The Social Impact of Borrowed Living

borrowed living

The one-world materialistic consumer culture, which is deliberately being promoted throughout the globe, is affecting us. We are falling into the trap of living a lifestyle based on loans: house loans, car loans, education loans, investment loans, credit cards, digital money, and money borrowed from friends and family. All this is affecting us, our families, and our society in a negative manner. Let us study the impact of borrowed living and look at some ways to counter it.

Responsible borrowing may sometimes be inevitable. The Prophet (sa) once borrowed from a Jew. The problem is a lifestyle of borrowed living which is being promoted nowadays. Most of such transactions are based on Riba and lead to a never-ending vicious cycle, which is intended to trap the borrower, adversely impacting him, his family, and the whole society.

The primary impact of borrowing is on the borrower. It affects his character as he becomes prone to lying, deceiving, making false promises and cheating. He also becomes a victim of corruption in trying to pay back the monthly installments to his creditors with whom his relations can easily turn sour. They say that if you want to destroy your friendship, borrow from a friend. Such a person becomes hated in the society. People curse him for not paying back on time. He becomes lonely and sometimes, even depressed and suicidal.

Such people are prone to be led away from truth and reality. They live in the artificial world of advertisements, movies, music, and perpetual entertainment, which help them find comfort and draw them away from focusing on their problems. They develop a mentality of constantly acquiring things, rather than taking care of the weak. They look down on others, who apparently have less than them, and as they do not give the Zakat (due to their loans), the poor become envious of them. With easy access to loans, the borrower has little motivation to develop good work ethics, enterprise, planning, accountability, responsibility, innovation, reform, service, learning, and vision in his work. All this promotes a hollow ostentatious lifestyle, without any meaning, spirituality, or wisdom.

A person living such a lifestyle is deprived of all the blessings, as his transactions are based on Riba, which Allah (swt) has promised to make devoid of any blessings. He lives a wasteful life, and Allah (swt) calls such spendthrifts the ‘brothers of Shaitan’. The borrower’s relationship with Allah (swt) becomes weak as he begins to fear people and the future instead of Him. He always feels guilty and dissatisfied with life, trying to find an escape from his predicament. This weak relationship with Allah (swt) causes his relationships with those around him to deteriorate. He starts perceiving his family, colleagues, neighbours, friends, relatives, etc., as potential creditors. Becoming entrapped in this mentality, he only manages to increase for himself the pressure of his financial problems.

As an Ameer of the family, a man is supposed to provide Halal income, protection, and good Tarbiyah for those under his authority. All these become difficult for a borrower. His family becomes addicted to the easy life, and their demands increase day by day. This leads to family problems and misunderstandings. From a young age, children learn from their parents the destructive character traits that come with borrowed living.

A society, in which the majority of people are trapped in such a mindset, develops serious social problems. These destroy its very fabric, leading to deceit, thefts, violence, crime, killings, addictions, increase in materialism, and loss of spirituality. People become concerned only with competing with each other in acquiring things and living out enviable fashions and trends. They lose sight of what matters most in life and live out the hollow lifestyles of the celebrities they watch on the mainstream media. At a macro level, even governments sell their independence through financial enslavement, which affects millions of citizens.

A Way Out

The solution to these maladies is to not get trapped in a credit-based system in the first place. Try not to take any loan ever, if you can help it. Instead of a credit card, use cash, or at least a debit card. If credit cards are unavoidable, you can ask your bank to automatically pay the monthly balance from your account. The best cure is to change your lifestyle and live within your means. Instead of living a materialistic lifestyle, adopt a spiritual one. Engage in learning and teaching, rather than shopping and partying. Adopt the Sunnah in your daily routine.

Realize that the Prophet (sa) called the market the worst place and the Masjid the best. When you enter the market, recite the Dua for it. When you do go out for shopping, always make a list before leaving the house. Only buy the items on the list. Do it like a chore on fixed times on a weekly basis, not like an outing or entertainment which the mall culture these days promotes. Spend the least possible amount of time shopping. Do it without the wife and kids and after a meal. If you can help it, do not visit the market in between your weekly trips.

Make priorities for spending. For example, you may decide to spend on charity, learning, and health, while cutting expenditures in other areas. Engage in free entertainment like going to parks and beaches, instead of going to movies and malls. Eat at home by learning or asking your wife to learn to cook your children’s favorite fast foods like donuts, cookies, cakes, and pizzas. You can do it as a family weekend in the kitchen once in a while. Buy off season clothing. Do your Eid shopping months in advance before the prices rise. Go on vacations locally, instead of going to faraway places.

