by Habeeba Husain
It seems every time I check my email these days, there are rows of new messages from retailers competing for my attention. Full of capital letters, exclamation points, and stars, these companies seem almost desperate for my clicks.
Many times, this tactic works. If I see the words “free shipping”—caps lock or not—I will soon end up scrolling through an online store and adding items I did not know I wanted into my shopping cart. When I finally go to review my order, I pause and think, wait, what did I actually open my laptop up for!? The same thing can happen in-store. I think I want something, and I will hold onto it as I browse other racks. It is as if a spell comes upon me while I mindlessly look through racks of clothes I do not need or kitchen gadgets I will never use. When the time comes to check out, I end up not even wanting the item I was carrying around. My cousin taught me this little trick to avoid buyer’s remorse later on in the day.
The glitzy promises of percentages off and sparkling signs of savings can be a huge distraction at this time of year. During the holiday season, many people focus on giving. Of course, giving gifts is a wonderful way to increase ties between loved ones. Even the Prophet Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said, “Give gifts, and you will love one another” [Al-Adab al-Mufrad]. However, aside from the noble gesture of gift-giving that is rooted in many families’ traditions, there are others falling deeply into a cycle of want.
As someone whose holiday does not fall in December this year, I am not the main target of the many promotions currently running. That does not mean I am immune to the advertisements. I have plenty of holiday jingles memorized and find myself wanting to get my hands on something new in the fall and winter shopping seasons. How can you pass up a good deal, right? Something may be a “good deal,” but surely, you end up saving more when you choose to not buy something you do not need!
There is nothing wrong with wanting something new once in a while, and it is best to be a savvy shopper and get that item when it is on sale. However, we must be cognizant. Do we really need this item, or do we merely desire it to satisfy ourselves? That desire to get our hands on something new does not go away. Needing to have the latest handbag or smartphone may seem like a necessity, but really, it is a desire that will rear its ugly head when the next new thing comes out. Instead of falling prey to this materialism—which will not leave you with long term satisfaction—we need to find our happiness through other, lasting means.
True happiness does not come from material possessions. Everyone knows the phrase, “Money can’t buy happiness.” Fancy phones, big houses, and luxurious cars are just items, mere tangible objects of this world. We cannot find lasting happiness in the stores and online. In Islam, we are taught to find happiness through God. Adhering to His commands, building a close relationship with Him, and doing good (for oneself and others) with an intention to please Him—that is what brings joy to the heart of a Muslim.
The Prophet Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said, “Happiness is due to him who is guided to Islam and possesses provision that suffices him for his day and remains content” [Tirmidhi].