Shopping Mania


THE reason why many of us do not wish to face reality is because it is painful. Reality hurts. It sheds light on areas which we want to keep in the dark.

Like the child who cries and screams because he cannot have his way is offered ice cream to calm him down, we adults too seek objects to soothe our pain. A sweet treat to distract us from the bitterness that is reality.

There used to be alcoholics, but thanks to the more recent emergence of ‘in your face’ capitalism, they have been sent to the back benches by the shopaholics. Their kind gets an inexplicable high by stuffing shopping carts mindlessly. With a condition unique to the wealthier class, they fall prey to the cunning of businessmen who fully exploit their surplus wealth and lack of self-control.


Islam calls for a balanced and moderate approach to consumption.


Lured to mega shopping malls by advertising, they return home with stuffed plastic bags, laughingly dismissing their excess as ‘retail therapy’. But little do they realise that such sugar-coating deludes them. ‘Buy one get one free’, ‘special offers’ and ‘seasonal discounts’ are the baits that lure shopaholics to harm themselves. But we must understand that their behaviour does more than bring harm just to their own person, for their compulsion panders not only to their innate desires and insecurities, it also correspondingly brings misery upon their near and dear ones and the environment at large.

What started off as an occasional misdemeanour slowly transforms into a habitual offence, and a fully mature addiction with special thanks to gigantic stores, credit cards and 24/7 advertising. The creed of capitalism contains no compassion, for its policy is to take no prisoners. There is only one interest that it pursues, and that is profit. It influences us to buy, shop, and hoard aimlessly, paying little attention to the utility and genuine need of things and the side effects of such compulsive behaviour.

Excessive shopping adds to clutter in the home, a strain on our finances, and a usurping of time that could be spent with family and friends. By shopping recklessly and impulsively, we clutter our lives with unnecessary items that add little value to our practical existence and merely occupy space and take up our time. The availability of easy credit makes us overlook the ramifications of impulsive spending and makes us fall headlong into the debt trap.

We need to free up our time and space by reducing our possessions, and make it a rule to buy only that which is necessary. Shopping should be a moderate affair. If it is developing into a serious compulsive habit, then it is time to step on the brakes and take action. Reduce, recycle, reuse should be our daily mantra.

Let us switch off this never-ending soap opera of commercialism for a moment and hearken to the call of Islam for a balanced and moderate approach to consumption. Take some time out to reflect on the Quran and you will discover its exhortations to manage your finances astutely, remain within the budget, save for a rainy day, and check impulsive spending. According to the Holy Book, consuming for the sake of consumption alone is a trait of kufr (disbelief): “…Those who reject Allah will enjoy (this world) and eat as cattle eat…” (47:12). Spendthrifts are not in good company, we are clearly warned: “Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the Evil Ones; and the Evil One is to his Lord (himself) ungrateful” (17:27)

That moderation should be the rule in the spending behaviour of a believer is the glaring rejoinder: “Make not thy hand tied (like a niggard’s) to thy neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach, so that thou become blameworthy and destitute” (17:29).

Moreover, surplus wealth is not meant to be blown away on frivolities but to be shared with those less fortunate: “….They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: “What is beyond your needs” (2:219).

Alms are mandatory and excessive spending is to be curtailed to meet the ideal that wealth: “…may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you…” (59:7)

The addiction of shopping brings temporary happiness, which is short-lived and attached to sadness. If owning material possessions attained happiness, the rich would have always lived very happy lives. But this is definitely not the case. Like others, the rich have their fair share of sorrows. So the formula for happiness definitely lies somewhere else. The discipline of Islam provides a moderate approach to consumption. When followed it results in happiness, harmony and balance.

First published in DAWN dated 21 April 2017

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A Prophet is chosen by Allah


Q. Deniers of finality of Prophet-hood cite verse 4:69 “whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, then he is among the company of the Prophets..” to justify the claim of Prophet-hood of their group’s founder. They maintain that their leader obeyed Allah and His Messenger to such an extent and devotion that he too became a Nabi (Prophet) and this was, according to them, in line with what is stated in the verse. Is their claim and understanding consistent with the Qur’an? Does the Qur’an really state that one can become a Nabi merely by obedience to Allah and His Messenger?

