In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master Muhammad, and upon his pure household, and may God curse all their enemies
Narrated from Abi Qatadah from Dawud ibn Sarhan: “I was with Abi Abdillah [Imam Sadiq] (a.s.) when Sadir al-Sayrafi entered, greeted him and sat down, and he (a.s.) said to him: ‘O Sadir, when a man’s wealth increases, an authoritative argument from God will increase against him [in the next world]. Therefore, if you can repel it from yourselves, you should do so.’ Sadir said to him, ‘O Son of the Messenger of Allah, how [‘with what’]?’ He (a.s.) said, ‘By spending for the needs of your brothers with your wealth’” [Amali al-Tusi, chapter 11, page 302].
This narration has reliable documentation. Of course, Sadir al-Sayrafi has not been confirmed as a reliable narrator, but this does not matter because he is not the narrator. The narrator is Dawud ibn Sarhan who is a reliable narrator and the narration itself is reliable. He narrates that when they were in the presence of Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.), Sadir al- Sayrafi enters. Sadir al-Sayrafi was involved in the business of currency exchange – “Sayrafi” means ‘currency exchanger’, someone who buys and sells dinars, silver and the like – and he was naturally a rich person. He gives greetings and sits down.
Imam Sadiq (greetings be upon him) says to Sadir al-Sayrafi: “O Sadir, when a man’s wealth increases, an authoritative argument from God will increase against him [in the next world]”
As soon as he sat down, Hazrat (a.s.) apparently turns to him and says without introduction “O Sadir, when a man’s wealth increases, an authoritative argument from God will increase against him [in the next world]”. This is because there is a narration which says, “If there had not been the pledge of Allah with the ulama that they should not acquiesce to the gluttony of the oppressor and the hunger of the oppressed, I would have cast the rope of the caliphate on its own shoulder [would not have pursued the caliphate]” [Nahjul Balaghah, Sermon 3].
Allah the Exalted has made the ulama – “ulama” does not only mean fuqaha, it also means scholars, wise personalities and the intellectuals of society – committed to the task of not remaining silent in the face of the hunger of the hungry and the gluttony of the gluttonous and the rich. They have a duty to protest. If they see a rich and gluttonous oppressor and a hungry and oppressed individual, they should protest. Well, this is God’s edict. This is divine pledge and covenant.
Hazrat says to Sadir that if someone’s wealth increases, God will place a heavy and big responsibility on their shoulders. Allah the Exalted will question them about that wealth. A person who is not wealthy is treated one way and a person who is wealthy is naturally treated in a different way. They are responsible.
“Therefore, if you can repel it from yourselves, you should do so.”
If you can do something to get rid of that abundance of wealth, you should do so. How should we do it? Should we throw it into the sea or into a well? Or should we spend it in an extravagant and unnecessary way? This is not what the hadith says.
“O Son of the Messenger of Allah, how?”
Sadir asks how we should undertake this task.
“By spending for the needs of your brothers with your wealth.”
Hazrat responds that the way to do so is to look at the needs of our brothers and then to address those needs through our wealth.
Some people are well-to-do, but they come to us because public funds are in our hands and they ask us to help the needy. They say that such and such individuals have certain needs and they ask us to give them some money. You yourselves are rich, give it to them! If you cannot do so, then you can refer to public funds.
Some people find it difficult to separate themselves from money and to donate to charity in the way of God. Hazrat says to Sadir that he should move away from that abundance of money in whichever way he can. Of course, ‘in whichever way he can’ means giving it to your pious brothers in order to satisfy their needs.