Doing Without the
Pleasures of this World
Abu' l-Abbas as-Sa'idi
“A man came
to the Prophet (saws) and said, 'Oh Messenger of Allah! Guide me
to such an action, that when I do it, Allah will love me and the
people will love me. He
said, be detached from this world and then Allah will love you and
do not be attracted to what people have and then the people will
Hasan, ibn Majah kitab az-Zuhud
This hadith shows
that Allah loves those who live simply in this life.
It has been said that if having love for Allah is the best
state to be in, then living simply is the best condition to be in.
Living simply means
that you should restrain your desire for worldly things in the hope
of receiving something better instead.
In order to achieve this more easily you should first realise
that the things which people yearn for in this world are infact
worthless when compared with what we hope for in the next world.
If we know that
what Allah has will remain and that the life to come is better and
more lasting, then we realise that this world is really like a piece
of ice left out in the sun - it soon melts and vanishes . The akhirah
(after life), however, essentially never vanishes. The desire one has to
exchange this life for the one to come is strengthened by the certainty
that there is no comparison between this life and the next.
In the Qur'an we
find this world and the next world described in the following terms:
prefer the life of this world, but the next world is better and
the attractions of this world, but Allah desires the next world
“And they are
happy with the life of this world, but the life of this world is
small comfort compared to the next world.
The hadiths which
scorn worldly goods and describe how worthless they are in the sight
of Allah are many:
Jabir ibn Abdullah
reported that the Messenger of Allah (saws) happened to walk through
the market place. Some
people were gathered on either side of him.
There he came across a dead goat with very short ears, of
which he took hold saying,
among you would like to have this for a dirham?" They said,
"By Allah, not even if it were alive, because its ears are
too short; and now it is also dead."
Thereupon the messenger of Allah (saws) said, " By Allah,
this world is more insignificant in the sight of Allah than this
in your eyes."
Related by Sahih
Muslim, Kitab az-Zuhud 18/93
has been related by Ibn Shaddad al-Fahri that the Prophet (saws)
in comparison with the world to come, is the same as if one of you
were to put his finger in the ocean.
Consider how much you would have when you pulled it out.
related by Sahih
Muslim Kitab al-jannatu wa Na'imuha,17/191.
has been related by Ibn Sahl ibn Sa'ad that the Prophet (saws) said,
world been worth even the wing of a gnat to Allah, He would not
have even given a drink of water from it to a kaffir (non-believer)."
Related by Sahih
gharib, at-Tirmidhi, Kitab az-Zuhud,
Living simply means
turning away from the things of this world because they are so worthless.
You do not bother
with them and remain detached from them
ibn Maisarah said, " Being detached from this world does not
mean that you should forbid what Allah has permitted, nor that you
should squander money. Rather,
it is a state in which you are more certain of what is in the hand
of Allah than you are of what is in your own hands: your state in
misfortune is the same as your state at other times; your attitude
towards those who quite rightly criticise you and those who quite
rightly praise you is the same."
has explained this in three stages, or stations, all of which are
concerned with the heart rather than with physical action.
This is why Abu Sulayman used to say that you should not
call anyone a zahid (the one who practices zuhud,
someone whose heart is not attached to the pleasures and distractions
of this world).
stage is that of a
servant who is more certain
of what is in the hand of Allah than he is of what is in
his own hands. This stage arises from a healthy and strong conviction.
Hazim az Zahid was asked, "What is your wealth?"
he said, "Two kinds of wealth dispel all fear of poverty trust
in Allah and not being attached to what people have." He was
asked, "Don't you fear poverty?" He said, "How can
I fear poverty when my lord owns all that is in the heavens and
on the earth and all that is between them and all that is beneath
"The essence of living simply is being content with Allah Mighty
and Exalted is he."
He also said, "The
one who is content is the one who lives simply, and it is he who
The one who has
attained real faith, who trusts in Allah in all his affairs, and
is content with what he provides for him, and remains unattached
to the creation, out of fear and hope-and by so doing finds that
pursuing worldly gains is not worth while-he attained the benefits
of simplicity. He is
the richest of people, even though he may not possess a single thing
in the world.
