The Pursuit of Money is a Dead-End

The Pursuit of Money is a Dead-End

May 18, 2024
Assalamualaikum!

Money – forever the elephant in the room of ‘intellectual’ conversations.

Let’s tackle this elephant today, shall we?

Before we talk about money, I think it’s worth mentioning that today I will write to you as an observer.

You are free to disagree with me and have your perception of my findings. I merely present to you interesting observations from my end.

I was recommended a book called “177 Mental Toughness Secrets Of The World Class”.

The author of that book breaks down the human population into classes of wealth based on their level of awareness (individual worldview).

While I believe there is much to learn from non-Muslims in terms of skills…(I’ve learned a lot of my skills from their books, courses, and coaching programs)

What’s disturbing is that we are so easily trusting the definitions (beliefs) of ‘wealth’, ‘success’, ‘world-class’, and ‘mastery’ from the millionaires and billionaires of the world.

Whatever happened to the definition of true wealth given to us 1400+ years ago by the Prophet of Allah SWT? Is that not applicable to us anymore? Has the world become too sophisticated? Or perhaps, we are going backwards. In the words of James H. Faghmous, Capitalism is a “Jahilli” system. I couldn’t agree more.

Yet, we see Muslims desperately trying to reach $20K, $10K/ month, or beyond, so they can provide a better lifestyle for their families.

[side note – $10K/month is a number drilled into the psychology of middle-class professionals (middle class is one type in the class system. A societal ranking system that labels segments of the population based on ‘net worth’). This number on its own has no value. Based on the world economy today, the number is $10K/month and the currency is USD. Proven by history, this number and currency will change as times change. However, the desire for a better lifestyle is a part of human nature)

Coming back to the point…notice how there’s an increasing NEED for double-income households so the family can be comfortable. To keep up with increasing lifestyle expenses, Muslim professionals are working 15+ hour days…working a second job, starting side hustles, etc.

How many Muslims do you know who are suffering from insomnia overthinking about the future, their business, waking up late and missing fajr, then spending the whole day exhausted from working so hard…and still not getting where they want to be?

Even when they’re making good progress, it’s not FAST enough according to the standards of Dunya.

There is something wrong here, don’t you think? 

This quest for earning “lasting wealth” followed by a cycle of low self-esteem, anxiety, frustration, and overthinking of the future is a legacy of non-Muslims called ‘Hustle Culture’ or ‘Capitalism’. This is the state of being for anyone who goes against the teachings of our Deen.

It simply can NOT be the legacy of Muslims. It is not.

That is an emotional state opposite to what Allah SWT wants for us. 

The Quran says “مَآ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ ٱلْقُرْءَانَ لِتَشْقَىٰٓ”, or “we did not reveal this Quran to you [oh Muhammad] to make you distressed.” (Quran 20:2)

What’s even more baffling is that people are aiming for wealth so beyond their needs…there’s the quest to become millionaires as fast as possible and ‘retire early’. 

Here’s another interesting observation: some of the financially wealthy Muslim business owners are set upon a mission to advocate a desire among the middle class Muslims to become wealthy so they can “create more impact in the Ummah”. 

Yet another fascinating justification to earn more, it seems.

Probably because it sells well, especially among Muslims?

Probably because it’s in perfect alignment with the desires of the Nafs.

Wealth is what people are wired to ‘want’ after all. That is the God-given truth, nothing else.

Allah ﷻ says in the Qur’an: “Made beautiful for mankind is the love of desires for women and offspring, of hoarded heaps of gold and silver, of branded horses, cattle and plantations.” [Quran 3:14]

“Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world. But the things that endure, good deeds are best in the sight of your Lord, as rewards, and best as the foundation for hopes.” [Quran 18:46]

In the Quran and Hadith, wealth is sometimes referred to as a trial

The Prophet ﷺ said: ‘Truly, for every nation there is a trial, and the trial for my nation is wealth.’ [Tirmidhi]

“Your wealth and your children are but a trial, and with Allah is an immense reward.” [Quran 64:15]

In other places, it’s called sustenancebountyand provision from Allah SWT.

“He it is who made the earth smooth for you, therefore go about in the spacious sides thereof, and eat of His sustenance, and to Him is the return after death.” [67:15]

“O Children of Adam! Dress properly whenever you are at worship. Eat and drink, but do not waste. Surely He does not like the wasteful. Ask, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Who has forbidden the adornments and lawful provisions Allah has brought forth for His servants?” Say, “They are for the enjoyment of the believers in this worldly life, but they will be exclusively theirs on the Day of Judgment. This is how We make Our revelations clear for people of knowledge.” [Quran 7:31-32]

Allah SWT encourages us to enjoy His bounty He has given us. And, of course, to be moderate in doing so.

