Our partners at Algbra have teamed up with RTP Open Iftar to share insights about finance and financial wellbeing during Ramadan.

Algbra Guest Blog: Abdul-Kader Thomas

Imam Al Ghazali ranked wealth as the lowest of his five objectives, maqasid al Shariah. The importance of wealth spans its benefits, its tests, and its stewardship. Ramadan has arrived bringing us that great sustained moment of mindfulness, and the wealth that we have been given in trust plays a role in our remembrance of the real Sustainer (Al Qayyum).

Fasting brings us that moment when those of us living in comfort briefly encounter the pangs of hunger of our brethren, whether they are in conflict zones or simply amongst the poor from whom we averted eyes. Allah, most High, encourages us in Surat Al Baqara 274 to reflect on the rewards for “Those who spend their wealth by night and by day, secretly and openly…”.

During this beloved month of Ramadan, we find our ways back to God consciousness. We renew our intentions to do good. We increase our raka’at and dhikr. Some of us time our annual zakat to fall in Ramadan. All of us who are able, will pay zakat al fitr before Eid. We will increase our charitable efforts. We will see those whom we avoided, and we will help.

The test of Ramadan, with each fasting day longer than the previous, lets us contemplate all of life’s tests. Money is one. How can we improve our relationship with money so that it thickens the book in our right hands on the day of judgement, increases our spiritual sustenance, and betters the material condition of people around you.

We wish to be mindful about our money. We make du’a before giving our obligatory charity (zakat). We try our best to ensure that our earnings, from our work, from our savings and investment are untainted by the forbidden. Some of us emphasise giving to charity in person. Others, we give, far and wide online. We try to consume exclusively halal products. We wonder if we can put aside enough money for pilgrimage (umrah or hajj). These things are foundational to being intentional, or having God-consciousness (taqwa) in your consumption and spending.

Our relationship with money goes beyond the obvious. In the Qur’an, particularly in the chapter Al Nahl, Allah often mentions ‘halal and tayyab’ together when delineating what Muslims can consume – that’s ‘permissible and wholesome. So are we mindful when we consume? What can we learn from the creatures that we consume and the way we treat them? Can we reduce and eliminate our plastic waste? The month of reflection is not just about purification of our wealth or our souls. It addresses how we use it.

Can we be more ethical as we spend? Or in the way we invest?

We don’t invest in the gambling or alcohol industries, but do we avoid investing in companies with track-records of exploitation, whether of their employees, their customers, or our shared environment?

Of course it’s much easier to not give consideration to anything beyond the bare minimum. That is how we lived, before Ramadan came to awaken us. No matter how many improvements to our hearts we wish to carry out during this Month of Mercy, we allow the demands on our time to erode

our best intentions. And, yet, we can still fortify ourselves during this beloved month, pushing back all the things that draw our attention to the shiniest app, coolest device,…

Centring ourselves on God, we can make permanent adaptations to our behaviours. These can be quite mundane. Instead of yet more plastic bottles, we might buy a reusable filter jug so we can limit some of our individual impact on the environment with which Allah has entrusted us. The smallest thing is often a means to gain favour with our Lord.

A step further is thinking about the money we’re not spending, the money sitting in our bank accounts. Beyond accounting for the interest accruing on our savings, are we aware of the industries our funds are being exposed to – tobacco, arms, gambling, etc? Would we be comfortable directly supporting those industries? Would we avoid them if we could?

Who is there to help us manage these decisions? Alhamdullilah, society seeks more transparency, more ethicality,… And, technology can be harnessed to support our conscious decisions to be wiser with our wealth, to be ethical, to be God-conscious in our financial choices. Using our wealth, however little or much, to increase our spiritual sustenance is becoming more easy.

Let’s use this dear month of Ramadan to take that step to being intentional and God-conscious, aware of how we give, spend and save. And, let’s make it easier to carry it forward into the months leading to the next Ramadan.

Abdul-Kader Thomas

Algbra Values and Ethics Advisor