Monday, May 16, 2011
When avalanches of schtuff kept spilling out from under my five-year-old's bed, I resorted to an adult reality show to straighten her out.
I kept her up late one night and plopped her down in front of the telly when Hoarders: Buried Alive came on.
She watched wide-eyed as camera crews struggled to enter the junk-crammed house of an elderly lady.
"That," I told her sternly, "is going to be you one day unless you stop sticking everything but the kitchen sink under your bed." [Loose translation from Urdu]
In today's consumer-driven economy, the wholesale accumulation of possessions that God strictly warns us against has become the norm thanks to a culture that promotes materialism over spirituality. The average child, for example, gets bombarded with 3,000 commercial advertisements a day.
"Alas, for every slanderer and back-biter who amasses wealth and hoards it! Does he think that his wealth will make him immortal? Certainly not. He will surely be thrown into the Consuming Furnace." (Quran 104:1-4)
God condemns an attachment to worldy things that often manifests itself in hoarding wealth and showing off material belongings (houses, cars, clothes, purses, electronic gadgets, etc.) even while others go without.
Instead, God says He gives us wealth and material things as blessings to fulfill our duties to Him, improve the general condition of people and guide them to His way.
He wants us to remember that this world is transitory while the Hereafter our permanent abode as did Khadija, the wife of the Prophet (S) and one of the four perfect women. An enormously wealthy woman, she emptied her coffers to help reestablish God's system on earth. Indeed, this "Princess of Arabia" was forced during the most trying times to suck leather dipped in water for nourishment.
Few people are able to stay focused on God like she did once they're rolling in riches.
Prophet Muhammad (S) warned: "By Allah, I am not afraid that you will become poor. I am afraid that worldly wealth will be given to you in abundance as it was given to those (nations) before you, and you will start competing with each other for it as the previous nations competed for it. Then it will divert you (from good) as it diverted them."
"We have people who have this wealth and power behaving exactly as God's Prophet (S) predicted they would," says Muhammad al-Asi, author of The Ascendant Quran, the first explanation (tafsir) of the Holy Book written directly in English. "When wealth and money came their way, they forgot God and turned away from Him. They are a shame and a sore on the condition of the Muslims in this world."
But their days are surely numbered.
As people awaken to the injustices being committed against them, notorious hoarders like former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (whose family stashed away an estimated $70 billion) are finally getting the boot.
While my daughter is steadily lightening the load underneath her bed (I no longer find bags within bags of goodies nested like Russian babushka dolls.), her reputation will be more difficult to shed.
My husband couldn't find his alarm clock last week. After looking under the bed, behind the bed and all around, he gave up.
"It must be under [our daughter's] bed," he concluded.