Is There A Concept Of Savings (Accumulating Wealth) in Islam?

Is There A Concept Of Savings (Accumulating Wealth) in Islam?
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In the name of Allah, all praise is to Allah, we seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (PBUH) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.

According to Professor of Economics, Laurence J. Kotlikoff, “saving means different things to different people. To some, it means putting money in the bank. To others, it means buying stocks or contributing to a pension plan. But to economists, saving means only one thing—consuming less out of a given amount of resources in the present in order to consume more in the future. Saving, therefore, is the decision to defer consumption and to store this deferred consumption in some form of asset.”

Some people have said that saving wealth is put aside from our wealth in preparation for an important expenditure in the future, so when the time comes, we already have sufficient available funds. Most people say saving wealth/ money is a part of self-control. By saving part of our wealth, we can control the fulfillment of our desire for being able to obtain comforts in the future which is important.

So saving motives vary from country to country, implying that culture as well as economic environment influences household saving motives.

A Muslim is supposed to spend his/her wealth in the Way of Allah. Allah promises great reward(s) to those who spend in His cause.

الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ سِرّاً وَعَلانِيَةً فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ

“Those who spend their wealth (in Allah’s Cause) by night and day, in secret and in public, they shall have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”

(Surah Al-Baqarah;  274).

Can we save our wealth according to Islam?

There are arguments in support of saving wealth in Islam. Some Scholars have said that saving money or wealth is a reflection of the attitude of trust in the sustenance provided by Allah, Almighty. And the others still doubt that saving is part of Islam. The reason that savings could make a person a miser,  is if a person does not believe that Allah has determined a person’s sustenance. They also may think that Islam does not teach savings behavior.

The First opinion says that there is no concept of saving in Islam: 

Saving wealth can make people behave with wickedness (fisq)

قُلْ إِنْ كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنْ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ اللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَاللَّهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ

“Say: If your fathers (i.e. parents), your sons (i.e. kids), your brothers (i.e. siblings), your wives (i.e. spouses), your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce (business) in which you fear a decline and the dwellings in which you delight are dearer to you more than Allah, His Messenger and striving hard & fighting in His Cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision. And Allah guides not the people who are Al-Fasiqun.”

(Surah Al-Taubah;24).

This beautiful verse is absolutely clear about its message. This is how wealth may lead a person towards Fisq. Love for wealth also leads to a type of ‘Shirk‘, known as ‘Shirk-fil-Mahabbah (Shirk because you love wealth more then Allah)

– Saving wealth can make people enjoy the gradual growth of accumulated wealth.

وَيْلٌ لِكُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ لُمَزَةٍ

“Woe to every slanderer and backbiter;

الَّذِي جَمَعَ مَالاً وَعَدَّدَهُ

“Who has gathered wealth and counted it.”

(Surah Al-Humazah; 1&2).

-Saving wealth leads to misguidance and bukhl (miserliness).

وَأَمَّا مَنْ بَخِلَ وَاسْتَغْنَى

“But he who is greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient,”

وَكَذَّبَ بِالْحُسْنَى

“And belies Al-Husna.”

فَسَنُيَسِّرُهُ لِلْعُسْرَى

“We will make smooth for him the path for evil.”

(Surah Al-Layl: 8,9,10).

Bakheel is a person who keeps his wealth close to his heart and does not spend (on others). Whenever he comes across any needy person, he will ignore him; the love and attachment to his wealth does not let him spend it on the needy or on any noble cause.

The other opinion has said:

Islam does not forbid saving up wealth in all cases, rather what is forbidden and what a stern warning is issued against is not paying zakah on one’s wealth. But if a person pays zakah, he is not included in the condemnation.

Allah, Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, says:

“And those who hoard up gold and silver (Al‑Kanz: the money, the Zakah of which has not been paid) and spend them not in the way of Allah, announce unto them a painful torment”. [al-Tawbah 9:34]

Zakah purifies one’s savings, by giving to the poor and the needy their due from it. If a person doesn’t pay zakah on wealth which has reached a nisaab, that is hoarding of wealth and is condemned in Islam. The concept of saving can be observed from the verses of al-Quran and al-Hadith that either explicitly or implicitly recommend savings, as stated in the following verses of Al –Qur’an and hadiths:

-Saving wealth can help you to avoid being stingy and not extravagant:

 وَلَا تَجْعَلْ يَدَكَ مَغْلُولَةً إِلَىٰ عُنُقِكَ وَلَا تَبْسُطْهَا كُلَّ الْبَسْطِ فَتَقْعُدَ مَلُومًا مَحْسُورًا
And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent. (Surah; Al-Isra: 29)

The understanding of this verse is the explicit recommendation to not be stingy. It further explains that it can cause a person to become reprehensible and wasteful of wealth which causes a person to be sorry. There is not a simple understanding of being wasteful. In general, it is recommended that we set aside part of our property for being used for future purposes, as in the following saying:

إِنَّ الْمُبَذِّرِينَ كَانُوا إِخْوَانَ الشَّيَاطِينِ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِرَبِّهِ كَفُورً

Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful. (Surah Al-Isra: 27)

This verse reinforces the paragraph above, that wastefulness is an act that is strictly forbidden by equating the spender as demon brothers. Allah warned how bad the wasteful are. People who are wasteful spend their wealth in ways that does not contain significant benefits.

-Saving as a way to combat severe poverty:

The Qur’an emphasizes striking a balance in our relationship with money/wealth between consumption and saving, and states:

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا أَنفَقُوا لَمْ يُسْرِفُوا وَلَمْ يَقْتُرُوا وَكَانَ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ قَوَامًا

Who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor stingy, but keep the balance between those two extremes. (Al-Furqan ;67)

Treasures can become a means for obtaining the benefit of the world and the hereafter. Saving money is a management process for organizing the provision of Allah, the Almighty.

The story of Yusuf ‘alaihi salam, is a good reference to saving.

Allah tells us in the Qur’ân: “(Yusuf) said: ‘For seven years you should cultivate the land as usual, but leave the harvest that you reap in the ear except for a little that you eat. Then after that will come seven difficult years in which you will eat all that you have set aside except for a little of what you have stored. Then will come a year of abundance in which you will press wine and oil’.” [Sûrah Yûsuf: 47-49]

-The story of buried treasure by the righteous parent for his children.

The Quran has not prohibited the accumulation of savings (also when we give zakat):

“As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city.There was beneath it a(buried) treasure belonging to whom,and their father had been righteous man…”( Surah Al-Kahf,82).

Fearing the dishonesty of the wicked townsmen, the children’s father had buried their inheritance so that they could recover it when they came of age. The Quran did not condemn this behaviour, even the word “shaleh: righteous” was used for this father.

And Allah know best

Qathrun Nada Djamil

A wife and a mother of 4 children. Lives at Jeddah-Saudi Arabia.Graduated from faculty of Law-University of Indonesia, Jakarta-Indonesia. Finished diploma of Business English at Business Training Limited -England

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