Allah (swt) has granted us many blessings, for which we should be thankful to Him. We show gratitude to Allah (swt) by saying ‘Alhumdulillah.’ Another way to thank Allah (swt) is to use those blessings in the most appropriate manner. This includes using them for the right purpose, in the optimum amount, and at the right time and place. We should try not to waste these blessings neither by over-using nor under-using, as Islam teaches us moderation.
Our blessings might be tangible, such as food and water, or intangible, such as our health and youth. We must take guidance from the Quran and the Sunnah on how to use them wisely. If we do so, we will benefit from these blessings in this world and in the Hereafter.
Water is a precious blessing of Allah (swt), which we often use in excess.
“… eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31)
Wudu is a great Ibadah. However, the wasting of water is not allowed even during its performance.
Once the Prophet (sa) asked a person, who was performing Wudu: “Why are you wasting water?” The person enquired: “Is there waste even in Wudu?” Rasulullah (sa) replied: “Yes indeed, (do not waste) even if you are at the bank of a river.” (Ibn Majah)
Anas (rta) has narrated: “The Prophet used to take a bath with one Sa or up to five Mudds of water and used to perform ablution with one Mudd of water.” (Bukhari)
Aisha (rta) reports: “The Prophet (sa) used one Mudd of water for Wudu and one Sa for Ghusl.” (Abu Dawood)
On the average, most people use more than six litres of water for one Wudu and about 100 litres for a shower. One Mudd is approximately 1.03 litres, and one Sa is approximately 4.1 litres. In other words, we generally use much more water for Wudu and bathing than Rasulullah (sa).
Allah (swt) has made water for sustaining and nurturing life. He has given water for all of His living creation. As Muslims, we must not spoil the water for others by polluting it, nor deprive others by using more than our share.
- During Wudu, don’t let the tap run continuously. Don’t talk while performing Wudu, as you’ll be wasting water while conversing. Moreover, talking of worldly matters during Wudu is inappropriate.
- Don’t use water excessively, while washing the car or watering the lawn.
- Mend all leaking flushes, taps, and pipes, as this can lead to a substantial saving of water.
- Use the shower sensibly. While waiting for the hot water to come in the shower, gather the running cold water in a bucket. You can use it to clean the bathroom.
- Do not throw garbage, chemicals, industrial waste, and other hazardous waste in any water body.
After mentioning all the different fruits and crops that He has given to the humankind, Allah says: “… and waste not by extravagance. Verily, He likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Anam 6:141)
On the Day of Judgement, each one of us will be asked about what we had used and misused, including the food that we consume and waste.
Smaller portions. Don’t stack your plate. Take a little food and finish that before taking the second helping. Restaurants also promote bigger servings, which often cannot be finished in one go, especially by children. Take the leftovers home. Two people can even share one serving of an entrée or a dessert. By your own example, encourage your children to finish all the food on the plate.
Donate food. A social worker once told about extremely poor women, who asked for bones that people left on their plates, so that they could clean them and cook food for their children. Sends shudders down your spine! There are people, who are desperate to make a meal out of throw-aways, and there are people, who are careless enough to throw palatable food in the garbage.
Give away the excess food to the poor in your area or to charity organizations. For instance, Alamgir Welfare Trust Karachi (contact numbers: 0333-315-5369, 0303-729-8052, 493-2283, 493-5824) offers to collect food from your function venue, which saves you the time and effort to arrange the delivery of food.
Recycling. Leftovers and excess food can be turned into a new dish! How about making Parathas with leftover Aloo Bhurta or Qeema! Leftover Salan can be re-cooked with rice to make a quick Biryani.
Food for Plants. Rotting leftovers, stale food, and even kitchen ‘garbage,’ such as vegetable and fruit peels, can be stashed at the back of the lawn in containers, along with leaves, some soil, and cut grass to make homemade fertilizer (or compost), which is excellent for your plants.
