Heavenly Call (21)
Welcome to the 21st episode of Heavenly Call on the occasion of the blessed fasting month of Ramadhan.
Today is the tragic day in history on which in the early morning hours, the Commander of True Believers, the Leader of the Pious, the Symbol of Justice, and the Gateway of the City of Knowledge, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), achieved martyrdom, following the fatal blow on his head two days earlier by the poison-soaked sword of the renegade Abdur-Rahman ibn Muljam.
We extend our heartfelt condolences on this sad occasion. Let us recite the special supplication of the 21st day:
O Allah, assign me this day a guide to Your good pleasure; do not allow Satan to impose himself upon me; and make paradise my abode and place of rest; O Fulfiller of the needs of the petitioners!
If you remember, yesterday we briefly discussed the class gap and the ensuing problems in human society, mainly because of the lack of faith of the superrich who have seized almost all the wealth of the world. In continuing our discussion on the causes of inequity, it should be emphasized that if the rich pay their financial rights correctly, there would be no poor. Ayah 34 of surah Towba castigates the Jewish rabbis, saying,
“O you who have faith! Indeed, many of the scholars of Jews and monks wrongfully eat up the people's wealth and bar from the way of Allah. Those who treasure up gold and silver, and do not spend in the way of Allah, inform them of a painful punishment.”
There are two points in this ayah. First, the ayah starts with addressing the faithful. This can have two messages: one is a warning to them not to step in the way of those who pile up wealth. The second is that the faithful should be on guard against the dazzle of the transient world or deceived by the crafty Jewish. It is a warning to Muslims to be careful about their own scholars if they are inclined toward worldly pleasures of the material world or indulge in petty politics at the expense of Islamic solidarity.
The second point which the ayah stresses is the eventual fate of the accumulators of wealth, who while their absolute welfare and carefree indulgence in the pleasures of the transient world, will ultimately face in afterlife the consequences of their inhuman deeds and sins. The concluding part of the ayah has emphasized this. The next ayah of surah Towba speaks a bit more clearly,
"On that day when these will be heated in hellfire and therewith branded on their foreheads, their sides and their backs, [while saying to them]: 'This is what you treasured up for yourselves! So, taste what you have treasured!'"
Some may think that these warnings are against economic activities; while Islam invites the society to preserve dignity and independence and make efforts to bolster economic welfare. Part of ayah 5 of surah Nisa' says in this regard:
"Do not give the feeble-minded your property which Allah has assigned you to manage."
It is interesting to note that the word "Dunya" meaning the world has been mentioned nearly 110 times in the holy Qur'an while the word "Akherah" meaning the Hereafter is also repeated 110 times. Contrary to the capitalist and socialist systems, Islam doesn’t consider wealth as the ultimate goal but a tool for provision of individual and social needs. Thus, nobody is entitled to have exclusive enjoyments and monopolize wealth and facilities. Imam Sadeq (AS), the 6th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), has said to one of his companions, named Abban ibn Taghlib al-Kindi:
"Do you think God has honoured whomever He has given (wealth and money) or humiliated whomever He has not given? No. This is not case. Rather all things belongs to God and He gives it as trust (and a trial) to a group by allowing them to eat moderately and use it for (their legitimate needs of) clothing, marriage and formation of family… and spend the surplus among the needy to improve their impoverished state."
Then Imam Sadeq (AS) said: “Do not be extravagant as God dislikes the extravagant.”
Thus, Islam wants everyone to live a moderate life and enjoy legitimate pleasures, but not indulge in extravagance or lead a life of unwarranted luxury. May God help us to be such Muslims.