Does Islam allow passive savings like what it is practiced in the financial world?

[The original posting can be found at http://alnaqiy.com/home/article/islam-allows-passive-savings/]

By nature, people work to earn money and accumulate wealth. Some people earn the money and invest it to generate more income; and some earn the money and keep it for the future. Allah has mentioned in the Qur’an that wealth is an embellishment of the worldly life. Allah says:

“Wealth and children are [but] adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for [one’s] hope.” [Al-Kahf 18:46]

Nowadays, what is being practiced in Islamic banking is that depositors will put their money in banks either for safekeeping purpose or for investment.

Does Islam Allow Passive Savings?

When we look into Islamic law (Shari’ah), we find that Islam does not forbid the practice of savings or accumulating wealth. Besides, Islam promotes balance in dealings and transactions by not wasting wealth, spending it wisely and fulfilling the rights on that wealth as prescribed by Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ).

In a hadith, Anas r.a. narrated: “The Prophet (ﷺ) would not store anything for the morrow.” [Al-Tirmidhi]

But in another hadith narrated by ‘Umar r.a., The Prophet (ﷺ) used to sell dates of the garden of Bani An-Nadir and store, for his family, so much food as would cover their needs for a whole year. [Al-Bukhari]

Besides that, we also find that the Islamic law, in its treatment of the question of wealth has looked at it on two levels: during the life of its owner and after the owner’s death.

With regard to the first level, Ibn Ashur has wrote in his book; Treatise on Maqasid al-Shari’ah:

“The Shari’ah has acknowledged the exclusive right of people to their wealth and has allowed them to use it as they wish during their lifetime. By so doing, it aims at encouraging people to make the effort to earn and save money. In this way, the Shari’ah hopes to achieve its purpose of increasing the community’s general wealth and removing any impediments to its progress. Accordingly, no one has any right to another person’s wealth and property, except those specified by God, such as zakah in its different forms and the fifth share of spoils.”

Provided that we pay our annual obligatory ‘zakah’, there is absolutely no restriction in Shari’ah if we wish to save a part of our earnings. In other words, it is permissible for us to save money for ourselves as long as we fulfil the obligatory rights on us, like paying zakah, spending on the people whom we are obliged to spend on and the like.

Also, saving money should not be in a bank that deals with Riba because if we do so we are helping in promoting Riba, which is one of a grave major sins.

However…

Islam encourages people to transfer the wealth among them, as many hands as possible, without causing harm to others. This can be done by many ways like investing in business, involve in trading, and as well as keeping your wealth in a bank, as these acts will be benefiting the ummah as a whole.

The noble Qur’an has clearly indicated the importance of transfer of wealth between community members and preventing the wealth from remaining in the hands of one person, or being transferred within a limited circle of people only. Allah says in the Qur’an:

“And what Allah restored to His Messenger from the people of the towns – it is for Allah and for the Messenger and for [his] near relatives and orphans and the [stranded] traveler – so that it will not be a perpetual distribution among the rich from among you. And whatever the Messenger has given you – take; and what he has forbidden you – refrain from. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.” [Al-Hashr, 59:7]

Allah knows best!

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