We have been created to love people and use things, but materialists love things and use people. Materialism drives not just the “bad apples” of society; it drives “the best and the brightest,” those from the finest homes and schools, those who become government and business leaders, physicians, and attorneys.
Here are two of the definitions of materialism from The Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “A doctrine that the only or the highest value of objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress,” and “a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things.”
Materialism begins with our beliefs. Not merely what we say we believe—not our doctrinal statement—but the philosophy of life by which we actually live. So even though true Muslims would deny belief in the philosophical underpinnings of materialism, they may nonetheless be preoccupied with material things. Materialism is first and foremost a matter of the heart.
Beyond the examples in the Holy Quraan of many people who are warped and destroyed by greed, and its warnings against idolatry, the Noble Book also lists various dangers of becoming centred on money and possessions. On the contrary, if we understand the dangers of materialism, it will help liberate us to experience the joys of life.
Materialism prevents or destroys our spiritual life.
Although many people today are materially wealthy, they are unfortunately desperately poor in spirituality and as far as their relationship with Allah is concerned. Materialism blinds us to our own spiritual poverty. It is a fruitless attempt to find meaning outside of our religion. When we try to find ultimate fulfilment in a thing or a person other than Allah or the Sunnah life of our Noble Prophet ﷺ, we become the biggest losers.
Every attempt to find life in anyone or anything but Allah is vain. Materialism is a dead-end street. It is not only wrong—it is utterly self-destructive.
Materialism blinds us to the curses of wealth.
The possession of riches is almost always a spiritual liability. Material prosperity can begin as Allah’s blessing, but when we treat it as a substitute for Allah, then it becomes a curse. So wealth by itself is not harmful and actually there are numerous charitable causes which a person can involve himself in that can actually take a person very close to Allah, but when the wealth enters the heart and the love for it is greater than our love for Allah, than it is a serious problem.
Materialism brings us unhappiness and anxiety.
The risk of financial resources is well illustrated by the suicides and emotional breakdowns that commonly occur during significant drops in the stock market. It’s also demonstrated in the epidemic levels of high blood pressure and hypertension among today’s “successful” professionals.
Materialism is the mother of anxiety.
To set our heart on earthly riches not only deprives us of the real true love of Allah, others of help, and ourselves of reward, it also destines us to perpetual insecurity.
Materialism ends in ultimate futility.
Most people chase their mirages with money, but they run out of money before they run out of mirages. So they still believe the lie that “if only I had more money, then I’d be happy.” The Quraan gives us numerous examples of Firaun and Qaroon, who had more than enough wealth, but did it bring either of them any success?
We will continue with more harms of Materialism tomorrow in sha Allah.