Censure of this World


al-Budûr as-Sâfirah fî Aĥwâl al-آkhirah, summarised.

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  “All praise and thanks are due to Allâh who taught His allies the pitfalls of this world and its dangers, and exposed to them its defects and flaws. As a result, they were able to weigh its good points against its bad and realised that its evil outweighed its good, that what is to be aspired to in it does not equate to what is feared from it, and that none who is raised by it can feel secure that it will not one day disgrace him.”

All praise and thanks are due to Allâh who taught His allies the pitfalls of this world and its dangers, and exposed to them its defects and flaws. As a result, they were able to weigh its good points against its bad and realised that its evil outweighed its good, that what is to be aspired to in it does not equate to what is feared from it, and that none who is raised by it can feel secure that it will not one day disgrace him.

The world takes the form of an alluring woman whose beauty attracts man to her, yet she has hidden qualities: vile and depraved, rendering to ruin all who fall in her trap. She flees from all who seek her, miserly is she in welcoming them, and those she does accept with open arms are not safe from her evil and harm. If she treats them well for an hour, she treats them badly for a whole year. The trade of her children leads to deficit: profitless. Humiliation is the end for all who are deceived by her; regret and shame is the path for all who exult in her; flee does she from those who desire her; desire does she those who flee from her; whoever serves her finds her absent; and whoever turns away from her finds her ready and willing. Whatever seems clean of her is never free of blemish, whatever happiness she gives is never devoid of dejection, health is followed by sickness, youth ends up in decrepitude, and her favours bud only anguish and sorrow.

She is deceptive, treacherous, and allusive. She adorns herself for those who seek her, tempting them until they fall in love with her; and when they do, she shows her true colours, she confuses them by unleashing against them the many routes leading to her, she bares her splendid treasures, she makes them taste her poison, and she strikes them with her well aimed arrows, [assailing their very hearts]. Then, while her lovers are engulfed in happiness and bliss, she leaves them, so suddenly that they think that she was a mere dream or fantasy. She then turns on them, unleashing against them calamity after calamity; wearing them down just as a crop is worn down; and covers them in their graves under the dirt. If one of them were to own everything that the sun rises over, she will render it to nothing such that it will seem that he was never living in opulence. Her lovers desire happiness and she gives them deception: they place lengthy hopes in her, planning far into the future, and build themselves palaces. She then makes their palaces graves; she makes all that they gathered, worthless; all their efforts, wasted and fruitless; and their aspirations of no consequence.

This is her description, the description of this world. The world is an enemy of Allâh, an enemy of the allies of Allâh, and an enemy of the enemies of Allâh.

It’s enmity to Allâh lies in the fact that it has severed the path leading to Him. It is for this reason that He has not looked at it since the day He created it.

Its enmity to the allies of Allâh, Mighty and Magnificent, lies in the fact that it has allured them with its adornments and covered them with its splendour and radiance, to the point that they experience sever bitterness in detaching themselves from it.

Its enmity to the enemies of Allâh lies in the fact that it leads them step by step, through plotting and deception, to being trapped by its web such that they place their reliance in it and depend upon it. Then, when they need it most, it forsakes them leaving them in the lurch, in a state of despair that tears at their very livers. Moreover it prevents them from eternal bliss. Sorrowful are they when lose out on it, in its plots and deception do they seek succour but never do they find it, rather it is said to them as Allâh, Exalted is He says,

  “Slink away into it and do not speak to Me!” [al-Mu´minûn (23): 108]

The verses dealing with censuring the world are many, indeed most of the Qur´ân deals with censuring it and directing the creation away from it: calling them to the Hereafter. Indeed this was the purpose of the Prophets (AS) and it was for this that they were sent.

It is reported that the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ passed by a dead sheep upon which he said,

 “ “Do you think this sheep to be worthless in the sight of its owner?” They replied, ‘It is because it is worthless that he discarded it.’ He ﷺ said, “By the One in whose hand is my soul, this world is more worthless in the sight of Allâh than this sheep to its owner. If this world were worth even the wing of a mosquito with Allâh he would not have given the disbeliever a sip of water to drink.” [Muslim, Tirmidhî, ibn Mâjah]

He ﷺ said,

 “ “The world is a prison for the believers and a paradise for the disbelievers.” [Muslim]

Abû Mûsâ al-Ash`arî reports that the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ said,

