Friday 9 September 2016

Enforced Minimalism

I have long been attracted by minimalism. It is one of my life goals to give away what I have and have next to nothing by the time I die. A nice thought, but in reality I find myself collecting all sorts of things: gifts, stationary, jewellery, craft supplies. Five children bring their own wealth of toys, clothing and school supplies. My mum-in-law visits every year, so keeps some of her stuff here and I still have bags and drawers of things other in-laws have left here. As time has gone by I have found myself feeling as if I am being buried under stuff and as if managing and tidying it takes up all of my time. Continuous attempts to declutter and dozens of bags dropped off to the charity shop or cargo’ed to family in Pakistan seem to have limited effect. My mum-in-law also dislikes waste and is adept at reusing and upcycling items, so I sometimes have to sneak things out to the charity shop before she spots them.

This week we started building work in our home to create bedrooms in our loft. Initially this was mostly external and we were supposed to carry on staying in the bedrooms. My husband decided he wanted to lower the ceilings of our bedroom and gave us a day to pack up all of the bedrooms so that the builders could bring down the ceilings the next day. This was the day before the kids were due to go back to school.

We spent the whole day and a good part of the night packing everything up. I gave the kids two boxes each, one for two weeks worth of clothes and the other for all of their school stuff.  I kept a box for my work clothing and one for the rest of my clothing. The babies got a box each too and one for Baby’s nappies. As we packed one wardrobe or drawer at a time, I took out items to send Pakistan and some for the charity shop, reducing what was left to what we genuinely used and wanted.

The eight of us are currently in the two rooms downstairs. We are sleeping on mattresses and in sleeping bags and I am being very strict about putting things back in our boxes as soon as we are done with them so that the kids don’t lose their school things. It might sound horrible, but in truth I have found it very cathartic and liberating to move most of our stuff into storage and it has been very freeing to have so much less to manage. I and hubby are both clear that we will not move it all back in after the work is finished. 

Our stuff:

My house with the roof off, you can see the stars and the dust flying around:

It sounds ungrateful to complain about having so much when so many have so little. That is not my intention. I feel incredibly blessed and sometimes in awe of the sheer amount that seems to come our way. Gifts from friends and family, freebies that my husband brings home because of his job, some of the amazing bargains we have found for next to nothing at boot fairs in the past, and the more we give away, share and gift, the more seems to come back. What comes to mind is being careful about what we buy, consume and hold on to.

I hope I can hold on to the principle of owning and buying less, giving away the best of what you have and not the junk you don’t want and not equating worth and value with material possessions.

I would love to hear from readers, are you a minimalist? How do you remain clutter free with children? Do you find that the modern world means you are surrounded by unnecessary things?

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Will you not listen? Will you not listen? Will you not listen? Verily simplicity is a part of Iman. Verily simplicity is a part of Iman. Verily simplicity is a part of Iman” (Abu Dawood).


  1. Great article. Keep sharing such a useful post.

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  3. Allahumma baarik! I really love this post. I aspire to be a minimalist. May Allah help me. I'm using baby no. 1's clothes for baby no. 2, I think that is helping.
    Jazaakillah khair for the wonderful post!

  4. Minimalism and asceticism were hallmarks of Alläh's Prophet's lives and of the rightly-guided Caliphs and pious kings and saints of later times. There is Salähuddïn Ayyübï who liberated the third holiest site, Masjid Aqsa from the invading tyrannical Crusaders. Then he thought of going for Haj. But alas, he couldn't afford. Hazrat Aurangzeb Alamgir رحمة اللّٰه عليه was arguably the most powerful ruler of the Indian sub-continent in the past millennium. He lived on meagre salary and what he earned by weaving caps was used for his funeral as per his will.

    عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ: قَالَ لِي رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذَا أَرَدْتِ اللُّحُوقَ بِي فَلْيَكْفِكِ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا كَزَادِ الرَّاكِبِ، وَإِيَّاكِ وَمُجَالَسَةَ الأَغْنِيَاءِ، وَلاَ تَسْتَخْلِقِي ثَوْبًا حَتَّى تُرَقِّعِيهِ.

    Alläh's Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ counseled Mom 'Äishah رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهَا:
    If you want to be with me (in the Hereafter), the amount of belongings a traveler carries should be sufficient for you in this world; keep away from the company of the rich; do not discard a cloth till you have patched it (for use).
    (Tirmizï 1780)