Abstinence from the World | Imām Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya ؒ

Abstinence from the World | Imām Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya ؒ

When people become satisfied with the world, you [should] become content with Allāh . When they become cheerful with the world, become delighted with Allāh . When people associate with their loved ones, associate yourself with Allāh . When they acquaint themselves with their kings and elders and try to establish relations with them in order to acquire honour and a high rank from them, seek the love and affection of Allāh and endear yourself to him. In doing so, you will achieve honour and a lofty status.

A zāhid (one who abstains from the superficial glamour of the world) once mentioned:

“Anyone who hears about the everlasting pleasures of Janna and the painful punishments of Jahannam will never waste a single moment in disobeying Allāh . He will always obey Allāh – either through dhikr (remembrance of Allāh ), ṣalā (prayer), recitation [of the Qurʾān] or through the performance of good deeds.”

A person said to him, ‘I cry a lot.’ So, he (the zāhid) replied:

“It is better that you laugh and admit to your mistakes than to cry and become conceited with yourself with regard to your actions. The actions of a big-headed person do not rise any higher than his head.”

The man then asked for advice, so the zāhid responded:

“Leave this world for those who seek it, just as they have left the Hereafter for those who seek it. And live in the world like a bee: when it eats, it eats well; when it feeds, it feeds well; and if it falls on something, it neither breaks it nor scratches it.”

Types of Zuhd (Abstinence)

Zuhd is of a few types:

  • Abstinence from ḥarām: This is farḍ ʿayn (obligatory for everyone).
  • Abstinence from the doubtful: This is according to the various levels of ambiguity and uncertainty. If the doubt is strong, it will fall under wājib (compulsory); and if the doubt is weak, it will be mustaḥabb (desireable).
  • Abstinence from extra and unnecessary things.
  • Abstinence from conversing with, looking at, asking questions regarding, and meeting those from whom no benefit can be gained.
  • Abstinence from people in general.
  • Abstinence from the nafs (one’s base desires) in such a manner that the nafs makes it easy for him to obey Allāh .
  • Abstinence from that which is inclusive of all of these; that is, to abstain from everything other than Allāh , and from everything that diverts your mind and attention from Him.

The best abstinence is hidden abstinence, and the most difficult abstinence is abstinence from wealth and luxury.[1]


[1] Al-Jawziyya, Ibn Qayyim, Al-Fawāʾid, Dār Ibn al-Jawzī (1427/2006), Cairo, pp. 124-125.

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