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Preparing for pumpkin spice and colder nights: Decluttering with God-consciousness

Summer may be almost over, but we’re heading to the season of falling leaves, cozy scarves and we’re replacing our cute iced coffees with comforting warm spicy drinks. It also means we’re heading towards longer nights, colder days and the time of seasonal depression for those who are affected by it.

As the seasons change, so should our surroundings. There’s no use for having summery items around us when we don’t need them. Not putting them away alone tells our subconscious mind that we’re stuck in a season that we’re no longer in. This holds us back not only practically, but the psychological implications will sneak into other parts of our lives without us even realising.

Getting rid of things we no longer need is a great way to boost our mental health and live the modest lifestyle as recommended by our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). We can give stuff away, or sell them and donate what we make to charity. This gives us a way to cleanse our space, purify our wealth and give life to an environment that suits our innate need to find peace as we surrender to the natural ebb of daylight and warmth.

Decluttering with charity in mind is also a great way to boost your mental health. Giving can stimulate your brain's reward center by releasing happy hormones called endorphins. That can lead to a “helper's high” that boosts self-esteem, elevates happiness and will soothe depression and anxiety. Just the act of decluttering alone alleviates the two because it clears your space in a way that the photographic part of your brain will register. This is why we wake up in a bad mood when our room is messy.

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, world-renowned organising consultant Marie Kondo speaks of letting go with love and gratitude by honouring your space and your stuff. Her life-changing principle is easy: as you go through your stuff, you ask yourself ‘does this give me joy?’ and if it doesn’t, you thank it for being in your life, sell it or give it away. The gratitude element is key because it makes letting go of items easier, and as we know in Islam, when we show gratitude to Allah, He will give us more.

“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life”, she writes in her book.

Decluttering is also amazing for our connection to Allah – when done the right way, tidying our space can supercharge our taqwa (God-consciousness). Islam teaches that reliance on material possessions should not overshadow one's trust in Allah. Excessive attachment to worldly possessions can lead to spiritual distraction. Decluttering helps to minimise this attachment and reminds us of our ultimate reliance on Allah.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) exemplified a simple and modest lifestyle. The emphasis on contentment with what one has rather than constant acquisition of material goods aligns with the virtue of decluttering. Removing unnecessary possessions encourages believers to appreciate and be content with what they possess.

After all, he did remind us that "The upper hand is better than the lower hand” (Muslim, Bukhari) which means the giving hand is better than the receiving hand. He also warned us that: "The world is sweet

and green (alluring). Whoever disobeys Allah regarding it will be denied what is in it; and whoever disobeys Allah in what is given to him, all that will be taken from him." (Sahih Muslim).

Autumn is the time when the natural world is shedding and letting go and as humans who have ultimately forgotten that we are also part of the natural world and its stewards, we need to follow its example and engage in letting go. By doing this, we can turn the transition to autumn from one that we associate with the cold and dark to embracing its crispiness, spiciness and dreaminess.

Happy cleaning!

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