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Get Financially Fit for a More Productive Life – Part 1

When it comes to money, we may wonder what role it plays in a Muslim’s life. Sure, money is necessary to function in life, but how much importance should we give it? How do we ensure that we stay within the boundaries set by Islam? And, how do we make sure we stay financially fit and productive?

Islam is all about balance. We should strive for halal earnings so we can provide for ourselves and our families, but we should also endeavor to purify our wealth through charity and use our earnings to please Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). We should manage our money properly, but we should also avoid becoming obsessive and stingy. We should enjoy the gifts Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) has given us, but we should also use those gifts to help others.

By using the knowledge we have acquired through school or training, as well as the physical capabilities Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) has endowed to us, it is in a sense showing gratefulness to Him subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working and earning money can be an act of ibadah (worship) so long as we do so in a halal manner and continue to do what has been required of us, such as praying, fasting and pursuing knowledge and closeness of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) in this short life journey.

Having a lot of wealth and money is not haram in and of itself. However, a vehement pursuit of money at the expense of one’s deen is where the line is crossed. This life is only temporary, and we cannot take our wealth with us when we pass. Money is a means to an end, but not the end. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to better one’s life, but we should have the right intentions and try to balance deen and dunya.

In this series, we will be discussing how to remain ‘financially fit’: how to make the most of the wealth we have, and avoid getting into bad financial situations. We’ll start in this article by discussing some Islamic principles to ensure a good financial health.

Why is it important to be financially fit?
Having sound finances can really bring peace and calm to us. Now, this doesn’t mean you necessarily need a lot – it just means that having your finances in order, spending within your means and having enough for the essentials can give us peace of mind and tranquillity. It means we are able to focus on other things, without worry or anxiety. It can help one avoid the temptation to acquire money unlawfully, take out a loan, or fall victim to a money-making scam. Working, earning, and living according to Islamic principles can also help one sleep better at night, and who doesn’t like to sleep peacefully? In a hadith, it was said of debts,

It was narrated that ‘Aishah raḍyAllāhu ‘anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said: “The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) often used to seek refuge (with Allah) from debt and sin. It was said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah! You often seek refuge from debt and sin?’ He said: ‘If a man gets into debt, he speaks and lies, and he makes a promise and breaks it.’” [Sunan An-Nasa’i]
Financial fitness from an Islamic perspective
Here are some ways that the Qur’an and Sunnah teach us about managing our money.

1. Increase barakah in your wealth
We should strive to earn our money through lawful means. This means doing work that is not in conflict with Islamic values and principles and avoiding things that are forbidden; like gambling and interest-bearing investments. It matters not how much money you make, but how you make it. If you are making an honest living, diligently avoiding the haram, doing the work required of you with your best effort, and thankful for everything Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) has blessed you with, in sha’ Allah, He subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) will increase the barakah in your wealth. This, in turn, will allow you to get more out of the money you have. Ten dollars earned through halal means is worth more than a hundred dollars earned through haram methods.

2. Prevent waste and use your money wisely
It states in the Qur’an:

“…And do not waste, for Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) does not love the wasteful” [Quran: Chapter 6, Verse 141]

If you are fortunate enough to have plenty of money, food, etc., then it is your duty to use these things wisely and avoid extravagance. This can include not wasting food, not upgrading to the new shiny model of a product just for the sake of it, and taking care of things so they last longer without requiring repair or replacement. Additionally, avoid becoming overly attached to money and material things, as these things may be nothing more than a test.

3. Give regularly to charity
Be sure to account for charity. It’s not how much you give, but that you give regularly, as Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,

“Take on only as much as you can do of good deeds, for the best of deeds is that which is done consistently, even if it is little.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

Giving to charity is another way to increase the barakah in one’s wealth. Rather than accumulating wealth for the sake of having more, the goal should be to please Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) through the gifts He subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) has bestowed on us, such that our wealth brings us closer to Him, not further away. And remember: charity does not decrease wealth, Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an,

“Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply it many times?” [Quran: Chapter 2, Verse 245].

4. Do your part then rely on Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He)
Lastly, after doing all we can to ensure good finances, we need to leave the rest to Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) and trust in Him subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was asked,

“O Messenger of Allah! Shall I tie it (my camel) and rely (upon Allah), or leave it loose and rely (upon Allah)?” He said: “Tie it and rely (upon Allah).” [Jami’ at-Tirmidhi]

This shows we must put in our best efforts and take appropriate measures, but then leave the rest to Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) and have trust in Him subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) that whatever was meant for us will not miss us, and Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) will not burden a soul with more than what it can bear.

This is how we begin our journey to financial fitness with sincere intentions and sincere pursuits of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He).

In part 2 of this article, I will share more practical tips you can apply to better manage your money.

What gems from the Qur’an and Sunnah inspire you to stay financially fit? Share them in the comments section below!

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