But nowhere does Allah SWT defines “success” as becoming “financially wealthy”. Why do we then?

 

The Only Mindset Shift You Need To Free Yourself from The Pursuit of Money

 

Wealth is a state of being. 

If the state of being is mostly anxious, dependent on lifestyle, or driven by money, status, prestige, and power – it’s not a wealthy state, it’s a poor state of being – a slave to the desires of Nafs. 

This may be polarizing, but the pursuit of becoming RICH can be called ‘modern-day slavery’

Prophet SAW called it becoming a ‘slave of the dinar’.

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet SAW said, “Wretched is the slave of gold, silver, fine clothes and garments. If he is given, he is pleased, but if he is not given, he is displeased.” (Sahih Bukhari)

I’ve learned that whatever the total net worth, the societal status, the income, the savings in bank accounts, the assets… 

The truly wealthy and powerful human beings are free from the NEED to have more money. 

They are free from the desire to be rich. 

Their net worth is not tied to their self-worth. 

If they reach their financial goals, congratulations! They’ve received the exact amount of Rizq that was already written for them. It’s a blessing and a trial at the same time.

If they never become rich and stay hand-to-mouth, it’s a blessing and a trial at the same time.

If they become rich and lose their wealth, it’s a blessing and a trial at the same time.

No matter what Allah SWT gives, they are not slaves to the dead-end pursuits of money, income, career, business revenue, and profits.  

They are FREE.

This means they can’t be manipulated by their families, superiors, bosses, broken education systems, corporate, shiny new object syndrome, or traps set by businesses who prey on this desire by promising ‘monetary outputs’. 

They can’t fall prey to hustle culture – the cancer that has led so many to workaholism, sleepless nights, burnouts, inheritance disputes, family drama, unethical business tactics, etc.

Becoming free of the need to be financially rich is true power. When you take back your power from the desires of Nafs, you gain more power from Allah. He SWT becomes your Financial Advisor, your Business Partner, and your Sole Provider.

After years of questioning the pursuit of money from the perspective of Islam, I’ve understood that’s the only goal to aspire towards. 

That’s a pursuit worthy of our time and effort as Ashraf ul Makhluqat – the noblest of all creations.

However, a segment of the financially wealthy Muslim professionals and entrepreneurs objects by saying that you need to be wealth-oriented to become wealthy. (I’ll write about this more in the next newsletter issue)

They claim that you must WANT to become wealthy to first unlock true wealth. Then channel your wealth towards a better cause – such as helping the Ummah, giving back more, etc. They believe Muslims NEED to be wealthy to help the Ummah become financially successful.  

I have found that to be the opposite of what the Prophet SAW and his companions preached.

Taking money lessons from the wealthiest companions of the Prophet SAW (e.g. Abdur Rahman ibn Awf, Sa’d ibn al-Rabi’, and more), we read that they earned, used, and invested their wealth in the best way. Their wealth supported the Ummah massively and helped them earn heaps of ajar for Akhirah – best of Dunya and Akhirah. Subhan Allah

While Islam has nothing against the wealthy (in fact, Prophet’s SAW wife Khadija R.A. as well as many Sahaba were wealthy businessmen), what we don’t read is the Prophet SAW preaching to other Muslims and instilling the desire ‘to become wealthy’ so you can serve the Ummah. 

 

Bottomline

 

To become truly wealthy and powerful, the only mindset shift you need is to free yourself from the NEED to have more money. 

While that is great in theory, it’s very hard to put into practice. To put this concept into action in my work, I have asked myself many questions like…

  • How can high-achieving Muslims increase their work ethic while freeing themselves from the NEED to be financially wealthy?
  • Where do we place ambition and gratitude in the money equation?
  • How can we detach our work ethic (efforts) from the monetary outcomes and still be motivated to work?
  • Do we put our best efforts into income-generating activities to increase our earning potential? And if we do, how do we put our best effort without being motivated by money goals?
  • More importantly, how can we put our best effort for Rizq (sustenance) without getting lost in the rat race of wealth?

 

Next Issue

 

In the next newsletter issue, I’ll share my insights on those questions.

I hope this newsletter was valuable to you and has given you a more spiritually energizing perspective of money as a high achieving Muslim.

I’ll see you next week.

ALL my best,
Aimen

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