holiday week

mo money, mo problems?  yea, if you don’t know how to spend it.  i’ve learned one important lesson these past few weeks.  it’s really hard to make money, but really – really – easy to spend it.  i used to think, “man, why do i need money.  i’ve got everything i need.”  i’ve realized i don’t have everything i want.

it’s ok to want some things.  as i talk to more and more people, they tell me that as a muslim, you are allowed to spend according to your standard of living.  one person quoted a hadith (that i have yet to search for) that stated that Rasulullah (s) once bought enough household goods to last a year at one time.  he (s) is best known to have lived a simple and modest life, even living on nothing but dates, but he (s) apparently also did this at one point in his life.  (btw if anyone knows the reference to this hadith, hit me up).

so using this hadith, people have told me that it’s ok to spend.  it’s ok to spend on yourself.  it’s ok and actually a sadaqah to spend on your family.  but the question is about israf (excess from the measure of need).  how do we define this?  what do you actually need? is a civic enough? or a porsche? or a bentley? is a studio or 1-bed apartment enough? how about a 12 bath mansion?  is a muslim allowed to have luxuries?

when i was searching for new apartments, i had 1 main goal – get out of the apartment i was living in.  the management company had gone belly up, everyone had left and basically, maintenance was gone.  garbage, un-opened mail and graffiti littered the condo complex.  so what was my need?  security.  but along with that, i decided that a garage and in-unit laundry also became a need.  i spent about 15 minutes during chicago winter mornings cleaning and warming up my car.  now i get up and go.  when we first moved to chicago, i used to fill the car up with several loads of laundry, rolls of quarters, and a lucky child to spend the day with me at the laundromat.  now i have yet to see dirty clothing piling up.  are my wants changing into needs?

last week i went to visit my parents in new york.  9 out of 10 times i’ve gone, it’s been driving.  sometimes we rent a van and sometimes we drive our own car.  last january when we drove back from nyc we barely made it, going at 20 miles an hour sometimes because of the blizzard that we caught on i-80 heading west. so last week we flew.  it costs at least 4 times as much than driving by car, but again, what was the reason? was it my want of comfortable accommodations while traveling or my need of safety not being on the road in the middle of a snowstorm? (which, coincidentally, hit and left over a half-a-foot of snow over the midwest).

i think we all have to decide for ourselves.  there are things that may seem like an obvious want to some but may be a need to others.  on the other hand, maybe you want something so badly it starts to look like a need, when in reality it was just something you wanted and needed to be reminded that it was just so.

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