If I was to ask you, what is the most dangerous thing and the biggest threat to your Iman (faith)?
You might think about circumstances, major sins, social media, bad friends… You’ll think about certain things that are forbidden and prohibited like adultery, fornication, drinking alcohol, theft… All these things that we said that iman would even depart from a person if they are guilty of these things.
But the Prophet (peace be upon him) says:
There is nothing more dangerous to a person’s faith like two wolves that are let free amongst the flock of sheep.(At-Tirmidhi)
Imagine what the Prophet is saying ‘two wolves that go into a flock.’ The two most dangerous things are those two wolves to your faith (your faith being the sheep), are the love of wealth and the love of fame that a person has.
So, the love of wealth and the love of fame are the two most dangerous threats to your faith.
It’s not a major sin, it’s not some horribly haram thing, it’s the love of wealth and fame!
Now, is wealth a bad thing?
The Prophet taught us to have the upper hand instead of the lower hand, and Allah teaches us … give us the best of this world and the best of the next…
But if a person has an uncontrollable desire for this world, for materialism, and they constantly pursue more and more wealth, then they’re going to find themselves in a situation where they will resort to unethical things, where they will start to place expectations in that wealth, and that will distance themselves from Allah.
And sometimes having a lot of money changes a person’s personality; wealth can actually change a person’s behavior…
And then, the desire for fame. If I want to be famous and it’s all about fame, then a person starts to resort to unethical behavior to get that fame, or when a person gets that fame once again, they change and they find it very easy to resort to some of the major sins that have been described.
So, what’s the solution?
1- The Uncontrollable Desire for Wealth
The Prophet gave us a few things to deal with materialism. First, he taught us charity. It sounds simple enough, but if you dictate on yourself to give a certain amount of charity every time you earn, then it’s going to be routine and it’ll be already baked into anything that you’re going to receive.
The Prophet taught us not to be extravagant. So, make the difference between needing something and wanting something to check your extravagance.
As we learn in the month of Ramadan and fasting, the importance of sometimes breaking off from something that is available to you of this dunya as a means of gaining a greater appreciation for it.
So, Umar said:
“If you have a comfortable bed, don’t always sleep on it. Take a night off and sleep on the floor! The next day you’re going to appreciate the comfort of that bed.”
When you fast, you appreciate the blessing of that food, so a person becomes content with what they have.
The Prophet taught us to constantly be grateful for what is given to us.
As for the love for fame, the Prophet taught us that we need to make sure that we never pursue something for the sight of the people. And he taught us that Riya’ (showing off, particularly doing something to be seen by the people) is actually a hidden form of polytheism because you turn those people into gods by acting in accordance with their sight.
And essentially what we learned from our scholars of spirituality, Ibn Al Qayyim says:
“A person has to make the sight of Allah more beloved to them than the sight of the people.”