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Extravagance and waste

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Extravagance and waste

Post by Ithar Ghada Faied on Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:50 pm


With Ramadan fast approaching, now is a good time to reflect on our behavior and the values that we hold dear, making sure that they are in line with the standards that Allah the Almighty has set for us all. This can be one of the greatest challenges for believers.

The world today celebrates superficiality and excess, placing greater value on material possessions. We often concern ourselves more with what others think of us, what we own, and our outward appearance, and less with that which pleases Allah the Almighty, which would do us the most good in this life and the next. Many of us are caught up in materialism and fail to appreciate the bounties Allah generously allows each of us to secure in this life.

We waste our time obsessively accumulating and consuming more “stuff” than we need, and wastefully tossing the excess aside rather than sharing what we have with those who are less fortunate. If you are so caught up in showing off your latest car, outfit, or diamond rings, how can you concentrate your efforts on helping those in need? Where does Allah currently rank in your life?

In Ramadan, we typically spend our days fasting during the daylight hours, abstaining from food, drink and spousal sexual intercourse. Food is a valuable resource often taken for granted. According to a research published on the internet, 15% of the world’s population have more than enough to eat, 60% of them have just enough to eat, while 25% of them do not have enough food to eat. During the month-long fast of this blessed month, we are encouraged to turn our thoughts to those less fortunate in life who feel hunger and thirst throughout the entire year. This should create a sense of empathy so that we may provide the necessary aid and charity when a need is determined.

Many of us are blessed to be able to walk into our kitchens at any time and open a refrigerator full of food throughout the year. Having the blessing of such abundance can easily result in waste if we fail to remind ourselves often that this is a blessing from Allah the Almighty. It is sinful to waste such a generosity, and we as believers are expected to make good use of our resources and not be wasteful or excessive.
Islam encourages moderation in all things. Anything over and above is considered a waste. Allah the Almighty Commands us not to waste by excess, Saying (what means): “And He (Allah) it is Who causes gardens to grow, [both] trellised and un_trellised, and palm trees and crops of different [kinds of] food and olives and pomegranates, similar and dissimilar. Eat of [each of] its fruit when it yields and give its due [Zakaah] on the day of its harvest. And be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.” [Qur'an 6:141]

Many celebrate the month of Ramadan with endless buffets of food, lavish nightly celebrations, going on into the morning hours, etc. During these celebrations there is nonstop eating, justified by the nightfall. This has a negative affect on both the body and the mind. Obesity, laziness, and a general slack attitude are often the result of this overindulgence. We have a moral obligation to avoid participating in such overindulgence.

It is reported that Prophet Yusuf (Joseph, may Allah exalt his mention) was once asked why he had never been seen with a full belly, while he had all the treasures of the world in his hands at that time. His reply was: “I fear that if my belly becomes full I might forget the hungry ones.”

Many of us are falling into negative spending habits as a result of aggressive advertisements and commercials. The fashion industry contributes to waste by creating trends consumers cannot live without one season, then labeling them as out of style the next. This merry-go-round of trying to stay on top of what is the latest style while keeping track of what is no longer in fashion not only increases the accumulation of “disposable clothing” which is no longer worn simply because of prevailing fashion trends.

There is nothing wrong with liking beautiful clothing and making an effort to look nice, but we must be careful not to go to extremes in our appearance. No one can reasonably keep up with the rapidly multiplying styles being cranked out by the fashion industry. It is also quickly dragging consumers deeper into financial debt. Tow negative characteristics of those who indulge in this sort of extravagance are vainglory and showiness.

The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, discouraged showing off in front of others. He, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, warned against this form of arrogance by giving this example: “There was a man who walked with pride because of his fine cloak and because he was pleased with himself. Allah caused him to sink in the earth, and he will keep sinking into it until the Day of Resurrection.” [Muslim]

This Ramadan is an opportunity to take some time to distinguish our true needs from our wants and reexamine the way we utilize our resources in order to avoid being wasteful and extravagant. We must also remember our obligation to our Muslim brothers and sisters here and in other countries that are in need and rely on our generosity. Here are a few suggestions for consideration this Ramadan:

Eat less

Be mindful of the tendency to overeat when breaking the fast at the end of each day. Remember the Prophet’s, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, advice regarding filling our stomachs with 1/3 of food, 1/3 of water, leaving the other third for breath.

Donate food

After a large meal following Iiftaar (fast-breaking meal), E'id or some other occasions where large amounts of perishable food are left over, find a local shelter or mosque to donate the leftovers to. Non-perishable items could be donated to a local food bank.

Donate clothing

If you have an overabundance of clothes in good repair that you no longer wear, donate them to your local Masjid (Mosque), or contact your Masjid to find out how to find Muslims in need of clothing, scarves and other items. Consider organizing a clothing drive. Many cities have refugees that come into the country with nothing, or perhaps there are many women shelters (Muslim and non-Muslim) where such clothing might be of help to someone.

Organize a food and clothing drive for Muslim brothers and sisters worldwide who are in need

As we know, many of our brothers and sisters are suffering due to effects of war or natural disasters. Organizing an event to gather food, clothing, household, personal care/hygiene products, and financial aid to these areas is a good way to share resources and wealth: The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, sai: “Every good deed is Sadaqah (an act of charity ).” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

Set up a discussion group or seminar for youth on the topic of consumerism and its effects.

There is no way to avoid the aggressive marketing and advertising tactics that are put into place to get us to spend more money in order to accumulate more things. The solution is to educate others and ourselves on the marketing industry, their true purpose, and teach others how to filter the messages being presented so that we do not be victimized. Preparing our youth against these ruthless tactics is essential.
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Ithar Ghada Faied
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