Islam is a complete way of life and has given us detailed guidelines for the conduct of every aspect of our lives. Financial life is also one of them. It concerns how we earn and use our wealth.
What is Lawful earning?
Earning and spending money is essential for our living. Still, the economic principles of Islam emphasize that we behave responsibly and honestly, not selfishly fighting for something that does not belong to us.
Abdallah b. Mas’ud reported God’s messenger as saying, “Trying to earn a lawful livelihood is an obligatory duty in addition to the duties which are obligatory.” – Baihaqi transmitted it in Shu’ab al-imanReference: Mishkat al – Masabih 2781(In-book reference: Book 11, Hadith 23)
If one has to make a decent living, it has to be made through honest ways and hard work.
Finance and Marriage
One of the main reasons for disputes in a marriage that often leads to divorce is financial issues. Islam encourages getting married young if able to; however, a man doesn’t need to be wealthy to get married. A man should be able to sustain himself and his family financially in any way he can.
It is important to have a financial discussion on whether one earns lawfully and can support you so it helps to avoid disputes in the future. Getting to know your partner’s financial background, spending habits, and debt distress before marriage also builds a healthy relationship and helps to maintain the finances better as a couple.
The Prophet Muhammed (SAW) has said: “Women are married for four reasons: for her wealth, for her lineage, for her beauty, and for her religion, so marry the one who is best in the religion and character and you will prosper.”(Bukhari and Muslim)
A man must work hard lawfully abiding by the principles of Islam to support his family. Any wealth that is earned unlawfully will not be a blessing to him and his family. Many couples suffer due to unnecessary, extravagant spending on weddings. Islam encourages spending on a simple wedding according to what one can afford. Spending lavishly can result in financial distress, which the couple has to spend their years paying off debts.
Debts should be avoided as Riba (monetary interest) is prohibited in Islam. Demanding dowry from the bride and her family is prohibited in Islam, but it can be accepted if they give something out of their own will. Mahr is compulsory in an Islamic marriage. Islam encourages it to be lower and affordable even though there is no limit to how much the groom should give. Anything the bride receives is entirely hers, and it is not her duty to share it with anyone, but if she wishes to share it, she can do as she pleases.
“And give the women (upon marriage) their (bridal) gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.” (Surah An – Nisa 4:4)
As a Muslim Couple
In an Islamic marriage, the husband has the primary financial responsibility. It is obligatory for the man to financially provide for his wife even if she earns or is wealthy.
“Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of the people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them”(Muslim/Bukhari)
It is not a must for the woman to contribute any of her money for the household, but she can do so if she wishes. The wife should always support her husband and remember his financial ability when it comes to spending. It is also the responsibility of the man to maintain the financial needs of his children. It is his duty to spend for their education.
It is the right of every woman to encourage her husband to earn lawfully. She should also be supportive and help him manage the expenses without spending lavishly on what is unnecessary. Islam teaches us to spend moderately and also refrain from miserliness.
“And they are those who, when they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly but are ever, between that, (justly) moderate.” (Surah Al – Furqan 25:67)
Purification of wealth
Every Muslim must pay Zakah. It is a means of cleansing one’s wealth. A husband and wife’s financial assets are assessed separately. Zakah is to be paid once a year on savings at the rate of two and a half percent. This rate applies to cash, bank savings, gold, and silver. The rate for cattle and agricultural produce is different.
Payment of Zakah is a means of keeping our wealth clear of greed and selfishness. Zakah encourages us to be honest in our earnings, and it provides us with the opportunity of sharing our excess with those less fortunate than us. The rich share their wealth; thus, a fair distribution of wealth is ensured. A woman can spend her wealth in any good way she wants, and her husband cannot interfere. However, she must pay Zakah separately when the requirements are met.
“And establish prayer and give Zakah and obey the Messenger – that you may receive mercy.” ( Surah An-Nur 24: 56)
What Role Does Finance Play in a Divorce?
Islam does not encourage divorce even though it is permitted. In Islamic law, if a wife is divorced after consummating the marriage, she is entitled to alimony according to the husband’s ability.
“Divorced women shall also have such maintenance as is considered fair: this is a duty for those who are mindful of God” (Surah Al – Baqarah 2:241)
Even after a divorce, it is obligatory upon the man to provide for his children’s expenses according to his ability.
“Let a man of wealth spend from his wealth, and he whose provision is restricted – let him spend from what Allah has given him. Allah does not charge a soul except (according to) what He has given it. Allah will bring about, after hardship, ease (i.e. relief) (Surah Al – Talaq 65:7)
Be thankful to be blessed
A Muslim couple should be thankful for what Allah has blessed them with and live according to their means. They should manage the finances of the household well and ensure to maintain the family with a good Islamic background.
“And (make the thanks for) your provision that you deny (the Provider)?” (Surah Al – Waqiaah 56:82)