As a rule of thumb, we naturally tend to worry about things that are in our possession. The two most prized possessions we tend to worry about (and we assume are ours) are our lives and wealth.
But Allah reminds us in this Ayah that these things are not ours, for He has purchased it from us.
“Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties for (the price) that theirs shall be the Paradise…. “ [TMQ Surah At-Tawbah: 111]
There seems to be a general lack of understanding at times about the concept of rizq, such that Muslims often confuse the circumstances by which we attain our rizq with the actual cause of rizq.
Some people have assured ourselves thatRizq, present and future, will come primarily from one’s own efforts. The more we struggle and strive, the more we will apparently accomplish and achieve.
Sure, our belief system dictates that everything comes from Allah (ﷻ) – but do our attitudes expose the contrary? This has led us then to prioritise our work, family or other commitments above the commitments to Allah’s work based on a sound understanding of notions such as Rizq.
Living in a capitalistic framework also encourages us to adopt a materialistic view towards the world: one in which effort is commensurately compensated in income and wealth. The concept of meritocracy is avidly pushed, suggesting that effort equates to reward. Thus it is that people often feel they are solely responsible for creating their own wealth and opportunities.
A correct understanding of rizq built on the Islamic sources would lead one to a very different conclusion. It would lead one to realise that while seeking out rizq is important, it should not be of such importance that it involves spending the greatest time, energy and focus on to the exclusion of other obligations and duties. It is a priority but it is one in a long list of priorities. And, more to the point, it is a priority that is defined by the One that has defined our other priorities.
Allah (ﷻ) says:
“Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that ye have gained; the commerce in which ye fear a decline: or the dwellings in which ye delight – are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then wait until Allah brings about His decision (ie. Torment): and Allah guides not the rebellious.” [TMQ Surah At-Tawbah: 24]
So Allah mentions those things which in themselves are obligations such as the rights of parents, rights of spouses etc, but He puts them all into context for us and lets us know of the consequences of putting them before Allah and His Messenger.
A clear understanding of rizq is one of the major influences in our life, which determines how we can make the right decisions when it comes to balancing our other responsibilities.
Rizq is from Allah
The most fundamental idea that a Muslim must internalise is that Rizq is in the hands of Allah. One of the beautiful names of Allah (ﷻ) is Al-Razzaaq: The Provider, The Providence, The Supplier, The Bestower of Sustenance. The One who creates all means of nourishment and subsistence. The One who provides everything that is needed.
Allah (ﷻ) says:
“Lo! Allah (ﷻ) is that who gives livelihood, the Lord of unbreakable might.” [TMQ Dhariyat: 58]
“We provide for you” [TMQ Al-Anaam:151]
These ayaat clearly indicate that Allah (ﷻ) is the Razzaq (Provider) and that Rizq is ascribed to Him alone – He provides to whom He wills, and this authority of provision is reserved for Him alone.
Allah (ﷻ) also says:
”And eat of the things which Allah (ﷻ) has provided for you, as lawful and good, and keep your duty to Allah in Whom you believe.” [TMQ Al-Ma’idah: 88]
In this ayah Allah encourages us to partake in what Allah has provided for us, but reminds us to keep our duty to Him. Allah connects these 2 subjects and warns us not to allow the partaking in provision to allow us to transgress any of His other commands. Allah is also reminding us that the rizq we have, no matter how much we feel we might have “earned” it, as it is not from ourselves but has been provided by Allah.
It also important to note that rizq is not associated with man in any verse or hadith for that matter except through its management and distribution. Allah says:
“Do not give to the foolish (what is in) your (keeping of their) wealth, which Allah (ﷻ) has given you to maintain; but feed and clothe them from it.” [TMQ Surah An-Nisa:5]
Allah also connects having Taqwa with the provision of Rizq in the following verse:
And whoever fears Allah – He will make a way out for him. And will provide for him from where he does not expect. [TMQ Surah At-Talaq: 2-3]
This means that though we may think we know exactly where our salaries are coming from every month, there are times when all of us are provided for in a time of need, in a way we could not have imagined. Think back to a time when you were desperate for some help, something was stolen and then replaced with something better, you were broke or on your last and some money appeared from a source you could not have imagined, or even just being offered something to eat at a time when you did not expect it.
These are all simple examples of being provided for without any effort on our part.
