We all love a good deal. We search through the clearance racks and bins to see if we can find things at a fraction of the original price. There’s nothing wrong with that – after all, we work tirelessly to earn our wealth and have the ability to purchase things for our families and ourselves. We want to make the most of each dollar we spend.
But when does bargain hunting cross the line? When does it become damaging to the businesses we visit, and damaging to our own faith?
The thing is, our insistence on getting deals and discounts doesn’t hurt large corporations who produce their products en masse, very cheaply, and have a million others ways to profit off of customers. We actually end up hurting the small businesses and their owners who’ve spent months and years of their lives developing their products and honing their skills.
When we walk into a small one-woman-show boutique or visit the online store of a struggling but talented artist, the money we pay for their products helps them develop more products, expand their business, pay for their car insurance or their kids’ Eid gifts. It’s not going into some executive’s offshore bank account. It’s making an actual difference in someone’s life. Think about that for a second, it’s quite profound.
When people email me to ask for discounts on my books, I actually sit in front of my computer screen and cringe. Honestly, my heart just sort of drops. I genuinely don’t think they understand the sheer amount of hours that have gone into writing, editing, illustrating, printing, distributing, and advertising these products. (It isn’t easy work, but I enjoy it, Alhamdulillah.)
Still, when you continuously insist on getting discounts (even on products that are not very expensive to begin with), what you’re essentially saying to the business owner is: your time and effort aren’t worth my money.
You may not have these literal words escape your lips, but the person on the receiving end of your request can certainly read between the lines.
The Meaning of Generosity
An essential manifestation of our faith is the ability to employ generosity. Many people think “generosity” is limited to our charitable donations, or volunteering at the mosque…but that is a narrow definition of the word.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) said,
“Generosity is near to Allah, near to Paradise, near to the people, and far from the Hellfire. Miserliness is far from Allah, far from Paradise, far from the people, and near to the Hellfire. An ignorant generous person is more beloved to Allah the Exalted than a stingy scholar.”
Generosity makes you beloved to the people and to Allah! Generosity with your wealth, but also with your understanding and appreciation of good, innovative work. Generosity with your words of support and encouragement for people to follow their dreams. Generosity of spirit in every way.
According to this hadith, it is preferable to be genuinely generous than to be a knowledgeable person who is stingy with his or her wealth. In another hadith, the Prophet (saw) said, “What illness could be worse than miserliness?”
The ramifications of these ahadith are serious. When we continuously hoard our wealth and are unwilling to part with it, even for things that are really worth it, it begins to affect our faith and our character.
So from now on, I personally pledge to do the following two things:
1-If I see a product or service that’s fantastic, and I can afford it, I will buy it and support the business. This is because I know my money isn’t being “wasted.” Rather, I’m employing generosity in my dealings with other people, and I’m staying away from miserliness.
2-If I see a product or service that I really want, but can’t afford, I’ll simply walk past it and find something else in my price range. This is because I know that if I’m trying to bring the price down amidst protests from the business owner, then I may be causing pain to the person who has dedicated her life to this work.
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said,
“Allah, the Exalted, Says, ‘Spend, O son of Adam, you will also be spent upon.’”
We spend in charity, which is a beautiful and noble act that we should fiercely protect. But let’s also make a point to spend, with the right intentions, at small businesses (especially Muslim-owned ones) to support and encourage growth and creativity in our communities.
Our wealth and success only comes from Allah. So while we are blessed with it, we should use it in a beautiful and generous way. May Allah (swt) help us to do so.
Source: About Islam
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