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Az-Zuhd – Book overview

Az-Zuhd by Ibn Qayyim Al Jawzeeyah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Bismi Allahi Alrrahmani Alrraheemi In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful Az-Zuhd: Renouncing Worldly Pleasures in order to Gain Nearness to Allah

A Series on the Purification of the Soul

Az-Zuhd ((Renouncing Worldly Pleasures in order to Gain Nearness to Allah))

“Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers-evil doers,) and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers-good doers) whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” ((Suratul Hadeed: 20))


  • 4 Author’s Biography in Brief
  • 12 Introduction
  • 14 Renouncing the World
  • 22 The Definitions of Zuhd
  • 22 Zuhd in Abstaining from Doubtful Matters
  • 24 Zuhd in Abstaining from Wasting One’s Time with the Corrupt and Sinning Folk
  • 24 Zuhd in Abstaining from the Permissible Things
  • 25 Zuhd In Matters of Zuhd

Author’s Biography in Brief

His name is: Shams Al Deen, Abu Abdullah, Muhammad, Ibnul Qayyim; commonly known as Ibnul Qayyim Al Jawzeeyah. He was born in the year 691H (1292-1350 CE) and was raised in a house of knowledge and excellence, at a time when knowledge flourished. He studied under many Scholars of his time. Renowned for having been a hugely significant Scholar of the Quraan, Hadith, Arabic language, Fiqh and its Usool (foundations), Ibnul Qayyim with the aid of Allah, produced exceptionally inspiring writings.

Born in Damascus, he studied with his teacher Ibn Taymiyyah for sixteen years, which had an immense impact upon him. He later became his (Ibn Taymiyyah’s) most distinguished student and he authored over sixty books. Ibnul Qayyim had many well-known students such as: Ibn Katheer, Ibn Rajab, Shamsuddeen Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Qaadir, Imaam Ath Thahbi, Taqiy’eddeen As’Subki and Ibn Abdul Haadi among others. Shams Al Deen, Abu Abdullah, Muhammad, Ibnul Qayyim passed on to the mercy of His Lord, on the 13th Rajab in the year 751H (1350 CE).

Az-Zuhd: Renouncing Worldly Pleasures in order to Gain Nearness to Allah الزهد

Translator’s Introduction

Desire to acquire more worldly goods have become widespread. Muslims today are exerting much energy in trade, commerce and the accumulation of shares. As such they have completely forgotten about the salvation of their souls. One of the most important tasks for which the Prophet Muhammad was sent to this nation was for the purification of the soul. Allah says about Prophet Muhammad’s task:

هو الذي بعث في الأميين رسولا منهم يتلو عليهم آياته ويزكيهم ويعلمهم الكتاب والحكمة وإن گائوا من قبل لفي ضلال مبين

“He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifying them and teaching them the Book and the Wisdom. And verily, they had been before in manifest error.” ((Suratul Jumu’ah: 2)) ((((Shaykh Naasir As-Sa’di says in his great Tafsir about this noble Verse: The honorable Prophet was sent to teach mankind (how to purify their souls) by having noble manners and to prevent them from despicable, debased and lowly vices (i.e. preventing them from the deeds which corrupt the soul and encouraging the deeds which purify and bring about its salvation.)) ))

This Verse shows one of the reasons why the honorable Prophet Muhammad was sent (i.e. for the purification of the soul). Zuhd (doing without the pleasures of the world in a hope of gaining closeness to Allah the Exalted and High) is one of the greatest ways to purify the soul. Living simply means you should restrain your desires from worldly things in the hope of receiving something better instead.

In order to achieve this more easily you should realise that the things which people yearn for in this world, are in fact worthless when compared with what we hope to achieve in the next life. If we know that what Allah has will remain, and that the life to come is better and more lasting, then we realise that the life of this world is really like a piece of ice left out in the sun, it soon melts and vanishes.

The next life however never vanishes. We must learn to withdraw from the life of this world even though we may still have a great desire for it in our hearts. The self is always preoccupied with the life of this world, even though we struggle with it and try to restrain from it.

