Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Richness is not the abundance of wealth but Richness is self-sufficiency." (1)
Explanation of vocabularies (2)
(richness) i.e., the useful or the praised richness is self-contentment.
Lessons gained from the Hadith: (3)
1- Ibn Battal said: The meaning of the Hadith is: The reality of richness is not the abundance of money because many people of those whom Allah has given money do not satisfy with the provision they have, so they exert effort to get more without paying attention to the source of money, such people are poor because of their severe eagerness to get money. However, the reality of richness is self-sufficiency in which a person dispenses with anything else and satisfied with the given money without asking for more or persisting in demand, such case is self-sufficiency.
2- Al Qurtuby said: When oneself stops asking for more, it will become dear and self-sufficient and shall gain integrity, honor, and praise more than richness whose owners are eager for more. Such richness will lead a person to vile and mean matters because of his low vigor and miserliness, moreover people will dispraise him more and his status shall decrease in the eyes of people.
3- Poverty and richness are afflictions from Allah by which Allah tries His Servants for gratitude and patience as Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "Verily, We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds. [i.e. those who do good deeds in the most perfect manner, that means to do them (deeds) totally for Allâh's sake and in accordance to the legal ways of the Prophet peace be upon him]." Allah (Exalted be He) says: "And We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good."
4- A Muslim has to observe patience at adversities and do not show ingratitude or boredom, but he should be satisfied with Allah's Destiny and Fate because that brings about tranquility into his heart and comfort to himself.
5- There is no harm on Muslims to ask for money or earn it from lawful ways to meet their needs and spend it on those whom they support or give it in different ways of charity, but what is prohibited is to ask for it without distinction between lawful and prohibited or to exaggerate in seeking it which will result in wasting duties and obligations.
(1) Reported by Al Bukhari, No. (6081).
(2) Fathul-Bary of Ibn Hajar (18/ 264).
(3) See: The previous reference.