How should we interpret the hadiths about people becoming rich when Doomsday is near?

The Details of the Question

It is stated in some hadiths that people will become rich when Doomsday is near. It is even stated that people will not be able to find any poor people to give zakah. However, people get poorer and poorer today. How can it be explained?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Adiyy Ibn Hatim narrates:

“Whilst I was with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), a man came to him and complained of poverty. Then, another one came and complained of highway robbery”. The Prophet (pbuh) said,

“O Adiyy! Have you seen the city of Hira?”

I said: “I have not seen it but I have heard about it.”

Thereupon, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “If you live long enough, you will see a woman travelling from Hira on a camel’s back in order to circumambulate the Kaaba. On this journey, she fears none but Allah.”

I said to myself: “Where will the terrible bandits of Tayy who cause terror go?

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) continued:

If you live long enough, you will also see that the treasures of Chosroes will be captured.

I asked, “Chosroes? Ibn Hormoz?

He said: “Yes, Chosroes, Ibn Hormoz.” He continued:

And if you live long enough you will see a man bringing out a handful of gold or silver, looking for a poor person to accept it but will find no one. One of you will meet Allah on the Day of the Encounter without a translator between them to translate for him. Allah will say to him: “Did I not send to you a prophet to bring My message to you? The man will say, “Yes.” Allah will say: “Did I not give you wealth? Did I not bestow My favors upon you?” The man will say: “Yes, my Lord, You did.” Then he will look to his right and see nothing but Hell, and look to his left and see nothing but Hell.

Adiyy said,

I indeed saw an old woman from Hira travelling on a camel’s back circumambulating the Kaaba fearing none but Allah. I myself was among those who captured the treasures of Chosroes b. Hormoz. And if you live long enough, you will witness that the following statement of the Prophet will take place:

"A person bring out a handful of gold or silver, looking for a poor person to accept it but will find no one to accept it." (Bukhari, Manaqib 25)

1. Adiyy, the narrator of the hadith, is the son of Hatim at-Tai, who was famous for his generosity, from the tribe of Tayy. He was the chief of his tribe. The tribe of Tayy lived between Iraq and Hejaz. They waylaid people who passed through their land without taking permission beforehand and robbed them. They were famous for banditry; therefore, Adiyy was astonished to hear that a woman who would set off from Hira would arrive in Hejaz and Makkah passing through their land without fearing. Another expression that astonished Adiyy was, "The treasures of Chosroes will be captured." To capture the treasures of Chosroes, the king of Persia, which was one of the two big states of that period?" Did he misunderstand? He asked, "The treasures of Chosroes (the king of Iran)? Ibn Hormoz?" The Messenger of Allah said, "Yes, Chosroes, Ibn Hormoz!"

2. Another issue mentioned in the hadith is about the level of welfare that will ensure road safety brought about by the justice of Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) said, "A man will bring out a handful of gold or silver to give zakah or sadaqah, looking for a poor person to accept it but will find no one." He mentions that welfare will increase so much, which is a natural outcome of just and fair administration. Acting upon some other hadiths, some scholars say this is about the era of welfare that will occur during the domination of Hz. Isa (Jesus). However, some other scholars including Bayhaqi state that the hadith indicates the welfare in the period of Umar Ibn Abdilaziz. According to what Bayhaqi writes in his book called Dalail, "Somebody would give Umar Ibn Abdilaziz a large amount of money to distribute to the poor during his caliphate that lasted for thirty months and say to him, ‘Give it away to the poor people you wish.’ However, Umar would return without being able to find any poor people since all of the people became rich." After reporting this narration, Bayhaqi adds, "This confirms the issue mentioned in the hadith that Adiyy reported." Ibn Hajar says, "This probability is stronger than the previous one because Adiyy is addressed as follows in the hadith: "If you live long enough, you will see."

3. It is also stated in the hadith that a woman can go to hajj alone. This is a debatable issue but some scholars say it is permissible for hajj that is wajib.

According to our belief, Hz. Isa did not die; he was elevated to the sky. He lives in the sky with his worldly body. As it is seen in the hadith, he will come down to the earth toward the end of time and do some positive activities: He will compensate for the spiritual destruction caused by Dajjal (Antichrist). The statement that welfare and abundance will increase when he comes shows that his improvements will not be only in spiritual aspect but also in material aspect; he will carry out some economical improvements and reforms.  

It is stated in some hadiths that an extraordinary richness for everybody will be in question toward the end of time. However, this richness is a mischief because it is a sign of Doomsday; at least, it is a cause of mischief. It might be “the mischief of welfare” mentioned before. In any case, it is stated in several hadiths that there will be such abundance toward the end of time that people will not be able to find any poor people to give zakah: "A caliph will emerge among my ummah at the end of time. He will distribute money so much that he will not even write it down." In a narration in Bukhari, the person to distribute money so much is Hz. Isa: "When Hz. Isa comes, he gives away money generously but nobody accepts it." The following is stated in another narration: "Doomsday will not strike unless one of you goes out to give sadaqah but cannot find any poor person to give it to."

(see Prof. Dr. İbrahim Canan, Kütüb-i Sitte, Volume 15, hadith number 5573)

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