In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate. All praise is to Allah owner of all the Realms. Provider of sustenance.
This is my life experience on trying to continue life in these challenging days of economic uncertainty. This little article tries to be a compressed version of the lessons I have learned across a period of four years. The viewpoints are those I hold on and may continue to be amended as the days go by.
I am a technical person having been employed in the Oil and Gas industry and coming from a technical educational background. It is what Allah SWT has provided me. An Engineer is always looking at efficiency. The gaining of knowledge does not stop. It does not stop after your career has ended. It does not stop when you are in hardship. You need knowledge to survive. I am mechanically inclined but that does not stop me from understanding Electrical, Electronics and even Economics. This culmination of Ilm, has enabled me to understand the world better. Once you have knowledge, you see beyond the facade that hides reality.
Here are things that I have done to reduce daily consumption of consumables. This includes food, electricity and fuel for my daily use for a jobless person or one that has no fixed income.
It is paramount that one should understand that Allah provides for the faithful. Therefore strengthen your faith. He is the one who is rich. He is the provider. He is beyond fault.
I am blessed with a wife that really is a great cook. My own mother was not as great and therefore I grew up not knowing what great food taste like. This gives me a slight advantage as I hold no ruler to the taste of food. My biggest bane is the daily question my wife pose to me; “What do you want to eat?”. Being a good cook she could fix anything there is in the pantry. Or whatever is left. I do have a preference for breakfast though. Two eggs in whatever form; poached, sunny side up or scrambled. I prefer scrambled with wholemeal toast which I can do on my own whenever she is not around. Cooking Scrambled Eggs has the advantage of using less energy than most meals. In less than two minutes over a frying pan is enough to have a moist amount to consume. This means your LPG bottle lasts longer. If you do toast, have it over the fire. Do not put in the electric toaster. Electrical energy is wasted as heat and costs more per energy unit. The energy in two ‘C’ sized eggs is sufficient to last me beyond lunch. I have no fixed time to eat. I go with Prophet Muhammad’s peace be upon him saying to eat when you are hungry and stop before you are full. I can do a few hours of physical labour tending to the garden in the morning with just this. They say there is no carbohydrates in eggs so I am relying on whatever protein and energy is there. In your mind when you can tell yourself that a little is sufficient, your body will adjust itself. And I am 51 years old. This is the training that we get through fasting. Learn to listen to your body on what it needs and what it does not. Listen to your soul. Its constantly talking to you. If you would only listen.
If you need to cook rice, initially heat the mix of rice and water over slow fire. Once it starts to boil and the hot froth comes over the lid, remove and then put in the rice cooker. The best is to cook rice totally over gas fire. This saves electricity. Water needs huge more energy to come to boiling point than to simmer and cook the rice. Gas from cooking LPG is subsidized and therefore is the cheapest source of energy.
We seldom eat out nowadays. I have come to love barbeque. I cook meat in low heat for long periods. Wrap mutton or lamb in foil and roast it for at least four hours. Some times I get a chance to supply food to others. Not often as I like but at least I get to share what I love. Learning how to cook goes a long way in reducing the cost of living. After all, the nicer a restaurant is, the more value adder they list on the menu. That what Riba is; Value Added.
Intermittent fasting is known to stimulate our own body stem cells. Stem Cells work everyday to renew our own body cells. It has been clinically proven that your health is related to how much stem cells are in your body. Fasting is therefore not just a good reason to cut down on food consumption, reducing cost but it will lead you to a much healthier life. This reiterates the Sunnah for fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. Eventually you will fall sick less and increase the savings you have on medical bills. If we do get fever, we prefer to self heal and maintaining body temperature. Let the stem cells do their work. This is a great verification of the Quran and Hadiths. Allah has provided everything for a believer. We have not fully grasp this fact.
You see a nice spanking new car, but my mind’s eye sees plates of metal, glass fibre, chunks of steel, wires working together in cohesion that only the Creator can provide. Such is the teachings of Tasawuf branch of knowledge. You need to breakdown a problem into its components to resolve a problem. The Car is a big problem. Because it is an instrument of Riba. This embodiment of Riba in perceived material wealth is what drives a person to push aside the threat of warring with Allah and His Messenger. A car you can own without taking a loan is still Riba as you have to pay insurance to legally use it. Therefore reduce the Riba by paying the least amount of Insurance. This will always lead to a preowned vehicle with a lot of mileage. Be prepared to do repairs on these upon purchasing.
