As-Sunnah Vol. 2 Issue No. 3


Consumerism: The Negative Impact on Social Relations

G (ii) Consumerism: The Negative Impact on Social Relations

Consumerism results in the loss of things far more important to the human psyche than those gained by materialistic acquisitions, like family and community relations.
Consumerism puts the individual onto a never-ending, ever-accelerating treadmill of acquiring possessions leaving little time and energy for more meaningful things in life. Attachment to possessions rather than to people leads to selfishness and miserliness. And '…Be on your guard against stinginess because it doomed those who came before you. It incited them to shed blood and treat the unlawful as lawful.' [Saheeh Muslim]
Consumerism leads to judging and treating people according to their possessions, which give rise to envy and rancor and causes a breakdown in family and community relations. Furthermore, if consumerism leads a person towards debt, crime or depression; this results in much anxiety, and inevitably strains one's social relations with others.

Islam, on the other hand, teaches maintaining the ties of the womb and generosity towards family and relatives. Narrated Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu), 'The Prophet (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said, 'Allah created the creations, and when He finished from His creations, Ar-Rahm, i.e., womb, said, '(O Allah) at this place, I seek refuge with You from all those who sever me (i.e. sever the ties of kith and kin).' Allah said, 'Yes, won't you be pleased that I will keep good relations with the one who will keep good relations with you, and I will sever the relation with the one who will sever the relations with you.' It said, 'Yes, O my Lord.' Allah said, 'Then that is for you.'’ Allah's Messenger (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) added, 'Read (in the Qur'aan) if you wish, the Statement of Allah, 'Would you then, if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land and sever your ties of kinship?' [Soorah ash-Shura (47): 22]' [Saheeh al-Bukharee (8:16)]
Marriages Affected
HYDERABAD: C V L Narasimha Rao, president of Raksha, a 'forum for public responsive legal action and speedy justice', says, 'Increasing consumerism, decline of the joint family system and growing intolerance are the primary reasons for marriages going sour and a concerted effort is needed to address the problem.’ TIMES NEWS NETWORK [MONDAY, MARCH 01, 2004 03:08:59 AM ]
Advertisement Gimmick: Attachment to possessions rather than to people
'By implying that happiness comes from products, advertisers exploit our real human desire for connection, calm, respect and excitement, leaving us romantic about objects and deeply cynical about humans, who are, after all, much more complicated than products. ('Who says guys are afraid of commitment?' one ad asks, 'He's had the same backpack for years')

Over and over, ads tell us that human relationships are fragile, difficult and disappointing, but products won't let us down! ('The ski instructor faded away three years ago, but the sweater didn't') Ads turn lovers into things and things into lovers'. [Jean Kilbourne, Deadly Persuasion: Why Everyone Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising. New York: Free Press, 1999]
One of the central premises of marketing is that buying things will make us happy. There is a growing body of evidence, however, that the opposite is true: that the pressure to spend and consume actually makes people less happy.

Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter -


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