woodensandels"The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) delivered a lengthy sermon one day covering the affairs of the world and the Hereafter.

He also said: 'Surely, the first thing that destroyed the Bani Israa'eel were the poor and needy women who went to great lengths for their clothes and colours. They wore colourful clothes which only the wealthy women could afford.'

He then mentioned one woman of the Bani Israil who was short-statured. She got for herself wooden sandals to conceal her height and got made for herself a ring with an opening which was locked from the top. She filled it with musk. She then walked with tall or fat women. The people sent a man behind them and he recognized the tall women but not the one with wooden sandals." [Sahih Muslim]

The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) cautioned his Companions about the world and its colourful life, and encouraged them to think of the Hereafter. He advised them to refrain from doing what the Bani Israa'eel had done that caused them to become accursed. He traced for them the roots of the destruction of the Bani Israa'eel.

The beginning of their destruction lay in their wealthy people making ostentatious displays in matters of dress, personal adornment, eating and drinking. They spent lavishly on these things. Poor people were impressed by the standard of the rich, the poor men's wives vied with the rich men's wives, tried to fit in with them, and do as they did. This burdened the poor men considerably.

When rich people act a certain way, it is but natural that the poor will sooner or later try to imitate them. This will then compound their financial problems for them.

Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) did not give some people wealth so that they could lord it over others. He gave it to them to earn their Hereafter with it. It is human nature to want to distinguish oneself. But Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) put this ambition in us so that we try to outdo each other in racing to Jannah and trying to acquire its higher levels. This is what the Sahaabah competed for.

We, on the other hand, compete for the petty distinctions of this world. We try to show that we are better than others based on the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the languages we speak, and the technology we use. These are false standards of judgement.

Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) commands women to use the veil, adopt a simple life, and disdain artificiality.

The aim of a Muslim is not to gain prominence in worldly life but to prepare himself/herself for the Hereafter and seek the pleasure of Allah (subhana wa ta'ala).

"And strain not your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to various groups of them (polytheists), the splendor of the life in this world, that We may test them thereby." (Quran 20:131)

"My similitude and that of the life of this world is that of a traveler who took a rest at mid-day under a shade of a tree and then left it." (Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and al-Hakim)

"Be in this world like a stranger, or a wayfarer." (Bukhari)

"When Allah ( Azza wa Jall) gives a person whatever he loves of the worldly benefits despite his disobedience, then that is a gradual enticement." (Ahmad and al-Bayhaqi)

"The Hour has drawn near, whereas the people have become more greedy for the life of the world and more remote from Allah." (Al-Hakim)

Yahya Ibn Mu'ath, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

"I don't order you to abandon life but to abandon sins. Abandoning life is a virtue and abandoning sins is a duty, so your need for this latter is greater than your need for the former."

This life is full of benefits and fortunes: The land on which man constructs his dwelling, and grows his food, drinks, dress... etc., all represents the nourishment for man's body and soul proceeding towards Allah. Man of course cannot do without these vital necessities. The one who takes from these necessities only according to his real need as commanded by Allah is saved and praised. But whoever takes more than necessary for himself falls into covetousness which will lead him into harm instead of benefit, and consequently divert him from the right path towards Allah and the Hereafter.

Likewise, taking less than required of the worldly benefits is harmful because the human body needs to satisfy certain basic needs, and that will increase its capability to worship Allah perfectly.

Umar Ibn Abdil Aziz said:

"The life of this world is not your permanent dwelling because Allah has decreed that it should perish and that all its dwellers should leave it. How many a populated area that will soon come to ruins, and how many a happy resident who will soon leave his residence. You should; therefore, leave this world in the best way you can, and the best of provisions is piety. Since the life of this world is neither a home nor an abode for the believer, he should be in it, either a stranger whose objective is to take the required provisions and return home, or a traveler who is residing nowhere and who is proceeding day and night to reach a country of residence."

A poet said:

"Man should take the minimum possible of the worldly pleasures because he is leaving for a fixed appointment; turn his eyes away from this life and its ornaments, make all the efforts to keep away from its lusts, because it is a place of temporary pleasures and trials, and all the people in it will perish."

It is not possible for a Muslim to give precedence to entertainment over responsibility. Those who do not believe in reward in the afterlife may try to cash whatever they can in this world. But a Muslim knows that the rewards of the afterlife are far greater. To him it is like taking $100 now or $1,000,000 after a month. The cash is not equal to the credit. So he/she prefers credit over cash.

Other articles in Asceticism and Gratitude

Shukr (Thankfulness) to Allah 08 Oct 2014

The more evils will open up before them. 04 Aug 2014

A Tale of Two Seas 13 May 2014

The kindness of strangers: Bus passenger who saw a man wearing plastic hairnets on his feet in Canada gave him his own socks and shoes 30 Apr 2014

Business With Allaah is Always Profitable 09 Feb 2014

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