Brothers, who are about to tie the knot, should take into consideration the spending priorities of their spouse-to-be. If she is known to spend on extravagant fashions, etc, will you be able to provide that through your loan-free Halal income? Also consider future responsibilities once the family begins and grows. A girl with simple and realistic needs will be closer to Allah (swt), easy to please and caring.

The Prophet (sa) refused to lead the funeral prayer for those who had outstanding loans. The following Hadeeth confirms this. A dead person was brought to the Prophet (sa) so that he might lead the funeral prayer for him. He asked: “Is he in debt?” When the people replied in the negative, he led the funeral prayer. Another dead person was brought and he asked: “Is he in debt?” They said: “Yes.” He (refused to lead the prayer and) said: “Lead the prayer of your friend.” Abu Qatadah said: “O Allah’s Messenger (sa)! I undertake to pay his debt.” Allah’s Messenger (sa) then led his funeral prayer. (Bukhari) Even Halal loans are not encouraged, due to all the reasons cited above.

Today’s social architects promote borrowed living. They aim to keep the general public deluded and entrapped so that they keep earning and prospering at their expense. As practicing Muslims, we should see through their schemes and neutralize them. Borrowed living affects not only the individual, but also the family and society. Resolve to live within your means by adopting a simple Sunnah lifestyle with known priority areas for spending. A slave of Allah (swt) does not rest until he frees himself from all forms of enslavement. This includes financial slavery.

 

Characteristics of a Believing Wife

Believing WifeAre you planning to get married? Abu Abdullah outlines what one should look for in a prospective spouse.

The Prophet (sa) has been reported to have said: “A woman is normally sought as a wife for her wealth, beauty, nobility or religiousness, but choose a religious woman and you will prosper.” (Muslim)

Some well-intentioned Muslims try to follow this prophetic advice in choosing a spouse and make religion the principal criteria for their selection. However, soon they face problems: how to define ‘religiousness’ and which particular religious characteristics should a prospective wife have? Are wearing a Hijab and praying regularly sufficient? Certainly, they do indicate righteousness; however, the outward manifestations can sometimes be deceptive, which calls for some deeper considerations before making this important decision.

Correct Aqeedah

The foremost of these is having the correct belief or Aqeedah, for the belief systems of people may differ. If a person spends the entire life doing good deeds, but his belief system is corrupted, he may not gain any reward for it in the Akhirah. In terms of marriage, beliefs form the basis of a person’s worldview; thus, two people with different beliefs cannot come to common terms easily, because their perspectives are different. Spouses are like a pair of eyes in the head: each has separate vision, but when they focus on common goals, they provide a depth in perception that is not possible by either one of them alone. Wearing different-coloured eye glasses on each eye, results only in confusion. Further, this poses difficulties for children, who are often left perplexed about how to see reality. Even among Muslims, different sects have different Aqeedahs, so care must be taken in choosing a mate whose belief one concurs with.
Sincerity in Front of Allah (swt)

The next important characteristic may be quite difficult to ascertain. It is sincerity in front of Allah (swt) which is a very private matter, as it is related to the intentions of a Muslim. When a wife does everything primarily for Allah’s (swt) sake, one can be sure that Islam is not just on her lips; it has entered her heart. That is the essence of religion. When she does something good to him or his relatives, it is primarily to seek reward from Allah (swt). It will make no difference to her, if she is appreciated for her good deeds or not, as she knows that Allah (swt) appreciates her. Many typical misunderstandings and complaints in marriages can be neutralized by this great characteristic alone.

Love for the Prophet (sa) and his Sunnah

Love for the Prophet (sa) and his Sunnah is another important consideration for marriage. The Sunnah provides Muslims with exemplary patterns of lifestyle which guide them to the most natural way in which Allah (swt) wants them to live. A wife, who takes the Prophet (sa) as the best role model for herself, will constantly work on improving her character. She will cultivate such good characteristics as patience, thankfulness, humility, devotion, truthfulness, modesty, sincerity, dependability, etc. Such traits are indispensible in a believing wife.

The life of a Muslim, who follows the Sunnah, is characterized by good balance. They fulfill the rights of Allah (swt) as well as of the people around them. A wife who loves the Prophet (sa) will follow the caring way in which he dealt with people. Wives play a significant role in the social interactions of families and friends, so a genuinely concerned and caring wife will be a source of good Dawah and reform. She will constantly think about the welfare of others, in both their religious and mundane matters. She will help in maintaining strong ties of kinship. Certainly, she will not forget the responsibilities she owes to her children, whose characters she has to mould.

