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Don't Get Branded

The media lassos whirl around the airwaves and falls around the unsuspecting necks of consumers thousands of times a day. Drawn in by the powerful pull of corporations who spend extensive amounts of time and money on how to make the tightening of the rope around our necks seem to be a symbol of acceptance by beautiful, wealthy people. Forced to the ground by peer pressure to join the crowd, our hands and feet are tied into this situation where we pay to be branded. Too pumped with adrenalin by the shopping experience to realize the anguish we will soon encounter after the teller rings up our purchase, we take out the credit card with our one free hand and indebt ourselves fully intending to pay the bill when it comes. All too often that brand of clothing or accessory that we just had to have ends up being the source of an agony when we can't pay that bill in full and fall into having to pay interest or the price tag exceeds our budgetary limits. Like a hot iron on the skin, the pain of becoming buried under debt stings constantly, especially with each passing month that we can't free ourselves it.

Maybe the quality of some clothes or things is considerably better, but is it worth all this? Does it really have to be the highest quality or most popular trademark to satisfy our needs? In most cases, a good product can be found at a reasonable price. But getting stuck in the trap of "it has to be this brand or that" is such a waste. Of course, finding a brand you can trust that is a good buy is the wisest consumer's desire, but the danger is allowing oneself to get swept away by name brands at the expense of common sense shopping.

"Buy ours. Buy a lot. And buy without considering the price," is what many corporations would love. If they could herd us along with their stickers on everything we wear and use, they probably would. As Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us, it is our responsibility to not become wrapped up in what we don't have thereby constantly pursuing what is out of our reach or extravagant, but rather to look at those less fortunate and appreciate what we do have. Further he advised us:

Three things please Allah and three things displease Him. It pleases Him that you should worship Him without associating anything with Him and that you should hold fast to the rope of Allah all together without being divided. It displeases Him that you should indulge in much talk and much asking and in wasting money.

So instead of paying the exorbitant price for goods at the price of the pleasure of the Creator, let us keep our senses about us. Let us follow the example of the Prophet and seek a life of moderation and the fulfillment of necessities remembering that it all eventually returns to dust. Although he could have lived like the richest of kings, the Prophet chose to give all he had away to his dying day leaving this world as a pauper and the most successful of mankind having cared for his family, friends, the poor, the orphans, society at large, and the environment. Even though we will likely not achieve all this, we can strive to do our best not to go to extremes in wealth and luxury. We can make a point of not allowing ourselves to be walking advertisements for corporations who would treat us more like cattle branded with their labels rather than dignified creations of Allah. We can remember those who have less and use our wealth for our benefit and theirs. 

As a native of Texas who converted to Islam at age nineteen, Najla Tammy Ilhan strives to share glimpses of the wisdom she has found in the seventeen years since
 

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