Dr Rashid al Balushi –
Assistant Professor of Linguistics –
Sultan Qaboos University –
A famous Arabic saying goes, “keep your white coin (money) for your black day”; the English equivalent is, “save money for a rainy day”. Like any other product of the human experience (thought or civilisation) on this planet, this phrase has, in a way or another, controlled the way people deal with money, and as such has mandated that individuals and families save money for times of need. For example, “We need to save some money in case we get ill as we grow old; then we’ll need to travel abroad for medical treatment”. While it is good and sometimes necessary to save money for times of need, we do this simply because, given different reasons, we expect those times of need, and sometimes live waiting for them, and, through our thinking, may be “call for them”. And in doing so, we keep that money and never spend it, even in the way of Allah. I am not against saving money for times of need, and not saying that it is a bad or even unfavourable practice, but I am trying to draw attention to a simple fact about us human beings, money, and Allah, and how Allah wants us to act in this regard. And anyway, saving money is much better than spending it on trifles.
Another view is that, while it is good in general to save money (as well as to save effort, time, health, friends, etc…), our plans for our lives, and our plans with the Manager of our lives, Allah Almighty, should not be based on the premise “Allah will make me ill as I age, and so I should save some money for that predicament”. While it is true that many people get ill before the end of their lives, many others do not, and those leave this life to the next peacefully, without hospitals or medical treatment trips. Which group would you rather be a member of, the ones who get ill and have money to get medical treatment, or the ones who do not get ill? I think it is wiser to be in the second group. But what is the membership fee for that group?
I think, but rather believe, that the fee includes donating money to people who are ill and have no money to seek medical treatment (or special medical treatment, in some cases). In other words, if you give the money (or at least some money) to people who badly need it because they are ill, in the way of Allah and with a true intention to help a needy person, chances are that you are not going to get ill and need it yourself. Allah will bless you and the needy person/people will be praying to Allah for you. In other words, your contribution to seeking good health for your fellow citizens or Muslims, in general, could be the prevention that saves you illness. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, says “Whoever alleviates the need of a needy person, Allah will alleviate his needs in this world and the Hereafter”. In fact, charity is the cleanliness of one’s money, and body from illnesses. The point here is that if you spend your money in trying to help a Muslim avoid trouble (in general), Allah Almighty, who manages this whole universe, will Insha Allah save you that trouble. In other words, if you spend your money during someone else’s “black” day, all your days will be “white”. Allah Almighty says “What can Allah gain by your punishment, if you are grateful and you believe? Nay, it is Allah that recognises (all good), and knows all things” (4:147). This means that one is saved from Allah’s punishment (in this life and in the hereafter) if they are grateful, and gratitude to Allah is achieved through giving in the way of Allah.