Consumerism: Does money buy happiness?

"If your things don’t make you happy you are not getting the right things" This statement was made by a famous American actor as he received an award. I wondered to myself when I heard that sentence: Was this what (Robin Williams) believed? The man won all possible awards and was immensely wealthy... and yet ended his life by suicide!

The question "Does money buy happiness?" has a definitive answer backed by evidence, statistics, and psychological studies:

Money that meets the essential needs of a person does bring happiness. However, if you have enough food, shelter, and perhaps a little bit of entertainment, any increase in the number displayed in your bank account won't bring you any increase in self appreciation, or inner peace. None at all.

Here's the question: Why do people still chase after increasing that number in any way possible?

It's because their minds have been conditioned by large corporations to link consumption to their human value.

"I consume, therefore I exist" is the slogan of the modern era. 

But consuming what? More foods and drinks? Clothes and jewellery? Electronic devices and cars?

The answer is: everything, everywhere, all the time. 

Do you have an old model car? Oh, what a failure you are.

Is your phone not the latest model? You must be ashamed of yourself. What about your children? Do you want them to feel inferior compared to their peers when they see their friends having the latest PlayStation or Xbox?

And you, dear woman, where are your expensive jewellery, cosmetics, handbags, and shoes? Don't you want to show off on social media like your peers? Without these things you aren't worth much. 

Why do corporations promote "the value of consumption" as equivalent to "the value of a human being"? Because if people stopped consuming, those companies would go out of business.

Can you then blame Apple or Samsung for releasing devices that only last for five years max?

BUT - You might ask - what's the problem with that? Let me tell you that the real problem is not that consumption pollutes the planet and ruins the seas, oceans, and deserts.

The problem is that it creates an imaginary link between human worth and the price of the items they carry in their hand or wear on their body. Human beings have devolved from being honoured creations of God whom the angels bowed to, to becoming mere collections of prices attached to what they wear and use.

In 2019, a cheap shoe manufacturer built a fake luxury brand and sold the same shoes they usually sell for $10 to $20 for $600 to $900. They promoted the store through "social media influencers." Of course, the experiment was a resounding success. And they published the whole experiment on youtube. 

One of the customers, when interviewed during the store's opening, said, "My friends will be amazed and ask me where I bought these amazing shoes," while holding a shoe from “pay less " the original brand. 

As we seek to feel important, content, and satisfied with ourselves, our materialistic needs expand until they become the only thing humans strive to satisfy, like someone drinking from the sea to quench their thirst. 

The more they drink, the thirstier they become. 

This is why millions of people run tirelessly, stressed and anxious, with their eyes fixed on the prize... whether it's a car, a house, or even an electronic device, many of them die before attaining what they wanted. 

In contrast, a Muslim lives peacefully, content, and happy with their fate... because their eyes are fixed on what's immeasurably most precious and significant .. and eternal paradise. 

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Whoever among you wakes up secure in his home, healthy in his body, and has sustenance for the day, it is as if the whole world has been brought into his possession"

The Prophet, peace be upon him, set an example for his companions in asceticism. He was a prophet ruling over an entire nation, and yet he would not light a fire for cooking in his house for three months straight!

This does not mean that a person should live in poverty, but rather in balance.

Allah, the Most High, says:

"And those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but hold a medium (way) between those (extremes)."

[Quran 25:67].

Asceticism towards worldly possessions dignifies a person.

Prophet Mohamd said: 

"Renounce the world and Allah will love you, and renounce what people possess and people will love you." 

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "True richness is not through having many possessions, but true richness is the richness of the soul

Consumerism in Islam is a concept opposed to human dignity. 

 Humans are endowed by Allah with a soul and their primary concern should not be limited to physical pleasures such as food and drink. Rather, they should aspire to higher pursuits.

As mentioned in the hadith: "may a dishevelled, dusty person who is turned away from people's doors, if he were to swear by Allah, Allah would fulfil his oath."

The entire health in this earth will not even weigh the weight of a mosquito's wing in the scales of the Hereafter.

This is how a muslim should view this worldly life.