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The True Meaning of Zuhd (Abstinence from Worldly Pleasures)

Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) once mentioned the following:

In order for one to inculcate the quality of zuhd (abstinence from worldly pleasures), it does not mean that one completely renounces and gives up all worldly pleasures. Rather, if one reduces his worldly pleasures, this is sufficient for him to acquire the quality of zuhd.

In other words, one should not remain engrossed in the acquisition of worldly pleasures to such an extent that day and night, one’s concern only revolves around acquiring worldly pleasures, e.g. “I need to prepare such and such delicious meals”, “I need to purchase such and such items from such and such place”, “The rice in a certain place is delicious so it must be brought from there”, or a certain place is renowned and famous for their cream, so one says to people, “Please bring some cream for me from that place.”

In essence, for one to remain engrossed in acquiring delicious food and smart clothing is against the demands of zuhd (abstinence from worldly pleasures). However, if these worldly pleasures and enjoyments come to one on their own, without one making any special effort to acquire them, then in this case, these bounties and worldly pleasures should be regarded as the favour of Allah Ta‘ala. Hence, one should express gratitude to Allah Ta‘ala for receiving this favour.

Similarly, zuhd does not mean that one should eat very little food. In fact, this is not something that is desired in Shari’ah. The reason is that through eating less, one will not be looking after the treasures of Allah Ta‘ala and allowing it to remain full. Similarly, it will not be viewed in the sight of Allah Ta‘ala as it is viewed in the world, that if an employer has to offer a full salary to his employee, and he only takes half, it will be viewed as though he is doing a favour to his employer by taking half. However, with regards to Allah Ta‘ala, this is not the case (i.e. with regards to the limitless treasures of Allah Ta‘ala, one is not doing Allah Ta‘ala a favour by taking less or eating less, rather, Allah Ta‘ala wants us to enjoy what He bestows us with and express gratitude to Him).

At the same time, one should not over-indulge in eating to such an extent that one’s stomach begins to pain and one’s health suffers, due to which one finds difficulty in fulfilling his ibaadaat. Our Hazrat Haaji Saheb (rahimahullah) would often say, in a lighthearted manner, “Look after your body well, but also ensure that you take good work from your body.” In other words, use your body to engage in ibaadaat to the best of your ability.

(Malfoozaat Hakeemul Ummat 22/95)

Source:Ihyaauddeen

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