A. No. Such beliefs are not justified by the Qur’an, rather refuted by the Book of Allah. The ayah in question is:

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“All who obey Allah and the Messenger are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah of the Prophets (who teach) the sincere (lovers of truth) the witnesses (who testify) and the righteous (who do good): ah! what a beautiful fellowship!” (4:69 Yusuf Ali)

If we ponder over the verse we observe that it does not suggest that anyone who obeys Allah and His Messenger becomes a Nabi (Prophet), but rather that such a person enters in to the companionship of Nabiyeen (Prophets). The Arabic words MA’AL LAZINA an’amalla_hu ‘alaihim lit.“..in the company of those on whom is the favour of Allah..” clearly point to this fact. We further read in Sura 48 that:

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“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and those with him are strong against the unbelievers while compassionate with each other.” (48:29)

Here wal lazina maahu “those with him” i.e. those who were with Muhammad (PBUH) are identified separately. Those with Muhammad were those who obeyed him, and all of them did not become Prophets by doing so. Sura 4:69 states that those who obey the messenger, do not become Prophets but they simply come in their companionship.The Arabic words of 4:69 WA HASUNA ULA_’IKA RAFIQA lit. “And what a beautiful FELLOWSHIP”, also confirm this fact.

If one were to claim that being in the company of another makes him the same person, then in many places of the Quran we also find: Annalla_ha MA’AL muttaqin lit. “Surely God is WITH THOSE who are Righteous” (2:194) and innalla_ha ma’as sa_birin lit. “Surely God is WITH THOSE those who are patient” (2:153). If maa an nabiyeen” lit. “with the Prophets” makes someone a Prophet, then that would erroneously imply that maa_Allah would make one same as Allah! Such a belief being absolutely contradictory to Qur’an. It can be observed in the Quran that Nabuwah (Prophecy) is not acquired by personal efforts but is bestowed by God of His own will. The recipient of God’s message has no idea at all that it will be bestowed on him a moment prior to its revelation, as the following verses declare:

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“And thus have We inspired in thee (Muhammad) a Spirit of Our command. Thou knewest not what the Book was, nor belief. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of Our bondmen. And lo! thou verily dost guide unto a right path.” (42:52)

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“And thou hadst not expected that the Book would be sent to thee except as a Mercy from thy Lord: therefore lend not thou support in any way to those who reject (Allah’s Message).” (28:86)

“..Thou knewest not what the Book was, nor belief..” and “…”And thou hadst not expected that the Book would be sent to thee except as a Mercy from thy Lord..” clearly show that one on whom God’s revelation is bestowed does not work towards receiving that Message and does not make efforts to become a Prophet or Messenger. Rather Prophecy is a gift of God, and given as per the will of God. As the verse 4:69 clearly says that obedience to Allah and His Rasul results in attaining the fellowship of God’s Prophets and not Prophet-hood, therefore the view that one can become a Prophet by his own efforts is false and contrary to the Qur’an.

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The Messenger (pbuh) was a human being


Is there any evidence in Al-Qur’an to prove that Muhammad (p) was a human being?

The Qur’an classifies messengers in two categories, messengers from humans and messengers from angels

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“Allah chooses from the angels messengers and from the people. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing.” 22:75 Sahih International

It can be seen from above that Allah has selected two kinds of messengers.

(a) From Malaika (Angels)

(b) From Naas (People, human beings)

Malaika are not human beings but Allah’s creation assigned to perform tasks in the realm of Al Ghayb or the unseen.

In the case of Malaika, they are assigned by Allah to perform various tasks, such as taking the soul of a person at the time of his death etc.

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“And He is the subjugator over His servants, and He sends over you guardian-angels until, when death comes to one of you, Our messengers take him, and they do not fail [in their duties].” 6:61 Sahih International

In above ayah, it is Rusul or messengers who give Waffat or completion of death to a person, whereas in Surat An Nahl, the same task is mentioned to be done by Malaika:

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“The ones whom the angels take in death, [being] good and pure; [the angels] will say, “Peace be upon you. Enter Paradise for what you used to do.” 16:34 Saheeh International  

Malaika are beings sent as messengers that belong in the realm of Al Ghayb (the unseen) who perform these tasks, whereas in the case of Naas or human beings, for their guidance Allah has selected a bashar or human to be a recipient of His revelation.