 “ “Whoever loves the world will harm his Hereafter and whoever loves the Hereafter will harm his world, so give preference to that which will remain over that which will pass away.” [Tirmidhî]

He ﷺ said,

 “ “Love of this world is the cause of every sin.” [Ahmad]

Zayd ibn Arqam said,

  ‘We were with Abû Bakr as-Siddîq (RA) and he asked for drink. He was given water and honey, when he had brought it close to his mouth; he broke down in tears, and kept crying until his companions also began to cry. Even when their tears had subsided, he kept on crying. He brought the drink to his mouth again and once again broke down in tears to the point that they thought that they would never be able to ask why he was crying. Then he wiped his eyes and they asked, “Khalîfah of the Messenger of Allâh, what made you cry?” He replied, “I was with the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ and I saw him push something away from him but I saw no one with him. I asked him, ‘Messenger of Allâh, what did you push away from yourself?’ He replied, ‘The world was given a form and it came to me so I said: away with you! It then came back and said: You may well have escaped me but those who come after you will not be able to do so!’ “‘ [al-Ĥâkim – da`îf]

He ﷺ,

  “Amazing, truly amazing! A person who believes in the Abode of Eternity yet rushes after the Abode of Deception!” [ibn Abî ad-Dunyâ as a mursal report.]

It is reported that the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ stood on a mount of garbage and said,

 “ “Bring forward the world!” He then picked up a shabby piece of cloth and decomposing bone and said, “This is the world!” [Bayhaqi, Shu´ab al-Îmân]

This shows us that this world shall wear away just as that piece of cloth did and the bodies that are seen on it shall end up as decomposing bone.

He ﷺ said,

 “ “This world is sweet and green and Allâh has placed you in it as successors to see what deeds you perform. When the world was opened up for the Children of Israel and the way to it was made clear for them, they were diverted by finery, women, scents, and clothes.” [at-Tirmidhî, ibn Mâjah, Aĥmad]

`Isâ said,

  ‘Gathering of disciples, I have thrown this world away for you on its face so do not allow it rise up again. From the filth of the world is that Allâh is disobeyed in it and from the filth of the world is the Hereafter cannot be attained except through abandoning it. Take lesson from the world and do not make it your goal. Know that the source of every sin is love of this world and it is well possible that fulfilling ones carnal desires for an hour leads to misery for ages.’

Mûsâ ibn Yasâr reports that the Prophet ﷺ said,

 “ “Allâh, Mighty and Magnificent, has not created a creation more abhorrent to Him than the world. Since He created it, He has not looked at it.” [Bayhaqî – mawdû´]

It is reported that Sulaymân ibn Dâwûd (AS) once walked amongst his entourage: birds were shading him and man and jinn stood on his right and left. He passed by a slave who said, ‘Ibn Dâwûd, by Allâh, He has truly granted you a great kingdom!’Sulaymân said, ‘A single statement glorifying Allâh in the scroll of a believer is better than everything ibn Dâwûd has been granted, for what he has been granted will perish but the glorification will endure.’

The Prophet ﷺ said,

 “ “Fierce competition for this world has distracted you: the son of Âdam says, ‘My wealth! My wealth!’ but what do you get of your wealth except for the food you eat and digest, the clothes you wear and make shabby, or what you give in charity which then remains.” [Muslim, Tirmidhî, Nasâ´î]

The Prophet ﷺ said,

 “ “The world is the home for one who has no home, it is the property of one who has no property, it is for it that the doltish accumulate wealth, it is for its sake that the ignorant base their enmity, it is over it that a person who has no understanding displays envy, and after it run those who have no certainty.” [Aĥmad and Bayhaqî – da`îf]

It is mentioned that when Adam ate from the tree, his body desired to remove the waste, and this was the first time it happened, for none of the other foods of Paradise had this affect. He began roaming Paradise to find a suitable place and Allâh sent an angel to him to ask what he was looking for. He said, ‘I wish to remove the waste that is in my body.’ The angel said, ‘Where would you do so? On the ground? On the thrones? In the rivers? Under the shade of the trees? Where is suitable here?… get you down to the world!’

It is said that Allâh inspired Mûsâ saying,

  “Mûsâ, what have you to do with this world of oppressors, this is not your abode: let your concern be aloof of it and detach your thoughts from it. Mûsâ, what an evil abode this is!”