As Omar said, "Death
is teacher enough, true faith is wealth enough, and worship is action
Ibn Masud said,
"True belief is not trying to please people by doing things
which would bring Allah's displeasure on you, and not envying anyone
for what Allah has given him. For Allah's provision is not attracted
simply by a mans being careful, nor is it deflected by another mans
malice. Allah, with his justice, omniscience and wisdom, has made
delight and joy the companions of faith and contentment, and
despair and sorrow the companions of distrust and dissatisfaction."
stage is that of a
servant who, if he is afflicted by some misfortune-like the death
of a child, or the loss of wealth or goods-desires the reward for
his accepting the loss more than his recovering what has been lost.
This is also a consequence of having complete trust.
Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "Whoever lives
simply in this world finds misfortune easy to endure." Some
of our predecessors used to say, "If it were not for the misfortunes
of this world, we would arrive in the next world completely destitute."
stage is that of a servant who regards praise and criticism equally.
If the world occupies a place of importance in his heart then he
would prefer praise to blame which in turn might make him abandon
much good for fear of being censured, and do many bad things in
his quest for praise. This
means that in his heart no other people's opinions about him
are important . What
is important to him-is his love of the truth and his earning Allah's
said, "True faith is not trying to please other people
by doing things which are displeasing to Allah. "Allah has
praised those who fight in his way, without worrying about the opinions
of others. Al Hasan Said,
"The person who lives simply is the one who finds it
in his heart to say that someone else has surpassed him in it."
Imam Ahmed, I believe, was once asked whether a wealthy man
could live simply. He said, "Yes, if he is not pleased when
his wealth increases nor sad when it decreases, then he can."
Ibrahim ibn Adham
said, "There are 3 types of zuhud, or doing without,
the first is as a result of having to do so, the second of praiseworthy
action, and the third of being careful. avoiding haram (forbidden)
things is obligatory, avoiding things which are halal (allowed) may be praiseworthy, and avoiding things which are doubtful
Any person who
exchanges the things of this world is doing for the next world without
something in this life and so we can call him a zahid, but doing
without can also involve enjoying something in this world at the
expense of the next
world, in this case it is something in the akhirah with which one
is doing without.
A righteous man
was once told, "You do without much more than I do." the
man replied. "It is you who are more extreme in this, for I
deny myself things in a life which will not last and whose rewards
are uncertain, while you have denied yourself the akhirah.
No one could be more extreme in their doing without than
when we speak of zuhud we mean that we deny ourselves some of the
pleasures of this world rather than those of the next world.
However, it is only possible to abstain from things to which
you have access. This is why Bin al Mubarak , when someone said
to him ,"Oh Zahid ", " The real zahid is Umar ibn
Abdul- Aziz, for he rejected the tremendous pleasures and riches
of this world that were placed at his feet, where as I have very
little to give up."
said, " I have known people and kept company with groups who
neither rejoiced when the things of this world came to them, nor
grieved when they lost anything in this world. The
life of this world was more insignificant to them than dust.
One of them might live for
a year or for sixty years without ever having
a garment that would cover him , and without ever having
anything that would come between him and ground , and without ever
having any food that he could ask to be prepared for him in his
When night came,
they would be on their feet, with their foreheads against the earth
, tears rolling down their cheeks , secretly calling on Allah to
save them on the Day of Judgement.
If they did something good, they never stopped being grateful
for it, and were always asking Allah to accept it.
If they did something bad they would be saddened by it, and
would keep asking Allah to forgive them for it.
By Allah, they were not safe from wrong actions, and were
saved only by their constant turning in repentance.
May Allah be pleased with them and grant them mercy.
are three stages of zuhud.
stage is to withdraw from the life of this world, even though you
may still have a great desire for it and your heart is still
drawn towards it . The self is still pre-occupied with the world, even though you struggle
with it and restrain it.
stage is to acquire detachment from this world and to do without
it in order to obtain your reward for doing without.
Here, it is your doing without which pre-occupies you.
This is the state of the person who gives away a dollar
in order to obtain 2 dollars.
stage is that of the one who willingly puts the world to one side
without even a thought for what he has abandoned. This is the one
who has exchanged a fragment of broken pottery for a jewel.
Or is it like someone
who, seeking to gain entrance to see the king, maybe prevented by
a dog at the gate by throwing
the dog a scrap it is distracted, and this makes it possible
for him to gain entrance to the kings audience chamber.
Shaytan is like that dog, standing at the gates of Allah.
He tries to prevent people entering them even though the
gates are wide open and the world is just a scrap that you can toss
aside without a second thought.
Purification of the Soul, compiled from the works of: Ibn Rajab
al-hanbali, Ibn al-Quayyin al-Jawziyya, and Abu Hamid al- Gazali.