In The Name of Islam, the Beneficent, the Merciful




[Shamim A Siddiqi, New York]


WHAT IS CONSUMERISM?  Consumerism is the concept of market based on the forces of Demand and Supply, covering the entire spectrum of goods and services that are essential to maintain and continue human life or man’s existence on earth. These are the natural phenomenon and have been arranged by our Merciful and Benevolent Creator and Sustainer for the survival of human species since the time man descended on earth. It needs some elaboration to state as how these natural forces came into existence. However, its harmonious and smooth growth is very often disturbed or jeopardized when human ingenuity, his weaknesses - greed, caprices or his profit-making motive become prominently active, and man starts manipulations on either side of the equation of “Demand verses Supply”.. The natural equilibrium in between demand and supply is, thus, broken at frequent intervals, putting the economy of man in disarray as we see today and through ages 


What creates Demand? It is generally acknowledged that under capitalism “Consumer is the King”. It is he who fixes the flow, the trend and the quantum of demand in the market which in turn is dictated by his natural urges. Man’s natural needs of sleep/rest, hunger/thirst and sexual instinct prevail upon him to create the demand of goods and services. It covers the entire spectrum of human needs, from birth to death and from cradle to grave, to satisfy his paramount physical and material urges. This is a natural phenomenon. The man through his natural urges sets the economic wheel of demand to move ahead. It becomes the fundamental instrument to create the forces to come forward to supply and meet his needs and urges, creating the Supply side of the equation.


From where the Supply comes? The Creator and Sustainer Who created man with strong urges also gave him a free will to satisfy his natural urges the way he/she likes and for that He created this entire universe for man and harness it for him to explore and use for the satisfaction of his natural needs and urges. This sets the equation to work upright: “to work as per your capacity and take as per your need”. It was possible when at the very outset of human society “man’s needs or wants were limited but the means to satisfy them were unlimited”. Most perfect equilibrium worked at that time. However, with the growth of time human needs surpassed the available means. Struggle to survive on earth was becoming more and more difficult and competitive.   Communism failed and failed bitterly as its above quoted axiom could not work in the context of modern world at all where man’s standard of living is ever increasing higher and higher along with constant increase in the demand of goods and services to satisfy his needs and urges.     


Thus, the forces of both demand and supply sides come into operation and create the market economy where the consumers, the humans, dictate the trend and the flow of market through their likes and dislikes, tastes and averse, greed and caprices. Every human being has the same quantum of urges with minor differences here and there. The sum total of these urges in a society when consolidated represents the total demand of different goods and services at a given time, augmenting the agents of supply side to rush to meet the demands of goods and services either through barter deal or in exchange of gold or silver coins or paper currency as we see today. Thus, the Consumer economy came into existence with the very birth of human species.


The Third Dimension of Human Existence on earth: Besides imbibing in man the natural instincts that create demands and harnessing the entire universe for man to meet the demands of his urges by exercising his freewill, the Creator and the Sustainer has constantly arranged for man how to live and behave on earth by following Divine system of life that comes through His appointed Messengers. It fixes human’s life style of moderation for one who follows it and a different life pattern for those who do not follow the Guidance that comes from Him or refuse to live like that, leading the life of greed and caprices, demonstrating a reckless and irresponsible behavior in life, and very often resorting to fraudulent practices with every intention to maximize his gains, profit and pleasure in personal life. These two different concepts of life present different economy – one of moderation and caution and the other of extravaganza. Let us elaborate these two conceptions.


* One who accepts the Divine Guidance [DG]: He lives the life in moderation, keeps his urges under control, does not increase his wants or demands and seeks the satisfaction of his urges within the available rightful means and sources that are provided by his Creator and Sustainer. In this situation, the demand curve more or less remains constant and the supply side meets it at ease. Prices do not change much. The relation between Capital and labor remains peaceful.


* One who rejects the DG: As the acceptance or rejection of DG is left by the Creator to the free will of man, mostly people reject it and lead the life of disbeliever, ungrateful and that of arrogance and carve out their own life pattern of irresponsible human beings, try to lead a luxurious life for the satisfaction of their urges, go on increasing the demand of their personal pleasure and social status, and constantly remain busy in raising their standard of living. Thus, they go on increasing the demand curve, inflating the cost of goods and services in the market as supply always feels shy to bridge the gap of increased demand in short time. No doubt, it helps in boosting the demand in the market and thereby boosting the economy constantly but disturbing the market condition with trouble in labor field for constant demand in raising wages to abridged the gap of higher standard of living, and culminating into frequent visits of trade cycles and labor turmoil, surmounting economic crises often and on in return.




* The Boon: The societies who accept the Divine Guidance and lead a life of moderation accordingly experience peace and security at different levels. The people carve out a life as ordained by Allah in Verse # 31 of Surah # 7, Al-Airaf:

“O Children of Adam: Look to your adornment at every place of worship [Outing], and eat and drink but don’t be extravagant. He loves not who are extravagant” [The Qur’an. 7: 31]


The Creator and Sustainer, thus, exhorts every human being to spend on self and family in moderation but does not resort to extravaganza, show off  and lead a pretentious life that Allah does not like at all. Here the growth will be natural with the growth in population under normal condition, giving every opportunity to supply side to meet the gradual progressive increase in demand without breaking the equilibrium that happens under lop sided economic conditions.


Had the man learnt to live a simple life of moderation within his available means of living, human abode would have been in complete peace with no economic bubbles, frustration or economic crises. Both the demand and the supply sides would have served the human society and lived in a just equilibrium of constant demand and supply. The world would have experienced a constant economic boon with natural pace of growth in all directions.


* The Curse: However, unfortunately, the brute majority of human beings have always preferred to deny the Divine Guidance form their Lord God exercising their free will and lived under man-made laws and thus filled the human life and his abode with arrogance, irresponsible and reckless life style having no feeling of accountability before the Lord of this cosmos. As such, they lead the life that always seeks maximization of personal pleasure, increase in the standard of living as the only end of life and making every effort to resort to fraudulent practices to augment and multiply their personal gains, wealth and resources. Man commits extravaganza at every step of his life, negating the pattern of life that is approved by his/her Lord to live on earth. Thus, the permission given by Lord to keep the beauty of life on earth in moderation is lost to exaggeration, creating booms and burst in the economy, resorting to speculative trade for making extra profits, multiplying capital resorting to ever-increasing interest rates, hoarding and monopolizing goods and services for earning more profit and doing cut-throat competition to excel in some trade and commerce. It keeps the human society wide open to visit frequent inflation or depression, spectacular rise and fall in demand and supply of different commodities at different time – making the entire economic system as  a curse for the human society.


What a curse it is! The economic system that was provided by our Lord to meet the requirements of our natural needs, the system that would have served man to develop his spiritual excellence along with meeting material urges has been rendered by man to cause him frequent embarrassment and suffocation due to his own selfish  life style,  misusing of his free choice, neglecting the Divine Guidance that was destined for him to accept and lead the life of moderation and fill the earth with peace, economic justice and political harmony for all. Man, thus, lost that opportunity out of his “ignorance”, obstinacy and ever- growing lust for economic power at an accelerated pace.


The Divine Guidance is still lying intact in the shape of the Qur’an. Now it is up to the man to grab it, follow it and have peace both for himself and for his abode. The Divine Guidance of the Qur’an is for everyone and not for Muslims alone. Whosoever will practice it in toto will reap the harvest of security and peace and get rid of frequent visit of economic “booms and bursts” for good.



Shamim Siddiqi