Does The Quran Criticize Wealth?


Omeed Gül


Wealth in the Quran
Wealth in the Quran

When people actually refer to the Qur'an, we see the wealth and possessions that God had granted to many Prophets and rulers. Over the centuries, this included Solomon, David, Dhul-Qarnayn, and Abraham among others.

Prophet Solomon's wealth is said to have been legendary. Solomon, a Prophet praised by the Qur'an for his exemplary conduct, surely pursued nothing but earning God's good pleasure. Before being endowed with such great wealth, he is mentioned to have said the following prayer:

He said: 'My Lord, forgive me and give me a kingdom the like of which will never be granted to anyone after me. Truly, You are the Ever-Giving.' (Qur'an 38:35)

If praying for wealth was a practice to be condemned, then a Prophet praised by God in the Qur'an would not have done so. Societies controlled by a group of ruling elite or upper-class is simply a part of the natural hierarchy of mankind. As seen in the story of Solomon in the Qur'an, it is clear God gave him immense material riches. God places the story of Solomon in the Qur'an to confirm the reality that they're are several different personalities and castes of righteous God-fearing people. Being affluent in itself does not necessarily deter from entering the garden in the afterlife. Wealth or material belongings simply cannot be allowed to distract from keeping to our duty towards God. In the age of technique, we now live in a ever-more materialist and delusional world, one where wealth is seen as a means to an end.

To continue, the verses below depict the grandeur of Solomon’s Kingdom:

It was said to her: "Enter the palace." So when she saw it she thought there was a pool, and she uncovered her legs. He said: "It is a palace paved with crystal." She said: "My Lord, I have wronged myself; and I submit with Solomon to God, Lord of the worlds." (Qur'an 27:44)

They made for him (Solomon) what he desired of elevated chambers, and images and pools of deep reservoirs, and heavy pots. "O family of David, work to give thanks." Only a few of My servants are thankful. (Qur'an 34:13)

Solomon is not the sole example, for God also granted authority and power to his father, David, as well as to Abraham and his family. Yet, here we note of actual knowledge and wisdom, which is greater than any material possessions:

If they envy men what God gave them of His bounty: then We had given the house of Abraham the Writ and wisdom; and We gave them great dominion. (Qur'an 4:54)

The Qur'an also reveals that the Prophet Muhammad was too enriched by God:

Did He not find you impoverished and enrich you? (Qur'an 93:8)

Enriched by wisdom and knowledge with regards to truth in this world is truly the best enrichment.

The difference between wealth as perceived by believers and unbelievers: believers are conscious that only God is the absolute owner of all property, it is He who gives wealth; while unbelievers perceive wealth as themselves claiming ownership over such and disregard the fact that all belongs to God. This divergence also emerges when it comes to the usage of such wealth: believers spend their wealth for good, whereas those that "shun guidance while claiming virtue", only seek to "cause corruption in the land" (Qur'an 28:77).


It is God that provides wealth, as a test, and as a blessing:

It was Us who gave luxury to these and their fathers, until they grew old with age. Do they not see that We come to the land and reduce it from its edges? Will they be able to win?" (Qur'an 21:44)

And He is the One who makes you rich or poor. (Qur'an 53:48)

Wealth, glory, and authority are blessings that God bestows upon whom He wills. The essential feature here is to use this wealth in the proper way in order to give due thanks to the Lord, to constantly remember His favors, and thus to draw nearer to Him and seek ways to earn His good pleasure. Prophet Solomon's words below make his intentions clear:

And he said: "Truly do I love the love of good, with a view to the glory of my Lord". (Qur'an 38:32)


We need to remember that this life is a temporary abode and ultimately a test sent to us by God, thus we must not get carried away with the pleasures of this short and often distracting life. Our Lord reminds us that the afterlife is the true and final destination, a place where we should completely strive for. The afterlife is our permanent home, "the true life" as God tells us, far greater than any of the temporary charades in this current life:

And the life of this world is only play and games; and the abode of the Hereafter: that is Life, did they but know. (Qur'an 29:64)

​Isn't it ironic that we strive and struggle so greatly to invest in opportunities that earn us financial and material gains in this life, yet forget the best investment of all; the one that pays the most dividends and earns the highest returns, earnings that are protected and insured by God, where bankers cannot snatch through inflation or usury, and where governments cannot swindle through taxes or tariffs:

The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the cause of God is as the likeness of a grain which grows seven ears, in each ear a hundred grains. And God increases manifold to whom He wills; and God is encompassing and knowing. (Qur'an 2:261)

Those who recite the Writ of God, and uphold the duty, and spend of what We have provided them, secretly and openly, expect a trade that perishes not. That He will pay their rewards in full, and increase them out of His bounty; He is forgiving and appreciative. (Qur'an 35:29)


