The month of Ramadan we have just entered is a time when we purify ourselves from our physical and worldly desires. While we curb our temptations in this month to detach ourselves from this dunya, this consumer society we live in, conversely, encourages indulging in the desires of our nafs, our ego.
It’s really unfortunate that the best description of a consumer in these times would be ‘unsatisfied’.
There’s always a newer version, a ‘better’ version we convince ourselves. The latest version is now able to do something it hadn’t been able to do before, or its competitors weren’t able to provide, and suddenly we realize our lives cannot be the same without it. The desire suddenly becomes a need.
We can’t blame solely ourselves for feeling this way. Companies invest a big chunk of their money on advertising and marketing to have their products and services appeal to consumers. Some companies even study consumers to learn their likes and dislikes. They aim to cater to our personalities and target our desires with accuracy.
Some of these products have enhanced our lives in productive way and I appreciate their values. But to become smart shoppers we have to evaluate ourselves individually to determine if we are being fooled by ads to buy something we don’t really need. In this economy, asking ourselves some basic yet critical questions before purchasing can save us a lot of money as well. Here are some questions:
1. What purpose will this product fulfill in MY life? (What are MY needs?)
2. Do I already own something else that fulfills this purpose?
3. Can I find this product or another one with a similar purpose at a cheaper price elsewhere?
4. Are there any coupons, rebates, or deals I can find/wait for before I purchase this product?
5. For expensive electronics, have I done the proper homework in researching?
Making lists like these and implementing them to our worldly desires and luxuries will help ensure that we do not overfeed our nafs and prevent us from becoming too attached to this world by prioritizing our needs over our wants.
It will allow us to go from being unsatisfied consumers to satisfied and content “travelers” who are aware that this dunya, the inferior world, is only a means to reach our ultimate destination of the next life.