Being content with what I have

Being content with what I have March 2, 2013

So, we live in a roomy suburban house in Virginia.  We have a big yard, albeit one that has sandy rocky soil that can only support moss and anthills.  One one side we have a small forest.  On the other,  a sloping hollow that gathers leaves and children’s toys.  The house needs some work, and this year we may be in a position to be able to do some stuff.  But as we talk about adding on a few bedrooms, I find myself feeling guilty about the size of my house relative to the modest abodes that so many people live in.

At the moment, we have five kids scattered about.  Our oldest has his own room, but we recently put his toddler brother’s bed in there because we wanted him out of my room so he’d stop trying to get into our bed at night.  The two middle boys have another room, and our daughter still bunks in our room on a toddler mattress.  As you can see, these sleeping arrangements are a bit haphazard.  We finally decided to add some rooms on so our daughter could have her own room and then the three younger boys could share one larger room created by knocking down the wall between the two smaller bedrooms we currently have.  All this is in the planning and budgeting stage now, so we’re still waiting to hear how much this is going to cost.

So while this planning is going on, I’m thinking to myself, subhanAllah, here I am unhappy with my split-foyer home and there are people living ten to a room in places like Palestine and Sudan.  People who would be overwhelmed by all the room we have.  In my desire to give my kids their own rooms, am I being ungrateful?  Should I just be content with what I have and manage the bedrooms according to what we already have?

Of course, when I have a question, I look to Islam for the answer.  There’s no one “right” answer, and my answer might not work for another person.  I have decided to go ahead and do the rooms.  It is the “urf”, the custom, in America for the kids to sleep in their own rooms and not with their parents.  Of course this will become a bigger issue as they get older and they, and we, want to ensure our privacy.  Our daughter of course needs to have a space of her own.  She’s the only girl so the three boys who will room together might feel it’s unfair that she has a whole room to herself, but that’s balanced out by the fact that she’ll be dealing with four brothers for the rest of her life.

If you have to live in very modest circumstances, you do the best you can with what you have.  If Allah has blessed your legitimate, permissible income so that you have some extra, then surely there’s no sin on making your home a place of tranquility and comfort for everyone living there.  As long as we don’t go overboard and put gold taps on the bathroom sink and tub I figure we’re doing okay.

I’m looking forward to the project.  Doing the kids’ room means we can’t do anything with the kitchen and dining room for a while, but I can still manage in the kitchen and once again when I compare my decent if ugly stove and pots and gadgets to some of the primitive conditions other people have, I don’t have anything to complain about.  I have a fridge, food in that fridge, and someplace warm to sit to eat in.  I can make do with what I have.


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