Ghazali on Zuhd

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. Ghazali starts his chapter on zuhd with the ayah from Surat Taha, in which Allah Almighty said: وَلَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِۦٓ أَزْوَٰجًا مِّنْهُمْ زَهْرَةَ ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا لِنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ ۚ وَرِزْقُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ Do not let your eyes crave what We have allowed some of the disbelievers to enjoy; the ˹fleeting˺ splendour of this worldly life, which We test them with. But your Lord’s provision ˹in the Hereafter˺ is far better and more lasting. (20:131) Allah Almighty was addressing the Prophet (peace be on him) at a time when the idol worshippers were not interested in worshipping Allah and many of them had a great deal of material wealth and luxury. In the Arabic the actual words translated as ‘Do not let your eyes crave’ are literally ‘Do not stretch your eyes’ meaning do not stare so much at what others have. In every society we have the rich, the middle class and the poor, and often the rich and poor are poles apart. The ayah is addressing the financial differences between people which further manifest in social differences and opportunities. Allah Almighty is saying don’t be beguiled by what He has given to them. For zahratal hyat ad dunya, the splendour and glamour of the dunya may be fascinating and … Continue reading Ghazali on Zuhd