Love for Learning

After the love for Allah (swt) and the love for the Prophet (sa) should come the love for learning. A wife who is committed to a lifetime of learning will always look for ways to keep improving herself, both in matters of Deen and Dunya. In each stage of her life, she will eagerly learn the knowledge required for carrying out her responsibilities. Correct Aqeedah will help in building her inner vision by placing what she learns in the correct framework of belief. This will allow her to develop insights about the nature of things. This Hikmah (wisdom) and Firasa (intuition) are rare and valuable qualities to have in a wife. Indeed, the Prophet (sa) has been reported to have said: “Whoever follows a path in pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make easy for him the path to Paradise…” (Ibn Majah) She is also more likely to pass on this love for learning to her children.

Obedience

A wife can have all the above qualities; yet, if she is not obedient, then the family unit is prone to tear apart. Obedience is threefold: to the commands of Allah (swt), to the Prophet (sa) and then to the husband. Every social setting needs a leader: a responsible person who would look after the interests of the entire group. In a family, this responsibility is in the hands of the husband, who should seek to acquire all the above characteristics himself, before demanding them from his potential spouse. A family cannot be led by two people. If the wife does not obey the husband, chaos ensues. At a macro level, family discords lead to disruption in society, since a healthy family unit is the basis of a healthy society.

For a successful Islamic marriage, both husband and wife should be committed to improving themselves and acquiring good characteristics that go beyond mere rituals of religion. If a wife has the right Aqeedah, is sincere to Allah (swt), loves and practices the Sunnah, is committed to learning and is obedient to the husband, then there is very little else that a wise practicing Muslim should consider.

Friendship with non-Muslims

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There are many blessings in friendship. In his essay “Of Friendship”, philosopher Francis Bacon states that a good, honest friend is a source of constructive feedback. This idea was also stated by the Prophet (sa), as he was reported to have said: “A believer is the mirror of his brother. When he sees a fault in it, he should correct it.” (Bukhari)

The benefits above are universal and apply to all human societies. Let’s see what our Creator has advised Muslims about such a beneficial institution as human friendship.

“Verily, your Wali (Protector or Helper) is Allah, His Messenger, and the believers…” (Al-Maidah 5:55)

On the face of it, one may think that Allah (swt) wants Muslims to befriend only the people of their own community and have no friendly relations with the non-Muslims. If one studies the Sunnah, it soon becomes apparent that this is not the case.

The most general human relation possible is Muwasat. This entails wishing well for all creation, including all of humanity out of compassion.  After Badr, Muslims took the disbelievers as prisoners of war. They were kept in the Prophet’s Masjid and were treated in the best manner. They were given the best food, while Muslims had to do with little. During the reign of Umar (rtam), non-Muslims used to receive monthly stipends from the state treasury. Muslims were averse only to disbelief, not to the disbelievers.

The next type of relationship is Mudarat, where one deals with people of the other communities on a one-to-one basis. These interactions may take place if, for example, one has a non-Muslim guest or a neighbour or someone sitting next to them in a flight. Again, Muslims are supposed to show their best behaviour in such interactions. A Jew visited the Prophet (sa) once and was invited to eat there and sleep in his bed during the night. The next day, when he left, he forgot his sword. The Prophet (sa) kept it safe, until he came back to collect it later.

The third type of relationship is Muamalat, where Muslims associate with non-Muslims on the basis of some work – for instance, as an employer, employee, colleague, teacher, doctor, librarian, etc. The Prophet (sa) once borrowed money from a Jewish money lender by pawning his belongings to him.

The last category of friendship is Muwalat, in which people become close intimate friends with each other. They tend to support each other at all cost, even at the cost of their beliefs. It is this friendship that is prohibited for Muslims. Such friendships can influence one’s entire way of life. If a Muslim befriends non-Muslims intimately, there is a danger that the former will forget his responsibilities as a member of the Ummah. If a Muslim condones all actions of a non-Muslim friend, how can he invite him to the Deen?

Islam encourages Muslims to take full benefit of the institution of friendship. They must have compassion for all humanity, deal well with any non-Muslim they come in contact and work with them constructively for common objectives in society in an exemplary manner. However, they must reserve the intimate nature of friendship only for fellow Muslims.