Once someone called out to Ibn Al-Mubaarak”(( 2 Ibn Mubaarak lived (118/736-181 797) he was a very famous Scholar of Hadith and traveled a great deal and collected Hadith. He lived off of trade, participated In Jihad and gave generously for the sake of Allah. He was born in Marwa and died in Hit near al-Raqqah in Iraq

For further reference see Tah’theebul Tah’theeb by Hafiz Ibn Hajr v2 p415-417 Muwoswosatul Risaalah)) saying “O Zaahid!’ (O the one who has renounced the world) Ibn Al-Mubarak replied: “The real Zaahid is Umar ibn Abdul Azeez ((Umar Ibn Abdul Azeez (d.61-101H was a Taabi’een from the people of Madinah. He was the great grandson of Umar Ibn Khattaab on his mother’s side and the grandson of the Umayyad Khaleefah in Marwan. Umar Ibn Abdul Azeez became the Khaleefah in the year 99 A.H. He was known and respected for his piety and fear of Allah. Umar was a Faqeeh and a man of profound sayings. For further reference see Tah’theebul Tah’theeb by Hafiz Ibn Hajr v3 p240-241 Muwoswosatul Risaalah)) for indeed he rejected the tremendous pleasures and riches of this world that were placed at his feet, whereas I have very little to give up.” ((Ibnul Qayyim Tazkiya’Tul’Nufuus Chapter of Doing without the Life of this World. ))

O dear brothers and sisters may Allah guide me and you. We must learn to withdraw from the life of this world even though we still have a great desire for it. The self is always preoccupied with the life of this world, so we must struggle with it and try to restrain and detach ourselves from it to the point where we are able to do without it. As our righteous predecessors, have often quoted this verse of poetry:

O people who take pleasure

In a world that will vanish,

Falling in love Wilh a fading shadow

Is sheer stupidity!(( Ibnul Qayyim Tazkiya’Tul’Nufuus Chapter of the Life of this World. ))

One of the things to which this life can most easily be compared to is a shadow, it appears to be permanent but in reality it is in a constant state of growing smaller or larger, and when you try to chase it and catch it- you cannot! The one who loves the life of this world and prefers it to the next life is the lowest of creation and the least intelligent. Such a person prefers illusion to reality.

Whoever is preoccupied with this life, Allah will make poverty apparent in his eyes, and whoever is preoccupied with the next life, Allah will place wealth within his heart. Brothers and sisters, seekers of the truth, know that love for the life of this world leads to over-emphasizing its importance, when it is insignificant in the sight of Allah, the Exalted.

One of the greatest incorrect actions is to attach importance to what Allah considers trivial. The one who has great love for the life of this world is the one who suffers the most. His is suffering in the life of this world itself as a result of his striving to achieve worldly gains, and his competing with its people over it. He also suffers in his grave because he missed out in this life and regrets his lost opportunities, for now he is on his way to meet Allah, his Lord, in such a state that he wishes he will never meet Him.

So dear brothers and sisters love for the life of this world makes the servant become preoccupied with it, and prevents him from undertaking actions that will benefit him in the next world. Allah has condemned it (i.e. this life). He dislikes and disapproves of it, except for whatever it contains that is duly His. Whoever loves what Allah condemns, dislikes and disapproves of, has left himself open to confusion and temptation, as well as to His disapproval and anger.

Az-Zuhd: Renouncing Worldly Pleasures in order to Gain Nearness to Allah

Brothers and sisters, the more we love the life of this world the more we make it the main goal in our lives. So we will utilize all ways and means in order to acquire it, which in fact distracts us from remembering Allah and distracts us from the next life. Allah has provided these things for us in order to lead us to Him and the next life. We have become rebellious against what Allah intended us to strive to achieve.

We make the means an end in itself, and we use the means that should lead to the next life to acquire the pleasure of this world, and this is a great perversion of what these means were intended for. The holy Prophet as well as teaching us how to pray, has taught us how to fast, how to perform Hajj as well as Umrah and the likes. He has also taught us how to get closer to our Lord.

One of these ways was through purification of the soul (i.e. Zuhd in abstaining from the life of this world). We must learn, not only to follow the conduct of the Prophet in ritual acts of worship but also in spiritual acts of worship which consist of purifying ones soul. Zuhd is something many of us have neglected, except those whom Allah has mercy upon. We must go back to the way our noble Prophet lived, his life, and how he was with regards to his Lord, and how he instructed his Ummah (Muslim nation) with regards to the Zuhd.

