Excellence of a Grateful Rich Man – Imam Al-Nawawi’s Riyad-us-Saliheen
Allah tabarakahu wa ta’ala, (the Exalted), says:
“As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allah and fears Him, and believes in Al-Husna. We will make smooth for him the path of ease (goodness).” (92:5-7)
“And Al-Muttaqun (the pious and righteous) will be far removed from it (Hell). He who spends his wealth for increase in self-purification. And who has (in mind) no favour from anyone to be paid back. Except to seek the Countenance of his Rubb, the Most High. He surely, will be pleased (when he will enter Jannah).” (92:17-21)
“If you disclose your Sadaqat (alms-giving), it is well; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, that is better for you. (Allah) will expiate you some of your sins. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.” (2:271)
“By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness – here it means Allah’s reward, i.e., Jannah), unless you spend (in Allah’s Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well.” (3:92)
571. Ibn Mas`ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Envy is permitted only in two cases: A man whom Allah gives wealth, and he disposes of it rightfully, and a man to whom Allah gives knowledge which he applies and teaches it.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith has already been mentioned. Yet, its relevance with this chapter has prompted us to repeat it here. It lays emphasis on two points. First, if Allah gives wealth to a man, his sense of gratitude should be expressed in his spending it in good ways according to the Divine command. Second, if Allah has endowed somebody with knowledge and wisdom, he should be thankful to his Rubb by way of putting it into practice and by imparting it to others. It means one can aspire for knowledge and richness, provided one’s motive is to benefit others. Envy is a bad quality which Muslims must shun. In this Hadith, however, envy (or Ghibtah) refers to the feeling of wishing to have what somebody else has or to be like somebody else without these blessings be taken away from the envied person.
572. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said: “Envy is justified in regard to two types of persons only: a man whom Allah has given knowledge of the Qur’an, and so he recites it during the night and during the day; and a man whom Allah has given wealth and so he spends from it during the night and during the day.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: Ahadith permit us to envy (in the positive sense of the word: see commentary on the previous Hadith) only two traits of character of somebody. Grammatically, the texts of these Ahadith imply both feminine and masculine genders. In the preceding Hadith, the word ‘knowledge’ has been used. It stands for the Word of Allah. To apply and teach knowledge means to put into practise the teachings of the Qur’an. And that includes the recitation of the Qur’an (both in Salat and otherwise), imparting its teaching and passing judgements in its light. From this point of view both the Ahadith convey the similar sense, and similarly we may also read into them two persons or two traits of character.
573. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Some of the poor Emigrants came to Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and said to him, “The wealthy have obtained all high ranks and everlasting bliss.” He asked, “How is that?” They replied: “They offer Salat as we do, and observe Saum (fasting) as we do, but they give in Sadaqah (charity) and we do not, and they emancipate slaves and we cannot.” He (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Shall I not teach you something whereby you will catch up with those who have preceded you and will get ahead of those who follow you, and no one will surpass you unless he does the same as you do?” They said, “Surely, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Say: Subhan Allah, and Allahu Akbar, and praise Him (by saying Al-hamdu lillah) thirty-three times at the end of every Salat.” They returned to him and said: “Our brothers, the possessors of wealth, having heard what we are doing, have started doing the same.” Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “This is Grace of Allah which He gives to whom He wishes.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: The wording of the Hadith apparently reveals that Subhan Allah “Glory be to Allah”, Al-hamdu lillah “Praise be to Allah”, and Aallhu Akbar “Allah is the Greatest” should be recited thirty-three times. If each group of words is said eleven times, the total number will become thirty-three. But Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar believes that each formula should be uttered thirty-three times, that is to say, after each prayer “Subhan Allah”, “Al-hamdu lillah” and “Allahu Akbar” should be uttered thirty-three times each. But according to some Ahadith, Imam An-Nawawi is of the view that “Allahu Akbar” should be said thirty-four times and in the end “La ilaha illallahu Wahdahu la sharika Lahu, Lahul-mulku wa Lahul-hamdu, wa Huwa `ala kulli shai’in Qadir” (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, He is One; He has no partners; to Him belongs the dominion and all the praise; and He has power over all things) should be recited. Should we recite them together or separately? Al-Qadi `Iyad is of the opinion that it is better to recite them separately, but Imam An-Nawawi is of the view that both ways are correct. In fact, in both ways the number remains the same. Besides, an addition must not be made to the Sunnah of Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). Practically we knew that it is necessary to use the prescription of a physician without making any alteration in its elements; otherwise, it will not work properly. Similarly, there are spiritual benefits, blessings and efficacy in the number told by the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). Any alteration in it will nullify its blessing and efficacy. (Fath Al-Bari).
This Hadith reveals how fervently the Companions were inclined towards good and how concerned about surpassing those who were better than them in some forms of good deeds. Indeed, all Muslims are equal with regard to the practice of religious principles. But what gives an edge to the rich over their poor coreligionists are the financial forms of worship, that is, charity and almsgiving, which the latter are unable to do.