Living within our means and being content
“Riches are not from an abundance of goods, but from a content mind”
Many people possess the material luxuries of the world and are still unhappy. In fact they are often the most miserable people, striving to fulfil their needs, but failing to be satisfied. Their wealth becomes an evil and is acquired to spend on luxuries in order to seek some form of contentment. However, what they fail to understand is that contentment is not about wanting more; it is about appreciating what you already have. The Prophet (saw) said “When a person sees a person who has better wealth and beauty, let him look at the ones who have less than him.” (Bukhari). When one is content he will live in peace, harmony and happiness, qualities that cannot be valued or purchased.
Our society puts pressure on an individual to produce or to perish or to compete, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. It is the intrinsic nature of humans to claim and want more, seek a position and show off. In such a society there is little contentment, because it is never enough. Greed is the means by which we are successful. In many ways it drives us to climb and be ambitious. However when not contained this very greed can ultimately bring us ruin both in this life and the akirah. This is why we have been advised by Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) to live within our means. The Prophet (saw) said that
wealth is a pleasure when acquired in a rightful way and spent in a rightful way. Thus income should not be expended in such ways that are condemned by our deen. Extravagances, spending in customs which have no Shariah sanction, spending for the sake of gaining name, spending on unnecessary luxuries- luxuries which are far in excess of one’s needs are evil ways which bring about ruin in both mundane and spiritual life. We should have no more then we need.
Let us take the example of our beloved Prophet (saw). His eyes welled with tears when he saw Fatimah (ra) wearing a dress made of camel hairs yet he advised her to endure the hardships and poverty with patience in order to acquire the comfort of paradise. Similarly, Umar (ra) witnessed the simple life of the Prophet (saw) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! While kings sleep in soft, feather beds, you are lying on a rough mat. You are the Messenger of Allah and thereby deserve more than any other people to live an easy life. The Prophet (saw) was reported to have replied: ‘Do you not agree that the
luxuries of the world should be theirs but those of the Hereafter ours?’” (Bukhari). There is no doubt that the closest people to Allah (swt) lived very simple lives with contentment. So why is it that we are chasing after worldly possessions in this temporary life?
The following are some principles that can help us develop contentment in our own lives Inshallah:
- As advised by the Prophet (saw) we should look at those who have less then us and not those who have more.
- When making a purchase we should consider how much we need it instead of how much we want it or how glamorous it is. Remember not to over indulge and most importantly consider your intentions.
- We should empathize with the homeless, educate ourselves with what they are going through and purify our wealth through sadaqah and zakah. Look at the conditions that children in Sudan are enduring? Living under threat and violence as well as the possibility of exploitation and abuse with no means of survival. Where is the compassion in the Ummah? How can we be so selfish?
- We should look at what we already have, our health, our wealth, our family and be thankful to Allah (swt) for showering us with innumerous blessings. No one can be content without being grateful. Gratitude holds a high rank in Islam as Allah (swt) parallels it with His mention “So remember me; I will remember you” [2:152]
- Real affluence is the affluence of the soul, in which you do not need but from Allah (swt). Allah (swt) says: “Find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction” [13:28]
All humans are in state of poverty and are in need of Allah (swt) helps. In time of prosperity you are in more need of Allah (swt) help then you are in poverty. This life is temporary as are all its contents. Flash cars, designer clothes, riches, are all but amusements that are self destructive. Everything perishes. The only thing that will remain with us is our good works.