Is material interest bad? Is it bad to take care of one’s material interests?

Details of the Question

• Do all people including Muslims take care of their own material interests?
• When is material interest harmful and when is it harmless?
• If it is harmful, how can we get rid of it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It will be better to start with the definition of material interest.

The word manfa’ah (material interest) is derived from the root naf’, which means use, profit and material interest, in Arabic. It is used in the sense of making use of something, benefitting from something.

If we look at the issue from the viewpoint the truth and knowledge, it is clear that every sane person has to take care of his essential interest, which is salvation from Hell, nothing else.

However, when we say manfa’ah, we think of the worldly manfa’ahs (interests) only. The following is stated in the Quran:

“A little enjoyment in this world!- and then, to Us will be their return, then shall We make them taste the severest penalty for their blasphemies.” (Yunus 70)

“Know ye (all), that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying, (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children. Here is a similitude: How rain and the growth which it brings forth, delight (the hearts of) the tillers; soon it withers; thou wilt see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and crumbles away. But in the Hereafter is a Penalty severe (for the devotees of wrong). And Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the devotees of Allah. And what is the life of this world, but goods and chattels of deception?” (Hadid 20)

The real manfa’ah that we need to pursue is keeping away from unnecessary and meaningless things and sins, which will be of no use after death, which will harm us and which seems to be manfa’ah in the world.

On the other hand, as a necessity of the test in the world, we all have duties like living in the world, having a family, earning our living, getting on well with people, respecting the elderly, protecting the young ones, not telling lies, not stealing, not killing, keeping away from what Allah and His Messenger forbad, not ignoring worshipping, struggling against our souls, which is fard, and conveying the message of the religion of Allah to people without fearing.  

All of those duties mean Islam itself. It is related to our otherworldly interest to fulfill them. We are actually ordered to take care of our eternal interest only.

All of the other things seem to be useful for our interest in this short worldly life but they are deceitful and harmful; they will give us a lot of trouble in the hereafter.

Our duty is to take care of our interest by obeying fully the orders of Islam, which Allah sent us through His Messenger and the Quran.

The duty of Satan is to deceive us by changing our directions away from them toward worldly, unnecessary, meaningless things and harams, and by using our souls. He will make us think as follows: “Allah is the Forgiver; He will forgive me.”

Be careful. Allah Almighty states the following in the Quran:

“O mankind! Do your duty to your Lord, and fear (the coming of) a Day when no father can avail aught for his son, nor a son avail aught for his father. Verily, the promise of Allah is true: let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the chief Deceiver deceive you about Allah.” (Luqman 33)

Do not forget that real interest (manfa’ah) is nothing but to hold onto Allah’s rope, orders and to keep away from His prohibitions.

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