Being a Slave to Wealth
Someone may ask: What is the proof that some people become slaves to money, or other similar things, and worship it? The proof is in the saying of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam where he said: “Woe be to the ‘abd (slave and worshipper) of the dirham, woe be to the ‘abd of the deenaar (dirham ond deenaar: equivilant to the Pound and the pence) …“ Someone may ask: How does this enslavement to money manifest itself, and what is its nature! It is when the heart becomes so in love with money, that it covers up, or suppresses the love for Allaah, This love can reach such an extent that a person desires to attain this wealth by any means possible – neither caring whether the wealth comes to him through halaal (lawful) means; in obedience to Allaah and His Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, or means that are haraam (unlawful and forbidden) in the Religion.
So understand by reflection, that every single heart in all created things has feelings, desires and inclinations. It has the desire to love, to gain good and beneficial things for itself, it can feel fear and terror, and it can also surrender and become submissive. Thus, when its feelings, desires and inclinations are all directed to and for Allaah, then it is a heart that truly worships, submits and surrenders to Allaah alone. Therefore, it has khawf (fear) of only Allaah; it has rajaa (hope) in Allaah’s Mercy; it has mahabbah (love) for Allaah and whatever Allaah loves; and it has istislaam (submits and surrenders) to only Allaah. However, when these feelings, desires and inclinations are directed to other than Allaah, then it is a heart that is enslaved and worships that object which has captured and enslaved it.
The forbiddance of the heart submitting to other than Allaah should not be misunderstood to mean that Muslims must forsake the world and dealing with it. Rather, the true position of a Muslim is that which was with the Sahaabah (Companions) radiallaahu ‘anhum. They held the wealth in their hands, yet none of it was in their hearts. [About this, Shaykhul-lslaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) - rahimahullaah - said: "The position of wealth should be regarded like that of the toilet, in that there is need for it, but it has no place in the heart, and it is resorted to when needed." The point being made is that we are not trying to call the people to the opinion of some of the Soofees, who believe that it is forbidden for a Muslim to possess wealth and take part in worldly transactions. Rather, it is obligatory for the Muslims to be the richest of people so that they may use this wealth as a means to worship Allaah – the One free from all imperfections – and to help people.
Another form of submitting and being enslaved to other than Allaah is when people submit and enslave their hearts to power and leadership. They are prepared for humiliation to take hold of them, and to abandon their scruples, in order to gain votes during elections; or other such similar situations. They are prepared to submit themselves to people – doing whatever is necessary for them to do – in order to win other people’s favour, and thus gain that vote or position. Thus, this is another form of submitting and enslaving one’s heart to other than Allaah.
3. Related by al-Bukhaaree (no.6435), from Abu Hurayrah radiallaahu ‘anhu.
4. Wasiyyatus-Sughraa (p.55) of Ibn Taymiyyah.