Living Simply, Naturally and Avoiding Waste

By Mawlana Shaykh Nazim Adil Al-Haqqani

Mankind is one extended family. We are all related, and, therefore we share many characteristics, among them a great spiritual power hidden within our being. But our five senses carry us away from ourselves and ensure that we are constantly engaged in our surroundings. As long as we are the slaves of our senses they will draw us into the perpetual pursuit of insatiable sensual desires, and as long as we follow their dictates we cannot gain control of that spiritual power within us.

Because of this tendency, it is essential that anyone seeking to return to himself take his first step on the way of truth by decreasing his desires, by seeking to live an uncomplicated life. We are by nature vain and like to indulge in a lot of self-adornment. If people had the financial means, they would wear a new suit of clothes every few hours. In the old days, most people owned perhaps twenty suits of clothes through the course of their lives. Nowadays, it would be impossible for one to be satisfied even with twenty garments at any particular time in his life.

The modern economic system of the West is based on quick production and quick consumption, and that is the epitome of foolishness. Because of the universal predominance of such a system, people in industrialized countries tire quickly and die of weariness and lifestyle-related diseases. The race to produce and consume consumes people, it is a heavy burden on their shoulders.

Therefore, whoever seeks a happy life and spiritual improvement must do as sailors do when a ship is overloaded and in danger of going down in a storm – they throw off the ballast. If you like you may heed my warnings: be wise and move step by step towards simplicity. Don’t pursue fashion.

If possible one should eat natural foods, as junk food makes people behave like drunks. We are living in a time in which we are destroying ourselves with our own hands. We have created an economic system geared toward the principle of “quick production, quick consumption”, and that is a grave mistake. Since the development of this type of economic system, it has become impossible to fulfil people’s needs naturally, to grow food quickly enough without the aid of artificial fertilizers and insecticides, but by means of these violent methods, we are destroying the balance of nature.

The teachings of Islam stress the need to avoid waste. If people were to follow only this teaching the ecological balance would be re-established. Everywhere in the world, people waste food, and in America people throw away a week’s worth of food every day. How shall food production keep pace with such waste By utilizing artificial methods, and these methods in turn breed every kind of illness, economic problems, and psychological problems: all of this is the price of wasting divine favours.

Yesterday I attended a luncheon at which several Islamic scholars were present. They left so much food on their plates! They should not have accepted such large portions if they were not able to eat them, but they did, leaving the surplus to be thrown away. And these are scholars who are well familiar with Islam’s teachings about waste, so what should we expect from the common people?

Nowadays, most people’s hearts incline towards a wasteful, artificial lifestyle, and away from a life close to nature; therefore, the world’s problems are on the increase. I advise any who will pay heed to be friends of nature and not to flee from the countryside to the city. Cities are the plague of the modern world, adversely affecting every aspect of human life and the bigger the city, the more uninhabitable. Meanwhile, the countryside stands abandoned, as its inhabitants have been hypnotized by the dazzle of city lights.

Our physical bodies are part of nature, and a wise person will seek comfort in closeness to nature, not estrangement from it. Everything in the countryside is purer, and there are fewer illnesses and a generally healthier life. Therefore, I advocate the distribution of the population which is presently clustered in the great cities, throughout the countryside in small communities based on agriculture and decentralized manufacturing. People may work half the day in the fields and half the day in workshops or factories, and their lives would be excellent. If people would live in such a manner they would be healthier and happier.

These huge housing projects which resemble ocean liners are a horror. The government could use the same resources to build a village in the countryside, so that the inhabitants could maintain their human dignity and experience freedom in their surroundings. If it were up to me I would destroy these housing projects, as they are places in which all humanity is taken from humans: jungles, horrible places, centres of criminality. The devil’s plan for mankind is to have us jailed in such monstrous buildings, whereas Allah encourages us to use our faculties of reasoning, when He asks: “Is not My earth wide enough that you may migrate thereupon?”

From: In The Mystic Footsteps of Saints, Volume 1 (2002), pages 57-59.

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