We live in a the heightened world of consumer economics where the consumer is the center of attention for corporations and media. If you search the origin of the word “consumer” you will be stunned to find out that it means “squanderer”. And this is what we are now, mere prodigals, squanderers. We have changed the world into an unbearable “hollow place” where we roam like shadows of men. And that is why we do not realize it. We are but “reminiscence of men”, only memories of men who do not reflect and rethink to make the world a better place. Men should live to serve others, not to consume and exhaust the planet with all its abundant resources. And so, now we are to pay for our mischiefs. The repercussions are great, and they will haunt us for the years to come.
Let’s start with the term consumer economy, and how we have affected ourselves and the world due to the doings of the corporations and media (that is to say that we are partially responsible for what is happening).
Just a glance at the map below, provided by World Health Organization, would give you chills. Most of the world are overweight or obese. The most obese are Kwait and Egypt, followed by US and UK.
Ocean Pollution and the Demise of Fish
We have become mindless creatures, not human beings. We are like jelly fish that are now thriving because of the ocean acidification whilst the fish are disappearing. In fact, in the last Marine Biology convention, it was declared that between 85 and 95 % of the fish are gone, because of overfishing, ocean acidification, and pollution (Garbage). Yes, Garbage in the oceans. The North Atlantic and Pacific Ocean Garbage Patches stretch to hundreds of thousands of kilometers filled with plastics and debris.
Again, because of our overconsumption the rate of diabetes cases has risen exponentially in the 21 century due to overconsumption and languor caused by a drastic shift in way of life. Not surprisingly, Saudi Arabia has topped the world in the cases on diabetes.
It is also predicted that obesity rate will increase from 382 Million In 2013 to 592 Million by 235, a 55% increase.
You would say what does autism has to do with the effects of overconsumption? I will answer you in just a moment. Autism has increased in an alarming rate from 1 our of 5000 in 1975 till 1 out of 110 in 2009. Reports now say that 1 our of 50 children have autism in 2013. This is alarming, and what makes things worse is that health officials do not know what the reason behind it is (I will write another blog post on the institutional schooling being one reason).
Now to answer your questions, what does autism have to do with overconsumption? By definition,autism is
a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.
This is describing all kids below the age of 20 nowadays. How so? The use and abuse of technology. Spending hours and hours using their mobile phones and tables have numbed their senses with the real world, where real people live, and so they lack social skills.
Reasons for Overconsumption
The first plausible reason for over consumption is planned obsolescence.
Planned obsolescence is in industrial design is a policy of planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time. Planned obsolescence has potential benefits for a producer because to obtain continuing use of the product the consumer is under pressure to purchase again, whether from the same manufacturer (a replacement part or a newer model), or from a competitor who might also rely on planned obsolescence. Just remember when was the last time you have changed your mobile phone, your laptop, your TV? and you’ll know what I mean.
Annie Leonard,in The Story of Stuff, captures the concept of planned obsolescence so effectively in this video.
Media is another reason for our overconsumption. We and our victimized children are exposed to hundred of advertisements every day, whether you are aware of it or subconsciously process the advertisement. We are exposed to advertisement in one year what people in the 1970s experienced in their whole lifetime. In essence, ads tell you that you are not good, your clothes are not good, your body is not good, you house is not good, you car, your child’s bedroom, your kitchen….. “unless you buy our product”.
And so the slogan “I Shop Therefore I am” applies to most citizens of the world.
The Quran is very clear about the negative effects of the “squandering” and that is nondoubtedly Haram (sinful) . The Holy Quran says
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا وَلَا تُسْرِفُوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ [٧:٣١]
O Children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters. (Al-Araf)
The Quran also says
وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنشَأَ جَنَّاتٍ مَّعْرُوشَاتٍ وَغَيْرَ مَعْرُوشَاتٍ وَالنَّخْلَ وَالزَّرْعَ مُخْتَلِفًا أُكُلُهُ وَالزَّيْتُونَ وَالرُّمَّانَ مُتَشَابِهًا وَغَيْرَ مُتَشَابِهٍ ۚ كُلُوا مِن ثَمَرِهِ إِذَا أَثْمَرَ وَآتُوا حَقَّهُ يَوْمَ حَصَادِهِ ۖ وَلَا تُسْرِفُوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ [٦:١٤١]
It is He Who produceth gardens, with trellises and without, and dates, and tilth with produce of all kinds, and olives and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in variety): eat of their fruit in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered. But waste not by excess: for Allah loveth not the wasters. (Al-Anaam)
Other evidence from Hadith and Umar bin Al Khattab show that eating or consuming more than is needed is Haram (sinful). Why then are the Arab countries among the most obese and have the highest diabetes rates in the world? What have you learned from your Islam? Why are you so mindless about what you eat and how you live? Why do you consume instead of producing?