The Great Deceiver
ACCORDING to the Quran, wealth is only meant to fulfil man’s needs. It is not a goal in itself. It can fulfil the physical requirements of man, but man is more than a physical entity.
Man is an intellectual being, and as such can only find fulfilment in pursuing some alternative goal which is higher than accumulation of wealth.
Wealth is certainly useful for man, but it is a wrong option if one focuses on the acquisition and hoarding of wealth as the principal end in life. Wealth can give one material comforts, but it cannot give wisdom and learning. The best course for humankind is to live as seekers of truth, wisdom, learning and ultimately a goal that is elevated. It is exactly to bring about this understanding that the Prophet said:
“It is not poverty that I fear for you, What I fear for you is that you should have too much access to worldly wealth, as happened to communities that passed before you; and you become emulous of it, as was the case with them.”
This Hadith has been propounded in both the main collections of the teachings of the Prophet, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. What the Prophet warned of, we have seen happening in recent decades all over the Muslim world. Muslims have had worldly wealth lavished upon them and with it have been put to a severe test. Palatial houses to live in, advanced vehicles to drive, huge bank balances to keep them in luxury, all these and much else besides have come with the accumulation of worldly wealth.
The trouble with great wealth is that it is all too often bought at the price of personal integrity. All too often it proves the great deceiver tainting one’s vision and preventing one from seeing things as they truly are. What is before our eyes today, we come to think of it as permanent; but it will be gone tomorrow.
For this reason, worldly wealth has no value in itself. Great expertise in worldly affairs will be of no avail when one stands before God in the next world. Then it will only be realities which count. What a pity it is that man is lost in his own illusions, that he is allowing himself to go astray in what is, after all, only a transitory phase of his existence, quite unmindful of the fact that what awaits him is eternity.