In a slow process and over a long period of time, I have come to realise that this is from one of the biggest problems in my life (i.e. Zuhd (abstaining from the life of this short world with the hope of gaining closeness to Allah the Exalted and High). I therefore thought it necessary to try with Allah’s help, to purify my soul from this disease. In my search for the purification of my soul I came across many beneficial works in Arabic, which have not yet been translated into English, by some of the greatest Scholars Islaam has ever seen.

All the praises are due to Allah, because He guided me to this work, which I found in my search, journey and quest for the betterment of myself and for the revival of my soul.

Az-Zuhd: Renouncing Worldly Pleasures in order to Gain Nearness to Allah

When I acknowledged my weakness, I also acknowledged that my beloved brothers and sisters are, also with regret, sharing in the same suffering that I am. I thought it befitting then, to address the problem we are all facing, being that we are trying to become more repentant and better upon our religion. I ask Allah that this work is a proof for me and not against me.

I ask Allah by His Greatest Names, that He make it be of benefit to my brothers and sisters, indeed He has the power to do all things. I would like to thank Sulimaan Bin Haroon for assisting me with this work, and thank those who have helped me in going over this work, and I ask Allah to reward you all greatly and I thank my beloved mother (Umm Taalib) who has carried me this way and is still carrying me (by the grace of Allah), and also my noble sister who has helped my mum to also carry me.

All footnotes were added by me, I would like to thank my beloved and close dear brother Dawood ibn Stanley Soyza for correcting this work, and lastly I would like to thank dearly and greatly my brother Abu ‘Ubayd Khalid Knight at Salafī admin for also correcting this work, and designing the cover for me, may Allah reward him and them all and I encourage the Muslims all around the world to log on to Abdul-Haq ibn Kofi my close brother and Abu ‘Ubayd’s website as Allah the Exalted and High has blessed their site greatly and put much benefit in their website.

I ask Allah to accept this work from me and to forgive me my faults and make this work be a benefit to myself and my brothers and sisters. I also would like to take this opportunity in advising my brothers and sisters as well as myself that we put into practice what we learn and strive hard in always pleasing Allah,

if anyone would like to contact me day or night regarding this work to correct me on any faults found so I can correct them for its second addition please contact me asap because Arabic is not my first language, therefore I do find many difficulties in translating such great works of our Ulama (the Scholars), so please my dear brothers and dear sisters, advise a weak ignorant Miskeen brother such as myself, if you happen to come across any faults found in this work or any of my other works, may God guide me and you all.

And also those who want advice on any other private and personal issues like on Hijra, knowledge or on my stay when I was in Yemen with the great imam, and reviver of our age and the great adherer to the Sunnah of the Prophet, Shaykh Muqbil, or questions on Jordan or questions they would like me to pose to our Shaykhs here in Jordan, Shaykh Ali, Shaykh Saleem, Shaykh Mashoor Hasan, Shaykh Musa Nasr, Shaykh Husayn Al-Awaayishah, Shaykh Abu Islaam please feel to contact me brothers and sisters on any of my following below numbers,

Taalib Ibn Tyson Al-Britaanee Jordan Ammaan June 26 2007

My mobile numbers: 0096279 5074719 or 00962 79 6978018.

Or at the following e-mail address,


إن الحمد لله ، نحمده ونستعينه ونستغفره ، ونعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا ، ومن يهده الله فلا مضل له، ومن يضلل فلا هادي له، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله.

Indeed, all praises are due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our souls and our wrong doings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.

I bear witness that there is no true god except Allah alone without any partners. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His Abd (servant) and Messenger.

(يا أيها الذين آمنوا اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون)

“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims.” ((Suratu Aali-Imraan (3): 102))

يا أيها الكاس اتقوا ربكم الذي خلقكم من نفس واحدة وخلق منها زوجها وبث منهما رجالا كثيرا ونيساء واتقوا الله الذي تساءلون به والأرحام إن الله كان عليكم رقيبا

 “O mankind! Be dutiful to Your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from him created its mate, and from them both He created many men and women; and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual rights and do not sever the relations of the wombs (Kinship) Indeed, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” ((Suratun Nisaa (4): 1))

يا أيها الذين آمنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم ومن يطع الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما

 “O you who believe! Fear Allah and say just words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly achieved a great victory.” ((Suratul Ahzaab (33): 70-71))

Az-Zuhd: Renouncing Worldly Pleasures in order to Gain Nearness to Allah

فإن أصدق الحديث كتاب الله ، وخير الهدي هدي محمد، وشر الأمور محدثاتها ، وكل محدثة بدعة، وكل بدعة ضلالة وكل ضلالة في النار .

