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Waste not, want not September 15, 2008

Posted by Msfatima in Charity, Life, Qur'an.
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Recently I was asked a very profound question, the jist of it was whether North American’s were willing to lower consumption rates in order to help developing countries. After much deliberation my conclusion was no. Unfortunately, we are living in a situation where North American society promotes the amassing of wealth and other benefits, which encourages over-consumption of resources.

Advertisements have tactful subliminal messages that tell the viewer that their self-worth depends on what superficial objects they own. This makes it difficult for consumption standards to be lowered by North Americans, since we are being bombarded daily with many choices. For example, in the supermarket we have close to fifty cereal boxes to choose from and each box with its own appealing package, making a person buy 3 different kinds. The more freedom we have of deciding what we want, the more troubles are attached to it. If we are drowning in indulgence of our wants, we disconnect ourselves more from the problems taking place within developing countries. We become focused on getting the latest gadget or super sizing the house. Our brain slowly becomes desensitized to the hunger and lack of basic necessities being faced by those in poorer nations. Capitalism promotes that when we receive money, we should spend it on luxurious wants rather than helping individuals who are deficient from fundamental needs.

Solutions

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “Blessed is the wealth of a Muslim from which he gives to the poor, to orphans and to needy travelers.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 544. The purpose of giving charity is to fulfill the needs of those who cannot attain the means themselves. Society can prosper when members spend not only on their own needs but apportion wealth towards those who require it most. Giving charity also cleanses ones wealth and saves a person from becoming stingy and hoarding their possessions.

If wealth were to circulate through society there would not be a problem with large class divergence neither would there be the lack of support going to lesser-developed countries. Each person would be supported in one way or the other and most of all there would be awareness of the fact that hunger and poverty is an existing reality.

In the Qur’an Allah states, (O Prophet!) Tell those of My servants who believe that they should establish Prayer and spend out of what We have provided them with, both secretly and openly, before there arrives the Day when there will be no bargaining, nor any mutual befriending. (14:31)

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