That Muhammad (peace be upon him was such a human being, who was subject to the laws of nature that were applicable for all other humans is evident from numerous Qur’anic ayaat:

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“Muhammad is not but a messenger. [Other] messengers have passed on before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your heels [to unbelief]? And he who turns back on his heels will never harm Allah at all; but Allah will reward the grateful.” 3:144 Saheeh International

The words “So if he was to die or be killed.” indicate that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was also subject to death like messengers who had passed away before him. One who is subject to the law of death is neither immortal, nor an angelical being, but a human being. Muhammad (peace be upon him) is himself made to declare through numerous Quranic ayat that he was a human being with the proviso that he received Wahi or inspiration from Allah.

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Say, “I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God. So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone.” 18:110 Saheeh International

In above ayat, the words “I am only a man like you..” issued through Muhammad (peace be upon him) prove that he was a Bashar or human being, like other human beings, who was subject to all the natural laws that human beings are subject to.

As Qur’an identifies that messengers are of two types, angels and human beings (22:75), and as Muhammad (p) is shown to be prone to death (3:144), and as Angels are not prone to death but are the agents to cause death (6:61, 16:34), and as he is himself made to say that he was a human being, therefore it can be concluded from Qur’an that Muhammad (p) was a human being who was selected by Allah as His messenger for other human beings and not from the other category of angelic messengers.

Reincarnation of Muhammad


Is Muhammad (PBUH), a Messenger of all times? Does he keep reincarnating since day one, in the past, present and the future, appearing in the person and the body of various individuals?

The expression “Messenger of all times” does not find its origin in the Arabic Qur’an. Such a statement being non-existent in the Book is also refuted by numerous Qur’anic Ayaat themselves. When Allah wants us to make something part of our belief then He clearly and unambiguously mentions it in the Qur’an. An expression which does not exist in the Qur’an and which is refuted by it can never constitute Islamic teaching and should not be considered part of one’s Imaan (belief). Neither does the Qur’an call Muhammad (p) a messenger who keeps reincarnating in the person of individuals, nor does it term him in the original Arabic as “the messenger of all times.” Such beliefs are in error and grossly violate many clear cut statements of the Qur’an. Following is proof to the effect.

Proof #1: The Qur’an very clearly mentions that advent of Muhammad was after the departure of Jesus and not before, thus he is God’s messenger for mankind sent after Jesus and not present continuously on earth from the beginning of time:

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And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, “O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad.” But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, “This is obvious magic.” 61:6

The view that he is a reincarnating messenger of all times is refuted by the wordings “..of a messenger to come after me..” and prove that Muhammad (p) was commissioned after Jesus and not for the time period before Jesus. As he was sent AFTER Jesus, and not before him, therefore the assertion that he is the messenger of all times and present continuously on earth. is contradictory to Qur’an.

Proof # 2: The Qur’an declares that Messengers prior to Muhammad have passed away, thus his time period is after previous prophets / messengers and not before them:

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“Muhammad is no more than a messenger: many Were the messengers that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then Turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude.”

The words “..[messengers] that passed away before him…” clearly indicate that Muhammad is not a perpetual time traveler but existed historically after the passing away of various messengers, whom Allah had sent to guide mankind. Thus his time period begins not from “all times” or “day one” but after the passing away of previous messengers and he can not be present during the era of previous messengers.

Proof # 3: The Qur’an declares that Muhammad (p) was also subject to death, like every other messenger before him. One who is subject to death does not reincarnate back on earth after his death but is resurrected at the day of judgement:

In the same verse 3:144 cited above the wordings “..If he died or were slain ..أَفَإِن مَّاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ also prove that Muhammad (p) was a human messenger subject to Allah’s natural law of death, and not an immortal being who keeps reincarnating in all times and eras taking on the person of various individuals.

CONCLUSION

The Qur’an therefore CONTRADICTS the view that Muhammad (p) was present continuously on earth since the beginning of time. He was sent on earth after the passing away of previous messengers and specifically, after Jesus Christ (pbuh). Like other Messengers, Muhammad (pbuh) was also subject to the law of death. It is vital that prior to accepting any belief as Islamic we verify whether such beliefs pass the scrutiny of the Arabic Qur’an. Reincarnation is not an Islamic belief from the Qur’an but one which exists on Hinduism and other polytheistic faiths. The Qur’an refutes this doctrine in numerous passages.