"And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers."
(Al-Quran 51:55)

Friday, 10 January 2014

Prophet Muhammad (saw) - His Zuhd

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Zuhd is an often misunderstood term, most probably because, among certain people - namely, certain followers of Sufi orders - it is taken to an extreme; or it is understood only on a superficial level. 

In the Arabic language, a Zahid - one who practices Zuhd - is someone who is austere and self-denying in his lifestyle. As an Islamic term, a Zahid is someone who gives up worldly pleasures and comforts for the sake of Allah, and because, through leading a self-denying existence in this life, he hopes to enjoy a comfortable and pleasure filled life in the Hereafter.

Suffice to say, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) was the leader of all Zahids. His Zuhd was based on his certain knowledge that this world is a fleeting abode. Its pleasures are few, limited and temporary; and life passes by so quickly that all people who live to be old agree that their lives went by quickly, that it seemed only yesterday that they were children. Such a life, therefore, cannot be compared to the everlasting life of the Hereafter. 

The Prophet (saw) kept his sight focused on the Hereafter, being very aware of what Allah has prepared for His believing slaves in terms of rewards, comfort, pleasures and eternal bliss. As such, he refused to take from this world anything that was above and beyond his basic needs. He understood that, the more one possesses in this life, the more attached one becomes to this world.

The Prophet (saw) was a Zahid not by force of circumstances, but by choice. As the leader of a nation, but moreover as a favoured and beloved Prophet of Allah, he could have had mountains of gold and silver. He could have led a luxurious and comfortable lifestyle. He only had to ask Allah, and he would have been given great wealth.

But he preferred to follow the way of Zuhd, to save his share of good things for the Hereafter. As a result of that choice, he spent many nights of his life hungry. At times, at least a month would pass by without a cooking fire being ignited in his house. During such periods of hardships, he would either go hungry for days, or he and his family would survive on water and dates. As one of his wives stated, it never occurred that he ate a satisfying amount of barley bread for three consecutive nights.

He would sleep not on a real mattress, but on a makeshift bed that was made of straw, one that would leave marks on the side of his body. On various occasions of his life, he would stave off the pangs of hunger by tying a rock around his stomach. His Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all), who themselves suffered frequently from want, were often saddened to see the signs of hunger on the Prophet's (saw) face. 

As for the Prophet's (saw) house, it was made neither of bricks nor cement nor any other strong, resistant and long-lasting material. It was, on the contrary, made of simple clay. It was small, and its roof was low. His clothing was simple and plain, and never once did he sit at a dining table to eat. He underwent such hardships in order to discipline his soul, to preserve his faith, and to be deserving of the promise that Allah made to him:


And verily, your Lord will give you so that you shall be well pleased.
(Surah Duha - Verse 5)

In the way he (saw) turned away from this world, without rejoicing in its treasures or enjoying its pleasures; and in the way he focused on the Hereafter, performing deeds purely for the sake of Allah - the Prophet Muhammad (saw) became the ideal role model for all Zahids, and more generally, for all Muslims. 

According to a the narrations, he (saw) said:

Live in this world as if you are a stranger or a traveller who is only passing through (one place on his way to a distant destination).

Seek little from this world, and Allah will love you. Refrain from taking what people have (with them), and people will love you.

What do I have to do with this world? Verily, the example of me with this world is nothing more than the example of a man who takes a noon-time nap underneath the shade of a tree, and who then gets up and leaves it.

The world is cursed, and everything in it is cursed - except for the remembrance of Allah, for good deeds that Allah loves, for a scholar, or for a student.

All that you have from wealth is what you eat and thus cause to be used up, what you wear and thus cause to be worn out, and what you give in charity and thus cause to remain for your benefit.

May Allah make us all the true people of Zuhd like our Prophet Muhammad (saw) - Ameen!


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