Minimalism simply implies living with less. It is the antidote of the consumerism culture. It can also be said to be a form of zuhd (known in English as Ascetism). Unfortunately, this has been grossly misunderstood by many Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
So what is Zuhd?
According to Sufyan Ath-Thauri,
“Zuhd is to have limited amount of expectations (very few hopes), it doesn’t mean eating poor or inadequate food, as many may think, or wearing a cheap or inferior gown or cloak”
Ibn Ja’laal said,
“Zuhd is to know that this life is a temporary one that will pass away, it should not be magnified in one’s heart, nor should much focus be placed on it…”
Al Junayd said
“Zuhd is to free the heart from wanting”
And finally, Imaam Ahmad said,
“Zuhd is not to have many expectations .”
Minimalism is majorly about getting rid of the superfluous and living with only what one needs in this dunya.
Many of us are all about the consumerism culture and we forget that Allaah subhanaHu wa ta’ala has warned us in the Qur’aan , in Suurah at-Takathur (interpretation of the meaning);
- The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you,
- Until you visit the graves (i.e. till you die).
- Nay! You shall come to know!
- Again, Nay! You shall come to know!
- Nay! If you knew with a sure knowledge (the end result of piling up, you would not have occupied yourselves in worldly things)
- Verily, You shall see the blazing Fire (Hell)!
- And again, you shall see it with certainty of sight!
- Then, on that Day, you shall be asked about the delight (you indulged in, in this world)!
Furthermore, Al-Mustawrid al-Fihry related that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said;
“The dunya, as compared to the aakhirah (the Hereafter), is just like when one of you dips his finger in the sea! Let him see how much (water) it (his finger) will carry.” [Sahih al-Jami’]
We buy, we gather, we amass a lot of what we don’t need.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) has said: ”Nothing fills (satisfies) the son of Adam except Dust”. (Sahih Bukhari, Book #76, Hadith #445)
i.e. A person will never be satisfied till he meets death.
So what does this tell us?
We need to look inwards and really reflect on what’s truly important in this dunya.
Allaah, Glorified and Exalted is He, says (interpretation of the meaning);
“I have not created jinn or mankind except to worship me“
Now, the following are practical tips for living a minimalist lifestyle according to the Sunnah :
- Have the Right Intention.
When you realize that less is more, you should have the intention of seeking Allaah‘s Pleasure only, when you let go of the things you don’t need.
We all hoard stuff. Anything you know you’re not using or keeping for the sake of eventuality, let go of it and give to charity. This is very important.
- Create room for what’s important.
What’s the most important thing in this dunya? Worshipping Allaah. Everything else is secondary. And no, I’m not just talking about praying 5 times a day. I’m talking about abiding by the injunctions of the Qur’aan and following the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him).
- Observe where you are repeatedly spending your time and money.
If it isn’t on something productive or beneficial both in this dunya and in the aakhirah, let it go!
- Eliminate toxic relationships and people who are a threat to your Deen.
Abu Hurairah (May Allaah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) saying, “Man follows his friend’s religion, you should be careful who you take for friends“.[At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud].
No further explanation needed.
- Be moderate in spending.
Learn to prioritize and spend only on what’s important and necessary. Always ask yourself,
“Do I really need this?”
“What will happen if I don’t buy it?”
Often, this mindful reflection will get you spending less.
- Social Media Detoxification.
Do you impulsively check your phone all the time? Do you spend a lot of time online on chat and social media apps? WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and what not?
If you do, a detox is in order. You can learn to productively use the sites and manage your time properly or just delete them altogether.
Whichever one works for you.
- Last but not the least, Adorn yourself with the mannerisms of the Prophets of Allaah and the truthful ones.
With all these being said, you’re probably curious and wondering, “what do I benefit from living a minimalist lifestyle?”
- Realization of what’s important. In this case, it’s fulfilling your purpose of existence – Worshiping Allah.
- Freedom. Peace of Mind. Happiness. Contentedness.
- Less focus on material possessions.
- More time at your disposal which can be used productively.
All these and many more are the benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having fun and living halal. The only problem is when this takes up all our time and distracts us from worshiping our Lord.
May Allaah grant us all success.
By Nusaybah Al.adeebah Layla Raani Bint abdilFattah Umm Aabidah, www.struggleswithmynafs.wordpress.com
23rd Shawwal, 1438 AH.