Verily, the best speech is Allah’s Speech; the best guidance is Muhammad’s guidance; and the worst matters (in creed or worship) are those innovated (by the people), for every innovated matter is a bid’ah (prohibited innovation), and every bid’ah is an act of misguidance that (whoever initiated it) will reside in the fire.»(( Muslim)),(( A full discussion of the various reports of this sermon is provided by Shaykh Al-Albani in his booklet, “Khutba tul Haajah”, published by Al-Maktab ul Islaami, Beirut))

إياك نعبد وإياك نستعين

“You (Alone) we worship you (Alone) we ask for help.” ((Suratul Faatiha (1): 5))

Allah says in the noble Qur’aan:

ما عندكم ينف وما عند الله باق

“Whatever is with you, will be exhausted, and whatever is with Allah (of good deeds) will remain.” ((Suratun Nahl (16): 96))

Az-Zuhd: Renouncing Worldly Pleasures in order to Gain Nearness to Allah

Allah the Exalted also says:

اعلموا أنما الحياة الدنيا لعب ولهو وزينة وتفاخر بينكم وتكاثر في الأموال والأولاد گمل غيث أعجب الكقار تبائه ثم يهيج فتراه مصفرا ثم يكون حطاما وفي الأخرة عذاب شديد ومغفرة من الله ورضوان وما الحياة الدنيا إلا متاع الغرور

“Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers-evil doers,) and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers-good doers) whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” ((Suratul Hadeed: 20))



Allah also says about this Dunya (life of this world):

إما مثل الحياة الأثيا گماء أنزلناه من السماء فاختلط به تبات الأرض مما يأكل الناس والأنعام حتى إذا أخذت الأرض زخرفها وازنت وظن أهلها أنهم قادرون عليها أتاها أمرنا ليلا أو نهارا فجعلناها حصيدا كأن لم تغن بالأمس

“Verily the likeness of (this) worldly life is as the rain which We send down from the sky, so by it arises the intermingled produce of the earth of which men and cattle eat until when the earth is clad with its adornments and is beautified, and its people think they have all the power of disposal over it, Our Command reaches it by night or day and We make it like a clean-mown harvest, as if it had not flourished yesterday!” ((Suratul Yunus (10): 24))

Allah also says:

واضرب لهم مثل الحياة الأيا گماء أنزلناه من السماء فاختلط به نبات الأرض فأصبح هشيما تذروه الرياح وكان الله على كل شيء مقتدرا المال والبنون زينة الحياة الدنيا والباقيات الصالحات خير عند ربك ثوابا وخير أملا

“And put forward to them the example of the life of this world, it is like the water (rain) which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it, and becomes fresh and green. But (later) it becomes dry and broken pieces, which the winds scatter. And Allah is Able to do everything. Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of this world. But the good righteous deeds that last, are better in your Lord’s Sight for rewards and better in respect of hope.” ((Saratul Kahf (18): 45-46))

Furthermore, Allah the Exalted also says:

قل متاع الدنيا قليل والأخرة خير من ائقي

“Say: “Short is the enjoyment of this world. The Hereafter is (far) better for him who fears Allah.” { Suratun Nisaa (4): 77}

Allah also says:

بل تؤثرون الحياة الدنيا والآخرة خير وأبقى

“Nay, you prefer the life of this world. Although the Hereafter is better and more

lasting.” {Suratul Al-A’la:16-17} Moreover, Allah says:

ولا تمدن عينيك إلى ما معنا به أزواجا منهم زهرة الحياة الدنيا لنفتنهم فيه ورزق ربك خير وأبقى

“And strain not your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to various groups of them (polytheist and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah), the splendor of the life of this world that We may test them thereby. But the provision (good reward in the Hereafter) of your Lord is better and more lasting.” {Suratu Ta-Ha (20): 131}

Allah the Exalted also says:

إنا جعلنا ما على الأرض زينة لها لنبلوهم أيهم أحسن عملا وإنا لجاعلون ما عليها صعيدا جرزا

“Verily! We have made that which is on the earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds. And Verily! We shall make all that is on (the earth) a bare dry soil (without vegetation or trees etc).” {Suratul Kahf (18): 7-8} Additionally, Allah the Exalted says:

