Do not be wasteful

In Sura Israa (17:26), Allah says: And do not squander wastefully.

Reflection: We are encouraged to be balanced in all aspects of life, including how we spend money and resources. While it is encouraged to use and enjoy the bounties and blessings that we have been given, this needs to be done mindfully and with a concern for the welfare of society, which uses the same resources and of the planet, which bears the brunt of our overconsumption.

The injunction not to be extravagant or wasteful does not relate to the quantity of spending but rather to improvidence or wastefulness. Buying what we need and using what we buy may not be wasteful but when we keep adding to the hordes of things that we already own and do not use, we do need to ask ourselves if this verse would apply to us.

Also, what might be moderate spending for one with means may well be extravagant for another who spends more than they can afford, or one who has to borrow to fulfill greed or to keep up appearances.

Why: We live in a world of excess - a materialistic world that encourages continuous and wanton consumption. A world where we are encouraged to dispose of things and buy new ones for no good reason except that a new model has arrived. Technology and fashion change by the minute and we are on a continuous treadmill to keep up with the latest gadget and the newest trend.

This wanton consumption is happening at a price. The planet is groaning and dying because of the excess of consumption of its inhabitants. So much so that there are not enough people on the planet to take the excess of clothes that we buy and then discard due to disposable fashion and other considerations. The crisis of the thousands of tons of perfectly wearable clothes ending up in landfills is only one example of the result of excess consumption and squandering of resources.

The price to ourselves of the hedonic treadmill and materialistic lifestyle cannot be underestimated. We need to ask ourselves how much time and effort we are spending simply to acquire more things and what the psychological, emotional and spiritual cost of such a lifestyle is.

How: Practicing mindful consumption will look different for all of us. What is important is that we are conscious of what we are spending and why.

We also need to consider the impact that our consumption has on our spirituality and on the health of the planet.

Here is a podcast episode with some ideas to practicing mindful consumption: 5 Steps to overcoming materialism.

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