We’re in the season of gratitude and giving. This is a strong community. I believe you are practicing gratitude every day, and perhaps this is a time to spend more time to allow your heart to be expanded by the feelings of gratitude, to turn to Allah in awe for the many gifts we’ve been given. This time of year can also mean a lot of pressure to over-consume – eating, drinking, buying, gift-giving. It can be a little crazy-making. I want to offer a perspective on our American culture that might help relieve some of this pressure and also strengthen your trust in Allah, swta.
If you are from another culture and this applies to you, please receive. If this does not apply to you, then insha’llah (God willing) it offers an opportunity for understanding. The American culture has ingrained in us a mentality of abundance. It carries with it cultural expectations based in material possessions and comforts. If you have children or grandchildren, you see how the television commercials target their sweet little minds and inspire them to want, want, want. And, let’s be honest, there are a few shiny objects that catch our eyes, too, right? But, let’s take a breath and pan out to gain a broader perspective. The abundance mindset encourages behaviors of overconsumption that are unhealthy for the body and overtax the planet. This mentality has had a snowball effect on our planet, and most of us have come to depend on the very systems that we aspire to change. The food systems, the financial systems, the transportation systems – we support them with the demands of our lifestyles, and we abhor them for the imbalances and inequalities they bring among people and the harm they bring to the earth. What if we could shift to a mentality of sufficiency, which really means trust? Every human has come to this physical life with certain purposes, and we are each given everything we need to fulfill those purposes. In fact, our teachings tell us that provision is guaranteed – written for us before we are born. When we aspire to have what our neighbors have or what the culture and advertisements tell us we need to have, we risk getting out of alignment with our purpose. Is this what Allah, swta, wants for us? When we strive for more than we need, it creates an imbalance that shakes our trust in provision. And we take more from the planet without respect for her resources, which contributes to all the man-made systems that harm the planet in order to provide for our ever-growing needs. If we want harmony, balance, health and a sustainable future, we have to trust that we will be sufficiently provided for to do what we’ve come here to do. This holiday season, you might want to think about the consequences of over-consumption. What do you need to spread joy? What do you need to share love? Can you keep your needs – your eating habits and buying habits – in line with the needs of the planet? Can you bring every action into conscious alignment of your love and service for God? I encourage you to keep this in mind as you celebrate the Thanksgiving weekend and move into the holiday shopping season. May your heart be opened to receive all the gifts Allah wants to give you, with gratitude and reverence for His Generosity. With love and gratitude, Mastura Graugnard on behalf of all your friends and family at UOS