Feed animals. Another way to avoid wasting of food is to feed it to pets or birds. I have often observed elders crumbling old bread to feed the birds. Encourage kids to do the same.
- Talent and Knowledge
Allah (swt) has blessed each one of us with special skills. Some are great at writing, while others at teaching; some are good at listening and giving consolation to the sick and the elderly, while others excel at cooking and sewing. However, many either are not aware of these God-given talents or do not consider them important. Some take these talents for granted, while others might be using them for purposes that are not dear to Allah (swt).
- Do a self-appraisal by making a list of things you are skilled at, have a natural flair for or would like to learn or improve upon.
- Utilize these talents at home and outside, according to the Quran and the Sunnah. Write meaningful articles or books, teach Tajweed or crafts, form a group to visit the sick in a hospital or cook for some elderly relatives on weekly basis.
- Join organizations, groups or individuals, who are already involved in doing work to please Allah (swt).
The Quran states: “But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Shaitans, and the Shaitan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (Al-Isra 17:26-27)
- Buy only when you need and not to hoard or splurge. Avoid impulse buying. Make a list of things you need and stick to it.
- Don’t be tempted by advertisements.
- Put a Sadaqa box or envelope in your house and encourage your family to contribute.
- We hoard clothes, shoes, decorative items, cutlery, dinner-sets, linen… – most of these just lie in cupboards, hardly used. Keep a check on such spending as well.
The Prophet (sa) said: “The feet of a human being will not depart on the Day of Judgment from his standing before his Lord, until he is questioned about five things: his lifetime – how he passed it, his youth – how he used it, his wealth – where he earned it and how he spent it, and how he followed what he knew.” (Tirmidhi)
Youth is the age for high aspirations, productive work, and achievement. Its value is fully realized only when the limbs become less agile, you get tired easily, and start losing that sharp memory. Before that happens, why not strive to achieve Allah’s (swt) pleasure by leaning towards all that He has recommended and staying away from what He has forbidden?
- Time and Health
The Prophet (sa) said: “There are two blessings, which many people lose. (They are) health and free time for doing good.” (Bukhari)
Each moment passes, never to return. Are we doing all we can to make the most of it or are we busy in the matters, which will have scant or no value in the Hereafter? We might think slouching in front of the TV or gossiping over the phone is a good way to pass our free time. Of course, we need to relax, catch a nap, and call up friends. Nevertheless, some of our free time can be devoted on a regular basis to gaining or spreading knowledge, doing Nafl Ibadah or listening to Islamic lectures.
- We can make a to-do list of our daily activities, set the priorities, and try our best to finish these tasks.
- We can analyze our daily, weekly, and monthly achievements. This can slowly become a habit, which will save a lot of misappropriated time and energy, Insha’ Allah.
- Our health is a blessing, without which we would not be able to enjoy any of the other blessings. When we are in good health, why waste it on frivolous acts, such as non-stop shopping sprees or hours in the beauty salon?
- Use the perfect vision to read the Quran, Tafseer, and books of Hadeeth.
- Use the sharp hearing to listen to the cries of the needy.
- Use the agile limbs to go to the Masjid for Salah in Jamat and run errands for relatives and community.
In conclusion, let us take inspiration from these words of the Prophet (sa): “Allah will give shade to seven on the Day, when there will be no shade but His. (These seven persons are) (1) a just ruler, (2) a youth, who has been brought up in the worship of Allah (swt) (i.e., worships Allah (swt) sincerely from childhood), (3) a man, whose heart is attached to the mosques (i.e., to pray the compulsory prayers in the mosque in congregation), (4) two persons, who love each other only for Allah’s (swt) sake and they meet and part in Allah’s (swt) cause only, (5) a man, who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for illicit intercourse with her and says: ‘I am afraid of Allah (swt),’ (6) a man who gives charitable gifts so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e., nobody knows, how much he has given in charity), and (7) a person, who remembers Allah (swt) in seclusion and his eyes are then flooded with tears.” (Bukhari)