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Plugging the Leaks

There was once a man who lived 2km from a river which was the closest water source to his home. Every morning, the man would take two buckets, trek the 2km distance to the river, fill his buckets with water, and then undertake the laborious journey home. However, there was one problem – both of his buckets had a hole. Hence, on arriving back home, the man would notice that the buckets were only half full.

Since this man only possessed these two buckets, it was not an option for him to increase the number or size of his buckets. Thus, he decided that the prudent decision would be for him to plug the leaks so that for the same amount of effort, he would have more water at home.

The above illustration may be fictitious, but it demonstrates a pertinent point that applies to most people at present. In these trying times, when the cost of essential goods and services has skyrocketed astronomically, then together with trusting in Allah Ta‘ala to look after us and provide for us, each and every person should try to ‘plug the leaks’ in his bucket.

Allah Ta‘ala is the Sole Provider, and He has given every one of us our ‘bucket’ – our decreed sustenance. Since our bucket is pre-decreed by Allah Ta‘ala, we cannot increase the amount in our buckets. However, what we CAN do is identify the avenues in which we are extravagant or wasteful and curb this unnecessary expenditure which is putting a strain on our finances.

In the Quraan Majeed, Allah Ta‘ala describes the believers who are His special servants and friends. One of their special, praiseworthy qualities which Allah Ta‘ala highlights is their moderation in expenditure. Allah Ta‘ala says:

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا أَنفَقُوا لَمْ يُسْرِفُوا وَلَمْ يَقْتُرُوا وَكَانَ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ قَوَامًا​

“And (they are) those who when they spend, they are neither extravagant nor miserly, and it (their spending) is moderate between that (the two extremes).” (Surah Furqaan v67)

In yet another verse of the Quraan Majeed, Allah Ta‘ala advises us to be moderate in our expenditure, and warns us of the difficulties that we will create for ourselves if we adopt either extreme (wastefulness or miserliness), saying:

وَلَا تَجْعَلْ يَدَكَ مَغْلُولَةً إِلَىٰ عُنُقِكَ وَلَا تَبْسُطْهَا كُلَّ الْبَسْطِ فَتَقْعُدَ مَلُومًا مَّحْسُورًا​

“And do not keep your hand tied to your neck (i.e. being miserly and not spending on one’s needs and the needs of one’s family, etc.), nor extend it to the full extent (i.e. being extravagant and wasteful), lest you should be sitting reproached, empty-handed.” (Surah Banu Israaeel v29)

In the blessed hadeeth as well, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has encouraged the Ummah to be moderate in their spending saying, “The one who is moderate in his spending will never fall into poverty.” (Tabraani – Majma‘uz Zawaa-id #17798) In another hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “It is a sign of a man’s intelligence that he is moderate in his expenditure.” (Musnad Ahmad #21695)

In regard to falling into wasteful, extravagant or unnecessary expenditure, then in today’s times, some of the areas where most people suffer a loss are the following:

1. Social Media – It is an undeniable fact that one of the primary uses of social media is that of advertising. Accordingly, all and sundry use social media to advertise their products. The result of this is that a person who frequents social media platforms is constantly bombarded with advertisements. Suddenly, a product which a person managed to live without for many years becomes a ‘necessity’ which must be purchased.

2. Online shopping – Before the advent of online shopping, remaining at home was a sure way to avoid shopping and save cash. However, with online shopping, one’s email inbox is filled with ‘Daily Deals’ and app notifications repeatedly pop-up notifying a person of some new promotion, thus tempting one to buy something he does not require. Hence, one person mentioned that after deleting all the shopping apps on his phone, he found that he began to save R2500 a month.

3. Special Offers and Sales – The market places (e.g. shopping malls) should be avoided as far as possible, as the hadeeth mentions that these are the places which are most detested and abhorred by Allah Ta‘ala. (Saheeh Muslim #1528) One of the harms of frequenting these places is that one is tempted by the sales that are held. On seeing the sign “50% Reduced!” a person rushes into the store, convinced that if he does not seal the deal, he will lose out. Little does he realise that in order to ‘save’ 50%, he is first required to spend 50%, and many a time, he merely wants the item because it is on sale – not because he actually needs it. NEEDS vs WANTS.

4. Eating Out – Many housewives are able to attest to the fact that a simple meal of baked beans and bread, or dhall (lentils) and roti, can fill and sustain a family of five for under R50. In stark contrast to this is the exorbitant price that people pay when ordering food from restaurants, etc. where each person sometimes pays up to R100! While we are not advocating that people live solely on beans and dhall, we must certainly exercise moderation, as eating out on a weekly basis can easily cost R2000 a month – if not more.

We must remember that even if Allah Ta‘ala has given us the means due to which we are able to lead a lavish lifestyle at present, it is not guaranteed that we will always be able to maintain this lifestyle. We have seen many people lose their fortunes in mere moments, after which they were compelled to tighten the purse strings. At that challenging time, when the standard of living was suddenly lowered, many of them, and their families, fell prey to depression, etc. as they were not accustomed to leading a simpler lifestyle.

Therefore, if we raise our children in an environment of extravagance and accustom them to this type of opulent lifestyle, then over and above the sin of extravagance, and ingratitude shown to Allah Ta‘ala by wasting the wealth He has given us – we are doing our children a grave disservice. After all, the day our daughters are married and leave our homes, if their husbands are unable to cater to their expensive tastes, it will place a strain on their marriage which may ultimately result in a divorce and broken home.

Thus, we understand that plugging the leaks is not only for our own benefit, in Deen and dunya – but it is also for the benefit of our children and families.

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us all with contentment, and assist us to curb all wasteful and extravagant expenditure, aameen.

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