The Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, clarified how important it is to couple richness with piety
`Abdullaah ibn Khubayb (a Companion) narrated from his uncle who said: “We were sitting, and the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, approached with traces of water on his head. We said to him, ‘O Messenger of Allah, we see you in a good mood.’ He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, replied: ‘Yes, and all praise belongs to Allah.’ Then the people began speaking about richness, and the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: ‘There is no problem with being rich, so long as the person fears Allah. However, health is better than richness for someone who fears Allah, and having a pleasant attitude is a blessing.’”
An-Nawawi said: “Therefore, richness without piety is a means for destruction, for a person would gather wealth from places that are not their right, would withhold it from those whose right it is to take it, and would spend it in unlawful places. However, if the person had piety, then all the evil goes away, and goodness comes forth in that wealth.”
An-Nawawi said: “The term “Health is better than richness for someone who fears Allah.” because having a healthy body helps one worship Allah. Health is wealth that is extended over a long period of time, and sickness is weakness that prevents one from worshipping Allah and other things. Also, health coupled with a long life, is better than wealth with sickness, for the one that is sick is like the one that is dead.
The term “Having a pleasant attitude is a blessing,” means, to have high spirits and being in a pleasant mood, a prerequisite for thanking Allah and having patience, which makes richness and poverty the same in the individual’s mind, is one of the blessings.
There is no doubt that Islam does not approve of amassing wealth or using it solely for one’s enjoyment or for leading a luxurious life. Indeed, all Islamic legislation in matters of finance are geared towards a fair distribution of wealth. Within this context, the question arises whether being rich is permissible in Islam or not. As we have seen, some of the Prophet’s best and closest Companions were rich and we do not find any narration, which tells them to get rid of their riches. Indeed, the Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, received donations from such people to support his mission, and he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, thanked them for their
generosity. There is nothing wrong from the Islamic point of view in being rich, provided that one makes the right use of one’s riches. Furthermore, to be rich is not synonymous with hoarding up money. According to eminent scholars and commentators of the Quran, the difference between permissible wealth and punishable riches is payment of Zakaah (obligatory alms). If one pays the Zakaah of his wealth on time, this payment serves as purification of the money.
The Prophet of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, clarified though, that for money to be praiseworthy, one has to earn it through lawful means, pay its due Zakaah and spend it in ways that please Allah. The one who fulfills these conditions will have nothing to worry about with regards to his wealth on the Day or Accountability. Rather, wealth will be a source of reward for him and will enable him to perform virtuous deeds other people cannot perform.