What is Rizq in Islam?
Today, Canadians are facing new waves of economic uncertainty.
Record-breaking inflation is driving up the costs of essentials such as food and gas. Real-estate prices are reaching new heights, making housing ownership more expensive. The recent spread of the Omicron variant is casting doubt on the recent economic uplift. Overall, the situation is leaving people worried about the future of their livelihoods over the coming months.
With fear about the economy looming, we all have our eyes and ears open to things we can do to make our situations better and ‘prepare for the worst.’ Financial experts push us to build up our savings. Wealth advisors tell us to stash our money into stocks and other so-called investment vehicles. Society pressures us to build equity by taking out riba (interest)-based mortgages to finance homeownership.
However, we should not rush to these so-called solutions, which are Islamically prohibited (haram). Moreover, we should not even assume that our financial wellbeing is actually under our control. It is not.
Rather, our jobs and financial wellbeing as a whole tie back to the concept of Rizq (provision) and, more importantly, the fact that Allah (swt) is our provider for everything.
Explained: What Is Rizq?
Rizq is the term Islam gives to everything Allah (swt) made available to us to use, consume, or dispose of. This includes money or wealth, food, transportation, gifts, loans and more.
Rizq entails both permissible (halal) and prohibited (haram) provisions. For example, the salary of a halal job is Rizq. Likewise, profiting from interest (which is haram) on a loan is also a form of Rizq.
Living in a Capitalist society, we are taught that our wellbeing is directly linked to the amount of effort we put into our work. That is why society pressures us to focus on saving, using riba/interest to finance housing and business growth, and invest in stocks and mutual funds.
However, this view is wrong and contradicts Islamic thinking.
Rather, everything about our Rizq (such as how much we will earn, how long we will live, etc) is solely under the control of Allah (swt). In fact, one of the glorious names of Allah (swt) is “Al-Razzaq” – i.e. The Provider.
In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) said:
“There is no moving creature on earth whose provision is not guaranteed by Allah. And He knows where it lives and where it is laid to rest. All is ˹written˺ in a perfect Record.” [TMQ 11:6]
“Indeed, Allah alone is the Supreme Provider—Lord of all Power, Ever Mighty.” [TMQ 51:58]
“Yet they worship besides Allah those idols who do not afford them any provision from the heavens and the earth, nor do they have the power to.” [TMQ 16:73]
These ayaat clearly state that Allah (swt) alone is the One who provides Rizq. He (swt) provides to whom He wills. This power or authority to decide who gets what in terms of Rizq is limited to Allah (swt) alone.
Moreover, no human being has any control over Rizq, be it their own sustenance or of someone else’s. For example, in the ayaat below, Allah (swt) tells us to feed and support people using the Rizq He (swt) provided us with. In both verses, we can clearly see that people are not the ones who provide Rizq, but rather, they simply manage it.
“Do not give to the foolish (what is in) your (keeping of their) wealth, which Allah (swt) has given you to maintain; but feed and clothe them from it.” [TMQ 4:5]
“If other near of kin orphans and needy are present at the time of division of inheritance give them something of it and speak to them kindly.” [TMQ 4:8]
The concept of Rizq shows us that our wealth and wellbeing was already decided by Allah (swt). Nothing will change how much or how little we will consume and dispose of.
Therefore, we should not worry about the money we are earning (or not) or the assets we have (or do not have). As the ayaat in Qur’an explain, none of this is in our control. Allah (swt) ordered us to believe that He (swt) is the only Razzaq. There is no person or any other source that determines our Rizq.
Even today, with all of the economic uncertainty around us, the only thing that matters in terms of our Rizq is the fact that Allah (swt) alone provides it.
How to Earn Rizq
Accepting that Allah (swt) is the only source of Rizq is only one part of this issue. The other part focuses on how we should attain our Rizq. In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) said:
“He it is Who has made the earth subservient to you, so walk in its paths and eat of His providence.” [TMQ 67:15]
“And when the prayer is ended, then disperse in the land and seek of Allah’s bounty.” [TMQ 62:10]
While Allah (swt) tells us that Rizq is from Him (swt) alone, He (swt) also orders us to go out and seek our Rizq. This can involve working, studying, starting a business and much more. We are expected to exert effort into earning our Rizq, but we do not control how much we get at the end of the day. This is solely up to Allah (swt).
This is a crucial point. For example, we might have a high-paying job that requires us to work long hours every day. We may assume that we earn lots of money solely because of our hard work. But this is a false and dangerous idea as it assumes we are the creators of our Rizq. This idea contradicts the Islamic Aqeedah.
