Friday, 3 January 2014

Parental Love and Over-Spending

          Our society is visibly divided into classes. Number of lower middle class has grown rapidly in recent times. Being a majority and relatively newer class, people from lower middle class are hit by the storm of confusion. Relentless pursuit of material gains and injudicious spending makes the matters worse. Succeeding paragraphs have been inspired from first and last Ayat Mubarikahs of Surah Al Takasur (102), but only the sub-theme of transgression while spending on children out of love has been discussed in succeeding paragraphs.

أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ ﴿102:1﴾

Different translations of the same Ayat (102:1):

1.   The craving for ever-greater worldly gains and to excel others in that regard keeps you occupied                                     (Moududi)

2.   Rivalry in worldly increase distracteth you (Pickthall)

3.   The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things)  (Yousaf)

4.   Abundance (of bounties) has distracted you.

Takathur is from kathrat (Abundance), which has three meanings:

(1) That man should strive to gain more and more of everything;

(2) That the people should vie with one another for gaining more and more; and

(3) That they should brag and boast of possessing greater abundance of things than others including children.

Do we love our Children or we just love Spending to satisfy our egos/ deprivations? Love and affection of parents for their offspring is natural, yet it is a TEST. Likewise, wealth, more or less, is a TEST. In a bizarre way, both these tests coincide when we completely immersed in love of our children spend money on un-necessaries. A child is born purely on nature; hence nature of a child is pure. As long as they don’t attain age of maturity and be able to make decisions at their own, children live a life perceived by their parents. One year old child is not really aware of the brand of clothes his parents have arranged for him and same is the case with pricey toys. Children up to 5/ 6 years of age do not even have memories of how things have been in their lives. Even if children grow we tend to buy them gadgets, widgets, automobiles etc which do not correspond to their age requirements. Similarly, over-spending on marriages is a custom even if parents go in debt. In fact, parents, when it comes to spending on their children, have two distinct categories. Firstly, those who grow up in want of certain luxuries of life and never grow out of this mental state of deprivation. Secondly, those who did not have deprivation but affluence, these are the people who serve their egos. It is the subservience of ego that forces them to over-spend on their children because “My child should get the best of everything”,” My child should stand out” etc etc. Either way, parental affection remains the guiding principle and no one should doubt the genuineness of intent. But, as we are being TESTED and by overspending on our children, are we passing the test? In fact, coping up with the simmering affection for our children and harmonizing our spending, is in actual a real test. It is necessary to understand that issue under scrutiny is over-spending out of affection. It is not to discourage the amount and effort that goes in good education, grooming and sadqa etc for well being of the children.

          Parents with deprivation syndrome may still not be able to afford the luxuries of life they want to provide their children. If they persist with this attitude, naturally, they will feel the heat of financial burden as well. In effort to coping with their own deprivations, they add to their financial woes. At the same time, inadvertently, they are creating an air of competition among parents of same social status like their own siblings with children, relatives, neighbors or community in general. For affluent ego loving parents who translate parental affection by going on spending spree, they fail to realize that when their children go out to schools, gatherings and in community life, wearing classy dresses and carrying expensive toys, they amplify sense of deprivation among other children. This attitude only fattens the ego of parents and greater damage is done to their children, as they at the outset become ego slaves when they look down upon children of lesser status. So much for lessons of human equality. One more important aspect to remember is that eventually children will grow in to their parents, as the adage goes,” Child is man’s father’. They may be momentarily shunned by rebukes and advises of their parents but children only copy actions of their parents. Those struggling with finances and yearning for luxuries of life will breed a generation facing same issues and those unable to tame their egos will produce ego loving monsters. Hence, not spending but spending quality time with children will make difference in lives of next generation.

Quran has repeatedly mentioned children and wealth as blessings but these, at the same time come as TESTs, whether held in plenty, held modestly or not held at all. Those who have plenty of it, have to exercise caution with moderation and avoid stamping their plentiful on others. Those who have modest means of life, have to balance their act. Those at the lowest end of this spectrum, have to understand the nature of their test in its own rite. There are those who have means of life but disabled, disobedient or mortally ill children. Or those whose infants are taken away or those who have lost grown up children. And there are those who do not have children at all. On the contrary, there are those who have children but no means of provision. We all fit in to these schemes of things one way or the other. Bottom line remains the same, whether you belong to house of Haves or Haves not, life is an ongoing test. All of us from all these categories have to thank Allah for giving us life and other blessings of life and the blessings that we have, should be a source of relief to others around us. We have not earned these blessings. If blessings were to be dished out on merit of our intents and actions, then merit list would definitely be read in a different order. Hence, mere possessions or blessings in any form do not guarantee that we are Lord’s loved ones. Rather, it is how we go about dispensing these blessings, will decide the order of merit on the Day of Reckoning. 

ثُمَّ لَتُسْأَلُنَّ يَوْمَئِذٍ عَنِ النَّعِيمِ ﴿102:8﴾                                                   
(102:8) Then, on that Day, you will be called to account for all the bounties you enjoyed.