One of the Allah gifts to us is money, which is a necessity of life to achieve interests and bring happiness if it is used in the most correct way. Our Prophet Muhammad said, “sound property is very excellent for a sound man.” He would also pray saying, “O Allah, set right for me my religion which is the safeguard of my affairs. And set right for me the affairs of my world wherein is my living. And set right for me my Hereafter on which depends my after-life”
Money is also a means to serve people and do good, as Al Zubair Ibn Al Awwam said, “it helps you give, honour ties of kinship, spend in the way of Allah and maintain good manners.”
Therefore, Islam has considered protecting property an important goal and necessity, because of the so many interests it brings about and so many evil it can ward off. The Prophet said in Hajjat Al-Wadaa (the Farewell Pilgrimage), “your blood and your wealth are as sacred to you as this day of yours in this month of yours, in this town of yours.” In another Hadith, he said, “everything of a Muslim is sacred to a Muslim: his property, honour and blood.”
The Exalted is He forbids us to encroach on the private or public property. He says,
“O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly.” [Al-Quran, surah An-Nisa’, verse 29]
Private property is funds, money or assets owned by one person or a group of individuals. They enjoy sanctity and must not be taken wrongly, as evidenced in the following Hadith: “if anyone takes a span of land unjustly, his neck will be encircled with it down seven earths on the Day of Resurrection.” The Prophet also prohibited undertaking even a lesser act, when he said, “a man shall not take a stick of his brother without his permission,” an indication of his keen interest in protecting Muslims property.
Because of the inviolable nature of people’s property, Islam forbids all means that may lead to underestimating it. Thus it interdicts fraud in transactions as clearly shown in this Hadith: “he who acted dishonestly towards us is not of us.”
Likewise, Islam disallows cheating in measurements as the Allah Almighty says,
“Woe to those who give less [than due], who, when they take a measure from people, take in full. But if they give by measure or by weight to them, they cause loss,” [Al-Quran, surah Al-Mutafifin, verse 1-3]
Or giving and taking bribes. In Islam, bribery is disliked and described in the worst of terms. On the narration of Abdullah bin Amr that Allah’s Messenger cursed the one who bribes and the one who takes bribes.
Moreover, Islam proscribes illegal profits, which may cause damage to people. This includes theft, gambling, and among others. In this regard, Allah Almighty says,
“O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.” [Al-Quran, surah Al-Maidah, verse 90]
Islam also interdicts violating the sanctity of public property, which consists of all the assets that serve the whole community, including such services and amenities like mosques, schools, parks and roads that are vital to the society. On a larger scale, they also include the nations’ institutions and acquisitions. Our Prophet Muhammad said, “this worldly wealth is (like) sweet (fruit), and if a person earns it (the wealth) in a legal way and spends it properly, then it is an excellent helper, and whoever earns it in an illegal way, he will be like the one who eats but is never satisfied.”
As such, maintaining public wealth is not one man’s responsibility, rather it is a collective enterprise. This is because its misuse will cause large scope damage, affecting the community as a whole.
Safeguarding public property has many aspects; one good example is the devotion of employees to undertake their responsibilities to the fullest. They should always be aware that they are entrusted with public money as required by their occupational role and job. So they have to use it rationally without negligence or resorting to tricks. Public property is also a trust and must be geared toward fulfilling the purposes for which it is intended. Allah, the most Exalted says,
“Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due.” [Al-Quran, surah An-Nisa’, verse 58]
On the same matter, the Prophet said, “pay the deposit to him who deposited it with you, and do not betray him who betrays you.” He, the Prophet, also warned against exploiting public facilities and positions for personal gains. It was reported that he appointed a man to collect Zakat. When he returned he said, “this is for you and this was given to me as a present.” So the Prophet stood on the pulpit, and after praising and extolling Allah he said, “what is the matter with a collector of Zakat. We send him (to collect Zakat), and when he returns he says, ‘this is for you and this is a present which was given to me’ why did he not sit in his father’s or mother’s house and see whether it would be given to him or not ?”
May Allah direct us all to the blessings of the Glorious Quran and the Sunnah of His Messenger and benefit us all in whatever is in them.
I say this and ask Allah the Great, the Most Honoured for forgiveness for me, you and all the Muslims for every sin, so invoke Him for forgiveness, for He is the Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.