In a Culture of Excess, Even Overabundance is Deficient



Hello beloveds! Urbndervish here.

I pray that all is well with you! I know that it has been a while since my last posting but after the last letter of correspondence with my cousin/brother, I felt that the information therein could possibly benefit you.

The letter basically was a series of topics but the specific topic that I would like to touch upon is simple living. This concept has been given the names: “asceticism”, “slumming”, and my personal favourite, “voluntary simplicity”. Regardless of the nomenclature, the concept basically refers to an approach to life whereas quality is favoured over quantity.

We live in societies where the market has basically dominated all aspects of our existence. By market, I don’t mean the quaint, outdoorsy tents with vendors and bearded farmers selling their wares; nor am I referring to the fluorescent-lighted, neon edifices replete with multi-coloured boxes and hapless, grinning, underpaid employees. I am talking about the institutionalized entity whose life-blood is the consumption of the masses. (Sorry bout that! I promised eternitysojourner that I wouldn’t make this entry too bogged down with pedantic, academic jargon!) Basically, by market, I mean the upper echelon of “suits” who benefit from people buying things.

Okay. As I was saying, the market has its grubby hands in almost every part of our lives; whether it is the education industry, prison industry, entertainment industry, etc.! The fact that each one of those words end with “industry” lets us know that their main goal, as with any other industry, is to utilize resources to churn out a product to sell for consumption.

Unfortunately, even our last bastion of hope has been touched by the market: religion. I mean, instead of the pulpits being used to forward the ideas of temperance, reflective contemplation, and the like, the televisions are plastered with images of pasty-faced, thousand-dollar suited moguls preaching the “gospel of prosperity”; much to the chagrin of their purported founder who ate a simple diet and “didn’t have a place to lay his head”!

As you may notice, the title of this entry is “In a culture of excess, even overabundance is deficient.” This is the mantra that we will use in our journey to freeing the hold of the market in our lives. This statement is so true because the market would like to convince us that we don’t have enough; they then sell us excess. In our desire to find meaning and quality in our lives, the process of reflection and inner-happiness has been substituted with the fear of material deficiency. This fear has been fueled by the very people who want to sell us material. We cannot hope to convince another person if they do not convince themselves.

One has to ask themselves: “Have these products fulfilled their overall purpose?” “How have these products brought meaning to my life?” These accumulations just sit and collect dust while we search for its replacement. Is that the life that we want to live?! With all of the creative potential that the human possesses, why is it that our development is always hindered by the incessant need to consume?! Why do we ignore the voices of the ones that we love when they only desire a second of our time; only to listen attentively to the voices of those who do not care about us spend hours telling us which car to buy, which house to buy, and which clothes to wear?! Truly, the landfills are the cemetery of desires.                

That withstanding, we felt it appropriate to bring a different perspective. Please don’t mistake our words of advice as being “preachy”! They are just loving suggestions to our family, friends, and the occasional web-surfer who mistakenly came across our blog while searching for information on Mongolian throw rugs.

The plan is to post a series of entries giving practical advices on simplifying our lives. This is coming from a perspective of people who have tried and found these methods to be successful. We figured that we could find statistical researches and scientific facts to back our claims, but we are not writing to statisticians or scientists, we are writing to people who we love and who love us.

We also want to stress to you all that you must pace yourselves when trying to apply these advices. Do not beat yourselves up if you are not able to immediately. Try to implement some of the changes that you deem important. It is understood that people are at different levels and spheres of understanding. So you might not agree with everything that we suggest. Even so, know that these advices are sincere and are coming from the heart. We are not perfect; but in the process of seeking to attain some type of quality of being, we wanted to leave little breadcrumbs of experiential tips. Hope you enjoy and enjoin!


7 thoughts on “In a Culture of Excess, Even Overabundance is Deficient

Add yours

  1. urbndervish,
    This was found by one who found voluntary simplicity in 1976 after reading a book by the same name by Duane Elgin as well at Thoreau’s “Walden”. You have beautifully captured the essence of the concept. Keep writing.

  2. Salaams, my good friends!

    It’s good to hear from you! I hope all is well at Badr. How’s your Arabic coming? How’s Hasan and his family? I just finished my ESL certification with Oxford Seminars. My teacher was Steve Walsh. Was he your teacher also? Shaykh Hamza Yusuf told me one time that if you are proficient in your own language then it will be easier to learn another language. After being refreshed of all the English grammar that I forgot, I am now convinced that Arabic is EASY!!! I hope you feel me!!!

    The subject you’ve brought up is an extremely important one. You two are the best examples of simplistic living that I’ve ever seen! I’ve learned a lot from you but I’ve failed in implementing all that I’ve learned. One thing I would like to add to your excellent article is that from the Islamic perspective “zuhd”, or as you call it “voluntary simplicity”, is an action more so in the heart. One can be outwardly rich but does not have materialism lodged in their heart. So whether they have it or not they are still content. This is the crux of the problem in our society and societies like ours. There are people who live very simple lives out of circumstance but they inwardly desire material goods, wealth, fame, power, etc. In Islam, the person who does not have a lot of material items but has a desire for them in his heart is the same as the one who has all those items and has desire for them in his/her heart. The love and desire to amass the material world at the expense of spiritual, moral, ethical developement is the problem with both individuals, regardless of what they actually posess. The corruption of the heart is why we, as a society, are so hell-bent on acquiring as much as we can and are willing to do anything to get it and at the same time are so wasteful at the expense of the rest of the world. My hope is that people find that place in their heart and develop those values that you speak of in order to make this world a better place. I know that sounds cheesy but that’s what we need!


  3. took a quick glance at the site. skimmed the words and soaked up the pictures. looking forward to sitting down later to absorb everything. even though this is my first time looking at it, i do appreciate that you all (y’all) are sharing your journey. thank you. talk soon.

  4. Hey Jack!
    Thanks for your comments! Feel free to share some of your experiences with voluntary simplicity as well as some resources.

    Hey Gina!
    Thanks for your comments! We’ll make sure to post some more entries. So breathe and absorb!


  5. As-Salamu Alaykum ya beloveds!

    just stoppin by to give my salams.
    It’s been a looong time. Subhan Allah i miss you guys so much… keep me in ur duaas. I love you both for the sake of Allah!

    take care !

  6. Hello there!
    I am another one of those who has stumbled across your helpful and informative blog. I thank you very much for the information you have posted here. Your article on eating one meal day is what led me here, through a Google search of course! I absolutely agree with all you have written on that topic, and I like this post also. I have for a long time felt burdened by possessing so much “stuff”. It all ends up useless! Another similarity is that I am trying to go vegan myself. I feel so good when I manage to avoid consuming animal products. I think it would be interesting if you would do a post about your experience of becoming and being vegan, as well as its benefits.
    Thank you and God Bless!

    1. Thanks for the feedback! We enjoy hearing from others who have benefited from some of our thoughts! In keeping with your request, we’ll try to post some of our “vegan conversion” stories some time soon! Stay tuned and continue to visit us!
      ~the raggamuslims

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