Zuhud in Islam
What is Zuhud زهد ?
What is zuhd (asceticism)? Does it mean wearing scruffy clothing, fasting constantly, and keeping away from society, or something else?.
Praise be to Allaah الله
Zuhd does not mean wearing scruffy clothing, withdrawing from people and keeping away from society, or fasting constantly. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is the leader of all zaahids (ascetics) but he would wear new clothes; adorn himself to meet delegations, for Jumu’ah and for Eid; mix with people and call them to do good and teach them about their religion; and he forbade his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) to fast constantly. Rather zuhd means shunning that which is haraam and that which Allaah hates; avoiding shows of luxury and overindulging in worldly pleasures; focusing on doing acts of worship; and making the best preparation for the Hereafter. The best explanation of that is the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
And Allaah is the Source of strength. May Allaah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.
Asceticism, which literally means renouncing worldly pleasures and resisting carnal desires, is defined by Sufis as indifference to worldly appetites, living an austere life, choosing to refrain from sin in fear of God, and despising the world’s carnal and material aspects. Asceticism is also described as renouncing this world’s temporary ease and comfort for the sake of eternal happiness in the Hereafter. The first step in asceticism is the intention to avoid what has been forbidden and to engage only in what has been allowed. The second and final step is being extremely careful even when engaging in what is allowed.
An ascetic is steadfast in fulfilling his or her responsibilities, is not defeated by misfortune, and who avoids the traps of sin and evil encountered during the journey. With the exception of unbelief and misguidance, an ascetic is pleased with how the Creator decides to treat him or her, seeks to attain God’s pleasure and the eternal abode through the blessings and bounties the He bestows, and directs others to the absolute Truth. In the ear of his or her heart, the Divine announcement is echoed: Say: The enjoyment of this world is short; and the Hereafter is better for him who obeys God’s commandments in fear of Him (4:77). The command: Seek the abode of the Hereafter in that which God has given you, and forget not your portion of the world (28:77) radiates itself through all the cells of his or her brain. The Divine warning: This life of the world is but a pastime and a game, but the home of the Hereafter, that is Life if they but knew (29:64) penetrates his or her innermost senses.
Some have described asceticism as observing the rules of Shari‘a even in moments of depression and especially during financial difficulties, and living for others or considering their well-being and happiness while enjoying well-being and comfort. Others have defined it as thankfulness for God’s bounties and fulfilling the obligations that these bounties bring with them, and as refraining from hoarding money and goods (except for the intention to serve, exalt, and promote Islam).
Such renowned Sufi leaders as Sufyan al-Thawri regarded asceticism as the action of a heart set up according to God’s approval and pleasure and closed to worldly ambitions, rather than as being content with simple food and clothes. According to these Sufis, there are three signs of a true ascetic: feeling no joy at worldly things acquired or grief over worldly things missed, feeling no pleasure when praised or displeasure when criticized or blamed, and preferring to serve God over every other thing.
Like fear and hope, asceticism is an action of the heart; however, asceticism differs in that it affects one’s acts and is displayed through them. Whether consciously or unconsciously, a true ascetic tries to follow the rules of asceticism in all acts, such as eating and drinking, going to bed and getting up, talking and keeping silent, and remaining in retreat or with people. An ascetic shows no inclination toward worldly attractions. Rumi expresses this in the following apt words:
What is the world? It is heedlessness of God;
Not clothes, nor silver coin, nor children, nor women.
If you have worldly possessions in the name of God,
Then the Messenger said: How fine is the property a righteous man has!
The water in a ship causes it to sink,
While the water under it causes it to float.
Having worldly means or wealth are not contrary to asceti-cism—if those who possess them can control them and are not overpowered by them. Nevertheless, the glory of humanity, upon him be peace and blessings, the truest ascetic in all respects, chose to live as the poorest of his people, for he had to set the most excellent example for his community—especially for those charged with propagating and promoting the truth. Thus, he would not lead others to think that the sacred mission of Prophethood could be abused to earn worldly advantage.
He also had to follow his predecessors, who proclaimed: My reward is only due from God (10:72; 11:29), and to set an example for those future scholars who would convey his Message. For these and similar other reasons, he led an austere life. How beautiful are the following couplets by Busayri, which express how the Prophet preserved his innocence and indifference even at the time of absolute need and poverty:
Not to feel hunger, he wound a girdle around his belly
Over the stones pressing upon his blessed stomach.
Huge mountains wishing themselves gold offered themselves to him,
But he—that noble man—remained indifferent to them.
His urgent needs decisively showed his asceticism,
For those needs were not able to impair his innocence.
How could needs have been able to invite to the world the one
But for whom the world would not have come into being out of non-existence?
There are many beautiful sayings on asceticism. The following, with which we conclude this topic, belongs to ‘Ali, the fourth Caliph and cousin of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings:
The soul weeps in desire of the world despite the fact that
It knows that salvation lies in renouncing it and what is in it.
A man will have no abode to dwell in after his death
Except that which he builds before he dies.
Our goods—we hoard them to bequeath to heirs;
Our houses—we build them to be ruined by time.
There are many towns built and then ruined;
Their builders—death has come upon them.
Every soul—even if it somehow fears death,
It cherishes ambitions to strengthen its desire to live.
Man exhibits his ambitions but time obliterates them;
Man’s soul multiplies them but death puts an end to them.
O God! Show us truth as true and enable us to follow it. Show us falsehood as false, and provide us with the means to refrain from it. Amen, O Most Compassionate of the Compassionate.
The Zuhud of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w
The Zuhd of Prophet Muhammad: his food
Reports the mother of faithful believers, Sayyidatina 'Aisha Siddiqa (may Allah be pleased with her): "At our home (that is, the home of the Holy Prophet's household), fire would not be kindled (sometimes) for a whole month; we subsisted merely on water and dates." (Tirmidhi)
Hadrat Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) and the members of his household used to pass night after night without food, as there used to be nothing for eating at night, and frequently his food consisted of barley-bread. (Tirmidhi)
Sayyidatina 'Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) reports that till the day the Holy Prophet passed away, the members of his household did not eat even barley-bread to their fill for two days consecutively. (Tirmidhi)
The Zuhd of Prophet Muhammad: his bedding
Narrates Sayyidina 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him): "I went to the Prophet and saw that he was lying on a mat made of the leaves of the date-palm, and there was no bedding between him and the mat, and the texture of the mat had left deep marks on his body, and under his head was placed a leather pillow stuffed with the bark of the date-tree. On seeing it, I said, "My Master! Pray to Allah (The Glorified and The Exalted) to grant prosperity to your followers. He has bestowed riches upon the people of Rome and Persia even though they are not believers." The Prophet (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) replied, 'O son of Khattab! Do you also think like that? They are the people who have been deprived of the blessings of the Hereafter (owing to their ungodly ways), and hence, the comforts (Allah wanted to confer upon them) have been granted to them in this world.' (In another version of the same Tradition, it is said that the Prophet replied, "O 'Umar! Do you not prefer that they took the joys of this world and we of the Hereafter)?" (Bukhari and Muslim)
Hadrat 'AbdAllah ibn Mas'ud (may Allah be pleased with him) says that (once) the Holy Prophet (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) slept on a mat made of date palm leaves and when he awoke, the impressions of the mat were visible on his body. We said: "O Allah's Messenger (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him)! May we prepare a soft bedding for you?" He said: I have got nothing to do with the world. I am in this world like a rider who halts in the shade of a tree for a short time and after taking some rest, resumes his journey leaving the tree behind. (Tirmidhi)
The Stature of a Zahid and a Sufi: Uways al-Qarani
Sayyidina 'Umar bin al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) as saying, "A man named Uways will come to you from Yemen leaving there only a mother. He had been afflicted by leprosy and made supplication to Allah (The Glorified and The Exalted) who removed it all except to the extent of a dinar (or dirham). If any of you meet him tell him to pray for forgiveness for you." In another version he said that he heard Allah's Messenger (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) say, "The best of the Followers (Tabi'in) will be a man named Uways who has a mother and has been afflicted by leprosy. Tell him that he must pray for forgiveness for you." (Muslim)
Self-Purification And Self-Development
By Abdur-Rashid Siddiqui
Secretary —The Islamic Foundation Trustees Board
[It is He Who has sent among the Unlettered a Messenger from among themselves to rehearse to them His Signs, to purify them, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom although they had been, before, in manifest error.] (Al-Jumu`ah 62:2)
It is only human nature to desire improvement, to make progress, to succeed in life, and to achieve goals. Even others, members of our family and our friends for example, expect us to excel, to win, and to be successful in our endeavors. Those who are studying a business management course know the emphasis placed on self-development to improve the performance of an individual and of a company. Management experts recognize that the human resource is the most valuable asset. No social organization can achieve success unless it has human resources available to lead it. Thus, mundane bodies, like a business organization, require the best human capital more than any other resource.
Islam, which aims for the transformation of human society and fashions it according to its unique ideology, cannot achieve its objectives without valuable and dependable human resources. We observe that human beings come in all shapes and sizes. Each one of us is unique. Even our fingerprints are different. Current research in genetics has discovered that each person's DNA structure is different from that of all others. Also, the genetic code of each one of us is unique. In fact, there are so many variations in human beings. We not only differ in physical detail, but also in our psychology, behavioral patterns, and attitudes. We are not molded into the same shape and size. Actually, there is no need to destroy the richness and variety that the Creator has intended to be preserved.
What Islam requires is that human beings be trained to behave within certain limits. Thus, if they are asked to assemble for Prayers at a certain time, the majority of them will turn up; if they are asked to give their wealth, most will provide their money; likewise, if they are asked to sacrifice their very lives in the way of Allah, the majority, if not all, will be ready for this.
********************************************Determination should not be confused with wishful thinking.
A mere wishing will not achieve anything.
In Qur'anic terminology, the word used for this training, or what we call in modern management terminology self-development, is tazkiyah, which also includes spiritual upliftment. As human beings need both physical and spiritual development, one of the main functions of the Prophets was to perform this important task of tazkiyah. It encompasses two meanings: One is to cleanse and purify oneself, while the other is to grow and improve oneself. In fact, both aspects are complementary. Whatever is clean and pure will certainly prosper according to its potentialities. About this, the noble Qur'an says:
[Prosperous is he who has cleansed himself.] (Al-A`la 87:14)
[Truly he succeeds who purifies it [the self]; and he fails who corrupts it.] (Ash-Shams 91:9–10)
It should be recognized that the process of spiritual self-development or tazkiyah cannot be imposed on human beings. It has to be the personal choice and responsibility of each individual. No one else can do this job for us. Actually, no matter how much we are trained or educated, this will not succeed unless we are willing to receive training and education. Universities and other organizations can provide all the facilities for our development, but it is the primary duty of the individual to use these facilities to his or her own advantage.
Hence, the first requirement for tazkiyah is our commitment to purify ourselves. Once we assume this responsibility, there should be a firm determination and commitment to remain steadfast and not to quiver.
A word of caution here: Determination should not be confused with wishful thinking. A mere wishing will not achieve anything. As the saying goes, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." Once a firm commitment is made, there should be no doubt or hesitation.
Next is our ceaseless effort to improve ourselves. As soon as we have resolved to achieve the desired results, then we should embark upon the path of hard struggle. No half-hearted effort will bear fruit. We should realize that these efforts and struggles are lifelong commitments that we have to undertake. There are no shortcuts. However, no sooner we are on the way than we will find unlimited potential for growth.
