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The Minimalist Muslim – Part 22

Jul 20, 2021

It may be difficult to say no to the latest trend, to resist that late-night purchase, but imagine that we diverted just one-third of our usual material expenditure to the way of Allah. What if we asked for donations to our favourite charity, instead of a mountain of gifts?

يَـٰبَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ خُذُوا۟ زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا۟ وَٱشْرَبُوا۟ وَلَا تُسْرِفُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُسْرِفِينَ
“O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.” Al-A’raf (7:31)

Perhaps now more than ever we are reminded of our habit to accumulate material wealth. After over a year of spending most of our time in our homes, many of us may have started to analyse these spaces that we previously only used for rest – now our work and social spaces.

For some of us, a room full of our prized possessions is a source of great comfort. Layers upon layers of cushions on our bed, a gaming chair, scented candles, a tower of our favourite reads; they all serve a purpose. We may not use them, but it sure is a comfort that they are there – gifts from loved ones or little treats to ourselves. But how much of it do we really require to feel “at home” and at what point does comfort become excess?

Those wardrobes of clothes not worn for years, books not opened for decades, that rice cooker mum bought for us – never opened. If you have an Amazon account, you’re probably familiar with that twinge of guilt one feels when that list of unnecessary goods piles up. Offers of almost instant delivery and free returns draw us in ever closer to late-night purchases, complete with a consumer hangover the next morning, “Do I really need that USB mug heater?”

The struggle of trying to find the balance between modesty and excess is, of course, not limited to the 21st century. A divide between rich and poor has been a hallmark of our species since the foundation of early civilizations. But if we simply look back to the behaviours of our grandparents, we see that there has been a significant shift in consumer habits over just a couple of generations. The birth of a mass middle-class around the world, as well as the availability of credit cards and no-questions-asked loans are surely fuelling our thirst to buy and sell at an ever-increasing rate.

On the contrary, however, an idea of minimalism has seen a rise in popularity in recent years. Taking tips from Japanese and Scandinavian cultures, a fashion of empty walls with mellow colour schemes and a stripping away of excessive bling has become fashionable across the West.

But how does the new minimalist trend fit into our faith? How can we as Muslims know where to draw the line between necessity and greed?

It has been reported that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said to Aisha (RA): “A’isha, if you want to be joined with me, take of this world as little as a rider’s provisions, beware of associating with the rich, and do not deem a garment worn out until you have patched it”. What a strong statement to make to the “Mother of the Believers”, that she should commit to such a minimalist lifestyle – even going as far as to warn her of mixing with those who accumulate material wealth.

As Muslims it`s important that we understand that we don’t only need to de-clutter our homes and surroundings but we need to de-clutter our hearts as well. Our hearts are filled and are actually over-flowing with the love of this world. But how much of the love of Allah do we really have? Is our love for Allah really in our hearts, or is it just lip-service? So de-clutter your heart and fill it with the true love of Allah! Is that not wat the Haaji hopes to achieve?

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