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Being frugal may be a blessing in disguise | Worship


Last updated 6/14/2017 at Noon

This year, Ramadan has local Muslims fasting for 18 hours every day, though I have never taken fasting as a hardship; it’s a discipline – a powerful, spiritual discipline meant for God alone. Giving up comforts such as that mid-morning cappuccino or midday meal might be challenging to a non-Muslim, but it’s about discipline.

My parents’ generation knew the meaning of discipline. Today’s generation has excessive spending and growing debt. We should all strive to live within our means. Perhaps we should even make it tougher for credit card issuers to raise fees and interest rates.

Today, bankruptcies, house foreclosures and job losses nationwide are at historic highs. Tent cities are sprouting up in every state, occupied by folks just like the family next door. Through no fault of their own, they lost their jobs.

Overspending and borrowing huge sums has made consumers become slaves of interest, so its elimination is a bitter pill, but good medicine. The charging of high interest rates, referred to as usury – or interest – in the Abrahamic faiths, is prohibited in Islam.

Muslims have never been allowed to benefit from or pay interest. God says in the Quran, “The usury that is practiced to increase some people's wealth, does not gain anything at God. But if people give to charity, seeking God's pleasure, these are the ones who receive their reward many fold.” (Ar-Rum 30:39)

Money comes without instructions, so prioritizing our spending is worth reflecting on daily. Living within our means has become more important than ever, and it doesn't have to mean giving up things that make life pleasant and meaningful.

My parents’ generation worked hard during their lives and prospered while enjoying a frugal lifestyle, exemplifying simplicity in every aspect of their lives. They use to tell me, “A simple life is a good life, but only if you can enjoy it.” I understand its relevance even more today.

Being more frugal today could allow people to opt out of a stressed lifestyle, ultimately making room for a standard of living with contentment, depth and joy, because frugality doesn’t mean poverty; it means enjoying the virtues of getting a good value for the things you need.

The powerful influence over consumption has made money management one of the most important topics for our homes today. Make a list of wants and needs, because apart from what you may think about our diminishing purchasing power, we need to spend only what we have and make it go further.

Finding ways to limit major expenses and cut costs at home can be as easy as turning out a light or lowering the thermostat on the water heater. Cutting our food costs doesn’t mean slashing nutrition. By making a weekly menu for dinners at home and brown bagging lunches, we can once again bring value and integrity back to our homes.

Islam has always discouraged living beyond one’s means, which can lead to excessive borrowing. In a perfect world, financial systems would be more based on a set of values and morals, such as honesty, credibility and transparency, rather than greed and excess.

While I do not advocate everyone finding a pair of scissors and cutting up their credit cards, avoiding extravagance is a common value among many faiths. Being aware of how we live, making good use of our resources and expressing concern for those less fortunate is paramount today as we work to rebuild our nation, and our lives.

The Creator has blessed us with everything we have today, so we are obligated to be intelligent and responsible in using these resources sensibly. Happiness is not about money and the amount of possessions you have, but being responsible and accountable while living a righteous life.

Aziz Junejo has served as a representative of the local Muslim community for 30 years. He is the host of the cable TV show “Focus on Islam,” and frequently writes and speaks on Muslim topics.


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