ولولا أن يكون الناس أمة واحدة لجعلنا من يكفر بالرحمن لبيوتهم سقفا من فضة ومعارج عليها يظهرون وبيوتهم أبوابا وسررا عليها يكون وزخرفا وإن كل ذلك لا متاع الحياة الدنيا والآخرة عند ربك للمتقين

“And were it not that all mankind would become of one community (all disbelievers, desiring worldly life only,) We would have provided for those who disbelieve in the Most Beneficent (Allah), silver roofs for their houses, and elevators (and stair-ways etc of silver) whereby to mount. And for their houses, doors (of silver), and thrones (of silver) on which they could recline; and adornments of gold. Yet all this (i.e. the roofs, doors, stairs, elevators, thrones etc of their houses) would have been nothing but an enjoyment of this world. And the Hereafter with your Lord is only for the pious and righteous person.” {Surat uz Zukhruf: 33-35}

Many places in the holy Qur’aan encourages one to renounce the life of this world and (the Qur’aan) informs us of its lowliness, worthlessness, insignificance and it (this worldly life) finally coming to an end. At the same time, He (Allah) encourages the believers by placing in them, an awaking desire for the next life and explaining the pleasures and delights of an everlasting bliss.

So if Allah wants good for His slave, He shows His slave the reality of this debased and fleeting life. So which of the two should take precedence over the other, this life or the next? Many have defined the meaning of Zuhd. I heard Ibn Taymiyyah say about Zuhd and (Wara’a): ‘Zuhd is to leave alone those things which will not benefit you in the next life.’

‘And Wara’a (piety) is to leave the things you fear might harm you in the next life.’ And this so far, has been (one of the best explanations, of the meaning of Zuhd and Wara’a. Sufiyaan al-Thauri said about Zuhd:

Zuhd is to have limited amount of expectations (very few hopes); It does ‘not mean eating poor or inadequate foods as many think, or wearing a cheap gown or cloak.’ Regarding Zuhd, Allah the Exalted says in the holy Quraan:

لكيلا تأسوا على ما فاتكم ولا تفرحوا بما آتاكم والله لا يحب كل مختال فخور

“In order that you may not be sad over matters that you fail to get, nor rejoice because of that which has been given to you. And Allah likes not prideful boasters.” {Suratul Hadeed: 23}

So Zuhd in the (above) Verse is defined as: not being overjoyed with the glitters of the life of this world and not to regret things which have passed you by. Ibn ul Ja’laal said:

Zuhd is to know that this life is a temporary one that will pass away; it should not be magnified in ones heart, nor should much focus be placed on it. Rather, one should turn away from it; it is said Zuhd means to refrain from this Dunya (world), without showing off.’ Al-Ju’nayd said: Zuhd means to free the heart from always wanting.’

The great Imaam, Imaam Ahmed said: Zuhd is not to have too many expectations.’ Imaam Ahmed also said:  Zuhd in this world is: ‘not to be overjoyed with what one possesses and not to be distressed by turning away from it (i.e. the world). So he (Imaam Ahmed) was asked about a man who had one thousand Dirhams, and if such an individual could be considered a Zaa’hid (I.e. one who renounces this world).

So, Imaam Ahmed said: ‘yes; but with one condition, which is, if his wealth increases he does not become too joyful and if it decreases he doesn’l become distressed and unhappy.’ The venerable Ibn Mubaarak said regarding Zuhd: It is having trust in Allah, and being content in times of poverty.’

Abdul Waahid Ibn Zaid said: Zuhd can be practiced by a person, even if he only possesses one deenar or dirham.’ Abi Sulimaan ad-Daa’raani said: Zuhd means, to leave those things that distract you from Allah the Exalted and High; and many other Ulama (Scholars) have also said this statement.’ Ruweemul-Ja’nayd said regarding Zuhd:

It is to belittle the Dunya (this life) and to wipe away its traits from ones heart.’ Thu’l-Noon al-Misree said about Zuhd: Zuhd is controlling ones Nafs (one desires).’

Imaam Ahmed said that Zuhd can be put into three categories:

  • The first: In leaving the Haraam (impermissible things); this is related to the common people.
  • The second: Leaving the preferred things even though Halaal (permissible); this is for the specific types of people from the upright and steadfast.
  • The third: Leaving the things that distract you from Allah; this is the Zuhd of the knowledgeable ones. Imaam Ahmed’s above categorization (of Zuhd) is the same as what we have mentioned previously by other Ulama (Scholars) but he explains it more in detail.

