Love of the world
Currently, the world has become a hub of various kinds of trials and tribulations. Among all these trials, a fundamental and major one is the love of the world. By ‘world,’ it generally means wealth and riches, status and rank, desires and pleasures, comfort and ease, lifestyle and living, in short, any aspect of society and economy. There is an unconscious inclination towards these, and effort is made for them. These things are referred to as ‘the commodities of the world’ in the Quran and Hadith. When the love of the world dominates, usual means are adopted for its attainment, whether they are lawful or unlawful. And when this state progresses, then nothing becomes a barrier in acquiring them. Immodesty, cruelty, injustice, all come into play, and gradually the nature becomes distorted, and realities get inverted. Right is perceived as wrong, and wrong as right, truth as falsehood and falsehood as truth. And then the command of Allah Almighty becomes evident.
فانها لا تعمى الأبصار ولكن تعمى القلوب التي في الصدور
It means that the eyes of the head do not become blind; it is the eyes of the heart that become blind. (22:46)
Therefore, in the Hadith of the Prophet (ﷺ), it is stated that.
حب الدنيا رأس كل خطيئة
It means that the love of the world is the root of every sin
In any case, when the world’s fitnah (chaos or trial) has become so universal that it affects every person to some extent, except those whom Allah wills (الا ماشاء الله), then the devil, the accursed one, fuels these desires of the self and ingrains their significance and rationality into one’s nature.
وَعَادًۭا وَثَمُودَا۟ وَقَد تَّبَيَّنَ لَكُم مِّن مَّسَـٰكِنِهِمْ ۖ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ أَعْمَـٰلَهُمْ فَصَدَّهُمْ عَنِ ٱلسَّبِيلِ وَكَانُوا۟ مُسْتَبْصِرِينَ ٣٨
And (We destroyed) ‘Ād and Thamūd, and it is visible to you through their dwellings. And the Satan had beautified for them their deeds, so he prevented them from the (right) way, even though they were people of insight. (29:38)
And then for him, the allure of drinking, immorality, indecency, nudity, and vulgarity becomes extremely attractive. Indeed, to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return. The Mercy of the Worlds, Hazrat Aqamadani (ﷺ), had accurately diagnosed this dreadful disease a long time ago. Thus, he stated: ‘By Allah! I am not at all fearful of poverty for you, but my fear is that the world will be spread out for you, just as it was spread out for those before you. Then you will compete with each other in acquiring it, just like they did, and it will destroy you just as it destroyed them.’ (Bukhari)
Behold, this was the point of beginning where the corruption of humanity started, that is, considering the world precious and valuable, and scrambling over one another to obtain it. Then the Prophet (ﷺ) not only diagnosed this but also proposed a comprehensive remedy for it, comprising both a belief aspect and a practical one.
The belief aspect being that on every occasion, it should be kept in mind that we are just guests in this world for a few moments; the comfort and ease here are ephemeral, and every hardship and difficulty will also come to an end. The pleasures and desires of this world are nonexistent and worthless compared to the endless blessings of the hereafter and the eternal comforts of forever. The Holy Quran is a complete invitation to this belief, and this reality has been mentioned hundreds of times. In Surah Al-A’la, it is cautioned in very eloquent, concise, and comprehensive words.
بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ ٱلْحَيَوٰةَ ٱلدُّنْيَا ١٦
But you prefer the worldly life, (87:16)
وَٱلْـَٔاخِرَةُ خَيْرٌۭ وَأَبْقَىٰٓ ١٧
And the practical aspect of this prescription is that while living in this world, one should engage in preparing for the hereafter and, as a form of caution, treat forbidden and dubious things as poison, avoiding them. The pleasures and desires of this world should be shunned with utmost restraint. The wealth and belongings of the world, as well as wives and children, kin and relatives, and the tales of one’s tribe and community, should be considered as an inevitable necessity of life and adopted only to the extent necessary. None of these should be chosen for a life of luxury and indulgence in this world. Nor should the pursuit of worldly pleasures be considered the purpose and subject of life. The noble instruction of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is…
اياك والتنعم، فإن عباد الله ليسوا بالمتنعمين
Avoid indulgence and knowledge, for the servants of Allah are not indulgent.
It is astonishing that if any doctor advises that the consumption of milk, ghee, meat, and other such items is harmful, then all these blessings can be abandoned with their recommendations and hints. However, the clear guidance of the Seal of the Prophets, peace be upon him, and the divine revelations make it unacceptable to abandon even a fraction of the pleasure from these. When one examines the life and standard of living of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his family and companions from beginning to end, it becomes clear that attachment to the blessings of the world is sheer madness.
In Sahih Bukhari, it is narrated by Hazrat Abu Huraira that some people approached him with some meat that had been cooked. They invited him to eat it, but he refused and said, ‘The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, departed from this world in a condition where he had not eaten his fill of bread with ghee for months on end. He never experienced nights where there was a burning lamp or days when the stove was hot. Water and dates were his sustenance, and even those were not always readily available. He would fast for three days at a time, tie stones to his stomach due to hunger, and in such a state, he engaged in jihad and battle.’
The purpose was asceticism, contentment, poverty, perseverance, and indifference to the comforts of this world. It is clear that this way of life was deliberately chosen so that the argument of God could be fulfilled for future generations. Otherwise, if he had desired, God could have given him anything. However, in the sight of Allah Almighty, this world and its trappings are so insignificant that He did not want to tarnish His beloved and close servants with them. Some Prophets were even given great kingdoms, but it did not make a difference in their asceticism and detachment from the world. They had everything for others, but nothing for themselves. This does not mean that one should abandon the world for monasticism, not at all. Trade, agriculture, earning a lawful livelihood, and acquiring wealth are all prescribed by the religion. If the purpose is right, then all these things become a means of the Hereafter and a source of reward. The Shariah does not impose restrictions on these things, rather it wants to turn them towards the right direction, to reform their purpose. In this way, the entire worldly life can become the life of the Hereafter. If one spends their entire life in worship and all their time in teaching and preaching, but the purpose is personal status or acquiring wealth, then all these things become worldly.