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“O you who believe! Do not consume one another’s wealth in wrongful ways...” (An-Nisā’ 4:29)

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Sūratu’n-Nisā’ (Women)

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يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ إِلَّا أَن تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً عَن تَرَاضٍ مِّنكُمْ ۚ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيمًا

O you who believe! Do not consume one another’s wealth in wrongful ways (such as theft, extortion, bribery, usury, and gambling), except that it is by mutual agreement; and do not destroy yourselves (individually or collectively by following wrongful ways like extreme asceticism and idleness. Be ever mindful that) God has surely been All-Compassionate towards you (particularly as believers). (An-Nisā’ 4:29)

The Qur’ān uses a comprehensive expression when it states: “Do not consume one another’s wealth in wrongful ways.” This verse points out that it is unlawful to use both public properties and those of our relatives without permission. The prohibition encompasses all unlawful ways such as theft, usury, gambling, wastefulness, spending on debauchery, and gaining through speculations. The earnings and trade by mutual agreement—which is the one specifically mentioned here since it is the most significant way of earning―are enough to live on. There is really no real need to get involved in unlawful and dubitable ways.

It is possible to understand the Divine command, “do not destroy your-selves” in three ways:

1. Whoever commits usury, gambling, bribery, or any other kind of il-licit acts destroys himself morally and spiritually.

2. Relentless capitalism or any kind of acts or transactions which mean earning or consuming in illegal, wrongful, and unfair ways, and even excessive liberalism and Machiavellianism, cause the ap-pearance of reactive systems such as communism and open the way to social upheaval, murder, anarchy, and disorder. These sys-tems and upheavals cause mass killings and internal conflicts and clashes. Then do not abandon Islam so that you may not kill one another following erroneous ways. The present situation of the world, which these systems dominate, confirms the verse under discussion.

3. The verse may also be warning against suicide. The imbalances in a society and the ensuing troubles such as poverty, the lack of mutual confidence and trust, wrong understanding and practice of asceticism by the ignorant, excessive use of force or punishment for defense of property, and the appearance of mafia-type organizations may lead many to depression and suicide.

Out of His limitless mercy, God Almighty shows us the safest way to earn and consume. This is in fact what is always expected from God, the All-Merciful and All-Compassionate.