Zuhd and Zaahid

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحـمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آلـه وصحبه ومن والاه

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Ibn al-Qayyim defined zuhd and wara’ as he had heard from his teacher. He said:

سمعت شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية قدس الله روحه يقول: الزهد ترك ما لا ينفع في الآخرة والورع: ترك ما تخاف ضرره في الآخرة

“I heard shaykhil Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah sanctify his soul) say, ‘zuhd is to leave something that has no benefit for one’s akhirah. And wara’ is to leave something for fear of harming one’s akhirah.”

Ibn al-Qayyim then asserted:

وهذه العبارة من أحسن ما قيل في الزهد والورع وأجمعها

“And this expression is from the best of what is said (i.e. most befitting definition) of zuhd and wara’ gathered together.” [1]

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This understanding thus shows that zuhd is more comprehensive than wara’, because zuhd can have within it, certain acts of wara, and not vice versa. Some scholars said that zud has been described by Allah in the Qur’an as follows:

لِّكَيْلَا تَأْسَوْا عَلَىٰ مَا فَاتَكُمْ وَلَا تَفْرَحُوا بِمَا آتَاكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ

“(We explain such) In order that you may not grieve at the things that you fail to get, nor rejoice over that which has been given to you. And Allah likes not prideful boasters.” [2]

In explaining this Ayah, Al-Junayd al-Baghdadi said:

فالزاهد لا يفرح من الدنيا بموجود ولا يأسف منها على مفقود

“So zuhd does not make one rejoice from gaining the dunya, and does not make one grieve upon losing it.” [3]

Al Zuhd comes from the depths of a charitable heart, thus only Allah alone can judge its status. People should therefore not indulge in trying to estimate other people’s level of zuhd by merely looking at the outside appearance. One’s wealth or poverty does not reflect standards of zuhd, for indeed people can become zaahid even if Allah gives them abundant wealth.

We know that Allah gave unparelleled kingdoms Da’wud and Sulayman and Yusuf, yet they were from among the greatest of people to have immense zuhd. Allah Said about the characteristic of Da’wud:

وَاذْكُرْ عَبْدَنَا دَاوُودَ ذَا الْأَيْدِ ۖ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ

“…and remember Our slave Da’wud, endued with power. Verily, he was (Awwaab) ever oft-returning in all matters and in repentance (toward Allah).” [4]

Allah also Said about Sulayman:

وَوَهَبْنَا لِدَاوُودَ سُلَيْمَانَ ۚ نِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ ۖ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ

“And to Daw’ud We gave Sulayman. How excellent a slave! Verily, he was (Awwaab) ever oft-returning in repentance (to Us)!” [5]

Further on, Allah Said about Ayyoob:

إِنَّا وَجَدْنَاهُ صَابِرًا ۚ نِّعْمَ الْعَبْدُ ۖ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ

“Truly! We found him patient. How excellent a slave! Verily he was (Awwaab) ever oft-returning in repentance (to Us)!” [6]

What we notice is that the noble Prophet Ayyoob is mentioned with having been tried with a different test. Yet Allah described them all as أَوَّابٌ ‘Awwaab’; someone who constantly and consistantly turns back to Allah in unflinching sincerity. Da’wud and Sulayman were tested with wealth and strength, while Ayyoob was tested with poverty and disease.

A practical question arises: what are some of the ways that lead to zuhd? We should be keen to learn and implement and accustom ourselves in becoming zaahid. A beautiful answer lies in the words of the great Tabi’i, Al-Hasan al-Basri was asked about the secret to leading a contented life in the world. He replied:

علمت أن رزقى لا يأخذه غيرى فاطمأن قلبى

1. I learned that my livelihood (was decreed), thus no one could take it from me, so my heart found comfort.

وعلمت أن عملى لا يقوم به غيرى فاشتغلت به وحدى

2. I understood that no one could set right my (good) deeds, so I went to work on them alone.

وعلمت أن الله مطلع علي فاستحييت أن يرانى عاصيا

3. I understood that indeed Allah is aware (of everything), so I am embarrassed for Him to see me as a sinner.

وعلمت أن الموت ينتظرنى فأعددت الزاد للقاء ربى

4. I learned that death was waiting on me, so I prepared the provisions in (anticipation of) meeting with my Rabb. [7]

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He also said, “The dunya distracts and preoccupies the heart and body, but zuhd gives rest to the heart and body. Verily, Allah will ask us about the halal things we enjoyed, so what about the haram!?” [8]

He also said, “Stay away from the busying aspects of life, and surely, life has abundant busying aspects. Every man who indulges in an aspect of life that fills his time, then the door he opened will open ten more doors of busying aspects for him.” [9]

May Allah grant us the means to become from the zuhaad.

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References:

[1] Madarij al-Salikeen, 2/12
[2] Al-Hadeed, 23
[3] Madarij al-Salikeen, 2/12
[4] Saad, 17
[5] Saad, 30
[6] Saad, 44
[7] Mawsoo’ah Ma’idatul-Qaari, 385
[8] Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Zuhd Al-Kabeer, #26
[9] Abdullah ibn Al-Mubarak, Al-Zuhd, p.189

See also: http://sunnahonline.com/library/purification-of-the-soul/243-practising-az-zuhd-in-the-dunya

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