Is “Greed” Good?

With ALLAH’S name, The Merciful Benefactor, Merciful Redeemer

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

The title I have chosen for this week’s column is really meant to get your attention.  The word “greed,” in the way we’ve grown to understand it, goes against the very grain of Islam where jealousy, envy, covetousness, and the like are all undesirable characteristics of human behavior. Its’ the same feeling we get when we say a person has a “big ego.”  We tend to look at that quality in a negative sense; yet you see most of these people succeeding in position, money, and power.

The phrase “Greed is Good” got popular from a movie starring Michael Douglas as a Wall Street tycoon who excelled in a world of lies and deceit, brought on by greed for money and power. 

There was an advertisement for the movie on TV where Michael Douglas was smoking a big cigar with head thrown back basking in his successful position.  The point I believe he was bringing out brought out is that greed gives you the incentive and focus to succeed. 

So I got to thinking, why do people who lie, cheat and have an evil disposition, succeed?  After all, they are some of the most despicable characters described by ALLAH in Qur’an.

They succeed because they follow the natural laws our Creator laid out for His creation.  Mostly, in essence, they WORK HARD.   And this is precisely what ALLAH says is necessary for success. 

53:39-42 “And that man can have nothing but what he strives for:  And that his striving will soon be seen.  Then will he be rewarded for it with the fullest reward.  And that to thy Lord is the goal.”

Whether you are a just or unjust person, the rain falls from the sky on both. If an unjust, evil farmer plants his seeds and cultivates and fertilizes his land, taking great care of his work – and you just throw some seeds on the ground; when the rains come, who will probably get the biggest harvest?   I think you know the answer.

It takes work and enthusiasm to succeed.  People (whether they are just or unjust) who put their best foot forward, who stay up late making phone calls, who “do it now” rather than later, are among the surest to succeed at their goals.  It rains on the just and unjust. 

There was an Indian Swami spiritual man in town recently for a series of talks on success.  He made a very profound statement that caught my attention and made me think.  He said most good spiritual people are not aggressive enough to succeed in business.  He said it takes tenacity and focus, coupled with spiritual morality, to be truly successful in life.  If you are not “hungry” for what you seek, you will not strive as hard for it and therefore are much less likely to achieve it.

“Shall man have what he wishes for?   Nay!   He gets what he strives for…”   You can wish all day long and nothing will happen until you start to work.

“And whoever strives hard, strives for himself.  Surely ALLAH is self-sufficient and above needing any of His creatures.”  29:6 

Michael Douglas and the Swami have a point, but let’s focus on being “greedy” for the pleasure of ALLAH.  Let’s be greedy to do the right things in life while we pursue our goals.  Let’s “Strive as in a race towards all that is good”

Let’s have a HUNGER to better ourselves ACCORDING to the directives of ALLAH. 

“And those who strive hard for Us, We shall certainly guide them in Our ways.  And ALLAH is surely with the doers of good.”

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin


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