As-Sunnah Vol. 2 Issue No. 3


Consumerism and Over-consumption

3. Consumerism and Over-consumption:
Uncontrolled consumerism is a colossal problem and a wide field of study. The harmful tobacco industry and extravagance in celebrations, are but two aspects of the much larger problem of consumerism.

a) What is consumerism?
Consumerism is…
(i) The theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable.
(ii) A preoccupation with and an inclination towards the buying of consumer goods.

As human beings, we have basic needs like food and shelter, which are the bare necessitates of life. We require more than this to live more productive and comfortable lives. Progresses in science and technology have made available to people, more than ever, goods and services that benefit mankind and become a means towards better living.

Technology and material goods should be a slave to mankind that help him reach his true goal. If these roles are reversed, or as someone said, 'The victor belongs to the spoils'; then we have big problem at our hands. That, which was meant to enhance our life, becomes its misery. In the words of Herbert Marcuse, 'The more 'materialistic' society became in the advanced industrial countries, i.e. the higher, the standard of living rose for broad strata of the population, the clearer became the extent to which this progress stabilized misery and unhappiness. Productivity bore destruction within it and turned technology from an instrument of liberation into one of new enslavement. Faced with a society in which affluence is accompanied by intensified exploitation, militant materialism remains negative and revolutionary (even where exploitation becomes more comfortable and does not penetrate into consciousness). Its idea of happiness and of gratification can be realized only through political practice that has qualitatively new modes of human existence as its goal.' [Herbert Marcuse, Negations]

Consumerism has become the heart of our modern world, whereby endless shopping malls stretch from corner to corner of the planet. Products that no-one in their right mind could truly justify as necessary, adorn every shelf and showroom, enticing towards wasteful and thoughtless consumption. Regrettably, this is considered part of the acceptable goal of 'economic growth.’

Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter -


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