share them with anyone. But things are not as they imagine. Because, as a miracle revealed in the Qur’an by Almighty Allah, Allah increases the assets of those believers who spend on His path and give alms, and bestows abundance on them. Since believers’ true hope is the Hereafter, they do not expect the reward for giving away assets in this world. But as a blessing from His presence, Almighty Allah bestows the recompense for this observance performed with a pure heart in the form of plenty and abundance in this world. Allah provides an example of this in the Qur’an:
“The metaphor of those who spend their wealth, desiring the pleasure of Allah and firmness for themselves, is that of a garden on a hillside. When heavy rain falls on it, it doubles its produce; and if heavy rain does not fall, there is dew...” (Surat al-Baqara, 265)
They Hope for Allah’s Mercy and Approval
Believers who know that Allah is the true lord of all wealth are also aware that possessions bring only short-lived benefits and advantages in this world and are of little value compared to the eternal life of the Hereafter. Never forgetting that it is Almighty Allah Who gives them all they own, they give thanks for these blessings and use these possessions as a means of drawing closer to Allah by spending them on His path. Since they know that prestige and true praise lie in the sight of Allah, they prefer those moral values that will earn them true wealth in the Hereafter, rather than chasing after the wealth of this world. The finest example of this is that of the Prophet Sulayman. Possessing enormous wealth and assets, his words in the Qur’an, “… ‘Truly do I love the love of good because of the remembrance of my Lord.’” (Surah Sad, 32) made it clear why he sought that wealth, which he used to communicate the word on Allah’s path.
They Attain Paradise
Believers, who have faith in Allah and attach no undue importance to the transitory baubles of this world, who know that all things come from Allah alone and who for that reason spend on Allah’s path, may hope to attain Allah’s mercy and Paradise. Since they choose the life of the Hereafter, which Allah reveals will last for ever, over the brief life of this world, it is they who are truly wealthy. Believers, who spend all they possess on Allah’s path and who exchange the life of this world for that of the Hereafter, have in any case made the best possible bargain, having chosen infinite wealth and salvation over this transient world. In another verse of the Qur’an, we are told of the excellent recompense awaiting believers in the sight of Allah:
“Those who spend their wealth in the Way of Allah, and then do not follow what they have spent by demands for gratitude or insulting words will have their reward with their Lord. They will feel no fear and will know no sorrow.” (Surat al-Baqara, 262)
Almighty Allah Is the True Lord of All Possessions
As manifested by His name of al-Ghani, Allah is the All-Rich. That is why it is a grave error for people to fear poverty because of satan’s promptings or to parsimoniously cling onto all they possess. Because, as revealed in the verse "Every self will taste death…" (Surat al-Ankabut, 57), everyone will one day die and will be able to take nothing with them from this world, not even their own bodies. Amassing possessions in order to satisfy their own earthly desires will therefore benefit nobody. Because everyone will have to give account to Allah, alone and in His presence; everyone will be asked about their fear of Allah, and wealth and possessions in this world will serve them nothing. This is revealed in another verse of the Qur’an:
“As for those who are disbelievers, their wealth and children will not help them against Allah in any way. They are the Companions of the Fire remaining in it timelessly, for ever.” (Surah Al-‘Imran, 116)
The teacher Bediüzzaman Said Nursi says, "Greed leads to condemnation, but modesty and contentment with little lead to mercy,” clearly stating that greed is of no use but that trust in Allah is compatible with the moral values of the Qur’an.
Accumulation of Possessions Is a Trick of Satan's
One of the ideas with which satan indoctrinates people who live far removed from Qur’anic moral values is that if they hide their possessions away without sharing them with anyone they will become even richer and that this is the only way to ensure their futures. Satan thus convinces people that to give away some of what they possess will hurt them and that any loss of possessions now may endanger their future comfort. Allah reveals this in another verse:
“Satan promises you poverty and commands you to avarice. Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and abundance. Allah is All-Encompassing, All-Knowing.” (Surat al-Baqara, 268)
Some people, who look at events superficially, in terms of things given away or shared being lost right away, may easily be taken in by this deception of satan’s. But these people fail to consider Almighty Allah’s title of Dhu al-Jalal wa al-Ikram (the Lord of Majesty and Generosity), and that He gives many times over to whoever He chooses and that he is generous in His bounty. As Allah reveals in another verse:
“Metaphor of those who spend their wealth in the Way of Allah is that of a grain which produces seven ears; in every ear there are a hundred grains. Allah gives such multiplied increase to whoever He wills...” (Surat al-Baqara, 261)
Believers, on the other hand, who are not taken in by these deceptions of satan’s and who spend on Allah’s path, in fact do what is best for themselves. They reap the reward for spending and being on Allah’s path, and also earn increased abundance.