The Messenger of Allâh ﷺ sent Abû `Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrâĥ and he returned with the wealth [collated from the jizya] of the people of Bahrayn. When the Ansâr heard about the arrival of Abû `Ubaydah, they attended the Fajr prayer with the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ. When he ﷺ had prayed and saw the gathering of people, he said, “I think you have heard that Abû `Ubaydah has returned with something?” They replied, ‘Messenger of Allâh, yes.’ He said,

 “ “Have glad tidings and the hope of that which will please you for by Allâh, it is not poverty that I fear for you, but I fear that the world may be opened up for you as it was opened up for those before you such that you compete for it as they competed for it, and you be destroyed as they were destroyed.” [Muslim]

Abû Sa`îd al-Khudrî reports that the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ said, “What I fear for you most is the blessings of the earth that Allâh will unveil for you.” It was asked of him what that was and he replied, “The splendour of this world.” [Bukhârî]

The Messenger of Allâh ﷺ said, “Do not busy your hearts with mention of the world.” [Bayhaqî – da`îf] Here he ﷺ prohibited even thinking about it let alone running after it!

He ﷺ said,

 “ “It is duty upon Allâh that He not raise anything in this world except that He also lower it.” [Bukhârî]

The father of the world says:

  ‘If you knew what I knew you would walk out to the open plains, you would supplicate fervently, you would cry over your selves, you would leave your property with none to guard it, and would return to it only to take that which you need. You would hate the world more than an animal that does not leave any harmful pest alive lest it harm it. However the remembrance of the Hereafter has vacated your hearts leaving behind it hope and desire in this world such that it takes control of your deeds and you become like those who have no knowledge.

What is wrong with you: you do not love one another and advise one another yet you are brothers in the religion of Allâh? Your desires have become disparate and fractured because of the evil of what is inside you for were you to have united upon righteousness; you would have loved one another.

What is wrong with you: you advise one another concerning matters of this world but do not advise one another concerning the Hereafter? The reason for this is lack of faith for were you to have certainty in the good and evil of the Hereafter as you do of this world; you would have given preference to the Hereafter.

If you were to argue that the desire for a quick return naturally takes precedence we would reply: even in this world we see you leaving a quick profit for a profit that will come later on, enduring hardship and striving to ensure that you acquire it. What an evil people you are, little is it that you have actualised of faith!

If you are in any doubt in what Muĥammad ﷺ has come with, come to us and we shall explain it to you and show you the light such that your hearts will find rest and satisfaction. You are not defective in intellect such that we could find an excuse for you: you are able to determine the best course to acquire this world and enact your decisions with judiciousness.

What is wrong with you: you become overjoyed at acquiring a small amount of this world, you become dejected at losing a paltry portion of this world so much so that it shows on your faces and tongues: you call it a calamity and you hold it to be a great crime! However, most of you have abandoned much of their religion but this does not show on your faces and you do not try to change your conditions! I believe Allâh to have absolved Himself of you.

I have desired that Allâh, Exalted is He, relieve me of you and join me with those I love to see; but were such a person alive, he would not be able to bear you… if there is any good in you, then I have informed you of the truth. If you seek what is with Allâh you will find it easy, it is to Allâh I turn for aid for myself and you.’

Ibn `Abbâs said,

  ‘Allâh, Exalted is He, has divided the world into three portions: a portion for the believer, a portion of the hypocrite, and a portion for the disbeliever. The believer takes from it what he needs, the hypocrite adorns himself with it, and the disbeliever pastures in it.’

Abû Umâmah al-Bâhilî said, ‘When the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ was sent, the forces of Iblîs came to him and informed him that a Prophet had been sent and a new nation had arisen. He asked, “Do they love the world?” They replied, “Yes.” He said, “Then I have no care that they do not worship idols. I shall fight them day and night with three things: taking wealth without due right; spending it undeservedly; and refraining from giving it where it is deserved. All evil sprouts from this!”‘

When those who have been granted the divine accord come to realise the worth of this world and short length of sojourn in it, their desire for it dies because now they seek eternal life. They awake from the slumber of negligence and hasten to make amends for the time that the enemy has snatched from them. When the path seems to become long and arduous, they bring to mind its goal, and quickly does it seem shorter and closer. Just as previously the life of this world engaged them, they now find sweetness in remembering,

  “This is your day, the one you were promised!” [al-Anbiyâ´ (21): 103]

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)

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