بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
By Amina Salau
At no time has there ever been a worse consumerism culture than in the decade we are in now. Companies are fighting tooth and nail, and racing one another to be at the forefront of the consumer’s mind. From electronic gadgets to fashion, the norm is to constantly produce and market products to consumers.
The Smartphone market is a very interesting example to watch. No sooner has a product been launched the company is already working on an upgraded version of it. Marketing tactics employed by companies don’t help either. Flashy and beautiful in-your-face advertisements, designed to make you love their products, are now everywhere. Even when you have a functional, equally beautiful item, adverts have a way of convincing you that the new version has an edge over yours, and you start thinking about getting the upgrade. If we are not careful, we can get sucked into the cycle of wanting the latest and most popular products even when what we already have is good enough.
As Muslims, contentment is a very healthy and important trait to have. It makes us financially wise, and is also a way of showing gratitude to Allah for all the blessings He has bestowed on us.
To be locked into the cycle of constantly wanting material things is exhausting and detrimental to us financially, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Financial side effects
For every high-end product available in the market, there are dozens of affordable options. Clothing for example, is popularly grouped into seasons. You no longer want your winter boots from last year because new products have been launched for 2015. With this mindset, you always want the latest. Even if you can afford this lifestyle, it may not be the best.
Physical side effects
You see someone who starves themselves just to buy the latest gadgets, and they start to lose a lot of weight. Such individuals harm their health unnecessarily.
Mental side effects
I know someone who, whenever a new product becomes popular, wants one for herself. The more she sees people with it, the more she talks about it and wishes for it. Watching her dismay whenever something is unaffordable, you can almost detect the feeling of low self esteem that comes with not having what others have. People with this behaviour see consumerism as a way to be accepted into society. They see it as a way to be recognized and respected by others.
Spiritual side effects
When your mind is constantly fixated on the things you want, your spiritual life can suffer neglect too. You find yourself spending more time asking than worshipping. Not that asking Allah for material things is bad; it’s just that when you are in a constant state of want, you lose focus of what is important.
How to Achieve Contentment
We owe it to ourselves to nurture and protect our bodies and souls from any habits or behaviours that could be detrimental to us. In this light, it is our duty to safeguard ourselves from constantly wanting or buying things. Here is a checklist you can use as a guide:
Remember the purpose of life
As Muslims, we should constantly remember that this world, and everything in it, is temporary. As such, it will be counterproductive to keep chasing worldly things when we should be striving for Paradise.
Whenever you’re tempted to upgrade to the latest Smartphone that you don’t need, for example, give that money away. It is more beneficial to give money to the needy, and Allah will reward you for it.
Asking ourselves critical questions before buying something shows that we are financially responsible, and it can help us avoid spending unnecessarily.
Before buying anything that is not a basic necessity, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I really need this?
- How does it benefit me?
- Is it better than what I already have?
Your personal answers to these questions will tell you if what you want to buy is necessary or not.
Being a Muslim does not mean we shouldn’t want nice things. It also doesn’t mean we can’t buy something just because we feel like it. What it means, however, is that we are not ruled by greed or discontentment.
Amina Salau is a freelance writer passionate about women’s issues in Islam
© IIPH 2014
Photo credit: andrewarchy / Foter / CC BY