Wednesday, 11 August 2010
Three Types of Zuhd
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is extracted from The Purification of the Soul, compiled from the works of Imam ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (r.a.), Imam ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (r.a.) and Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (r.a.).
Shaykh Hasan al-Baswri (q.s.) 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 entirely cover him, and without ever having anything that would come between him and the ground, and without ever having any food that he could ask to be prepared for him in his own home.
When night came, they would be on their feet, with their foreheads flat 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 on 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 His Mercy.”
There are three stages of zuhd. The first 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 preoccupied with the world, even though you struggle with it and restrain it.
The second stage is to acquire detachment from this world and to do without in it, in order to obtain your reward for avoiding it. Here, it is our doing without which preoccupies us. This is the state of the person who gives away a dirham in order to obtain two.
The third 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 it is like someone who, seeking to gain entrance to see the King, may be 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 King’s Audience Chamber. Shaythan is like that dog, standing at the gates of Allah (s.w.t.). He tries to prevent people from entering them, even though the gates are wide open and the world is just a scrap which you can toss aside without a second thought.
Shaykh Ibrahim ibn Adham (q.s.) also said, “There are three types of zuhd, 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 things is obligatory, avoiding things which are halal may be praiseworthy, and avoiding things which are doubtful is prudent.”
Any person who exchanges the things of this world for the next world is doing 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 akhirah with which one is doing without.
A righteous man was once told, “You do without much more than l 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 this.”
Normally, however, when we speak of zuhd, 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 Imam ibn al-Mubarak (r.a.) said, when someone called him, “O Zahid!”, “The real zahid is ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, for he rejected the tremendous pleasures and riches of this world that were placed at his feet, whereas I have very little to give up.”