Tahzeeb: Greediness & Lack of Contentment

Tahzeeb: Greediness & Lack of Contentment

أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ  *حَتَّى زُرْتُمُ الْمَقَابِرَ

The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you; Until you visit the graves (i.e. till you die).

(Surat-ul-Takathur 1-2)


Linguistically: A selfish or excessive desire for more than is needed or deserved, especially of money, wealth food and other possessions.

Technically: Desire to possess something without any means within our capacity. (Imam Al-Manaawi).

A condemned character in the Qur’an

يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِي أُوفِ بِعَهْدِكُمْ وَإِيَّايَ فَارْهَبُونِ (٤٠) وَآمِنُوا بِمَا أَنْزَلْتُ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا مَعَكُمْ وَلا تَكُونُوا أَوَّلَ كَافِرٍ بِهِ وَلا تَشْتَرُوا بِآيَاتِي ثَمَنًا قَلِيلا وَإِيَّايَ فَاتَّقُونِ (٤١) وَلا تَلْبِسُوا الْحَقَّ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتَكْتُمُوا الْحَقَّ وَأَنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (٤٢)

(40) O Children of Israel, remember My favor which I have bestowed upon you and fulfill My covenant [upon you] that I will fulfill your covenant [from Me], and be afraid of [only] Me. (41) And believe in what I have sent down confirming that which is [already] with you, and be not the first to disbelieve in it. And do not exchange My signs for a small price, and fear [only] Me. (42) And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know [it].

The Jewish scholars will give a misinterpretation of Allah’s revelation to people in order to get wealth.

A condemned character in the Sunnah

عَنِ ابْنِ كَعْبِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ الأَنْصَارِيِّ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ مَا ذِئْبَانِ جَائِعَانِ أُرْسِلاَ فِي غَنَمٍ بِأَفْسَدَ لَهَا مِنْ حِرْصِ الْمَرْءِ عَلَى الْمَالِ وَالشَّرَفِ لِدِينِهِ ‏”‏‏.

Ibn Ka’b bin Malik Al-Ansari narrated from his father, that the Messenger of Allah said: “Two wolves free among sheep are no more destructive to them than a man’s desire for wealth and honor is to his religion.”[1]

عَنْ سَالِمِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اَللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ, عَنْ أَبِيهِ; { أَنَّ رَسُولَ اَللَّهِ ‏- صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏-كَانَ يُعْطِي عُمَرَ اَلْعَطَاءَ, فَيَقُولُ: أَعْطِهِ أَفْقَرَ مِنِّي, فَيَقُولُ: “خُذْهُ فَتَمَوَّلْهُ, أَوْ تَصَدَّقْ بِهِ, وَمَا جَاءَكَ مِنْ هَذَا اَلْمَالِ, وَأَنْتَ غَيْرُ مُشْرِفٍ وَلَا سَائِلٍ فَخُذْهُ, وَمَا لَا فَلَا تُتْبِعْهُ نَفْسَكَ”.‏

Salim bin ’Abdullah bin ’Umar narrated on the authority of his father (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to give ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab something (some money), but he would say to him, ‘Would you give it to a person, who is more needy than me’? The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would then say to him, ‘Take it. If you are given something from this property, without your having asked for it or being eager to receive it, and if you are not given, do not go and ask for it.”[2]

عَنْ أُبَىِّ بْنِ كَعْبٍ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ لَهُ ‏”‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ أَمَرَنِي أَنْ أَقْرَأَ عَلَيْكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَقَرَأَ عَلَيْهِ‏:‏ ‏(‏ لمْ يَكُنِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ ‏)‏ فَقَرَأَ فِيهَا ‏”‏ إِنَّ ذَاتَ الدِّينِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الْحَنِيفِيَّةُ الْمُسْلِمَةُ لاَ الْيَهُودِيَّةُ وَلاَ النَّصْرَانِيَّةُ مَنْ يَعْمَلْ خَيْرًا فَلَنْ يُكْفَرَهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ وَقَرَأَ عَلَيْهِ ‏”‏ وَلَوْ أَنَّ لاِبْنِ آدَمَ وَادِيًا مِنْ مَالٍ لاَبْتَغَى إِلَيْهِ ثَانِيًا وَلَوْ كَانَ لَهُ ثَانِيًا لاَبْتَغَى إِلَيْهِ ثَالِثًا وَلاَ يَمْلأُ جَوْفَ ابْنِ آدَمَ إِلاَّ التُّرَابُ وَيَتُوبُ اللَّهُ عَلَى مَنْ تَابَ ‏”‏

Narrated Ubayy bin Ka’b: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to him: “Indeed, Allah ordered me to recite to you, so he recited in it: “Those who disbelieve from amongst the Book were not going to…'” (And he) also recited in it, “Indeed, the religion with Allah is Al-Hanafiyyah (Al-Islam) not Judaism, nor Christianity, whoever does good, it shall not be rejected from him.” And he recited to him: “And if the son of Adam had a valley-full of wealth, he would seek a second, and if he had a second, he would seek a third, and nothing fills the belly of the son of Adam except for dirt. And Allah pardons those who repent.”[3]


  • Praiseworthy Greed (2) Blameworthy Greed
  1. Praiseworthy greed
  • Seeking the forgiveness of Allah: There is no amount of forgiveness we seek that will be too much.
  • Seeking to gain admission into paradise: Competing with each other in all righteousness; we cannot accuse such person of greediness (wanting too much).
  • Seeking to gain the sustenance of Allah: There is no wrong in seeking any amount of sustenance from Allah.
  1. Condemned greed
  • Greediness in amassing wealth: There is no amount of wealth that could be sufficient for man, therefore, desperately seeking beyond the required minimum to sustain a comfortable livelihood is blameworthy.
  • Power drunkenness: Clinging to power and authority or seeking same at all cost is condemned.
  • Greediness on foods: Digestion takes hours before completion. Seeking to eat at any short interval of time without a peculiar reason is blameworthy.

Causes of Greed

  • Ignorance of the negative impacts and disadvantages.
  • Love of the world and distaste for death.
  • Weakness of faith.
  • Lack of compliance with the prerequisites of soul purification
  • Companionship and friendship of the greedy people.
  • Dissociation from the community of Muslims  in a corrupted society

Disadvantages of Greed

  • Generosity will lack in the society.
  • Having bad suspicion of Allah’s Will (e.g. Why should Allah provide this to him and not same to me).
  • Reduction in the level of faith and trust in Allah.
  • It paves an easy path to hell.
  • Relegation in the eyes of men.
  • Disruption of due process – Disorderliness in Society.
  • Destruction of blessings (in wealth and life).
  • The spread of enmity and lack of trust in the society.
  • The spread of deceit and lies.
  • It immerses its possessor in sins

Way Out

  • Seeking all means to soul purification.
  • Seeking all means to attain patience and endurance.
  • Pondering over the many natural favours that Allah has granted to us.
  • Seeking knowledge on the favours that Allah granted to us, to better appreciate their magnitude and quality.
  • Striving toward submission to the Will of Allah.

[1] Jami` at-Tirmidhi: Vol. 4, Book 10, Hadith 2376

[2] Sahih Muslim 1045

[3] Jami` at-Tirmidhi Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3793

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