Nowadays, families meticulously scrimp and save to meet monthly expenses. Luxuries are now being compromised to hold on to necessities. Promotions and job acquisitions are no-shows. The global economy is facing a crisis which is taking its toll on the peace of mind of people all over the world, as the future looks bleak and the economic forecast spells further doom.
Fortunately for us Muslims, we have Islam: the perfect religion that provides effective remedies for all depressing situations. It teaches Muslims how to strike the perfect balance in all aspects of life, so that any excess and extravagance is avoided, and everyone gets their due, leading to a thriving society and a bustling economy.
- Resort to daily repentance (istighfar):
If you are facing a lack of resources and a tighter spending hand nowadays, reflect upon your past and identify possible causes for the descent of this calamity upon you. Did you abstain from giving zakaah, making flimsy excuses to convince yourself that it is not due upon you? Did you avoid giving charity when you could have, instead buying your children more expensive clothes? Did you shout at a beggar, acting arrogantly, even though you could have spared a kind word? Well, it doesn't take long for what goes round to come around, does it?
Repentance is something that brings blessings and provision from Allah. As you'll see in the Quran, even the Prophets sent to bygone nations exhorted them to turn back towards Allah sincerely, and to leave sinning, so that they may be blessed with provision. Prophet Hud said to his people:
"And O my people! Ask forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him (in repentance): He will send you the skies pouring abundant rain, and add strength to your strength: so turn you not back in sin!" [11:52]
Prophet Nuh also gave similar advice to his nation:
"And I said: 'Ask your Sustainer to forgive you your sins - for, verily, He is all-forgiving! He will shower upon you heavenly blessings abundant, and will aid you with worldly goods and children, and will bestow upon you gardens, and bestow upon you running waters.'" [71:10-12]
Now is the time for us Muslims to turn back to Allah in humility, seeking His forgiveness for being lax in giving charity to those less fortunate than us, and for committing other sins.
Try to do istighfar at least a hundred times a day. Leading a life of piety, in which you try to stay away from disobeying Allah as much as possible, leads to a well-provided, resourceful existence:
"And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine..."
- Give zakaah and supererogatory sadaqah:
Try to meticulously calculate your zakaah this year, and give it off on time to the most deserving person or family within your clan, or in your neighborhood. Make sure you are able to search for the neediest person nearby. It will take extra time and effort, but Allah, The All-Knower, will be most appreciative of any extra sincerity you put in giving charity.
Some signs of needy people are apparent on their persona: they work at menial jobs, worry and anxiety mar their facial expression, their clothes are old and worn, and their physical health depicts malnutrition and undernourishment.
"...and give them (others) preference even though they were themselves in need." [59:9]
Further, make charity an ongoing family project. A good strategy could be making your children donate any of their old toys, clothes or shoes to poor children whenever they are bought new ones. This will not only de-clutter your home, but will also bring more blessing in it, not to mention being an effective practical Islamic training for your children.
One thing to remember is that, although giving away old things is praiseworthy in itself, sometimes, Muslims should also donate those things which they love and cherish, because Allah says that they cannot attain piety otherwise:
"By no means shall you attain piety unless you spend of that which you love." [3:92]
- Do not indulge in excess:
As a rule, whether economic times are good or bad, Muslims should avoid any kind of extravagant spending behavior. For example, going out to eat at very expensive restaurants three days a week, buying children branded clothes or imported candy when local products are just as good; buying a new dress for every ladies' coffee party; changing your cell-phone every 6 months; buying a better car when the "old" one is as good as new; hosting several expensive dinners every month for your business and social clientele, and so on.
Allah says in the Quran:
"Eat and drink, but waste not by extravagance. Verily He does not love those who are wasteful." [7:31]
- Forgive past grudges and keep good relations:
Anas Bin Maalik [May Allah be pleased with him] reported: Messenger of Allah [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم] said:
"He who desires ample provision and that his life be prolonged, should maintain good ties with his blood relations."
[Sahihain: Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
When a Muslim harbors no grudges against others for the wrongs they have done him, nor backbites or discloses their faults to others, he leads a calmer, more contented life. In contrast, people who resort to following their whims and desires, striving for dunya by aggressively competing with and emulating well-to-do families, find themselves unable to sleep at night, taking tranquilizers and anti-depressants, and wandering in shopping malls for "retail therapy" (i.e. buying unnecessary things to chase away their worries). By automatically forgiving others and abstaining from worldly competition, you will find your expenditures getting grossly cut down and a blessing in your income and savings, insha'Allah.
Carrying out the above tips in the long-term will ensure, for Muslims, a very contented life, freedom from financial worry and debt, and a consistent increase in provision that is blessed and superfluous. As Allah has promised in the Quran, the one who is grateful to Allah for even the lesser blessings, gets more:
"And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you give thanks, I will give you more (of My Blessings); but if you are thankless, verily, My punishment is indeed severe."