The criteria used to judge others, according to the Qur'an, is not wealth, for poverty or wealth does not determine a person's worth in God's sight. What matters is that believers spend their means, whether abundant or scarce, in compliance with God's law. Believers do not hoard possessions, for they avoid the fate awaiting those who do, which the Qur'an describes in the following verse:

"As for those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in the Way of God, give them the news of a painful punishment." (Qur'an 9:34)

God tells us that believers set aside part of their wealth for charity:

"And those who set aside part of their wealth." (Qur'an 70:24)

Believers enjoy spending in God's cause just as they enjoy benefiting from His blessings. From this stance, praying for wealth or other possessions is an act of worship to God, however, when the natural tendencies of tribal, family, and religious allegiances are usurped with a lifestyle of complete dedication to material possessions or where wealth is the mere purpose of life, this would in turn result in a perverted, materialistic culture that leads to its demise. The emphasis from God is to not solely focus in this temporary life, but rather focus foremost in the eternal afterlife:

​"Alluring for all mankind are the love of charms: women, children, gold and silver treasures piled up high, horses with fine markings, livestock and farmland, these may be the joys of this life - but God has the best place to return to". (Qur'an 3:14)

It is clear that God does not forbid us from having lawful possessions, hobbies, pleasures or natural God given blessings. In 11:116 below, God warns against those that are pre-occupied with their material possessions in this life. Those that have taken it far enough to the extent of forgetting their prime duty of serving God. As long as we continue to remember and serve God sincerely, to observe our obligations, then we are entitled to enjoy all the blessings God made available to us. As said before, God mentions the story of Solomon in the Qur'an to confirm to us that it is not unrighteous in any way to have great wealth, as long as it does not distract us from our duty towards God:

"If only some of those among the previous generations possessed enough intelligence to forbid evil! Only a few of them deserved to be saved by us. As for the transgressors, they were preoccupied with their material luxuries; they were guilty." (Qur'an 11:116)

Again, the same message continues in this other verse:

People who are not distracted by business or trade from commemorating God; they observe the duty/salat, and give the zakat, and they are conscious of the day when the minds and the eyes will be horrified. (Qur'an 24:37)

We also see in 38:31-32 that Prophet Solomon was at one point distracted by beautiful horses and forgot to keep to his duty:

When, during dusk, well trained horses were displayed before him. (Qur'an 38:31)

He then said: "I enjoyed the material things more than I enjoyed the remembrance of my Lord, until it became totally dark!". (Qur'an 38:32)

This verse teaches us not to make this mistake. We must not forget performing our duties (Salat) that God have made obligatory upon us.

We read here those that have an excessive love for money, ie those whom have become ultimately materialist:

"And you love money, a love that is excessive." (Qur'an 89:20)


Only the true believers are the rightful consumers of all the blessings, joys and pleasures available in this world. God explains as follows:

"Say, 'Who has forbidden the wonderful things and good provisions that God has brought forth for His servants?' Say, 'They are meant for those who believe during this worldly life, and they will be exclusive for them on the Day of Resurrection.' It is such that We explain the Revelations for those who know.' "(Qur'an 7:32)

"And when you have concluded your rites, remember God like your remembrance of your fathers, or with stronger remembrance. And among men is he who says: "Our Lord: give Thou to us in the World," and he has no portion in the Hereafter. And among them is he who says: "Our Lord: give Thou to us in the World good, and in the Hereafter good, and protect thou us from the punishment of the Fire." Those have a portion from what they earned; and God is swift in reckoning." (Qur'an 2:200-202)

Many people wonder why a disbeliever is rewarded in this world for his efforts by God. Why do they get good things while many believers remain poor? These people do not realize that the disbelievers are given wealth and children so that God can test them to see whether they give thanks to Him or become ungrateful. As they always reject God as the provider of all blessings, the disbelievers always increase in their evil-doings in the face of every blessing given to them.

"Do not let their wealth and children impress you. God only wishes to punish them in this life through them. Their lives will vanish while they are in their state of denial." (Qur'an 9:55)

This is why they are the losers in the Hereafter, yet true believers are victorious in the Hereafter, regardless of whether they were poor or rich in this world. A believer who is poor is being tested to see if he remains loyal to God in the face of his poverty and his loyalty is rewarded. A believer who is rich is also tested, and expected to give thanks to God and to spend his wealth in God’s way selflessly. All true believers gain the best reward of God - the Paradise of God, but they may earn it in different ways according to their destiny. God identifies this to those who believe as follows:

“If anyone desires the fleeting life, we readily grant him in it such things as We will it, but in the end, We have prepared Hell for him to burn in. But if any one desires the life to come and strives for it with due striving, being a believer, his striving will be thanked. To both the latter and the former, We give some of your Lord’s bounty – your Lord’s bounty is not restricted. See how we have given some more than others - the Hereafter holds greater ranks and greater favors!” (Qur’an 17:18-21)

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