R: 7 / I: 1
I sometimes wonder why many of the disbelievers are rich and many of the Muslims are poor, at least financially. I mean we don’t have our own Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos. But it’s a wrong question to ask because we first need to ask what is this material world in the sight of Allah? To whom does He give it to, when, and why? If the Muslims are His beloved, why is He keeping us poor? If He hates the disbelievers, why is He making them rich? Then I heard a sheikh say this ayah:
“If it were not that all mankind might have become a single nation [of disbelievers], We could have given all those who disbelieve in the Lord of Mercy houses with roofs of silver, sweeping staircases to ascend, massive gates, couches to sit on, and golden ornaments. All of these are mere enjoyments of this life; your Lord reserves the next life for those who take heed of Him.”
[Az-Zukhruf, Ayah 33-35]
In the verse, Allah says He could have made all disbelievers filthy rich, not just regularly rich. Why is He making their lives so much easier? But, I misunderstood. The point of this ayah is to show how meaningless it is and how much Allah is trying to emphasize that just because I am rich in this world it does not mean Allah loves me. It really doesn’t. It could very well mean that He has neglected me and doesn’t want to send me tests that would remind me of Him anymore. Tests that would keep me humble and mindful of His bounds. Because this is what hardships are for: to bring me back to Allah. Allah says:
“We sent messengers before you [Prophet] to many communities and afflicted their people with suffering and hardships, so that they could learn humility.” [Al-An’am, Ayah 42]
Allah could give all the disbelievers the material world maybe as a way to punish them all with heedlessness. And to be honest, they deserve it. They deserve to be punished with heedlessness, wealth, and being intoxicated by the worldly pleasures. They deserve it because that’s what they want so much. But He knows that this would be too hard of a test for the Muslims. Imagine if I become a disbeliever I will certainly become a rich, why would I want to become a believer? Although I know deep down this richness is a punishment, I and all of us are weak creatures and if Allah makes all the disbelievers rich, becoming one nation, we would be very very tempted to join. I mean, there’s certainty to become rich!
But no, Allah doesn’t make that the case. Some of the disbelievers are still poor, although minority. On the contrary, you can be Muslim and rich, although minority. The point is, even though there is no clear distinction if Allah hates you, He gives you wealth, if Allah loves you, He puts you through hardship (or even the other way around, if Allah loves you, He gives you wealth, if Allah hates you, He puts you through hardship), we should know that in reality, the material world is too cheap of a price to give as reward to the believers. It’s too cheap. We may get some of this cheap reward sometimes because we’re just that dumb and shortsighted. Also, Allah is Merciful and He knows what we desire, so He still gives us some enjoyment in this world so long as we don’t lose sight of it’s cheapness and that we will be tested in the future just in case we forget Him after enjoying this cheap world a bit too much. But actually, we deserve more than this, and that is in akhirah. I mean, not that Allah owes us Jannah, but out of His mercy and love, He doesn’t think it’s befitting that we are repaid with this world for our faith in Him. And that, Allah reserves ONLY for the believers. The disbelievers will have no share in it whatsoever, not like this material world. As Allah says:
“If anyone desires a harvest in the life to come, We shall increase it for him; if anyone desires a harvest in this world, We shall give him a share of it, but in the Hereafter he will have no share.” [Ash-Shuraa 42:20]
Besides, material wealth is not the only source of joy in this world. Certainty in the meaning of our existence gives a sense of peace that can’t be bought. No longer asking why is there suffering. No longer resulting to suicide as an escape to it all. There is also the joy of simplicity and minimalism. Of doing the bare minimum in collecting wealth and using the rest of your time to community service or taking care of your family. There’s the joy of patience from complaining about this world, the joy of knowing people who believe in the same God as you, same believes and values. These are things money really can’t buy. And those who don’t believe are deprived from them and are actually very sad. As Allah says:
“And whoever turns away from My remembrance - indeed, he will have a depressed [i.e., difficult] life” [Taha 20:124]
Sorry for the long post. I just wanted to gather my thoughts and express them as coherently as possible. Allah knows best.