Live in this World, Not for this World
We have no other choice but to spend our life in this world. When we are hungry we need to eat, when we are thirsty we need to drink, we need housing and means to earn a living. If we have to do all these things then how is it possible not to get attracted by this world? It seems very difficult. But it is the Prophets and their vicegerents who taught us how to live in this world without getting attracted to it. A true Muslim would live in this world fulfilling all his social duties but at the same time he would avoid getting attracted by it.
How do we acquire such a state of mind that we remain in this world, get involved in all the necessary affairs, yet not get attracted by it?
This very thing has been explained by Maulana Rumi with the help of a beautiful example. He says that it is not possible to remain aloof from this world because of so many needs that man has to fulfil. Man is like a boat and the world like water. Just as a boat cannot move without water similarly man needs the world in order to survive. He needs money, food, water, house, clothing etc. All these things can be likened with this world. As long as the water remains under the boat and around it the boat will remain afloat. But if the water enters inside the boat, the boat will sink.
Similarly, as long as the material resources of this world are around us they will help move the boat of life. But as soon as these worldly attractions enters our heart, they will sink the boat of life.
So this is ‘zuhd’ that all the worldly attractions are around you but you do not develop love for them because if this love enters your heart, then Allah’s ta’ala love will remain outside your heart. This is because two kinds of love cannot combine in the heart.
If the love of rank and wealth is filled in your heart how can the love of Allah ta’ala find a place in it. That is why we are advised to keep the love of this world out of our hearts. You do not need to abandon the world but you must abandon the love of the world. World in your heart without any attraction for it is not harmful.
It is usually hard to understand that we give importance to the world and yet keep its love out of our hearts. This should be understood with the help of another example.
When you construct a house you divide it into several parts. There is a bedroom, a drawing room, dining room. The house is beautiful and has wonderful furniture. But one thing is missing the bathroom. Do you think the house is complete without a bathroom. Obviously not. No house is complete without a bathroom. But you tell me would there be anyone whose heart would be attracted to the bathroom, one who is all the time thinking about, when will I go to the bathroom and how I will sit there, how long I will sit there and when will I come back? Obviously no one would keep his mind occupied with such thoughts. Though everyone knows that the bathroom is an important thing yet no one would like to decorate it or make it comfortable. Because no one has love of it in his heart.
This is also the teaching of our deen that all the material resources are indeed important just as the bathroom is important. But they should not become the focus of our attention. We should not be attracted towards them. That is why the pious elders have said that we should be reminding ourselves again and again about the reality of this world.
Allah ta’ala savs: