The Economic Well-Being In The Time Of The Prophets
People who are foreign to the moral values of the Qur'an are unable to comprehend believers' generosity. As a requirement of Qur'anic moral values, believers generously spend what remains after they have met their own needs on others. People who are unable to comprehend Allah's boundless mercy on Muslims, on the other hand, imagine that believers who spend what is left after meeting their own needs in order to gain Allah's approval will suffer because of this or experience a reduction in their wealth.
The fact is, however, that they are unaware of a very important secret revealed by Allah in the Qur'an.
Allah restores to believers everything spent on His path many, many times over, in the form of beauty, plenty and recompense. Believers use all the means at their disposal in the manner that Allah will find most pleasing, in return for which Allah promises them delights and recompense in the Hereafter and the most delightful and finest blessings in this world. Whatever believers spend, Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful, reimburses them many times over. Allah reveals that He will bestow a delightful life on His devout servants in this world and in the Hereafter:
What is with you runs out but what is with Allah goes on forever. Those who were steadfast will be recompensed according to the best of what they did. Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and We will recompense them according to the best of what they did. (Surat an-Nahl, 96-97)
All things belong to Allah, and Allah has promised wealth and more auspicious blessings to devout people who are grateful for the blessings bestowed on them in several verses of the Qur'an. For example, in one verse He says, "If Allah knows of any good in your hearts, He will give you something better than what has been taken from you and forgive you." (Surat al-Anfal, 70)
In another verse, Allah tells those believers who give thanks for the blessings bestowed on them:
And when your Lord announced: "If you are grateful, I will certainly give you increase, but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe." (Surah Ibrahim, 7)
This is a most important secret imparted to believers in the Qur'an. Since believers are on Allah's path and spend all their wealth and property on earning Allah's approval and spreading the moral values of the Qur'an, they hope that Allah will bestow much on them and enrich them many times over. In yet another verse Allah reveals the abundance that spending on Allah's path brings with it:
The metaphor of those who spend their wealth in the Way of Allah is that of a grain which produces seven ears; in every ear there are a hundred grains. Allah gives such multiplied increase to whoever He wills. Allah is All-Encompassing, All-Knowing. (Surat al-Baqara, 261)
On the other hand, those who do not spend, out of concern for the future, but who store away as much as possible, are making a grave error. Because whether they are generous or parsimonious, they will receive only as much as Allah has ordained in their destinies.
They can never acquire anything other than what Allah wills. Someone who spends on Allah's path enjoys plenty and prosperity in his business, his investments and the goods he purchases. Allah facilitates all his work and rewards him in unexpected ways. Muslims apply this excellent moral virtue in a conception of worship. They never expect to receive a reward. Wealth and abundance are a blessing from Allah on people who do not hesitate to spend in order to earn Allah's approval and who do not stockpile goods from worries about the future. We can see examples of this secret in the lives of the prophets.
ALLAH MADE THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAAS) WEALTHY
Some people imagine that Muslims live in want and poverty, devoid of any blessings. Contrary to what people may think, however, the prophets in particular are people whom Allah enriched with blessings, whom He made rulers of the most fertile lands in the world. The Prophet Muhammad (saas) lived under very different conditions before his prophethood, after which he was given material wealth by Allah. In Surat ad-Duha Allah reveals that our Prophet (saas) will be a wealthy and prosperous man:
The Last will be better for you than the First. Your Lord will soon give to you and you will be satisfied. Did He not find you orphaned and shelter you? Did He not find you wandering and guide you? Did He not find you impoverished and enrich you? (Surat ad-Duha, 4-8)
Both the Prophet Muhammad (saas) and those Muslims who obeyed him experienced that wealth. The fact that those Muslims alongside the Prophet Muhammad (saas) were taught, as commanded in the Qur'an, to work and spend for the approval of Allah, made the lives of Muslims very prosperous. Under intense pressure from the idolaters throughout the Meccan period, Muslims had no opportunity to establish the kind of economic order revealed by Allah in the Qur'an. Following the migration (hijrat) of our Prophet (saas) to Medina he made the establishment of a commercial system compatible with Islamic moral values possible, building the most excellent example of what is known as the "Islamic economy." The way that the booty acquired was used is a highly significant example of devout Muslims' justice and the way they put their material means to the best use.
In several verses of the Qur'an Allah has revealed the spoils He bestowed on the Prophet Muhammad (saas) and his followers and that His messenger was empowered with their use. One such verse reads:
They will ask you about booty. Say: "Booty belongs to Allah and the Messenger. So fear [and respect] Allah and put things right between you. Obey Allah and His Messenger if you are believers." (Surat al-Anfal, 1)
The Prophet Muhammad (saas) is the messenger of Allah and was the most just, affectionate, generous and charitable person of his time. That is why the booting being under his management meant prosperity for all those around. Throughout their lives these devout believers struggles alongside our Prophet (saas) against the hypocrites and unbelievers, sold their souls and worldly goods for the sake of the Hereafter and Allah's approval, left behind their homes, all their goods, their assets and everything they owned and set out on the hijra together with our Prophet (saas). Following all these difficulties, however, and in return for their patience and fear of Allah, Allah enriched them with booty in this world and bestowed peace and security upon them. This is revealed in another verse:
Allah was pleased with the believers when they pledged allegiance to you under the tree. He knew what was in their hearts, and sent down serenity to them and has rewarded them with an imminent victory, and with much booty which they will take. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. Allah has promised you much booty which you will take, and has hastened this for you and held people's hands back from you, so that it might be a sign to the believers, and so that He might guide you to a straight path. And other booty you do not yet have the power to take - Allah has already encompassed it. Allah has power over all things. (Surat al-Fath, 18-21)
Allah tells the believers who left behind all their possessions and stood alongside our Prophet (saas) throughout their lives of the blessings of this world and the Hereafter. These people had no fear of poverty nor any worldly concerns along the lines of "I will go hungry" or "I will suffer poverty." They believed the finest thing to do was to behave as Allah willed. In return, they were blessed with delights and means incomparably superior to those they had given up. Although they left behind their homes, jobs, trade, all their assets, their vineyards and gardens, they were rewarded with delights many times over. Allah speaks of these delight achieved by believers in another verse:
Those who emigrate in the way of Allah will find many places of refuge on the Earth and ample sustenance. If anyone leaves his home, emigration to Allah and His Messenger, and death catches up with him, it is Allah Who will reward him. (Surat an-Nisa', 100)
Peace and Well-Being in the Age of Happiness
In the 7th century, Arabia was one of the most troubled areas of the world. It was home to a diverse range of tribal communities, each worshipping different idols. They would fight one another for the favor of their idols, shed blood, and even kill their children. An exceedingly perverse sense of morality ruled: hate prevailed instead of love, and cruelty instead of compassion.
At that period, the Arabian Peninsula, and especially Mecca, was shaken by social problems. In the period preceding the Age of Happiness, which is called the "The Age of Ignorance," there was severe discrimination between races and religions. Disputes among tribes, an unjust economic order, plundering, intolerant attitudes between members of different religions, differences between the poor and the wealthy and many other injustices were the natural consequences of such discrimination. The maintenance of justice could not be established, the poor were oppressed by those in power, and were subjected to violence because of their race, religion or language. People were forced to work under very hard conditions, and were virtually tortured.
In commercial life, under the burden of the interest-ridden system, small-scale businesses disappeared, whereas the wealthy tended to extravagant consumption. Some of these immoral acts became almost like traditions. For instance, the Arabs of the ignorant age who raided and plundered commercial caravans sold their spoils at very low prices and influenced market conditions. Sometimes, they kept these goods deliberately and generated a black market.
But miraculously, in a matter of decades, this dark and bloody world changed completely. This great miracle is the Qur'an that Allah sent to humanity as a guide … Allah revealed the Qur'an to the final prophet, Mohammed - may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Allah's first revelation came to the Prophet when he was in a cave:
Read in the Name of your Lord Who created, created man from a clinging substance. Read - And your Lord is the Most Generous, He Who taught by the pen, taught man what he did not know. (Surat al-‘Alaq, 1-5)
With this commandment, the Arabs, caught in a vicious circle of utter ignorance and much violence, were for the first time invited to read and to think.
This was also the beginning of the most remarkable cultural and economic development in the history of humanity.
The Prophet Muhammad (saas) began to preach Islam in Mecca, the largest city in Arabia.
The inhabitants of Mecca were the guardians of the Kaaba; the mosque built by Ibrahim for the worship of Allah which but had degenerated to the point where it was turned into a temple of idolatry.
The hundreds of idols adorning the Kaaba were the symbols of the perverted religion of the local people as well as their source of income.
They would make offerings to these idols, dance around them and chant, hoping to win their favor by these rituals.
But in reality, they were just being hopelessly irrational, worshipping these carved pieces of stone and wood they had made themselves. Allah addresses those who worship idols in the Quran:
Mankind! An example has been made, so listen to it carefully. Those whom you call upon besides Allah are not even able to create a single fly, even if they were to join together to do it. And if a fly steals something from them, they cannot get it back. How feeble are both the seeker and the sought! (Surat al-Hajj, 73)
Mecca's elite turned their backs on the true religion the Prophet Muhammad (saas) brought and developed a hostility to the Prophet (saas) who had brought them the truth. They conspired first to force him off his path, then to intimidate him and finally even to kill him.
Many Muslims believing in the Prophet (saas) became the targets of vicious nighttime raids on their homes.
Then, Allah showed the Muslims a way to safety. Thirteen years after the first revelation, at a time when the Muslims were subject to severe oppression, the leaders of Yathrib, a town to the north of Mecca, invited the Muslims in. The Prophet (saas) obliged and migrated to this town.
This town, later named Medina, became Islam's new capital. The Prophet (saas) signed an agreement with the Jews, Christians, and those Arabs who were not Muslims, establishing a just order by which all the different religious communities would live in peace with one another.
In the following five years, three wars were fought between the Muslims of Medina and the idol worshippers of Mecca. The pagans of Mecca attacked, intending to kill every single Muslim, hoping, in their own way of thinking, to erase Islam from the face of the earth. The Muslims on the other hand fought to save themselves and their religion.
In all these wars, the Muslims took care not to inflict suffering on the innocent. They never wronged anyone, because Allah forbid this:
Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. Allah does not love those who go beyond the limits. (Surat al-Baqara, 190)
According to Arab tradition, every prisoner of war had to be killed, but the Prophet (saas), following Allah's commandments in the revelations, ordered the Muslims to treat them well and to give them to eat from their own food. The only thing that was asked of them was for the literate prisoners to teach the illiterate among the Muslims.
Probably for the first time in thousands of years, compassion, forgiveness and civilization were seen on Arab soil.
As the years passed, Islam's justice and high moral standards spread in waves around Arabia. The Muslims' fairness, integrity and determination impressed many Arab tribes and caused them to enter the Islamic faith.
Islam's army became unstoppable and marched on Mecca in 630.
The pagans of Mecca, because of all the cruelty they had inflicted on the Muslims, feared their retribution. That is because Arab tradition required the men of the defeated army to be put to the sword and for the women and children to be enslaved. The pagans of Mecca were certain that this was to be their fate.
But the Prophet's (saas) actions reflected Allah's infinite mercy. He proclaimed that no revenge would be taken and that no one would be forced into accepting the Islamic faith.
The Prophet (saas) had not come to punish the people of Mecca but to free them from their false beliefs. The Muslim army, having taken the city, headed straight for the Kaaba. The Prophet (saas) entered the holy site and destroyed all the idols, there one by one.
With them, all the cruelty, injustice, barbarism and violence committed in their name, were destroyed too.
With the spread of the values of the Qur'an in Arabia, all the injustices, oppression and blood feuds from the times of ignorance disappeared. An order based on respect, love, compassion and justice between people was established.
This is why this era was later to be referred to as "the Age of Happiness".