Renunciation: Practice

This is the eighth in a series of articles on how to live simply and practice renunciation from the On Demand Course: Living Simply or How to Practice Zuhd in Complex Times

It is important to always start with the intention of always striving with every day that passes to refine yourself. You always want to bring your best self forward. You want to be an organized person who has their priorities in order. 

From the worldly benefits of reducing one’s possessions is that it makes your household much easier to run. You are less likely to lose things. You are not hoarding. There are also next-worldly benefits. Start with the high intention that you are doing it for the sake of Allah. Intend to find a lot of blessings in arranging your affairs. 

The Home

Look at the house categorically. Work in divisions, for example, the bedroom, the kitchen etc. Work on them one at a time and according to your possessions. Look at how much you have of each item.

If starting with the bedroom, focus on the clothing situation of the household. Start with each person and bring all of the clothes into one place. Then sort them out. Count the items of clothing you have and consider if is it a reasonable number. Sometimes, we underestimate how much we own. 

For example, with sisters wearing hijabs, often they accumulate way too many. A way to counteract that is by having a specified place in the home where you keep them. For example, you might have two particular small drawers that are for hijabs and you do not go beyond that.

Likewise for all of your possessions. Have a specified place where you keep them and limit them. It protects you from hoarding or buying excess of that item. 

When sorting out these items of clothing, consider when the last time you used that item. If you have not used it in the past year, it is better to take it out and give it to someone else in need. 

Go through each area systematically. You might go through your closet, your bedroom area, your washroom, washroom cabinets etc. A lot of times things can be expired and sometimes even harmful if it gets too old. Appropriately dispose of the things. 

Look at excess items. Sometimes we accumulate too many home decor items. Keep looking around the room thinking about what you do not need. Then put it in a box that you will deal with later. 

All areas of your home must look tidy and functional.


When decluttering, you may need to come to terms with bad purchases. We may buy things but because we spent money on it, we feel bad about donating it or getting rid of it. 

It is better to be thankful to Allah. Think of the time when you bought that item and you had that inward thrill. Be thankful to Allah that you enjoyed that moment of buying it as well as coming home happy. But now, give it to someone else in need. Someone who could use it. 

Another common hurdle that one has in decluttering relates to gifts that you do not use, want, or need. Think about giving it to someone who could make use of it.

It is not only the gifts that we do not use. We may get gifts we like. It can be a case of preferring others to ourselves. One prefers that someone else enjoys it rather than oneself. That is a way to earn reward. 

Another common hurdle is holding onto things because they help remember a past person or event that one is sentimental about. If it makes you happy, hold on to that item. However, if you are not using it, a better way to take care of that item might be to take a picture and then donate it. 

Often, one may do that with our children’s artwork. Rather than keeping that stack, you may want to create a photo album on your computer or phone and, and keep the memory that way. And then you can dispose of it by recycling.

The Last Hurdle

The last common hurdle for decluttering is overbuying for one’s children. There can be a huge amount of space and goods that are being accumulated in the home because of that. To counteract that, one would teach one’s children about giving preference to others. 

Another way to counteract over-accumulation is if you get another item, give one away. Oftentimes with children, if they take on a new item and are going to give away one, they must package it as if it is new. Make it look nice so that the person receiving it feels happy. Nobody likes to receive a garbage bag full of goods.

A mistake a lot of parents make is allowing free access to all of their children’s toys at once. The child may then create a lot of havoc because they are continuously taking out new toys, leaving some on the ground, and then taking out more. This becomes very difficult to tidy up. 

Also, pay attention to how much the child has so that they do not over-accumulate their possessions.

Another hurdle in decluttering is holding onto things the child does not want. One may save things for one’s children thinking, “When they get married, they are going take this with them.” But, this does not happen. You might want to donate that to someone in need, rather than holding on to it.