Choosing the right vehicle is key. If you commute alone, the small underbone kapchai is sufficient. It is the most enery efficient vehicle no matter what Elon Musk says. The size of the engine is small and therfore friction losses is less. If you need a vehicle to carry the whole family, try to buy one for cash, least amount of weight and the smallest engine (without turbocharging) preferably with a manual transmission. Buy cheap used tyres that still has not worn out. A light car driven under less stress will make the tyres last longer. Increase tyre pressure by 10% to reduce the contact patch of the tyre on the road. It may be harsher to ride but it reduces fuel consumption.
When you drive without thought of expenses it is wasteful. And waste is the way of Syathan. There is not only waste in the amount you pay for a car but also ownership. We call it Life Cycle Costs. Weight and SIze of the engine is the primary factor in the increase in fuel consumption. City Driving and Commuting with a car requires that you stop and go intermittently. The biggest consumption is when you begin to move and accelerate from a total stop. The engine has to fight against static weight of the car and the friction of the road. When you accelerate it consumes more energy compared travelling in constant rpm or load. Highway driving is far less consuming but you need to fight against Aerodynamic forces. Drive below the speed limit of around 80km/h and the aerodynamic resistance is reduced.
The most useful instrument of reducing fuel consumption is a piece of paper that contains how much you use for how long the distance is. Keeping track of fuel being consumed will undoubtedly set your mind and driving habits to much more effective method. Conciously aware that you need to save help the biggest way. This is the verification of your intentions in your Niat. We need to be constantly be reminded that we need to save.
I have learned the aspects of hypermiling from engaging in forums such as ecomodder.com .
Hypermiling is an art in itself. Its using the least amount of fuel trying to get from point A to point B. Yet Allah and His Messenger has allowed ownership of transportation and traveling so that one would appreciate that Allah keeps him and his family in safety even at high speeds. I could write a whole series on hypermiling because it is extensive and you can only save more when you learn more.
Anyone who pay the bills will notice that in Malaysia we pay our electric bills based on a tier system. The more you use, the more is the rate. Reducing electricity consumption means cutting off the top tier. Look around your home as to the biggest consumer and the longest running. This would almost immediately point to the family refrigerator. It runs 24hours. A 400 liter fridge typically consumes 1kW of energy per day. That’s 30kW per month and takes up the top most tier of the tariff. You do not need to have it running 24hours a day. All fridges are insulated with Polystyrene to maintain temperature. The same Polystyrene in a RM10 cold box. You know how that box can maintain internal temperature for long hours. Good insulated fridges can maintain temperature as long as it is not opened. This is when the family is asleep. You can buy a timer for RM10 and plug into the wall socket to program to switch of electricity supply to the fridge for up to 8 hours. That is a typical reduction of 30% in terms of hours of usage. Of course when you are asleep and the door is closed, the compressor runs seldomly to extract heat from the compartment. It is not the same as reducing your consumption to just 700W. Most probably down by 10-15%. But that’s 10-15% off the top tariff tier. The savings on your investment on purchasing the timer is in less than a month of use.
There is no apparent electrical savings from using LED lamps compared to CFLs. LEDs are more expensive for it to last as long as CFLs. A CFL light bulb can last for more than 8 years and it is more pleasing to the eyes. LEDs are electronic devices designed for intermittent usage. They do not last long when voltage fluctuates and heat is increased. Even at the same price range. Fluorescent and CFLs that flicker uses a lot of electrical energy. Replace the bulb or starter/ballast as soon as possible. https://www.wholesalesolar.com/solar-information/power-table
We are indeed blessed with Rain. I started collecting rainwater since September 2019 when a portion of Selangor befell a period where the piped water was contaminated. It had odour that was unnatural. We know that water that has changed in smell or colour or both are not
suitable for ablution purposes. It is not only unclean but also unsafe. It was only later revealed that the source was sewage effluent.
