Ghazali on Zuhd – levels and motivation

Ghazali lived in 5th century Hijri and his book, Kitaab Al-Arba’in Fi Usul ad-Din, ‘The Forty Principles of the Religion,’ which he wrote before his death, is a summary of Ihya Ulumuddin, and his life’s works and thoughts. In the last ten principles of the forty, he looks at good traits. The first is tawbah. The second is khawf and the third is Zuhd. There is no good translation of the word zuhd, which is commonly translated as asceticism, so we will stick to zuhd. Recap Zuhd is about renouncing the dunya and focusing more on the akhirah. Ghazali has his own take on the topic – the definition, the levels and the minimum requirements and application of zuhd. Ghazali mentioned that zuhd comes from knowledge and based on that knowledge one can develop it. Without knowledge you cannot practice zuhd. Living and consumption The fruits of this knowledge are that it gives you direction. Ghazali says we need necessary provisions in this life, as we have needs and we live in this world and zuhd is about seeking the necessary provision – shelter, clothes, food, and furniture which is sufficient and not more. To this end, Ghazali advocates eating basic food- not luxury food. He does not recommend storing more food than one needs for a day or a month depending where you are, or for your journey if you are travelling. He goes into detail about which foods one should consume including the amount based on the units of measurement which they used in their time. This is not relevant to us today, but his main point is that one should not eat the highest quality food nor the worst – but the medium, which was barely, rather than white flour which was a luxury. Ghazali also makes … Continue reading Ghazali on Zuhd – levels and motivation