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Women comprise a significant portion of a country’s population. They are (and should be) contributing members of society, whose actions and thoughts play an important role in the way the society functions, progresses, learns, and grows.
Recession is defined as a temporary slump in economic and business activity indicated most prominently by a rise in unemployment. Recessions have different repercussions in different countries.
However, one thing is common: individuals and families experience hard times due to lack of work/jobs, and a rise in inflation.
As businesses and employers downsize, lay off employees, cut costs, and pull back on production; the buying power of the average family diminishes, and they have to scrimp, save, and get by on less.
Times can become difficult. So, how should a Muslim woman spend such a period of economic recession? What role can she play?
Offering Moral Support
It is anybody’s guess what kind of problems arise in any family unit when the breadwinner’s income is low or gone. Other sources of income, such as rent from a family property, may also dry up, as housing becomes too expensive to afford.
Unemployed family members might start to sink into despair and depression. Family relationships can get strained with time.
In such a situation, the Muslim woman plays a key role in morally supporting her family members, and helping them remain patient; whether as daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, or grandmother.
She should try to help her family out day to day. Advising despondent family members not to lose hope and helping them remain steadfast upon the practice of Islam (such as avoiding debt, usury, and other means of earning money that are impermissible) is one of the many important things she can do.
During economic recession, giving charity can go a long way in bringing barakah (blessings & growth) back into the home. No matter how small it might be, giving small amounts of charity during times of hardship brings many rewards and helps in keeping despair at bay in the community.
In fact, the best charity is one that is given when a Muslim is young, has limited resources, desires more wealth, and fears poverty. Types of charity that a Muslim woman can give may vary according to her circumstances.
Feeding the hungry once a week/month, teaching children in her community for free, giving away old but wearable clothes to help those who are worse off, recycling, designing and stitching clothes for family and friends, training youth in vocational skills, babysitting others’ children, and/or adopting/fostering— all of these actions count as charity and may earn innumerable ongoing rewards.
The intention is what counts.
Using Resources Wisely
It is imperative for Muslim women to be careful about how they invest and utilize their savings (gold, property, or resalable jewelry) during an economic recession. They should not allow someone else to dictate how to disburse or invest their assets or saved wealth.
Giving zakah on wealth is obligatory, and women should liquidate a portion of their wealth if need be, in order to give it in zakah, even during a recession. If anything, their zakah can help alleviate the situation of another individual or family.
Wise use of savings during a recession can also lead to a gradual improvement in circumstances. Liquidating expensive and high-maintenance assets is also a wise decision; such as trading in an expensive car for a cheaper one that burns less fuel, moving into a smaller home, taking up a part-time job that will supplement income, going from private school to home school, buying groceries in bulk, etc.
Exhorting Others Towards Patience
The most important role of a Muslim woman during economic recession is that of exhorting her family and community members towards patience and steadfastness upon Islam.
She can do this by referencing the Quran and sunnah and reminding others about the virtues of sabr (patience) and tawakkul (trust in Allah) during times of hardship.
The dark night never stays forever; dawn always follows it. Likewise, economic recession always passes by to give way to better times and circumstances, when provisions become abundant again.
So, until the community sees the light at the end of the tunnel, the Muslim woman uses her faith, Islamic knowledge, surplus wealth, and righteous actions as a beacon of light for others around her to gain hope, faith, fortitude, and resilience.
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