God's Sustenance - Rizk

"It does not only come in the form of money; rather, it comes in many forms, such as having good health, children, freedom of speech (i.e. the ability to speak out against a governor), etc." This lecture covers the definition, foundation, types and norms of God's sustenance.

Lecture Notes

What is rizk?

The definition of rizk is something much broader than wealth
It does not only come in the form of money; rather, it comes in many forms, such as having good health, children, freedom of speech (i.e. the ability to speak out against a governor), etc.
It is also a part of the governing structure of Allah
English translation: sustenance
  • This implies that there has to be a sustainer in order to share this sustenance

The foundations of rizk

In our lives, we find many different types of sustainers
  • For example: parents—when you are in the womb of your mother, she is your sustainer; and as children, our parents continue to be our sustainers
  • Other examples: the government, the country we live in
However, the highest sustainer and origin of all sustenance is Allah
  • One of the 99 names of Allah is Alrazak (The Sustainer)
  • Imam Ali: “My Master, Oh my Master, You are the Sustainer and I am the sustained. Who is there for the sustained except the Sustainer?"
    • This highlights whereas there may be different intermediaries who provide us with rizk, the original provider of all rizk is Allah
  • “And there is no creature on earth but that upon Allah is its provision, and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage.” (11:6)
    • This verse in the Qu’ran implies that Allah looks after the rizk of all of his creations
    • In the animal, human, plant, bacterial kingdom, etc., every creation is sustained by Allah
If Allah looks after the rizk of all of his creations, then what’s the need for us to work? (sociological question)
“Allah will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah, then He is sufficient for him.” (55:3)
  • Do not take this verse to mean that you should sit at home and become lazy
  • Rather, it implies whoever puts his trust in Allah and uses the faculties of intellect and the senses that Allah has given him to struggle in the environment that he lives in, then after that, Allah will give him rizk
The Holy Prophet (pbuh): “There are 70 stages of worship and the best of them is earning a living lawfully.”
If Allah looks after everyone’s rizk then why are there rich people and poor? (economic question)
Certain people argue that Allah’s system of governance is based on economic inequality
Islam addresses this question in three ways:
1) Imam Ali: “The only reason there are poor people in the world is because there is extravagance among the rich.”
  • Some who are rich only think of becoming richer—they don’t think about creating an equilibrium
  • Islam tries to bring equilibrium in society through the concepts of sadaqa, zakat, khums, in attempt to decrease the gap between the rich and the poor
2) Richness does not necessarily mean happiness
  • Many in this world are rich, but they have found no happiness in their lives
  • That which is sufficient sometimes brings you closer to Allah whereas when you have a lot, you may become more distant from Allah
3) When Allah doesn’t give to people, there is a reason which you don’t understand but he does
  • “And if Allah had extended [excessively] provision for His servants, they would have committed tyranny throughout the earth. But He sends [it] down in an amount which He wills. Indeed He is, of His servants, Acquainted and Seeing.” (42:27)

The 2 types of rizk

1) The rizk which seeks you
  • This is the rizk which Allah has already written for you, meaning it will definitely come into your life, but how it reaches you will depend on how you earn it (halal or haram)
  • “For, verily, [God's] rizq (provision, sustenance) is not brought about by anybody's greed, nor is it withheld by anyone's disapproval, and were anyone of you to flee from his rizq like lie flees death, his rizq would overtake him in the way he is overtaken by death.” - Imam Al-Ridah (as)
    • Imam Al-Ridah (as) here highlights how rizk seeks you the same way death seeks you
2) The rizk which you seek
  • The greatest jihad is when a person goes out to work
  • The Holy Prophet (pbuh): “The hand that has worked to earn a living (lawfully) will never touch the hellfire.”

The norms which govern rizk

Sometimes, the best of actions when Allah gives someone rizk is for that person to give that rizk away as well
  • A truly pious Muslim, the moment Allah gives him rizk, he doesn’t think twice about giving it away because he says the same Lord who gave me is the same Lord who will give me back again
  • "If you give up something for the sake of Allah, He will replace it with something (even) better." -The Holy Prophet (pbuh)
There are certain actions which block rizk from coming to us, such as neglecting one’s prayers and breaking relations with family.
Do not use the rizk you have to spoil those in your family
  • Meaning Allah has showered this rizk on us and instead of using it to straighten our children, we use it to spoil them
Allah’s rizk doesn’t only come to us in this world, but there is a rizk from Allah which continues until the day of judgement
However, for many, their rizk ends in this world—they either chase it or it comes after them
  • An exception to this is one group of people: the martyrs in the way of Allah (swt)
    • “Do not consider those who have died in the way of Allah as being dead; rather, they are alive in the presence of their Lord, receiving sustenance.” (3:169)
      • They will still be receiving rizk from Allah, because even though their body has died, their soul remains alive and the message which they stood for is everlasting.