A Muslim's Perspective on Wealth: Eyes on the Prize
If you want to build wealth in a Halal way, there are many modern opportunities for you to do so. If you do things right, inshAllah you'll be able to build wealth for yourself in this life and the next. Just make sure you're giving wealth building its proper priority.
Good guys come in last. If you want to get ahead in life, you’ve got to hustle, cut corners, and win at all costs. That 4,000 square-foot pad and shiny new Porsche won’t come easy. Play by the rules, get left behind. #YOLO
If you haven’t guessed, that was all tongue-in-cheek. Some people do, however, go through life with this attitude, putting worldly gains above all else. If you’re that guy, I’m here as your brother to gently reel you in. As a reminder to myself and others, the Quran states:
“And cite for them the parable of the present life: it is like water that We send down from the sky; the plants of the earth absorb it; but then it becomes debris, scattered by the wind. God has absolute power over everything. Wealth and children are the adornments of the present life; but the things that last, the virtuous deeds, are better with your Lord for reward, and better for hope.” [18:45-46]
Does this mean we should shun all material things and live an austere lifestyle? Not at all. Islam is all about balance, the middle path. In fact, we know from the Quran that business is good, but it should never supersede our duties to Allah (SWT).
“...But God has permitted commerce...” [2:275]
“Then, when the prayer is concluded, disperse through the land, and seek God’s bounty, and remember God much, so that you may prosper.” [62:10]
As long as it’s halal (permissible in Islam), we’re free to pursue the pleasures of this world while being sure to keep our eyes on the ultimate prize: Jannah (paradise). This world is temporary, while the Hereafter is everlasting.
Now that we’ve touched on the why one should strive to build wealth in a halal way, let’s discuss how one should go about this. Put simply: by living, working, and investing according to Islamic principles. Some might see this as a handicap because it excludes certain types of investments and opportunities. For example, lending out money and expecting principal + interest payments in return, investing in foreign exchange using margin, and using some of the more exotic derivatives.
Does this put the Muslim investor at a disadvantage? I say no. The guidelines set for us by our religion are designed to protect us and lead us to true success. There’s no barakah (blessings) in wealth acquired through haram (prohibited) means. As counterintuitive as it may sound, $10 earned through halal means may stretch further and provide greater value than $100 earned through haram.
What’s more, sadaqa (charity) is the secret weapon of the believer. It not only helps the less fortunate and shows gratitude for everything we’ve been given, but increases our blessings as well. Such is the generosity of Allah (SWT).
“And when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you give thanks, I will grant you increase; but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.’” [14:7]
Alhumdulillah, there are numerous halal options nowadays when it comes to investing. I’ll give you a few examples. If you want to invest in stocks, Halal Investors is a good choice that takes a holistic approach to analyzing the permissibility of different stocks; you can see 10 free reports by just signing up and high-level report cards are available for free. For mutual funds, there are a variety of products available including Amana Funds, Iman Fund, and Azzad. There are also exchange-traded funds like Shariah Portfolio’s SPUS.
If you want to expand outside of the stock market and invest in businesses, you can look into venture capital using services like Fursa Capital that screen businesses for Shariah-compliance. Perhaps invest in real estate by purchasing property and renting it out.
In a future article I’ll expand on these offerings, but for now just know that you do have choices and we’re not at a disadvantage. If we play by the rules, insha’Allah we will achieve success both in this life and in the Hereafter.
Disclosure: I have money invested in all of the funds mentioned above.
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