People usually have two extreme points of view regarding money: some see money as the root of all evils and others see money as the one and only source of happiness in this life and thus regard amassing wealth as the be-all and end-all of life. Money has an important position in all communities and people exaggerate its importance: the English say “money is honey” and “money talks, money walks” and the Arabs say “money revives the dead bodies.”
Islam adopts a middle path that regards money as something important and one of the pleasures of life, “Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world.” (Qur’an, 18:46), that should be used to help others and make other human beings happy and satisfied. “…but Al-Birr is (the quality of) the one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to the Al-Masakin (the poor), and to the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and to set slaves free….” (Qur’an, 2:177)
However we are also reminded that money has another negative aspect that should be avoided, or otherwise man will go astray “O you who believe! Let not your riches or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that, then they are the losers.” (Qur’an, 63:9)
The history of Islam abounds with examples of men who used their money to support their religion, the most important among them Abu Bakr Al Siddiq and Othman Ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with them). For example Othman Ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him), bought a well that was owned by a Jew who used to exploit people’s need for water. He purchased the well from the Jew and gave that away to Muslims for free. Abu Bakr spent most of his money to support Islam especially in its early days. In one instance, he paid money to set Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) free, who was tortured by his heartless master for embracing Islam. This is why Omar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said “Abu Bakr is our master who set our master (meaning Bilal) free.”
However, it should be pointed out that Islam is not against having wealth or leading a comfortable life, but it seeks to instill in the Muslim’s consciousness the fact that earning money should never be an aim in itself. In other words, money should be one’s slave, and not his master.