This was her third nightmare in the past two weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, Farhat dreamt she was inside a tunnel – running in search of light. Finally, when she was able to see some light at the end of the tunnel, a train came out of nowhere and hit her.

Earlier last week, she dreamt she was drowning in a river. She tried hard to come to the surface, but to no avail. It was so frightening. Yet after waking up, she felt relieved it had been a dream.

Last night, she had another nightmare. She was in a desert with no sustenance, looking everywhere for water. After a long search in the scorching sun, her throat filled with thorns, she could see it. It was water indeed. “It will quench my thirst and give me life,” thought Farhat to herself. When she dragged herself to that natural pond, all she could see was sand. It was a mirage.

“What’s happening? Why am I seeing these nightmares? Something’s not alright,” she thought.

“Perhaps it’s because I was at a restaurant with my friend yesterday, enjoying their ‘all you can eat’ offer. All this eating probably caused an uneasy sleep,” she assumed. But her stomach was alright! And what about the previous dreams? She could think no more. She shook her head and cleared her mind to focus on the day’s agenda. Her plans were to go to the mall to check out the latest coffee house and, of course, buy some stitched lawn suits from her favorite brand. She wanted to look her best at her daughter’s graduation ceremony. It was one of the happiest moments of her life. “My girl is graduating from the top college of the city,” her chest swelled with pride. Yet she couldn’t fathom why, amidst such a happy and calm life, she was having such dreams. She had been pretending that she didn’t really care. But she just couldn’t push them out of her mind.

The graduation ceremony began with beautiful Quranic recitation, with the words of Allah (swt) displayed along with the translation on a big screen. Farhat had to cover her head with the beautiful chiffon dupatta as a ritual. Looking casually at the screen, though, she was stunned. The verses being recited were from Surah An-Noor. But her attention was caught when the reciter reached these Ayahs:

“Men whom neither trade nor sale diverts them from the Remembrance of Allah (with heart and tongue), nor from performing As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), nor from giving the Zakat. They fear a Day when hearts and eyes will be overturned (from the horror of the torment of the Day of Resurrection). That Allah may reward them according to the best of their deeds, and add even more for them out of His Grace. And Allah provides without measure to whom He wills. As for those who disbelieve, their deeds are like a mirage in a desert. The thirsty one thinks it to be water, until he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing, but he finds Allah with him, Who will pay him his due (Hell). And Allah is Swift in taking account.” (Surah An-Noor, 24:37-39)

“Like a mirage in the desert!” Yes! That’s exactly what happened to her in the dream. But little did she know that the same happened to her every day in her ‘real’ life. And so it happens to us. Without us realizing it, we’re heading straight to face nothingness and ultimately to be questioned and accounted for our lifestyle. The same life and style we all yearn for.

The glitz and glamour of urban life, more often than not, blinds us with the ever increasing and never ending ‘need for more’. Each day of our life is filled with a hope to be truly in line with the latest and most current trends – be it home décor, fashion couture, or tech grandeur. We want it all and we’re told to ‘ask for more’.

While the thought that’s projected by the capitalist ‘brethren’ is that their products cater to our needs as well as comfort, the reality is that we get trapped in a quagmire, which frees us only when we leave this temporary life. As the Quran states: “The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you, until you visit the graves (i.e., till you die).” (At-Takathur, 102:1-2)

I doubt one could claim that they only buy what they really need when they go to the supermarkets. The culture of consumerism is evident when we see stacks and stacks of various products in these super or hyper markets and people dragging carts containing provision that might suffice an average family for a month or two. What actually happens is that when this stuff is brought home, the consumer realizes that some of those things were already there in the house. Another scenario is that after a few days, some of the things that were purchased for a big sum turn out to be completely useless. When inside the mall or market, we tend to think of a lot of things as our needs; however, the bubble bursts when we are back home.

While one segment of the society indulges in over consumption, the other segments suffer. The widening gap between the rich and the poor leads to an attitude of envy. If that is not enough, there is envy even among the same socio-economic groups, as one always feels competitive with the others. The main reason for that, in turn, is the loss of a sense of purpose. When we ignore the core Islamic values, we are led to total destruction.

It is not at all un-Islamic to be blessed by Allah (swt) with better financial resources than others, provided they are Halal. Being engrossed in our own desires to the extent that we even forget why we exist is what is problematic. Our purpose transfixes to our self; more and more food, outfits, money, property, gold and a higher position – all this, just for me and my family. A Hadeeth describes this lust of human beings beautifully:

“If the son of Adam were given a valley full of gold, he would love to have a second one; and if he were given the second one, he would love to have a third, for nothing fills the belly of Adam’s son except dust. And Allah (swt) forgives those who repent to Him.” (Bukhari)

We as Muslims need a shift of paradigm from being greedy about this world to being desirous of the Akhirah. Yes, we do need more, that is, a more content soul – by doing more charity and having more closeness to Allah (swt). We learn what true wealth is from the words of our Prophet Muhammad (sa). Abu Hurairah (rtam) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Riches are not (achieved) by the amount of wealth, but (true) richness is the riches or contentment of the soul (heart).” (Bukhari and Muslim)