7. Persons who are in charge of ices dealing with
religious matters, such as judge, mufti, teacher,
prayer leader, preacher, muezzin, and the like,
are not as a rule very wealthy.
The reason for this is that, as we have stated before,48 profit is the value realized from labor (products). (This value) differs according to the (varying degrees of) need for (a particular kind of labor). Certain (types of) labor (products) may be necessary in civilization and be a matter of general concern. Then, the value realized from (these products) is greater and the need for them more urgent (than otherwise).
Now, the common people have no compelling need for the things that religious (officials) have to offer. They are needed only by those special people who take a particular interest in their religion. (Even) if the offices of mufti and judge are needed in case of disputes, it is not a compelling and general need. Mostly, they can be dispensed with. Only the ruler is concerned with (religious officials) and (religious) institutions, as part of his duty to look after the (public) interests. He assigns (the religious officials) a share of sustenance proportionate to the need that exists for them in the sense (just) mentioned. He does not place them on an equal footing with people who have power or with people who ply the necessary crafts, even if the things that (the religious officials) have to offer are nobler, as they deal with religion and the legal institutions. He gives them their share in accordance with the general need and the demand of the population (for them). Their portion, therefore, can only be small.
Furthermore, because the things (the religious officials) have to offer are so noble, they feel superior to the people and are proud of themselves. Therefore, they are not obsequious to persons of rank, in order to obtain something to improve their sustenance. In fact, they would not have time for that. They are occupied with those noble things they have to offer and which tax both the mind and the body. Indeed, the noble character of the things they have to offer does not permit them to prostitute themselves openly. They would not do such a thing. As a consequence, they do not, as a rule, become very wealthy.
I discussed this with an excellent man. He disagreed with me about it. But some stray leaves from the account books of the government offices in the palace of al-Ma'mun came into my hand. They gave a good deal of information about income and expenditures at that time. Among the things I noticed, were the salaries of judges, prayer leaders, and muezzins. I called the attention of (the person mentioned) to it, and he realized that what I had said was correct. He became a convert to (my opinion), and we were both astonished at the secret ways of God with regard to His creation and His wise (planning) concerning His worlds.
God is the Creator, and He decides.