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HomeISFIRE Vol 11– Issue 4 August 2021The Law Of Augmenting Marginal Utility

The Law Of Augmenting Marginal Utility

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‘’How do you feel when you drink a glass of water in the scorching heat and intense thirst? The answer must be very satisfactory and happy. What if given another glass? The answer is satisfied, but compared to the first glass, the satisfaction is less. What if given third glass?

Indeed, your satisfaction decreased compared to the second glass. If given the fourth, the fifth, and so on, to the point of not wanting to drink anymore, the satisfaction becomes zero. This is what we called in economics the law of diminishing marginal utility. This means that the amount of satisfaction due to consuming additional goods will decrease when we increase the consumption of that good. This law applies to all consumer goods, whether it is food, clothing, or shelter. In short, any consumption of material things in this world will inevitably meet this law of diminishing satisfaction. That is world spending, which is in contrast to spending for the hereafter.

Hereafter spending is defined as expenditures made by individuals or households to spend part of their wealth in the form of zakat, infaq, alms, and waqf. This spending costs the same amount of money, when we spend it for daily necessities. This afterlife spending does not reduce satisfaction when we increase the expenditure, rather increases satisfaction. The more we spent for the hereafter in the form of infaq, alms, and waqf, the more satisfied the inner feeling. So, in spending for the hereafter, the law of Diminishing Marginal Utility does not apply, but on the contrary, in the author’s terms, the law of Augmenting Marginal Utility applies.

In the afterlife, the money is spent not in buying worldly goods but buying heaven. As Allah says in Qur’an surah At Taubah verse 111, which means:  Verily Allah has bought from the believers themselves and their wealth by giving them paradise. They fight in the way of Allah; then they kill or be killed. (It has become) the true promise of Allah in the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran. Moreover, who is more faithful to his promise (besides) than Allah? So, rejoice with the trade that you have done, and that is a great victory. 

(Tafsir Al Azhar, Juz 4, p. 295)

Buya Hamka interprets this verse as; selling oneself to Allah.  As the famous Sufi, Maulana Jalaluddin ar-Rumi once said: “This self has been sold out to Allah, it is non-negotiable. Items that have already been sold cannot be sold twice.” So, the hardships and sufferings of this worldly life, the difficulties and tribulations faced, become small, meaningless, because life already has a principle, namely: “I am a servant of God”, and the future has a surety, namely, “The promised heaven from God”. 

So, the price that God pays, if we weigh it with our age and sacrifice what else can we do with ourselves and our property as God is the one who actually owns it, is too expensive. What we will receive is not worth it, too big, when compared to the small amount we give.

Do Not Wait till Rich

One of the afterlife spendings is waqf. Waqf is interpreted as alms jariah, or alms whose benefits can be reaped continuously, or charity that is not used up once. Hereafter, spending in the form of waqf is the spending of intelligent people.

Does the law of diminishing marginal utility apply to waqf? The answer is NO. The more waqf a person has, the greater his satisfaction. People who donate 10 million for waqf are more satisfied than those who donate 1 million. People who donate 100 million rupiahs are more satisfied than people who donate 10 million, and so on. The more a person does his afterlife spending, the happier he will be. The more a person’s waqf, the more Allah compensates him. The problem is, there are still many who think that to pay waqf, you must be rich first. It turns out this assumption is wrong. Allah says in Surah At-Taubah verse 79, which means:

(The hypocrites) are those who criticize the believers who give alms willingly and those who (reprove) those who only get (to give in charity) only what they can afford, then the hypocrites insult them.

This verse explains that alms do not need to be rich first. So give alms according to your ability; the important thing is to be sincere because Allah SWT.

In interpreting this verse, Imam Ali Ash Shobuni quotes a hadith narrated from Tabrani from Ibn Abbas, that the hypocrites reproached Abdur Rohman bin Auf who came to the Messenger of Allah with alms of 40 uqiyah of gold (equivalent to 1270 grams of gold), with reproach it was done because of riya’. Meanwhile, a man from the Ansar who came with alms of one sha’ ‘dates (equivalent to 2.5 kg of dates) was also criticized by some hypocrites by saying, what is the small charity for? (Shofwatut Tafaasir, vol. 2, p. 539). From verse 79 of the Surat At-Taubah, we know the nature of the hypocrites who constantly criticize those who give charity. People who give alms a lot are reproached. People who give the charity a little are also reproached.

Healthy and Happy

Waqf need not be a large amount of wealth, but, according to ability alone. For example, at the Indonesian Benteng Mikro Syariah Cooperative (BMI), members are encouraged to donate two thousand rupiahs per week. From April 2018 to July 21, 2021, the amount of waqf collected by BMI cooperatives from both members and employees amounted to 15.1 billion rupiahs. On November 28, 2019, the Indonesian Minister of Cooperatives and SMEs awarded the BMI Sharia Cooperative as the best cash waqf nazir.

Something is interesting from the research results of Professor Dr. Taruna Ikrar, a professor of Neuroscience who teaches in America. He found that people who donate for the hereafter with the intention of worship will be happy because their brains release serotonin, a hormone responsible for triggering happy and friendly emotions and preventing depression. That is what makes people feel happy. Furthermore, Professor Taruna Ikrar revealed, a meaningful feeling occurs when the concentration of the hormones: oxytocin, endorphins, serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine is stimulated in a person’s brain, especially in the posterior part of the pituitary gland (Republika.co.id, August 25, 2018).

It turns out that waqf is healthy for the brain. So, to celebrate World Brain Day on July 22, the author recommends waqf to maintain brain health.

The human brain is a central regulatory structure with about 1,350cc and 100 million nerve cells or neurons. The brain regulates and coordinates most movement, behaviour, and homeostatic body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, body fluid balance, and body temperature. The human brain is responsible for the regulation of the entire human body and mind. Therefore, there is a close relationship between the brain and thinking. The brain and nerve cells in it are believed to influence human cognition. Knowledge of the brain affects the development of cognitive psychology. The brain is also responsible for functions such as recognition, emotion, memory, motor learning, and all other forms of learning (Wikipedia).

If the brain is healthy, the heart is healthy, blood pressure is healthy, the body is healthy, the mind is healthy, emotions are healthy, memory is healthy, and behaviour will be healthy.

Furthermore, Professor Taruna stated that it is not only sharing money (materials) that makes people happy. Sharing knowledge, sharing experiences, and even a smile produces an emotional impact when someone gives charity.

Subhanallah! It turns out that getting happiness is very simple: Share. Sharing wealth through zakat, infaq, alms, and waqf will make you happy. Sharing knowledge and experience will make you happy, even sharing a smile will make you happy. Do you want to be healthy and happy?

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