There are six things that if the slave possesses them, he deserves the title of ‘Zaabid’ (one who renounces the world): The first: Moderation in spending ones wealth.

  • The second: Lack of desire for leadership.
  • The third: Moderation in ones appearance.
  • The forth: Not engaging too much with the people.
  • The fifth: learning to control his desires.
  • The sixth: Moderation in things not concerning Allah And this doesn’t mean refusing leadership such as being a King and the likes;

Az-Zuhd: Renouncing Worldly Pleasures in order to Gain Nearness to Allah

Prophet Dawood (David) and his son Prophet Sulaymaan were of the noblest kings ever to walk the earth both had renounced this world and at the same time possessed great wealth, women and (other) things of this world. (Furthermore) Prophet Muhammad who also gave up the life of this world had nine wives. (Also) Ali Ibn Abee Taalib, Abdul Rahmaan Ibn Awf, Zubeer and Uthmaan, were all noble men recognized for renouncing this (temporary) life; yet, at the same time, these men were known to be wealthy.

Hasan Ibn Ali was known amongst the companions to be one who gave up this (short) life, regardless of the fact that he loved women and (loved) to marry them. And Layth Ibn Sa’ad was known to be of those who practiced Zubd, though he possessed great wealth. That which seems to be the ‘most excellent’ of the greatest sayings defining the word Zuhd (renouncing the world), is the statement of the great imaam of the Sunnah, Hasan Al Busri who said:

‘Zuhd is ‘not that you make the permissible (things) impermissible or by wasting ones money. But, rather Zuhd is that you acknowledge that what Allah the Exalted has (i.e. prepared for the doers of good) is better then what you have (i.e. what you possess).’ The Ulama (Scholars) have differed as to whether or not one could practice Zuhdin our age and time. Abu Hafs said regarding Zuhd:

There will not be any Zuhd except in the permissible things (i.e. one being moderate in the permissible things) and there are no permissible things in this Dunya (life)’ Many people (Scholars) have differed with this definition by Abu Hafs. Rather, they say (the Scholars) that there ‘are’ permissible things in this Dunya (life), and also a lot of impermissible things. Yusuf Ibn Asbaat said:

If I were informed that so and so had reached the level of a Zaabid that Abu Thar reached, or that they had reached the level of Abu Dar’dar in Zuhd, or the level of Sulimaan or Mikdaad or the likes of these noble companions of the Prophet Muhammad, then I would regard this individual as being one who practices Zuhd because the Halal (permissible things) in our times are not clear but if you do Haraam, Allah will punish you.’

The Scholars have further differed regarding Zuhd; some say that Zuhd can only be in the permissible things (i.e. even though these things are permissible, it is recommended to leave and abstain from these things), as for the impermissible things, then there is no Zuhd because one ‘musť (i.e. is obligated) to abstain from these things.

Another group of Scholars have said that Zuhd is ‘only’ in avoiding the impermissible things, and as for the permissible things, then these are things which Allah has bestowed upon His slaves, and that He loves to see His Favours, which He grants to His slaves apparent on them.

He (Allah) loves to see His slaves thankful and that they use (Allah’s) Favours upon them in ways which will aid the slave upon obedience to Him, and also for the slave to use them as a means to assist himself getting to Jannah (Paradise.)

The Conclusion:

So if the permissible things distract the slave away from Allah, then it is preferred for the slave to abstain from them. And if he sees that these permissible acts aid him and strengthen his relationship with Allah, increasing his thankfulness to Allah, then it is better to continue doing them.

So if the slave were to refrain from doing the above-mentioned things, he would be denying the heart, which is in need and want of such nourishment, much good. And Allah knows best.

Definitions of Zuhd

The author of Manaazil Saa’ireen said on page 30 regarding Zuhd (abstinence): Zuhd means “completely abstaining’ from what one desires. Meaning that if the slaves desires a thing (that does not benefit him in the Hereafter) he refrains (from it), with the exception of matters regarding his Lord. Other than this, one should abstain and should remove the urge from his heart and give up craving for this thing. As for the (above) meaning ‘Completely abstaining,’ then this means, he should pay no attention to what he is yearning for, and should not be fascinated by his desires.