Initially we use the rainwater for ablution. Immediately there is a marked difference in your senses when you use it compared with piped water. There is truly a wholesome feeling when the water pours down your hands and face. It is hard to fathom. Perhaps more metaphysical in nature. You can feel the cleanliness in your soul. When used for ablution only, we use up to 5 liters a day. Thanks to the monsoon season, we use to clean our clothes with it too. Our washing machine has stopped working for years. We now hand wash and hang dry. A bit more manual labour but it is definitely worth it. Our usage of rainwater is now on average 10 liters a day.
Gadgets are not a must. I think by now the hype on electronic gadgets have waned. People will sooner or later realize that a hand phone cannot replace a similar priced laptop. A handheld device is where you consume information while a laptop is where you create content and can lead to better productivity. I used to recycle an old HP Compaq laptop and installed Ubuntu Linux. My laptop is full of Free and OpenSource Software. I write on LibreOffice or Writer7. I do bookkeeping with Gnucash for my in-law’s cake making company. WordPress for webpages. Video editing with Kdenlive, graphics with GIMP and Inkscape. I do not pay licenses and benefit from the charity of developers of the software around the world.
This is essential for people who do business. You need to keep costs down to realize profit. Large companies are turning to ‘lean processes’ to make profits to feed shareholders. It is really hard to do it when you are big. Therefore, start being lean from the creation of your enterprise. If you are just setting up a website for your company, go for the free version of WordPress. As your business grow, you can go for a your own URL. Again, get your priorities straight; this should be the least of your worries. What does matter is Sales and not profit. In Islam business is meant to support communities. It is a more socialist view than what we have been accustomed to. Profit is not fixed. Only Allah The Provider has rights over how much profit you get. In such a way, a Sole Owner Enterprise has more flexibility to be operating in this Islamic Business than a Sendirian Berhad. Once you are a Private Limited company, you need to have your annual accounts to be measured and audited. This means your operation is being measured by a certain worldly standard. This standard is heartless and cold. It does not give honors to any charity you give to the poor. It does not make sure you pay Zakat. Yet Allah has mentioned that giving alms and aiding the poor is the most profitable venture with Him.
I have a bush cutter that I used to get paid for cutting grass. I run the polyester cutting material through one hole, make a knot and then run out the other hole. It is slower to feed the spur but it lasts longer between changes. It is good for approximately 2,000sqft of grass cutting before needing replacement. The typical previous method that almost everyone uses is definitely easier to change but does not last as long. The metal spur when the blades run through tend to split between the two plates. I use aluminium rivets to keep them together. The holes on the spur are square and therefore requires some pressing to allow the rivets to go through. Once you have it clamped tight, make sure that the spur is sheltered from rain during storage. The spur now has a different metal in contact. Two different metals in the presence of water will cause Galvanic Corrosion. This is where the rate of corrosion is higher than normal.
The changes that you go through as you ascend realization is something that is alien to many. This is very obvious as ‘reality’ is what you perceive the world to be. Many would not understand you. You will lose friends. You will enter a period of loneliness. This is a branch in your path through this temporary world. You either return to what you hold on to dearly or you accept that the Creator is taking you down a virtuos path. The people who really know you and take you as you are is your closest family. Hold on to the few who do care for you. They too may have different perspectives that need to be respected. Eventually you will realize that only your Creator knows what you are going through. The people who do keep you close shall be the conduit where Allah channels His providence. You will come to a time when you shall be provided from an unknown source. This is merely another flow of providence through another conduit which Allah has chosen. He or she may be close to Allah or is travelling down life’s path beign guided by Him. This is happening to everybody simultaneously all over the world. Lives criss-cross each other for a purpose. Some stay with you, others pass by for a second to be part of your reality. So do you pass another’s view to be part of theirs.
There are others like you. They may be distant but they are being lead a similar righteous path. For that is what we ask for; to be guided.
There are many ways to be leading a sustainable lean life. We have been away from it as we are taught to forget what is wholesome. Our reality is altered to meet the demands of a very few elitist people. We need to relearn and question our own perception of what is right and what is wrong. This is a great upheaval. It is a challenge as Allah wills it. My hopes and prayers are for those who remain on this righteous path. The constant pulls and pushes are great for any one no matter what kind of magnitude. The true magnitude of challenges is only ,ade apparent to the one who faces it and not the one who only witness it. Be strong and keep the faith.
by Md Faris bin Md Salleh, Winner of “Cut-the-Excess”, Unriba Writing Contest