By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com
A man came to the Prophet and said, “O Messenger of Allah, direct me to an act which, if I do it, will cause Allah to love me and people to love me.” He (the Prophet pbuh) said, “Renounce the world and Allah will love you; renounce what people possess and people will love you.”
This does not mean to give up all worldly possessions. Islam is not a religion of monasticism. It means that we should never value material possessions above our relationship with Allah. Give up the hunger for wealth, the blind scrabbling for dollars no matter the consequence, the obsession with the number on your bank statement. Give these things up, renounce them, and dedicate yourself to the worship of Allah. Live a righteous life, and pursue excellence in everything you do, including your work and family life.
Live simply, humbly, earning your livelihood and providing for your family without trying to own the “best” and latest of everything.
Do this, and love will flow to you from Allah.
Three Parts of Zuhd
Zuhd refers to asceticism or detachment; removing from one’s heart the attachment to the material pleasures of life. Since I have said that we have no monasticism in Islam, what do we mean by zuhd?
Yunus 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.”
There are three things that are mentioned here:
1. You are more certain of what is in the hand of Allah than what is in your own hands. At first, this sounds crazy. After all, I can see that shiny silver dollar – or crisp $100 bill – in my own hand, while I cannot see what Allah holds, right? The money in my bank account offers me financial security, right?
Wrong. The money in your hand could be snatched away or lost, while the balance in your account could be devalued in an instant, or lost in an economic crash. Meanwhile, even if your money remains sound, your heart could stop and in one moment you would have passed beyond the bounds of this life. There is no amount of money that can offer true security in this life. It’s an illusion.
As for what is in Allah’s hand, it is everything, everything! It is your sight, the breath in your lungs, the blood coursing through your veins; the food in your mouth, the water you drink, the sunshine that causes plants to grow. It is everything.
Abu 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 ground?”
2. Your state in misfortune is the same as other times. What is that state? It is gratitude. If you suffer a financial loss, or the death of a loved one, your are patient because your underlying condition is trust in Allah. You accept your loss, and you continue to be grateful for what you have. And if you are blessed, you thank Allah and you don’t imagine that it’s because you are superior in any way. You stay humble and grateful, and so your state of being is the same at all times.
3. You have the same attitude toward those who criticize you or praise you. Again, this seems strange at first reading. But what it really means is quite simple: you don’t care what people think. What matters is your love of the truth, and earning Allah’s pleasure. You don’t care about titles and accolades, or the condemnation of shallow people. Their opinions do not matter, because pleasing or impressing others is not your goal, and not even a part of your thinking or niyyah (intention). That’s why the praise of others does not corrupt your intentions and make you arrogant, and the criticism of others does not shut you down, or make you surrender your dreams.
The Aakhirah Abides
Stop competing with others for the most luxurious car, the biggest home, the best suits of clothing, the most sparkling jewelry. Stop playing the game of “I’m richer than you.” Stop caring what people possess, stop envying others for their wealth, stop desiring what they have or comparing yourself to them… and the people will love you.
We all desire the luxuries and pleasures of the world to some degree; but the believer keeps that desire in check, holds it back, in the hope of receiving something better in the aakhirah (the life after). The believer knows that the pleasures of this world are as fleeting as an ice cube in the sun. All worldly luxuries vanish, decompose, biodegrade… while what is with Allah remains. The cities of men fall, while prayer survives. The Earth itself will crumble and burn, but the aakhirah abides.
He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself
And mentions the name of his Lord and prays.
But you prefer the worldly life,
While the Hereafter is better and more enduring. (Quran 87:14-17)
Love Allah and His Messenger above all; after that, love and respect your own soul, and then let that respect radiate to your family, your friends, your colleagues, the waitress who serves you at the coffee shop, the mechanic who fixes your car… do this, and immense, untold love and respect will flow your way from humanity, nature and the very universe itself.