Have you ever gotten upset when you weren’t able to buy something that you really wanted? Or, have you ever bought something that you could have done without?
The answer to these two questions is yes, an unequivocal yes. It is pat of our human nature. We want and we desire constantly. When we allow this to go unchecked our desire for more becomes insatiable and overtakes the dictates of our souls.
Any kind of addiction or extreme act emanates from our desire. Satan ever whispers to our Nafs (self) to go after our desires. He encourages us to be greedy and to overindulge ourselves. In this way we become slaves to our desires instead of in control of them. One enslaved to his desires cannot freely and truly worship his Lord. It is a matter of our Eemaan (faith) that we hold ourselves back from wasteful spending.
If we find difficulty parting with our money in times of charity, then we know we have become victims of over-consumption, or excessive spending. The Prophet, , said: “Cursed is the slave of gold and silver.” [Al-Bukhari] When we allow ourselves to lust after money, then we know the shackles have tightened.
Money and power are always aligned. Like sirens they call out to our desires. Today, the media is their infamous recruiter. It constantly throws in our faces more things to desire and to get and to admire. This only leads to further blinding ourselves from our purpose in life, which is to worship Allah. Allah Almighty warns us by saying (what means): “Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you (from the more serious things).” [Quran 102:1]
We must remind ourselves that worldly desires are mere illusions, transitory pleasures, that Allah is testing us with. Allah Almighty warns us of this by saying (what means): “Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.” [Quran 57:20]
Guard yourself from greed
As consumers we must be mindful of Allah and thank Him for blessing us with the financial ability to purchase the things we need. Remembering Allah when shopping will help us humble our hearts and be grateful for all that he has already given us. This can help prevent us from becoming upset when we are unable to buy something we want.
We must also seek to instill in spending habits of the Islamic practice of moderation. I cannot stress enough the importance of the Prophet Muhammad’s injunction to the Muslim Ummah:“Eat, drink, spend, and dress without extravagance or arrogance.”[Al-Bukhari]
We must strive for a balance between the extremes of spending too much (Israaf) and being stingy. The righteous are “those who, when they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly but are ever, between that, [justly] moderate.” [Quran 25:67]
This verse encourages moderation and balance in our spending. Instead of succumbing to our habits of spending on ourselves, we ought to give more than we take. When we give for the sole purpose of pleasing Allah we purify our souls. The Prophet, , was the most generous of men and gave the majority of his belongings away. The Prophet, , understood what was real and what was passing: He valued his humility, the afterlife, and his connection to Allah over worldly pleasures.
When we become entangled in the superficial, our materialistic values will override our spiritual connection to our Lord. We must guard ourselves against this and instead spend our resources and time so that we may increase our spiritual wealth. This is the struggle against the Nafs which our beloved Prophet Muhammad always emphasized.
Striver for good deeds that will multiply themselves rather than hoard worldly goods that will perish into the earth and become dust.