By Babatunde Jose
“Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils), and the Shaitan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.”(Quran 17: 27-27)
A nation will enjoy glory and exaltation if it is characterised by a number of qualities, the most important of which is moderation in consumption. By contrast, extravagance, wasting of wealth and excessive consumption indicate submission to capricious pleasures and instinctive desires.
There is no gainsaying the fact that we are a very wasteful nation and its associated malaise; extravagance. As a nation, we leave the needful and pursue projects that are of little or no benefit to the socio-economic welfare of our people. Grandiose projects dot the nation’s landscape; epitomes of waste. Abandoned projects such as the housing project along Ilubirin Marina in Lagos; other exercises in stupidity, such as the craze for establishing airports in every town; construction of new state houses and governor’s offices by each successive state administration and worst of all; abandonment of projects initiated by predecessors, even when they are of the same party; such as the Monorail project in Rivers State. The culture of waste has extended to huge wastage of our youths who have been reduced to a ‘wasted generation’. It is normal for the present to look forward to a glorious future. But in our case, we are forced to look to the past with nostalgia; craving for a return to the former and the unwinding of the hands of the clock. In education, social life and the provision of the dividends of a better life, our past is better than the present and the coming generation have no hope of a better future because, their fathers, uncles and elders have squandered and wasted their patrimony. Our excesses are legendary. We are known all over the world for our extravagance and immodest living.
How do you describe a man who invest in a 50-bedroom mountain villa; all rooms en-suite; all with lavish Arabian-night appurtenances? How many bedrooms can one man sleep in? Yet, this is a man with only 4 children who at the last count are all married and living on their own. There are so many people like our hypothetical man. We all engage in excessive consumption and it’s a sin. This obnoxious culture even extends to our so-called men of God; with one of them being identified as owning three private jets.
Excessive consumption is the enemy of economising on riches and resources and a short-cut to impoverishment and bankruptcy. Addressing his relatives, a wise man said: “Spending the night starved but endowed with entitlements is much better than spending the night satiated with nutriments but penniless.” In the same vein, Omar Al-Faraq says, “In my view, irrational spending is more risky for you than poverty; for scarcity hardly inflicts someone endowed with common sense, and wealth will generally dissipate if managed by corrupt minds; indeed, optimal management of existing resources is better than half of one’s earnings.” There is no doubt, our wealth is being managed by corrupt and inept minds.
Controlling the economy of the community and preserving its resources could only be achieved after restraining the irresponsible behaviour of dissipaters of wealth and corrupters, be they organizations, institutions, households, or individuals.
Extravagance manifests itself in exceeding limits, going beyond recognised bounds in terms of action and behaviour. Extravagance equally implies either unnecessary expenditure or pertinent and necessary expenditure that exceeds the limits of necessity.
What is indeed most striking about contemporary generations is their relentless extravagance. Wealthy people are maintaining their extravagant spending behaviour while those suffering from tight budget are borrowing money in order to indulge in extravagance and lavish spending on what they do not actually need.
Extravagance leads to poverty and neediness. There are many instances of households which were ably managed by fathers who adopted a moderate strategy of consumption but were succeeded by extravagant children who are overcome by opulence. Thus, they gave free rein to their capricious desires until their households collapsed and they were ruined.
Extravagance incites people to perpetrate wrongdoing, as people submerged in extravagance would exclusively seek to satiate their desires by whatever means, extending their hands to other people’s property using all kinds of indirect and suspicious methods; for whoever becomes enslaved by the pleasures of life will devote his whole attention to satisfying his own insatiable desires.
Borrowing money for leisure traveling and for throwing lavish parties is prompted by nothing else but vanity and unbecoming habits. This has for so many years, if not for a lifetime, burdened heads of families with heavy debts and embittered their lives. Such negative outcomes are only caused by extravagance, wastefulness and the absence of rationalistic disposition.
The most common waste is done in weddings and burials. No doubt it is important part of our life, but one should not go beyond the limits in spending excessively for things that are unnecessary. Booking most lavish and expensive hall for a wedding party, to show off and giving the excuse that there are so many guests. Buying and making expensive bridal dress that many people cannot buy and take it on rent. Expensive bridal makeup just for a few hours.
Thus a wise person should not follow such obscene practices, which are disliked by Allah, only to please people and get noticed society. The Quran described many nations that were destroyed for being extravagant and as a result of their committing excesses. Allah describes extravagance as the attribute of the Shaitan and extravagant people are included among the followers of Shaitan.
Any society seeking to rise from its stumble must put an end to extravagance and wasteful spending and invest along the line of righteousness and reform.
There is however a more serious monument of waste; that which pertains to the waste of human and material resources of a nation. This aspect of waste is the bane of our underdevelopment and impoverishment. It ranks pari pasu with Corruption as our greatest headache in this country. This is what we shall turn to in our next huthba. In sha Allah.
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend.