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How is the concept of Zuhd understood from Qur'an and Sunnah?

It is normally translated as asceticism, but does that mean living in poverty, hunger and abstaining from marriage and sleep?

Can someone who possess wealth be a Zahid?

What are the qualities of a true Zahid according to Qur'an and Sunnah?

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3 Answers 3

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That God made the world is accessories to test for us To know God where we act as ordered it or not?

Zuhd : is the output the love of the world from the heart, so Zahid not pay any attention to the world in his heart, and not preoccupied in this world on the purpose for which God created for it

Zuhd does not mean to believer give up for a the world and he gives up his money, and leave halal earning and be a burden on others.

in 40 Hadith for Nawawi:

عن أبي العباس سهل بن سعد الساعدي رضي الله عنه ، قال : جاء رجل إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ، فقال : يا رسول الله ! دلني على عمل إذا عملته أحبني الله وأحبني الناس ؛ فقال : ( ازهد في الدنيا يحبك الله ، وازهد فيما عند الناس يحبك الناس ) .

On the authority of Abu al-’Abbas Sahl bin Sa’ad as-Sa’idee (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: A man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, direct me to an act which, if I do it, [will cause] Allah to love me and the people to love me.” So he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Renounce the world and Allah will love you, and renounce what the people possess and the people will love you.” A hasan hadeeth related by Ibn Majah and others with good chains of authorities.

The Prophet(PBUH) explained the true meaning of Zuhd when he said:

أن رسول الله، صلى الله عليه وسلم، قال‏:‏ ‏"‏إن الدنيا حلوة خضرة وإن الله تعالى مستخلفكم فيها، فينظر كيف تعملون، فاتقوا الدنيا واتقوا النساء‏"‏ ‏ رواه مسلم

Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "The world is sweet and green (alluring); and verily, Allah is making you to succeed each other, generations after generations in it in order to see how you act. So beware of this world and beware of women" [Muslim].

and in another hadith:

عـن ابـن عـمـر رضي الله عـنهـما ، قــال : أخـذ الرسول صلي الله عـلية وسلم بمنكبي ، فقال : ( كن في الدنيا كـأنـك غـريـب أو عـابـر سبـيـل ). وكـان ابـن عـمـر رضي الله عـنهـما يقول : إذا أمسيت فلا تـنـتـظـر الصباح ، وإذا أصبحت فلا تـنـتـظـر المساء ، وخذ من صحـتـك لـمـرضـك ، ومن حـياتـك لـمـوتـك . رواه البخاري

On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) took me by the shoulder and said, “Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a wayfarer.” And Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) used to say, “In the evening do not expect [to live until] the morning, and in the morning do not expect [to live until] the evening. Take [advantage of] your health before times of sickness, and [take advantage of] your life before your death.” It was related by al-Bukhari.

and some scholars said: (not Zuhd to leave the world of your hand and Is in your heart, but the Zuhd is Leave the world in your heart and is in your hand).

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Ali (ra) defined zuhd best:

Zuhd is not that you own nothing, but it is that nothing owns you.

Many of the Prophets and Sahabah were incredibly wealthy or powerful - but they didn't let that get in the way of their connection with Allah. Abd ar-Rahman b. Auf (ra) is a fantastic example of a very successful businessman and yet among those promised jannah. Sulaiman (as) asked Allah SWT for a kingdom and dominion the likes of which would not be given to anyone else after him - here is a Prophet asking Allah SWT for literally a whole kingdom and power over it! But before he asked Allah for that, he asked for forgiveness. So he had his priorities straight.

Today people incorrectly associate zuhd with leaving the world or renouncing everything and living a minimal existence. This is not the way of the Prophet (saws). He said:

What is the matter with people who say such and such? But I pray and I sleep, I fast and I break my fast, and I marry women. Whoever turns away from my Sunnah is not of me."

In our prayer, the Prophet (saws) instructed us to ask Allah for the blessings and goodness of this life, the eternal life, and to be saved from the Fire.

Sa'id b. Jubair said "Allah tests me, I don't test Him" in connection with people thinking they were doing Allah a favor by inflicting poverty on themselves.

These examples from the Prophets, Companions, and other early Muslims give an indication as to the true meaning of zuhd.

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Your answer is given by the household of the holy prophet --peace be upon him and his household, the describers of Quran, as follows:

محمد بن يعقوب: عن علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، و علي بن محمد، عن القاسم بن محمد، عن سليمان بن داود المنقري، عن علي بن هاشم بن البريد، عن أبيه: أن رجلا سأل علي بن الحسين (عليهما السلام) عن الزهد فقال: «عشرة أشياء فأعلى درجة الزهد أدنى درجة الورع، و أعلى درجة الورع أدنى درجة اليقين، و أعلى درجة اليقين أدنى درجة الرضا، [ألا] و إن الزهد كله في آية من كتاب الله عز و جل: لِكَيْلا تَأْسَوْا عَلى ما فاتَكُمْ وَ لا تَفْرَحُوا بِما آتاكُمْ».

A man asked from Imam Sajjad --peace be upon him-- about Zuhd (asceticism). Imam answered: "... the uppest degree of asceticism is the closest (lowest) level of pious, and the highest level of pious is the lowest level of certainty, and the highest level of certainty is the lowest degree of satisfaction. Know that the whole of Zuhd is considered in one verse of the book of Allah: In order that ye may not despair over matters that pass you by, nor exult over favours bestowed upon you. For Allah loveth not any vainglorious boaster"

علي بن إبراهيم، قال: حدثني أبي، عن القاسم بن محمد، عن سليمان بن داود المنقري، عن حفص بن غياث، عن أبي عبد الله (عليه السلام)، قال: قلت: جعلت فداك، فما حد الزهد في الدنيا؟ قال: فقال: «قد حد الله في كتابه، فقال عز و جل: لِكَيْلا تَأْسَوْا عَلى ما فاتَكُمْ وَ لا تَفْرَحُوا بِما آتاكُمْ إن أعلم الناس بالله أخوفهم لله، و أخوفهم له أعلمهم به، و أعلمهم به أزهدهم فيها».

Imam Sadiq --peace be upon him-- was asked about the limit of Zuhd in this life. Imam answered that Allah has determined its limit in His book, so He has stated "In order that ye may not despair over matters that pass you by, nor exult over favours bestowed upon you. For Allah loveth not any vainglorious boaster". The most knowledgeable people about Allah are the most fearful of Allah, the most fearful people of Allah are the most knowledgeable of them about Dunya(?), and the most knowledgeable of them about Dunya are the most ascetic of them in Dunya.

Source: البرهان في تفسير القرآن، ج5، ص: 298

Therefore Quran defines the Zuhd (asceticism) in this verse:

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

In order that ye may not despair over matters that pass you by, nor exult over favours bestowed upon you. For Allah loveth not any vainglorious boaster [57:23]

But let me explain this to some extent. A ascetic person in Islam may be rich or poor in property; Zuhd does not require the person to have less or least wealth (as was considered by many famous Sufi's in the history of Sufism), but it does require the person not to rely on his wealth, income, and etc, be it a house or car or money in bank or credit or even children or honor, or even healthy body and sharp mind or knowledge or any other possession or characteristic. The ascetic person would always remind his position in the course of life and in the relation with God, so that he only relies on Allah, neither he will get disappointed when he lose something that he had and nor will he exult when he gains something that he had not. In every instant he knows that he is a servant of Allah, he still has some duties even though the conditions of the game will change slightly.

Then we turn back to see the history, we have Talut and Dhul-Qarnein and the prophets Joseph and David and Solomon --peace be upon them-- which were king (or anyway ranked among the highest in a government) with lots of wealth. They were all ascetic of course while were rich as well. Another example if the prophet Ayyub --peace be upon him-- who was rich as well, then Allah examined him by taking back from him almost anything that was given to him, but he remained a good servant of Allah with no single instant of thinking bad (سوء الظن) about his Lord:

وَأَيُّوبَ إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُ أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الضُّرُّ وَأَنتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ / فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ فَكَشَفْنَا مَا بِهِ مِن ضُرٍّ ۖ وَآتَيْنَاهُ أَهْلَهُ وَمِثْلَهُم مَّعَهُمْ رَحْمَةً مِّنْ عِندِنَا وَذِكْرَىٰ لِلْعَابِدِينَ

And (remember) Job, when He cried to his Lord, "Truly distress has seized me, but Thou art the Most Merciful of those that are merciful." / So We listened to him: We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his people to him, and doubled their number,- as a Grace from Ourselves, and a thing for commemoration, for all who serve Us. [21:83,84]

وَاذْكُرْ عَبْدَنَا أَيُّوبَ إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُ أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الشَّيْطَانُ بِنُصْبٍ وَعَذَابٍ / ارْكُضْ بِرِجْلِكَ ۖ هَـٰذَا مُغْتَسَلٌ بَارِدٌ وَشَرَابٌ / وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ أَهْلَهُ وَمِثْلَهُم مَّعَهُمْ رَحْمَةً مِّنَّا وَذِكْرَىٰ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ / وَخُذْ بِيَدِكَ ضِغْثًا فَاضْرِب بِّهِ وَلَا تَحْنَثْ ۗ إِنَّا وَجَدْنَاهُ صَابِرًا ۚ نِّعْمَ الْعَبْدُ ۖ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ

Commemorate Our Servant Job. Behold he cried to his Lord: "The Evil One has afflicted me with distress and suffering!" / (The command was given:) "Strike with thy foot: here is (water) wherein to wash, cool and refreshing, and (water) to drink." / And We gave him (back) his people, and doubled their number,- as a Grace from Ourselves, and a thing for commemoration, for all who have Understanding. / "And take in thy hand a little grass, and strike therewith: and break not (thy oath)." Truly We found him full of patience and constancy. How excellent in Our service! ever did he turn (to Us)! [38:41-44]

That's a very common examination style that Allah puts forward in our courses of lives, to give us for us to remind Him and thank Him (both by doing our duties and by tongue) or to take back from us again to remind Him and ask Him and be patient, being pleased by what Allah has chosen for us.

This is only a short argument about Zuhd, you can easily extend your knowledge by many great books written based on this verse and the Ahadeeth of the 14 infallibles peace be upon them.

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