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Shopping mania

Published Apr 21, 2017 01:20am


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THE reason why many of us do not wish to face reality is because it is painful. Reality hurts. It sheds light on areas which we want to keep in the dark.

Like the child who cries and screams because he cannot have his way is offered ice cream to calm him down, we adults too seek objects to soothe our pain. A sweet treat to distract us from the bitterness that is reality.

There used to be alcoholics, but thanks to the more recent emergence of ‘in your face’ capitalism, they have been sent to the back benches by the shopaholics. Their kind gets an inexplicable high by stuffing shopping carts mindlessly. With a condition unique to the wealthier class, they fall prey to the cunning of businessmen who fully exploit their surplus wealth and lack of self-control.

Islam calls for a balanced and moderate approach to consumption.

Lured to mega shopping malls by advertising, they return home with stuffed plastic bags, laughingly dismissing their excess as ‘retail therapy’. But little do they realise that such sugar-coating deludes them. ‘Buy one get one free’, ‘special offers’ and ‘seasonal discounts’ are the baits that lure shopaholics to harm themselves. But we must understand that their behaviour does more than bring harm just to their own person, for their compulsion panders not only to their innate desires and insecurities, it also correspondingly brings misery upon their near and dear ones and the environment at large.

What started off as an occasional misdemeanour slowly transforms into a habitual offence, and a fully mature addiction with special thanks to gigantic stores, credit cards and 24/7 advertising. The creed of capitalism contains no compassion, for its policy is to take no prisoners. There is only one interest that it pursues, and that is profit. It influences us to buy, shop, and hoard aimlessly, paying little attention to the utility and genuine need of things and the side effects of such compulsive behaviour.

Excessive shopping adds to clutter in the home, a strain on our finances, and a usurping of time that could be spent with family and friends. By shopping recklessly and impulsively, we clutter our lives with unnecessary items that add little value to our practical existence and merely occupy space and take up our time. The availability of easy credit makes us overlook the ramifications of impulsive spending and makes us fall headlong into the debt trap.

We need to free up our time and space by reducing our possessions, and make it a rule to buy only that which is necessary. Shopping should be a moderate affair. If it is developing into a serious compulsive habit, then it is time to step on the brakes and take action. Reduce, recycle, reuse should be our daily mantra.

Let us switch off this never-ending soap opera of commercialism for a moment and hearken to the call of Islam for a balanced and moderate approach to consumption. Take some time out to reflect on the Quran and you will discover its exhortations to manage your finances astutely, remain within the budget, save for a rainy day, and check impulsive spending. According to the Holy Book, consuming for the sake of consumption alone is a trait of kufr (disbelief): “...Those who reject Allah will enjoy (this world) and eat as cattle eat…” (47:12). Spendthrifts are not in good company, we are clearly warned: “Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the Evil Ones; and the Evil One is to his Lord (himself) ungrateful” (17:27)

That moderation should be the rule in the spending behaviour of a believer is the glaring rejoinder: “Make not thy hand tied (like a niggard’s) to thy neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach, so that thou become blameworthy and destitute” (17:29).

Moreover, surplus wealth is not meant to be blown away on frivolities but to be shared with those less fortunate: “….They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: “What is beyond your needs” (2:219).

Alms are mandatory and excessive spending is to be curtailed to meet the ideal that wealth: “…may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you…” (59:7)

The addiction of shopping brings temporary happiness, which is short-lived and attached to sadness. If owning material possessions attained happiness, the rich would have always lived very happy lives. But this is definitely not the case. Like others, the rich have their fair share of sorrows. So the formula for happiness definitely lies somewhere else. The discipline of Islam provides a moderate approach to consumption. When followed it results in happiness, harmony and balance.

The writer is a freelance contributor with an interest in religion. He blogs at

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2017


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (11) Closed

Imtiaz ali khan Apr 21, 2017 01:32am

Every faith is the same and they teach us good, but every faith has violent part in it. We must follow the peace part!

Long live Islam! Inshallah!

brr Apr 21, 2017 01:51am

Why does one resort to religious injunctions where simple common sense should prevail? Why bring religion into everything, including daily mundane activities and trade?

Morehamhead Apr 21, 2017 01:56am

I don't need a new car every year, but it sure makes me happy :-)

Fazal Karim Apr 21, 2017 05:13am

Please include eating mania pervasive in society. Row of eating houses in length and breath of big cities and highways. We pay we pay at least for times more and waste time. Now biggest attractions of a city are these eating houses instead of parks, historical monuments and cultural shows and reading houses.

satt Apr 21, 2017 09:44am

Things bought only because of need are always special.

Naveed Mahmood Apr 21, 2017 10:16am

A very fine article encompassing Islamic teachings and our daily life. The topic is very genuine and the lust of everything has brought the corruption in our society. To possess everything with out realizing the financial limits every one is this race which is totally against Islamic teachings. Commercialization has added fuel to the fire as there is no check on this. Advertisement is such a powerful tool that it really agitates one's mind. As respected writer has has directed that only solution is to follow Islamic injunctions and teachings but we have left such things to only celebrations of religious days and rituals rest we do not bother. It is very sad even in Jumma sermons we are not taught the social obligations and about daily life. Growth of Mega malls is another psycho warfare between seller and purchaser as one goes to buy or spend 500 but a the end of day one lands up to spend 10000. Only solution lies in to follow true spirit of Islam which is the true to the nature.

AS Apr 21, 2017 11:15am

Those who have deep pockets they take pride in flaunting....material wealth.

Those who are well versed in Scriptures they take pride in bringing Religion in mundane things also.....loading it even in day to day simple life thereby overshadowing commonsense.

Let Religion be confined within four walls and let charity spread beyond the four walls.

Nauman M Apr 21, 2017 11:20am

We are talking about a minuscule percentage of shopoholics while 99.9% of the world live frugally according to their means.

roshan Apr 21, 2017 02:57pm

Wow , There are very few who are addresing these type of issues , we need to talk about these issues as there is a world even after politics .

Farhan Apr 21, 2017 05:01pm

Excellent Article. Appreciated in today's advertisement cacophony. The shopping carts have grown to a huge size capable of accommodating a lying man. Only reason is to provoke us to fill it more than the other guy. Moreover, we don't really tally the itemised billing with what we have purchased and how much charged. So many err on side of Mart owners. Psychologists are hired by these marketers and these big stores are akin to hunter traps waiting for their preys

My own approach - Make a list before going to mart and never come out with anything else whatever my mind tells about its need or utility. Wherever possible, I send the servant with the list rather than going myself. Uphill struggle indeed for many who don't realise the perils of unbridled consumption

meelu Apr 21, 2017 06:57pm

In fact, this habit of spendthrift is excessively present in our society. You have very politely in a manner of advising, evaluated the whole story. We must be thankful to the writer upon awakening us from dormant state and from now money should be used much astutely