Letting Go of Material Illusions

Desert Mirage

The happiness of material wealth is a mirage.


By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

As infants, our first seeming victory is being able to grasp – a finger, a toy, or anything bright. Only later do we realize that the dunya (the material world) is constantly grasping at us, trying to get us to buy, eat, feel, possess, own. Forces of greed are trying to get us to pour our souls down the drain of disposable consumerism, and poison our planet in the process.

Believers realize at that point that the real struggle is to give up our love for material things, and let go. To take what we need, and enjoy the simple pleasures, and not let ourselves be corrupted by waste.

Doesn’t Allah say that the wasters are the brothers of the devils?

“And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully. Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful.” (Quran, Al-Israa’ 17: 26-27)

Modern society, and Western society in particular, is based on waste. Everything is disposable, everything is plastic, everything is buried in landfills where it seeps into the drinking water, or dumped into the ocean where it poisons the marine ecosystem. Knowing this, how are we to regard modern society in view of Allah’s statment that the wasters are the brothers of the devils? And what is our role in this massive assault on planet earth?

Things are not always as they seem. Consumerism is a spiritual desert, and the happiness that we think will come from buying this, or owning that, is a mirage. Buying the latest flat screen TV or data phone will not make us happy. Owning a McMansion in the suburbs will not bring us inner peace. Having a pile of money in the bank will not bring us closer to Allah, or save our souls, or extend our lives one moment beyond what has been written, regardless of our insurance plans. In fact, all those things are balls and chains that bind ours soul and create stress and worry.

The Messenger of Allah (sws), is reported to have said, “That which is little yet sufficient is better than that which is much and diverts man from his goal as a result.”

What is the goal? It is the worship of Allah, working fee-sabeel-illah, and the ultimate goal of Jannah. In the Bible, Jesus (peace be upon him) asks, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” If you own the most beautiful furniture, the most expensive clothing, and the coolest cars, yet you fail in your mission of achieving Jannah, then what have you achieved? You have ruined yourself.

Let go of these material illusions. We’re not infants anymore, trying to grab any pretty thing and put it in our mouths. We can think critically. The “reality” that is flashed in our eyes a thousand times a day by commercials, billboards, movies and TV is a lie. See things as they are. All that matters is Allah. Above all is Allah. Success lies in our relationship with Allah. Peace and happiness come from being in harmony with Allah’s teachings, which in turn brings us in harmony with all creation.

Buy less, own less, don’t use disposable products, don’t throw away things that can be repaired, re-sold or donated. Hand things down, pass them on. The best fun is free:  playing sports or word games with your children, walking in the park, swimming at the beach or the public pool, enjoying tea with friends. Don’t worry about owning the latest gadget. Forget about brand names. The only brands we need are Muslim, Mu’min, Ummah, Deen. Keep your eyes open, think for yourself, and don’t be fooled by bright illusions.

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Article by Wael

Wael Abdelgawad is an Egyptian-American living in Fresno, California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including Zawaj.com and IslamicAnswers.com, and also of various technology and travel websites. He is a writer and poet, and has been a web developer since 1997. This project, IslamicSunrays.com, is very dear to his heart, as it has allowed him to express ideas that have growing inside him for many years. Wael is divorced and has one lovely young daughter. He practices and teaches martial arts (somewhat obsessively), and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and vanilla fudge ice cream. Wael is an advocate for human rights and blogs about these issues at AbolishTorture.com. He is also a volunteer with the MyDeen Muslim youth organization in Fresno. Wael tagged this post with: , , , , , Read 263 articles by
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