Friday, January 27, 2012

Make your wealth grow in goodness

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.


There is no god but He,
Praise and glory to Him;
Far is He from having the partners
they associate unto Him. (Tauba 9:31)

I was born in 1962. So this year (2012) it will be a grand year for me. I will be celebrating my 50 years (half a century) existence in this world. So what had I achieved so far?

Well, perhaps I am scared because if we were to take the age of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him, pbuh or s.a.w.) as our guideline, I have another 13 years to live. Mind you, the Prophet died at the age of 63 years according to the Hegira year; if we were to follow the Christian calendar, the Prophet s.a.w. only lived until the age of 60 or 61 years old.

Well, what is so grand about celebrating one's 50th birthday? In today’s world, one thing that counts is about one's wealth; money! A friend from my e-mail group who were my former mates in college, alerted that this is the year we could have our hands on our hard earned money 'stashed away' in the Employee Provident Fund (EPC) all these years. My other friends gave these comments:

* Life cycle...hmmm...we have come to that stage of EPF withdrawal, 'terima menantu' (receiving in laws), 'menyambut cucu' (having grandchildren)...though 'ada yang baru menimang anak' (even some of us are blessed with children), and next change will be 'tahlil arwah' (a gathering to read holy verses after one's death)...not much time to go before we go to bonus time...13 years is too short at this cycle...preparing for the last chapters of ‘dunya’ (living in this world)...

* Bros, just a bit of notification for some who are considering their 1st withdrawal at 50 - do not take for granted that all that is reported by your company actually 'masyuk' (credited) in EPF. If u (you) have done this diligently over the years then it is ok but if u (you) are like me, it can be rewarding in a sense. Well actually any shortfalls are rightfully yours in the 1st place. Take time to do the ‘mod maths’ (Modern Mathematics) from early on till now, especially the early years when much of the records are manually updated. In my case there a tiny shortfall of a few k (thousands) in 1992 but with the lost dividends compounded via ‘add maths’ (Additional Mathematics), it amounted to a small fortune of 3.5 times the orig (original) amount! So stop....and start counting.

* BTW, 'leh kluar brape' (what is the amount that could be withdrawn? One third? 'Nak kena tunggu lama tak' (Is the waiting period long)?

* At 50 it’s everything from Account 2 which is 30% of all your past ‘contrib’ (contribution) less any previous housing loan. More details from the website. Waiting period would be 2-3 weeks. Did one just last year, quite impressed ‘esp’ (especially) with lots of stuff now on line, real time directly to your bank acct (account). just bring your i/c and nothing else).

* Thanks for the tip..., 'sayangnya' (sadly) my eepee ep (EPF) 'dah tak masuk2 since krismon '98...' (not credited since the 1998 monetary crisis). Whatever's left 'dah kena tibai' (was conned) by ...

* And now ... advise. Well whatever it is I am sure there many plans cooked up for the withdrawal. My advice is for you to allocate or convert whatever balance into gold because (i) with gold you definitely won’t suffer from inflation effects and (ii) gold would most definitely save you from devaluation of currency (am I right ...?) And I am still making the cheapest gold available.

To my friends and readers; to end those squabbling on the EPF money, I noted his beautiful quotation from Oprah: "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."

Well, what is the first thing we should do with the EPF money? I talked to an 'ustaz' (religious teacher), who advised beneficiaries to pay 'zakat' (tithe), that is 2.5 percent of the money received.

Paying zakat is to acknowledge that the wealth in our possession is not ours. Well, if money we received is RM100,000; then the zakat is only RM2,500. If one his committed to his religion {his ‘iman’ (faith) is strong}, he would just close his eyes and make his payment, but to one who is focus to the pleasures of the world, then that amount is too big a sum.

Remember, the money and wealth has been given to us by Allah The Most Exalted as a trust to be spent in ways permitted by Him. We will be questioned on Judgment Day about whether we honored this trust. We leave behind everything when we die. Zakat is a regular reminder to us not to cling on to our wealth.

Zakat cleanses the heart of the love of material wealth, and affirms that nothing is dearer to us than the love of Allah. The word 'zakat' means 'to purify' and 'to grow'. Zakat purifies the remaining wealth. This wealth gains Allah's blessing and grows like "a grain of corn that grows seven ears and each ear has a hundred grains." (Qur'an 2: 261)

Paying zakat is a way of submitting to the teaching of the Qur'an that the poor have a right over the wealth of the rich. (Qur'an 70: 24-25) And we have the Prophet s.a.w. himself as an example – he bared his family from receiving zakat and remember, his personal belongings at his death were only a reed bed, a bed sheet, a bowl and a shield.

Dr Y Mansoor Merican in his article 'Make your wealth grow in goodness' published in a flyer 'Invitation to understanding Islam' published by Muslim Welfare Organization of Malaysia (PERKIM), have this to say: "Brothers and sisters, need I write more to remind you and myself about what awaits all those who neglect this 'zakat' duty," after he quoted warning from the Qur’an dan hadith (saying and actions of the Prophet (pbuh).

The Noble Qur'an warns: "The wealth they hid will be heated in the fire of Hell and burned on their foreheads, sides and backs with a branding iron. They will be told, 'Here is the wealth that you hoarded. Now taste what you are hoarding." (9:35)

The hadith read: "The unpaid zakat will appear on Judgment Day as 'a poisonous snake with two black specks, which chains him, and then seizes him by his jaw and says, 'I am your wealth! I am your treasure!'" (Bukhari)

Dr Mansoor notes that zakat not only checks hoarding but causes more money to circulate in the community. This leads to greater prosperity for all and strengthens the economy of the ‘ummah’

Muslims were advised do not pay miserly by paying the minimum, but pay more if you can afford to do so because Allah had said: "Whatever you spend in the cause of Allah shall be paid to you in full and you shall not be treated unjustly." (8: 60)

As a conclusion, Dr Mansoor said: "Make your wealth grow in goodness for you here and in the Hereafter. Pay you zakat now. Don’t wait till your soul reaches your throat!"

Well, my beloved brothers…are you ready to put aside RM2,500 for payment of your zakat due from the RM100,000 money that ‘masyuk’ (was credited) into your account?

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