Dr. A Q Khan
Mohsin e Pakistan

Miserliness and greed

Posted in English Articles  by draqkadmin
April 26th, 2010

Random thoughts
By Dr A Q Khan

Miserliness and greed always go hand in hand. A miser never has enough and will try to gain more wealth and property by any means – fair or unfair. We have all heard of the uncontrolled greed exhibited by Marcos of the Philippines. Ferdinand Marcos was so greedy that he stole many billions of dollars worth of public money and stashed it in personal accounts in Switzerland. He was ignominiously exiled and died abroad. In the end, that money was of no avail to him and his family. Nobody needs more than a million dollars to lead a comfortable, luxurious life, but greed has no limits. Another example is Sani Abacha, the military dictator of Nigeria.

He stole about $3 billion from petroleum companies. However, one day he died like any other person and all his wealth did not help him. Both the governments of the Philippines and Nigeria demanded the money back from the Swiss banks and they got it as it was deemed to be public money. All readers must be aware of the similar situation in our own country, the enormous assets and bank accounts abroad that our leaders possess and the ongoing legal battle about it. I don’t want to say any more.

Miserliness has been condemned by Allah in the Holy Quran (3:180; 4:37; 17:29; 47:38) and has been described as a great deficiency of the human character. It is a symptom of a deep-seated moral ailment which is an egocentric obsession with one’s own self and disregard for others. One is completely blinded from the surroundings and considers himself to be the centre of the world, thus totally ignoring the problems, suffering and needs of others.

The Quran vehemently condemns such egocentrics in Surah Al-Maun. Not only the family, but society also suffers from such a miserly person. Amassing riches becomes the sole aim and chief motive in life. All acts of love, hate, friendship and animosity are determined by the objective of personal gain. The accumulation of wealth for its own sake is strongly condemned in the Quran in Surah Humazah. Such people become money-worshippers. However, because of their personality, they are not able to enjoy their wealth but are obsessed with the longing for more. They are always under stress to obtain yet more. Compare this to the teachings of the Holy Quran, which stresses that wealth should be spent in good deeds and for the welfare of the poor, for which great rewards have been promised.

The Holy Prophet (SAW) has warned: “Beware of miserliness, for it has destroyed many of those who preceded you. If (miserliness and greed for wealth) prompted them to lie, they lied. It instigated them to oppress others; they became oppressors for its sake. It even encouraged them to cut off all relations with near and dear ones for its sake.” The Holy Prophet (SAW) has taught us many prayers, such as: “O Allah, I take Your refuge from miserliness.” He (SAW) even went to the extent of saying: “Miserliness and Faith cannot live together in the heart of a Muslim.” There is an interesting, relevant Arabic saying which reads: “He who is miserly in spending his wealth for the needs of the poor, his wealth becomes hostage to the rulers and he is rendered helpless by them.”

In the story of Qarun, who is known as the greatest miser of all times, Allah Almighty revealed in Surah Qasas: “To be sure, Qarun was one of Moses’ people; he then transgressed against them. We had bestowed on him such treasure that their very keys would have been lifted with difficulty by a whole group of strong people. When his people said to him: ‘Do not exult, for Allah does not love those who exult (in their riches). Seek by means of the wealth that Allah has granted you the Abode of the Hereafter, but forget not your share in the world and do good as Allah has been good to you. Do not strive to create mischief in the land, for Allah loves not those who create mischief.’ He replied: ‘All this has been given to me on account of a certain knowledge that I have.’

Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him those who were stronger in might than he and were more numerous in multitude? The wicked are not asked about their acts of sin (but are punished). Once Qarun went forth among his people in full glitter. Those seeking the life of this world said: ‘Would that we had the like of what Qarun has. He truly has a great fortune.’ But those endowed with true knowledge said: ‘Woe to you. The reward of Allah is best for those who believe and act righteously. But none except those who are patient shall attain to this.’ At last We caused the earth to swallow Qarun and his house (with all his wealth). Thereafter, there was no group of people that could come to his aid against Allah; nor was he able to come to his own aid. And those who had envied his position (status and wealth) the day before, began to say on the morrow: ‘Alas, we had forgotten that it is Allah who increases the provisions of those of His servants whom He will and grants in sparing measure to those whom He will. But for Allah’s favour upon us, He could have made us to be swallowed too. Alas, we had forgotten that the unbelievers do not prosper.”

In Surah Fatir, Allah says: “Surely, those who recite the Quran and establish prayer and spend, privately and publicly, out of what We have provided them, look forward to a trade that shall suffer no loss.”

Having made some comments on greed and miserliness, I would like to reflect on their opposite – generosity. In the Holy Quran, Allah Almighty has many times advised us to spend our wealth and money generously for the welfare of the poor and needy. When we speak of the miser, Qarun, we immediately remember the generosity of Hatim Tai. Hatim Tai is not an imaginary figure. He was a Christian Arab and very famous for his generosity. During one of the wars his daughter was taken prisoner. When our Prophet (SAW) heard this he sent for her and said that her father was a noble and generous person. Whereupon he sent her back to her tribe with respect. When she reached home she narrated the episode to her brother, Adi bin Hatim, who took her back with him to the Holy Prophet. They later both embraced Islam.

No other religion has placed as much emphasis on generosity as Islam has done. Many of the evils prevalent in our country are due to the curse of greed and miserliness. Unfortunately, this poor country has been the victim of this kind of behaviour for the last 60 years. Whether military dictators or civilian rulers, all have excelled in this vice.

Although we have many greedy people and misers around, we are nonetheless fortunate in having a fair number of generous and noble people. If you look around, you will see noble people feeding the poor and hungry, building hospitals for free medical treatment, setting up educational institutions to provide free or cheap facilities. All this is done without fanfare. They are the ones to whom Allah has promised to shower His blessings in this world and in the World Hereafter.


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