Islam and wealth

The Islamic way to spend wealth: are luxuries permissible?

Aslamalaikum brother, I was wondering about the islamic principles on how to spend money. For example if someone had a good job and made good money and therefore lived lavishly but still followed the 5 pillars of islam and gave charity, would their religious deeds be deemed hypocritical due to their lifestyle. I feel very guilty when buying 'unnecessary' things when some people struggle to buy necessities and I struggle to understand why Allah created such a rich/poor gap in the world

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Scholars like Ibn al-Jawzī recommend viewing your body and its desires and pleasures similar to viewing a steed (a horse or other animal that you need for a journey). You should try to keep the steed in good health and to give it some of the pleasures it requires so that it can serve you effectively.

So we should seek moderation when treating yourselves, neither spoiling ourselves with too much spending, or being cruel to ourselves by denying ourselves all pleasures.

I do not see anything wrong with a rich person occasionally treating themselves with pleasures and luxuries that are denied to others. But ideally this should represent only a small amount of their wealth. Every time you spend your money on a luxury, you can make it rule to spend the same amount on charity. And a person especially eager to please God can choose to spend twice as much on charity as on luxuries, and so on.

Personally if I had a large income I would choose a certain percentage (such as 10%) to give to charity. So if my income with $5000 a month, I would give $500 to charity every month. But if my income was much greater, I would choose a larger percentage, even half, to give to charity every month.

The wealth that God gives us is something entrusted to us by Him. So we should view it in this way and try to always keep in mind that we should use it to please Him.

As for why God created the rich/poor gap, it is because it makes this world an effective testing hall. If there we were all equally wealthy we would have much fewer chances to be patient or generous than the present system. I discuss this in detail in my essay: Why God Allows Evil to Exist, and Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

How to make sure wealth does not make you distant from God

Assalamualaikum, Allah swt tests one with what he has given him, Allah swt has given me a lot. How can I make sure I'm not failing my tests? Despite doing whats Obligatory I always feel like I'm failing. Perhaps because of my frivolous worldly interests outside of Islam. Any advice?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

My recommendation for those who want to be extraordinary believers is to try to perform an extra hour of worship every day, especially reading the Quran. One should read it with the aim of understanding it and embodying its teachings in one’s life. If you an achieve this hour of daily worship and do your best to embody the Quran’s teachings, then I would say this is guaranteed to keep you in a great spiritual place constantly. There is no way to remain spiritual without constant, daily work. The life of this world always takes us away from God on a daily basis and we need to exert daily effort to constantly go back to Him.

For more on the extra hour of worship please see my essay Mysticism without Sufism: A Guide to Tahajjud, Islam’s Meditation Practice