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Earnings Of Ulama

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Darulifta Azaadville

Question:

Through your experience, what’s the proper and most convincing answer to give to a dunyawi minded person / family members when they ask how will you earn money if you become an Alim?

Answer:

Firstly, students of Deen do not acquire the knowledge of Deen and propagate Deen to earn money. Mufti Muhammad Shafi Saheb Rahmatullahi Alaih and other Ulama have recorded an incident wherein it is stated that the Madrasahs of Baghdad were at one stage run and sponsored by the Muslim government. Inspectors would regularly visit the Madrasahs to inspect the progress of the students. The king once visited Madrasah Nizaamiyyah in Baghdad and questioned the students as to what was their reason for studying the knowledge of Deen. One student said that he wanted to be a Muslim judge like his father whilst another stated that he wanted to gain prominence by becoming a Mufti, etc. The king thought to himself that in such a case it will be better for him to close down the institute since the students are not studying with the correct intention. Thousands are being wasted on the institute as the objective of the students was to acquire position and nothing more. 

As he was leaving the institute, he noticed a student deeply engrossed in his studies in one corner. Having some hope, he went up to him and asked him his reason for studying in the Madrasah. The student replied, “We have understood through our intelligence that Allah Ta’aala is our Creator and Rabb, but we don’t know how to please Allah and refrain from His disobedience. I have therefore come to the Madrasah to learn how to please Allah Ta’aala and refrain from His disobedience. On hearing this the king was extremely pleased and said, “I intended to close this institute but I will keep this institute running just for this one student.” This student later turned out to be Imaam Ghazaali Rahmatullahi Alaih. Our objective of acquiring the knowledge of Deen is to learn how to worship and obey Allah Ta’aala and refrain from things that draw His displeasure. This incident is recorded in the Malfoozaat of Mufti Muhammad Shafi Saheb Rahmatullahi Alaih as well as in Tuhfatul Ulama of Maulana Thanvi Rahmatullahi Alaih on Page.161 vol.1.

After acquiring the knowledge of Deen, one is required to practice upon the knowledge and then propagate the knowledge of Deen. This should be the concern of every Alim. Our objective has never been money and will never be money. If money was the motive and objective then another profession such as business would have been adopted. 

When the Ulama-e-Haqq served the Deen of Allah Ta’aala with sincerity and the correct intention then Dunya fell at their feet. A leather coat worth 150 Rupees (which was considered to be an expensive garment at the time) was once sent to Hadrat Gangohi Rahmatullahi Alaih. A Nawaab visited Hadrat Rahmatullahi Alaih shortly after him receiving this gift and Hadrat Gangohi Rahmatullahi Alaih gave him the leather coat saying, “It is of no benefit to me.” On another occasion, a king sent 10 000 Rupees to Hadrat Gangohi Rahmatullahi Alaih. Hadrat returned the money stating that he has funds, so what should he do with these funds! Allah Ta’aala made Dunya fall at their feet, yet they paid no attention to the material possessions of the world. [Re:- Tuhfatul Ulama Pg.292 Vol.1] There are many other such incidents in regards to our pious predecessors. Once a person offered a bag of money to Hadrat Nanotwi Rahmatullahi Alaih and when he refused to accept it, the money was left in Hadrat Nanotwi’s shoes. Hadrat instructed his Khaadim to distribute the funds amongst the poor.       

Do you think that Allah Ta’aala will feed the rest of the world and not those involved in the work of Deen? Never! Allah Ta’aala will provide for them with respect and honour from unimaginable sources, in fact Dunya will fall at their feet as understood from the above incidents, with the proviso that they serve the Deen of Allah with Ikhlaas and sincerity. However, Dunya and money or gifts falling at our feet should never be our objective nor should we desire it. 

Hadrat Maulana Abrar-ul-Haqq Saheb Rahmatullahi Alaih, a senior Khalifa of Hadrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi Rahmatullahi Alaih states, “People say that Ulama earn peanuts yet they also comment by saying that the Ulama are living it up.” How is that Ulama are living it up when they earn so little? This is the result of the Barakah and blessings that Allah Ta’aala puts in their wealth (even though quantity wise it may be little).. 

The Ulama of Deen have always existed in every era and at all times. Are there any incidents recorded in the books of history stating that Ulama in particular suffered hunger, or didn’t get married and have kids, or were unable to travel because of their occupation? No! Rather, it is the Ulama that enjoy good food and receive invitations from the worldly people; it is the Ulama that generally have more kids than others which is obviously an additional expense to their budget, it is the Ulama that are frequently out in the path of Allah travelling to various parts of the world, etc. Allah Ta’aala also affords them the opportunity of performing Hajj and Umrah yet their resources are limited. How is possible? This is Allah’s way of providing and sustaining for His servants from the unseen. 

In conclusion, the Ulama shouldn’t be concerned of how much they earn. Their concern should be to serve the Deen of Allah Ta’aala and Allah Ta’aala will provide for them in return from unimaginable sources. Our response to the Dunyawi people is; the Ulama earn directly from the unseen treasures of Allah. Allah Ta’aala inspires the people of the world to sponsor the various institutes of Deen and they regard their contribution to be a means of their good fortune. We do hope that the above explanation answers your question.                         

Checked and Approved By:

Mufti Muhammed Saeed Motara Saheb D.B.

This answer was collected from the official Ifta website of Darul Uloom Azaadville, South Africa. Most of the answers are checked and approved by Mufti Muhammed Saeed Motara Saheb D.B.

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