In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) told us about Qaroon. Allah (swt) made Qaroon enormously wealthy, but Qaroon claimed he obtained wealth because of his own knowledge and effort.
Qaroon rejected the reality that it was Allah (swt) who gave Qaroon his wealth and power.
“He said, ‘I was only given it because of knowledge I have.’ Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him of generations those who were greater than him in power and greater in accumulation [of wealth]? But the criminals, about their sins, will not be asked.” [TMQ 28:78]
Ultimately, Allah (swt) destroyed Qaroon.
“And We caused the earth to swallow him and his home. And there was for him no company to aid him other than Allah, nor was he of those who [could] defend themselves” [TMQ 28:81]
Moreover, reality shows us that many people work hard, but do not earn a lot. Today, we see young and old people alike working 10-12+ hours a day in the service industry for minimum wage. Many of these are university graduates (including from within Canada). However, at the end of the day their education and effort had no bearing on how much they are earning from their work. Likewise, many people inherit lots of wealth without working at all.
Ultimately, we work for our Rizq because Allah (swt) ordered us to do so. It is a fard or obligation on our part to do what we can to earn our provisions. Allah (swt) will not hold us accountable for how much we earn (as that is out of our control), but whether our actions to attain our Rizq were halal or not.
We Must Avoid Haram Sources of Rizq
We should seek our Rizq through what Allah (swt) has allowed.
Within those limits, we should do our best to seek our Rizq. We should put our best foot forward, but at the end of the day, we must keep in mind that the outcome (e.g., how much wealth we earn) is up to Allah (swt). And, if our situation does not look good, we should not take that as a license to engage in haram.
Today, society pressures us into lots of Islamically prohibited or haram avenues to earn money and build our wealth. This includes taking out a mortgage to buy a house so as to build equity, stashing part of our income in riba/interest-based savings vehicles, ‘saving for a rainy day’ and much more.
The flaws with these ‘solutions’ is that they wrongly assume that our decisions influence our Rizq. Based on the ayaat earlier, this is totally false. Allah (swt) is the One who decides our Rizq. Worse, the so-called ‘solutions’ also misguide us towards haram actions to earn our Rizq.
When we reject haram avenues of attaining Rizq – such as mortgages, stocks – we are not losing anything. If we are to earn great wealth, we will earn it insh’Allah no matter what we do in the dunya. In fact, in the Qur’an, Allah (swt) said:
“Verily Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills without measure.” [TMQ 3:37]
However, if we attain that wealth through haram means, Allah (swt) will hold us accountable for it on the Day of Judgment. This can jeopardize our Hereafter.
By holding to halal avenues for attaining Rizq, we will not miss a single thing in dunya. Allah (swt) will give us exactly what He (swt) promised us. But more importantly, by keeping to halal means of attaining Rizq, we will also work for our aakhirah.
Rasul’Allah (saw) said:
“O people, fear Allah (swt) and request (your Rizq) in good manner; that a soul will not die until it receives its Rizq in full even if it takes long to come. Fear Allah (swt) and request in good manner. Take what Allah (swt) has made halal and leave what He made haram.” [Al Bazzar; Al Hakim]
The challenge of living in a Capitalist society like Canada is that we are bombarded with haram avenues on the one hand and denied the halal options on the other. So, living according to Islam is difficult within this environment, which means we need to think about a permanent future – i.e., re-establishing the Khilafah Rashidah in the Muslim lands.
Face Uncertainty by Trusting Allah (swt)
Understanding Rizq should also stop us from worrying about economic uncertainty. No matter how bad the situation is, Allah (swt) will provide for us. If we enter into hardship, then we should take it as a test in dunya that will benefit us in our aakhirah.
We should also keep in mind that dunya is finite – it will not last forever. Each one of us will die one day, and our estates, bank accounts and businesses will not come with us. The only things we will keep with us are our deeds.
The state of our aakhirah is far from certain. If anything, we should focus on investing in our aakhirah by spending more time and wealth on good deeds and by avoiding the haram. Rasul’Allah (saw) said that if we focus on the aakhirah, Allah (swt) will take care of our affairs in dunya:
“Whoever makes the Hereafter his goal, Allah places abundance in his heart, and organizes his affairs, and the world comes to him despite its unwillingness. And whoever’s aim is worldly gain, Allah puts poverty before his eyes, and disorganizes his affairs, and nothing of this world comes to him, except what has been decreed for him.” [Tirmidhi]
May Allah (swt) make us of those who seek the Rizq solely through the halal means. May Allah (swt) help us make the Aakhira our goal, pour abundance in our hearts, and make the world come to us –despite its unwillingness. Ameen.