This does not mean, however, that we go to the extreme of leaving our work and obligation to ourselves and our family as this would be disobeying the laws of Allah (ﷻ). We are commanded to strive to obtain our rizq as Allah (ﷻ) says:
“And when the prayer is ended, then disperse in the land and seek of Allah (ﷻ)’s bounty.” [TMQ Surah Al-Jummuah:10]
Rather we must plan our lives in the best way possible in seeking our rizq with fulfilling our other commitments to Allah and His messenger, and have firm belief in Ar-Razzaq to provide for us.
Imam ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali (rahimullah) states in his book Jami al-ulum wa ‘l-hikam fi sharh khamsina hadithan min jawami al-kalim that:
the slave should be more sure of what is in the hand of Allah than he is of that which is in his own hand. This arises from soundness and strength of certainty, because Allah guarantees the provisions of His slaves and is responsible for them.
Allah (ﷻ) says:
There is no creature on the earth which is not dependent upon Allah for its provision. [TMQ Surah Hud: 6]
Allah (ﷻ) also says:
Your provision is in heaven – and what you are promised”. [TMQ Surah adh-Dhariyat: 22]
Rizq is fixed
Another very important idea to understand is that rizq is fixed in its amount. Ibn Mas’ud narrated that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said to his wife Umm Habiba:
Verily you have asked Allah about the duration of life already set, and the steps you would take, and the sustenance the share of which is fixed. Nothing will take place before its due time, and nothing will be deferred beyond when it is due [Muslim].
A Muslim must always rely upon Allah (ﷻ) – this pillar of iman gives the believer the strength to overcome difficulties. Someone with the correct understanding that his provision is from Allah (ﷻ) will trust fully in Allah (ﷻ) to provide for him especially when times are difficult.
Allah (ﷻ) said:
Allah increases the provision (rizq) for whom he wills, and straitens (it from whom He wills), and they rejoice in the life of the world, whereas the life of this world as compared with the hereafter is but a brief passing enjoyment [TMQ Ar-Ra’d: 26].
So if times are difficult the true believer sees it as a test from Allah (ﷻ), and it is He (ﷻ) who will provide what is due. We take heed in what the ayah states that the life of this world “…is but a brief passing enjoyment.”
Confronted with difficult times, we may be tempted in desperation to resort to working extra long hours or taking a second job such that it consumes all our energies and such that we neglect our other responsibilities. The steadfast believer, however, who understands that his rizq is from Allah (ﷻ), also understands the Prophetic advice when the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
Let not the fear of people stop anyone of you from saying what is true, or doing something important, because what you say or do will not keep you from your rizq, or keep you from your ajl (life span).
Value of wealth
One final quality of the believer who has understood rizq in its correct context is the small value he or she places upon their wealth. They know it is a burden, one for which they will be accounted, and that miserliness in regards to it is of the incorrect attitudes.
Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi narrated that Umar ibn al-Khattab said:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) ordered us to give sadaqah and that agreed with the property that I had so I said, ‘Today I will outdo Abu Bakr if I am ever to outdo him,’ and I brought half of my wealth. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, ‘What have you left for your family?’ I said, ‘I have left the like of it.’ Then Abu Bakr came with everything that he had, and he said, ‘Abu Bakr what have you left for your family?’ He said, ‘I have left for them Allah and His Messenger.’ I said, ‘I will never ever outdo him in anything.’
Take also the story of Mus’ab bin Umair, about whom the Prophet (ﷺ) used to say “There is nobody more handsome in Mecca than Mus‘ab. There is no person in the city better clothed and fed than Mus‘ab. There is no child brought up with mote affection and love than him.”
He was from a wealthy family but after his acceptance of Islam he devoted all his life to the cause of Allah and His Messenger such that once he presented himself to Prophet (ﷺ) in such a condition that he had only a piece of skin with patches here and there to cover his body. When the companions of Prophet (ﷺ) saw this, they hung their heads in awe. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
This is the young man who had no equal in Makkah in the luxurious style in which he was brought up. But the regard for virtue and love for Allah and his Prophet have made him indifferent to all worldly pleasures.
The carrier of Islam must be ready to face the trials and tribulations that those who oppose it. The only way to prepare for this is to have the clear knowledge of the key Islamic ideas such as Rizq (sustenance) being from Allah (ﷻ), and Tawakkul (reliance on Allah [ﷻ]) amongst other ideas.
This understanding must be well thought out and free from doubt as it will cause the believer to be freed from the struggle and exhaustion to accumulate wealth and place instead their focus upon carrying the work for Islam. It will also produce an individual who sticks to the shariah rules when obtaining wealth and someone who is characterised with generosity, actively seeking useful ways to spend or invest their wealth which will benefit them through earning Allah’s pleasure.
“Verily Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills without measure.” [TMQ Surah al-Imran: 37]