Hadith 31. Asceticism COMPLETE



On the authority of Abi al-‘Abbas Sahl bin Sa’d al-Sa’idi (RadhiyAllahu ‘anhu) who said: A man came to the Prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) 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, sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam, answered: “Detach yourself from the world and Allah will love you. Detach yourself from what people possess and they will love you.”

(A hasan hadith reported by Ibn Majah and others with good chains of narration)

 Brief Commentary

  • The arabic word zuhd means asceticism. It is defined as, “Detaching oneself from something”. It doesn’t mean to renounce oneself from the worldly life as we can enjoy it sometimes, but we should not be interested/attached to it
  • When discussing asceticism, we need to look at the reality of this life. There are many verses and ahadith which dispraise the ones who seek after this lowly life
  • Ibn Rajab said asceticism is of 3 aspects, all of which are actions of the heart. They are:
    • You take and believe that what is with Allah is more closer to your grasp than that which is in your hands
    • Your state when hit with a calamity is the same as it is when you are not hit with a calamity
    • It is indifferent to you whether someone praises you or criticises you with the truth
  • Al Hasan Al Basri said, “It is from the weakness of your belief that you feel that what you are holding in your hands is more secure than what Allah has for you”
  • It is strange the state of the human being that they work so hard for what is uncertain (the future), but do not take much notice in that which is certain (death)
  • Abu Hazim who was known for his great level of asceticism was asked about his wealth. He said he has two types of wealth which no one can take from him. These are:
    • Having confidence in what Allah has
    • Despairing in what the people have
  • It was said to him, “do you not fear poverty?” He said, “I fear poverty when my Lord has what is in the Heavens and the Earth and what is between them?”
  • A believer should not worry about being poor in this dunya, how he will get a job, how he will pay the bills, etc. because Allah is watching over him and can provide him with sustenance
  • Al-Fudayl bin iyadh said, “The essence of asceticism is being content with Allah glorified may He be”
  • He also said, “Content is asceticism and it is richness, for whoever has full certainty in Allah, will entrust Allah with all his matters and is content with Allah’s handling of his affairs. This will make him cut out any attachment with the creation with regards to hope and fear, and this prevents  him from trying to gain from the dunya through disliked means. And whoever was like that, he is truly ascetic with regards to the dunya, and he is from the richest people even though he may not own anything”
  • Whoever has this level of asceticism will never look into haram means to gain anything from the dunya
  • Imam Ahmad said that a true sign of asceticism is that if your wealth is increased or decreased, it does not make you happy or sad
  • Another way of looking at asceticism is short hope, in the sense that a believer sees himself as if he will die in the near future
  • A truly ascetic person is someone who not only detaches himself from shirk and haram actions, but also detaches himself from certain halal actions in order to gain the pleasure of Allah
  • Types of people when it comes to asceticism:
    • Those who deny the concept of the hereafter. Their life is about enjoying themselves before they die, and they have no asceticism
    • Those who disbelieve in the hereafter but still believe in asceticism because they see the problems of the dunya
    • Those who believe in the hereafter but wronged their own souls. Ibn Rajab said this is the majority of the Muslims. “The dunya is his biggest concern. With it he is content and for it he is angered. For it he gives loyalty and due to it he shows animosity”
    • Those who believe in the hereafter, but stayed between right and wrong. This person wants the hereafter, but also wants something from the worldly life.
    • Those who believe in the hereafter, and are foremost in doing good deeds. Ibn Rajab said about these people, “They understood the purpose of this dunya and their actions were based upon that. They knew that Allah put His slaves on the Earth so that He may test them who are the best in doing good deeds”
  • Those who are foremost in doing good deeds are of two types:
    • Those who take only what is necessary from this life
    • Those who take what they need for the bare necessities of this life but also enjoy aspects of this worldly life to give them the strength to carry on. The prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) used to be of this type for he said that he used to like women and perfumes (Reported in Ahmad and Nasaa’i)
  • It is wrong and not from the praiseworthy asceticism that one detaches himself completely from the dunya
  • Wahb said, “Written on the scrolls of the family of Dawud (alayhi assalam), that, “A wise person must not neglect four hours:
    • An hour where he holds himself to account
    • An hour where he is secluded with his Lord
    • An hour where he meets his pious brothers who help him to rectify himself
    • An hour where he allows his soul to follow its desires in that which is halal and good, and this hour is a help for him for the previous hours”
  • Examples of people who are ascetic:
    • Those who see how people exerting themselves in seeking the dunya so they become ascetic so they may relax
    • Those who fear from missing out on the hereafter by taking the extras from the dunya
    • Those who fear the long stand before Allah on the day of reckoning (More wealth and free time means more questioning on that day)
    • Those who see the lowly state of the dunya so they despise it
    • Those who fear it may divert them from preparing for the hereafter
    • Those who when they are ascetic, they don’t realise/feel its effects on the hereafter
    • Those who when they are ascetic, they realise/feel its effects on the hereafter, so nothing is more beloved to them than to stay in the dunya to be able to do more good deeds
  • Someone who is loved by Allah is loved in the dunya, hence the hadith is telling us how to make the people love us
  • Abdullah bin Mas’ood said to the tabi’een, “You pray more, fast more, and do more jihad than the companions of the prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam), but they were better than you”. They asked, “How is that?” He replied, “They were more ascetic with the dunya than you, and more hopeful of the hereafter than you”
  • The prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoever makes Dunya his preoccupation, then Allah will place his poverty in front of his eyes, make his affairs scattered, and nothing of the Dunya comes to him except that which has been decreed for him, and whoever makes the Hereafter his preoccupation, then Allah places freedom from want in his heart, gathers his affairs, and Dunya (worldly life) comes to him despite being reluctant to do so” (Ibn Majah)

Benefits and Action points:

  • Look up and ponder upon the reality of this lowly life
  • Abu Sulayman said, “Do not testify for anyone with asceticism for it is in the heart”
  • Internalise and understand that no matter what you can physically see or feel, the reality of the matter is that what is with Allah is more secure and more closer to you than what is in your hands
  • If you are hit with a calamity, you should seek the reward from Allah and not let the calamity affect/concern you
  • Do not be upset when someone criticises you with the truth, just like you are not upset when they praise you
  • Understand that Allah is the provider so no matter how detached you are from the dunya, if you are attached to Allah, then He will provide for you
  • Be more concerned and worried when your wealth increases, for your questioning on the day of judgement regarding your wealth will no doubt increase
  • If your wealth is increased, ask yourself how you will fulfil the rights of Allah with this wealth
  • Understand the purpose of this dunya and that you are here on a test so do not be attached to the test, but keep your focus on passing this test
  • Do not detach yourself completely from the dunya, but take from it what is necessary, and also enjoy certain aspects of it which are halal, as the prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) did
  • Ensure you dedicate a time for fulfilling your desires in that which is halal so that you may gain strength in doing more good

One thought on “Hadith 31. Asceticism COMPLETE

  1. JazakALLAH Khayr. The second point of this hadeeth is very important; being jealous and envious easily becomes an obsession. May ALLAH make us content with what we have earned, and seek more from Him if it is good for us. Barik ALLAH feek.

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