Zuhd can be divided into three categories:

  • One: Zuhd in the doubtful matters
  • Two: Zuhd in the permissible matters
  • Three: Zuhd in matters of Zuhd

Az-Zuhd: Renouncing Worldly Pleasures in order to Gain Nearness to Allah

The first of the (above) three categories is also divided into three, which are as follows:

Firstly, that the slave will not be able to obtain Zuhd until he first avoids doubtful matters, and this will not occur (i.e. Zuhd) until he his first abstains from the unlawful acts, which he abstains from out of fear of blame (from the people). Secondly, the slave dislikes that Allah the Exalted and High will decrease his status (i.e. in the sight of his Lord as well as in the sight of his people). Thirdly, the slave dislikes, spending his time with the evil, corrupt and sinning folk.(( These three, avoiding doubtful matters, the slave disliking that Allah will decrease his status in the sight of the people as well as in the sight of his Lord, and not spending ones time with the sinners and corrupt the author will elaborate on shortly, InshaAllah))


As for abstaining from the doubtful things, then this is the slave abandoning all the doubtful matters which is when the slave is between two stations (questioning himself): is this Halal or is this Haraam?’ This is what comes in the Hadith of the Messenger, when he said:

الحلال بين. والحرام بين وبين ذلك أمور مشتبهات. لا يعلمهن كثير من الناس. فمن اتقى الشبهات اتقى الحرام. ومن وقع في الشبهات وقع في الحرام، كالراعي يرعى حول الحمى. يوشك أن يرتفع فيه. ألا وإن لكل ملك حمى، ألا وإن حمى الله محارمه. ألا وإن في الجسد مضغة إذا صلحت صلح لها سائر الجسد. وإذا فسدت فسد لها سائر الجسد. ألا وهي القلب

“That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear. Between the two are doubtful matters that few people have knowledge about. Whoever avoids these doubtful matters absolves himself of blame with respect to his religion and his honor. Whoever falls into doubtful things will fall into what is unlawful, just like the shepherd who grazes his flock too close to a private pasture is liable to have some of his flock stray into it. Every king has a private pasture, and Allah’s private pasture is what He has prohibited. Verily, in the body is a small piece of flesh that if it is healthy, the whole body is healthy and if it is sick, the whole body is sick. This small piece of flesh is the heart.(( AlBukhari 1/126 and Muslim 1599))

Az-Zuhd: Renouncing Worldly Pleasures in order to Gain Nearness to Allah

The doubtful matters are those matters that are between Halal and Haram. Allah the Exalted with His Hikmah (wisdom) has made everything with a partition (barrier or screen between it) just like He has made a partition between life and death (Al Barzakh).

Allah has also made between belief and disbelief a screen or partition; and He has created a screen between Jannah and Naar (Paradise and the Hell-Fire). Furthermore, Allah the Exalted has made a barrier for those doing Hajj, and made partition between Mina and Muzdelifa; ((Two places in Al’Madinah that the one doing Hajj must visit. For further reference refer to “This is how the Messenger preformed Hajj “by Shaykh Bin Baz and also the “Rights of Hajj and Ummra” by Shaykh Al’Albani and also “Hajj and Tawheed” by Dr.Saleh As Saleh)) moreover, He has created a screen (distance) between Mecca and Arafa,, ((Arafat is in Al Madinah and is a place that those performing Hajj visit)) ” and Allah has also made a seperation between fajr (sunrise) and daybreak, and has placed between the night and day a screen.

So Zuhd is abstaining from impermissible matters. Meaning one leaving doubtful matters and one will not be able to avoid doubtful matters, till he first avoids the impermissible matters. So the slave takes heed of Allah’s admonition. Meaning this could be a reason for the slave to leave doubtful matters. So the slave is warned from turning away from Allah’s guidance.

Two: The Slave Dislikes That Allah Will Decrease His Status Realising one’s own shortcomings. This means that the slave acknowledges between him and his Lord that he has many faults, and is falling very short with regards to his duties towards to his Lord. This means that he (the slave) fears to lose his status with Allah and not with the

people; this is not blameworthy. On the other hand, what is blameworthy is to fear to lose ones status with the people without fearing to lose it with Allah.