The third requirement is sincerity in our efforts. Certainly, without Allah's grace and help, we cannot achieve any success nor can we traverse this long path. But, this is given only to sincere believers. Therefore, we have to seek Allah's help in all of our affairs. Undoubtedly, We will face trials and tribulations. These tests are of course necessary for our purification. They are there to distinguish between those who are sincere and those who are hypocrites. Thus, constant supplication for Allah's guidance and help is truly essential.
All these steps are beautifully summed up in the following Qur'anic verse:
[And whoever desires the hereafter and diligently endeavors after it as he should, being a believer, then those, their endeavor is to be gratefully acknowledged.] (Al-Israa' 17:19)
We have outlined the important requirements for achieving self-purification. Yet, with any program of action there needs to be a model to facilitate its implementation. For this reason, we need a perfect example before us so that we can attempt to model our lives accordingly. This has been provided by Almighty Allah, Exalted be He, Who has commanded us in the Qur'an to take the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as a perfect model for us; Allah says:
[Indeed, you have a fair example, in the Messenger of Allah, for whoever hopes for Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.] (Al-Ahzab 33:21)
This article has been taken with modifications from a book titled Lift Up Your Hearts published by the Islamic Foundation.
Abdur Rashid Siddiqui (1932- ) was one of the earliest members of the UK Islamic Mission and is a member of its Shura. He was one of the founder members of the Islamic Society of Britain and was the Chairman of its Shura Council for many years. He is the Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Islamic Foundation, UK.
What is Tariqah?
Author: Sadi Eren Dr.
Tariqah literally means path but in Islamic etymology, it means the path of achieving the knowledge of Tasawwuf (mystic tradition within Islam). The tariqah paths are the ways of reality. (1) The tariqah paths are the proofs, and the sources of ‘Kawthar’, which distributes a sort of water of life. (2) Many believers for centuries have drunk from this source and have benefited from this supreme treasury.
The tariqah path is a spiritual journeying with the feet of the heart under the shadow of the ascension of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). (3)
Although, tariqah path is a way through to find the reality, it is not the only way to do that. All ‘Haqiqa’ (true) paths adhere to their basis to Qur’an. Some people’s questions, who do not want to accept tariqah paths such as, “were there any tariqah paths during the era that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) lived in?” is because of an insinuation.
All of the principles of tariqah build upon Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) practices. That is to say, there was an application, but its name was not tariqah yet. First appearance of tariqah as a system goes back to 3rd century in Islamic calendar. Junayd-i Baghdadi, Bayazid-i Bistani emerged as the first tariqah leaders. Shah-i Nakshiband, Abdulkhadir Gaylani, Mawlana Jaladdin-i Rum’i, Imam-i Rabbani are the most famous gallants of tariqah paths of later years.
Tazkiyah تزكية Zuhud زهد Tarikat طريقة
The combined teachings and injunctions of Islam are known as the Shari’a. Both sets of acts – exoteric (commands and prohibitions related to the body) and esoteric (commands and prohibitions related to the heart, mind and inner self) are included. In the terminology of the early authorities of Shari’a, the term fiqh (Islamic law) was synonymous with the word Shari’a. Thus Imam Abu Hanifa (May Allah have mercy upon him), defined fiqh as “the recognition of that which is beneficial and harmful to the self.”
Later, in the terminology of the later authorities of Shari’a, the word fiqh was used for that branch of Islam which related to exoteric acts, while the branch that dealt with esoteric acts became known as Zuhd, Tazkiyah, Tasawwuf and ‘Ilamul Ikhlaq. The ways or methods of reforming the esoteric acts are called Tareeqah.
