Dispraise of Tireless Desire for Wealth

O you, whose time is fully occupied working to gain this worldly life, although this life is actually enslaving you: why do you collect that which separates you [from your Lord] and join that which tears you apart?! Woe to you: you are focussed on building a palace while, in fact, you are demolishing a country! Seek advice so that you may recognise the shortcomings of this life.

The malady of human beings is vain desires, and its treatment is found in firmness. When an ailment has already reached a very advanced stage, then cauterisation is the best course of action; you cannot prevent the harm of a bad neighbour simply by shunning him. Money is like water; the more you have of it the more you shall drown in it. The spider suffices with a corner in the house to build its home, but the assiduity of the fly to take it ended with its becoming food for the spider. All the while, the voice of exhortation tells you; though people make effort to seek their provision in this life, many a time it is the provision that seeks out and lands on the doorstep of its rightful owner instead.

Woe to you, divorce your false hopes so you can become the heir to your own wealth. The most deprived ones are those whose hard work benefits only others without benefitting themselves. The greatest good deed that a miser may do is to give charity, because by giving charity he actually combats two devils; the smaller of the two being Shaytan and the greater being his desires and its troops among whose ranks are the lion of covetousness, the dog of desires and the swine of gluttony.

Forward charity with outstretched hands; but if you are unable to, then at least restrain your hands from oppressing others. Liberate your tongue to indulge in the remembrance of Allah; but if you are unable to do so, then at the very least, retrain it from backbiting.

How long does a beggar stand on your door in humiliation with his tears flowing down his cheek, but you rebuke him saying, all what you say is nonsense! Indeed, the words of the starving on the ears of the one with a full belly will sound like nonsense! Woe to you, did you not know that charity is the mahr of Paradise! So stop piling up bags upon bags of money and be amongst those regarding whom Allah said, “who is he that will lend unto Allah a goodly loan” (al-Hadid 57:11)

And if you give charity, beware of saying or doing what may offend or hurt the beneficiary of your charity; the longer your wishful hopes live the more the deaths among the poor.

I wonder at those who greedily amass wealth, only to be dispossessed in a single stroke of misfortune! O you with a grieving heart, the agitation of your innermost self is apparent to the onlooker, because the secret emotion of your heart manifests itself through the expression of your face. Had you heard my words with your heart, you would have paid heed at the time, but my words only reached your ears, and there is a big difference between the two. The example of the former is Thalabah who jealously guarded his wealth, while the example of the latter is Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, who forsook all his wealth for the sake of Allah. Indeed there is a difference between miserliness and forsaking worldly pleasures for the sake of Allah.

Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam Ibn Jawzi Pages 172-174