Three: Abstaining from Wasting Ones Time with Corrupt and Sinning Folk ((For whatever reason the noble author doesn’t mention anything here regarding this third category, so for this reason we have left this space blank, but what the author is intending to mean is that the definition of Zuhd here is abstaining from wasting ones time with those corrupted sinning folk who spend all of their time in disobedience to their Creator. And Allah knows best.))

Az-Zuhd: Renouncing Worldly Pleasures in order to Gain Nearness to Allah


The Slave of Allah will not be able to obtain Zuhd unless he:

  • Firstly, becomes moderate in spending. Secondly, he spends his spare time in devotion.
  • Thirdly, he relieves himself from emotional anxiety.
  • Lastly, he adorns himself with the noble mannerism of the holy Prophets of Allah and the truthful ones.

(The following will be a clarification of the aforementioned points):

As for the slave being moderate in spending, then the slave tries to spend only on what he will be in need of. He doesn’t refrain from the essentials such as: nourishment for his body, clothing, his abode, marriage and the likes. If the slave becomes so busy in the worldly activities accumulating wealth with all of his time, much of his time will be wasted and he will barely make time for devotion to his Lord and Sustainer.

The slave should take advantage of any time he has and devote himself to his Lord. As it is said, time is like a sword; if you do not cut it will cut you. (I.e. if you do not take control of it, it will take control of you, by cutting you).

Secondly, the slave must spend his time in devotion; using all of his time to get closer and closer to his Lord. This Means through his nourishment (his food, his drink and his world possessions), marriage, sleep, or through resting, the slave brings himself closer to his Lord, but with the condition that the slave makes his intention to do these things for his Lords sake, hoping to be rewarded for doing them and refraining from doing the things that invoke His (Allah’s) anger upon His slave.

Thirdly, the slave must relieve himself from emotional anxiety. The slave tries to prevent those things that will cause distress and agitation in his heart due to the affairs of this life, be it hope, love, fear, hatred, or his labouring. The slave will not taste the sweetness of Zuhd unless he relieves himself from anxiety and distress of the heart. Hence, the slave’s heart should not be troubling him, and indeed Zuhd relieves the slave’s heart from this.

Lastly, the slave adorns himself with the mannerisms of the holy Prophets and the truthful ones. The slave should try to adorn himself with the way of the best of Allah’s creation, the Prophets, because from amongst all of the people they knew best how to live a life of Zuhd in this Dunya (life).


The slave will not become a Zaabid unless he avoids the following: Firstly, the slave gives up disregarding his Zuhd. Secondly, the slave even though he actualizes Zuhd, must be moderate when he gives and when he leaves.

Thirdly, the slave must belittle the Dunya (this world) in his heart (i.e. he sees this Dunya as something small and of no value in his heart). Lastly, the slave must realize that Allah is the All-powerful, The-Giver and The-Taker. (The following, will be an explanation of the preceding four points):

  • Firstly, the slave abandons disregarding his Zuhd (abstinence from this world). The slave should never underrate his striving in abstaining from all of the aforementioned things that one is advised to refrain from.
  • Secondly, when the slave actualizes Zuhd, he must be moderate in his giving and leaving. The slave must be balanced when he is giving for the sake of Allah and also when he is leaving something for the sake of Allah. So if he takes something, he is moderate in doing so and the slave is likewise when he leaves something; making the balance between the two is a virtuous noble deed that has a high station in regards to giving and taking in Islaam. This is regardless of whether or not these deeds are deemed small and insignificant in the eyes of the people.
  • Thirdly, the slave must belittle the life of this world in his heart; and like his giving and leaving he makes the balance between it (i.e. belittling this life). So the slave will realize and notice that the more he shuns this Dunya and turns away from it, the more Allah the Exalted will raise the slave’s rank and nobility, this is because the slave realized its true worth (meaning the life of this world), he made it become something of little value in his eyes and heart, so Allah the Exalted raises his rank to that of high excellence.
  • Lastly, the slave must understand that Allah is the Giver (i.e. The-Provider) and the only on one who takes (The One Who Possesses All), so even if the slave is giving it is in fact Allah who has allowed this to happen by His Choice, so He (Allah) is the Giver. Furthermore, if the slave receives any good, be it whatever, then the slave should acknowledge that this has come to him by way of his Lord (i.e. his Lord has bestowed this upon him). So whatever does not come to the slave, know that Allah has not decreed that for him.

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