Tareeqah is a term derived from the Quranic verse: “Had they kept straight on the path (tareeqah), We would have made them drink of a most limpified water” (72:16). The meaning of “path” in this verse is elucidated by the hadith of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), related by Bukhari and Muslim, ordering his followers to follow his sunnah and the sunnah of his successors. Like tareeqah in the verse, the meaning of sunnah in the hadith is “path” and “way”. Tareeqah thus can be a term applied to groups of individuals belonging to the school of thought pursued by a particular scholar or “shaykh”, as such a person was often called. So Tareeqah means At-tareeq Ilallah (The Path to the pleasure of Allah, the Majestic) as taught by our great Master Sydinina Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) which is based on Quran and Sunnah.
As mentioned previously when Hadrat Jibraeel (Alaihi Salaam) asked the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) what Ihsaan was, to which the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied “To worship Allah as if you are seeing Him”. Tareeqah is just another name for Ihsaan, and the method of gaining Ihsaan.
Although the Shaykhs applied different methods in training their followers, the core of each one’s programme was identical. The situation was not unlike what happens in institutions of medicine and law today. The approaches of the various universities may be different, but the body of law and the practise of medicine remain essentially the same. When they graduate from either of these faculties, each student bears the stamp of the particular school he attended.
Just as there are masaa’il (rules and regulations) relating to Fiqh, similarly there are masaa’il relating to Tareeqah. Generally the scholars know about the masaa’il of Fiqh therefore the easiest way for a person is just to ask them and to act upon the guidance. If they do not act upon the guidance then it becomes a proof against them.
For example if a common person goes to a scholar enquiring about a particular issue that he is not sure about i.e. how to make ablution, the role of the Scholar, then, will be to present him with the correct solution. The person then should go and do ablution as he has been shown. However, if he does not act upon the opinion of the scholar and does not make ablution then he will not become pure at all.
Similarly in the path of self-purification (Tareeqah) the easiest way forward is just to follow a guide and Murshid because here we are dealing with the rules regarding inner-purification which are even more complex. Therefore one needs more diligence. The seeker’s duty only remains to present their state to the spiritual guide or Shaykh. The Shaykh’s duty is then to prescribe him the solution. The seeker then should just act upon it. It is as simple as that. After a while the seeker should gradually try and learn some background to the masaa’il of Tareeqah.
In the beginning a person has no idea therefore he has no option except just to follow what he has been instructed, whether he understands or not. This is the principle of every science. When a student begins any science he just has to follow the teacher up to a certain level. After that he will slowly begin to understand the reason and purpose of the teachings as well.
If a person is aware of the basics such as the Fard, Wajib, Mustahab etc then this is helpful. For example if he knows the Fard or Wajib of prayer then he can correct mistakes himself and does not need to go to the scholars to solve his problem. Similarly in the science of self-purification or Tareeqah there are also masaa’il which are known as the principles of the Tareeqah. A seeker should know the basic principles so that he can solve problems for himself and for others, and so that he can become more self-sufficient to a certain level.
If a person is not aware of the principles, the means and exercises the seekers have to do, the effort that is required from them, then this person is on a path to destruction and will die in jahiliyyat [ignorance] by assuming and believing in other things which were not part of the objective or the goal. If you know the ins and outs of the Tareeqah, states, means, objectives, etc you cannot be confused, even if Shaitaan comes to you in a dream and says he is God or a Saint.
the original title
Objectives and Principles of the Path (Tareeqah)
to self-purification and
excellence in worshipful obedience of Allah,
the Exalted (Al-Ihsaan-fi-Uboodiyah)
Related TopicPurification of Heart Al-Tazkiyah by Sheikh Ahmad Dabbagh
Ascetic - A person who renounces material comforts and leads a life of austere self-discipline, especially as an act of religious devotion.
-Distant physically or emotionally; reserved and remote: stood apart with aloof dignity.
-At a distance but within view; apart.
Abstinence - The act or practice of refraining from indulging an appetite or desire, especially for alcoholic drink or sexual intercourse.
Puritan - someone who adheres to strict religious principles; someone opposed to sensual pleasures