Lesson Seventy Two: True Asceticism
The Holy Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his progeny) said:
اَلزُّهدُ فى الدُّنْيا قَصْرُ الأَمَلِ وَ شُكْرُ كُلُّ نِعْمَة وَ الوَرَعُ عَنْ كُلِّ مآ حَرَّمَ اللّهُ
Asceticism in this world is based on three things: curtailment of desires, thanksgiving for blessings, and avoiding the prohibited things. 1
Most people misunderstand the concept of Islamic asceticism and consider it as isolation and separation from material and social life. They define ascetics as those who practice seclusion from society and abstention from all material pleasures of social life.
True asceticism is in fact based on a corrective social concept as stipulated in the above tradition.
It includes protection of rights of others , keeping away from illegitimate and unlawful wealth, and using one’s resources for worthy and humanitarian purposes (which is the real concept of thanksgiving) as well as minimizing one’s desires for material things which , if unchecked, can lead man to dissociate from everything other than the pursuit of money, position and lust.
- 1. Tuhaful Uqul, page 58. Al-Kafi, vol 5, page 71. Wasa'il Al-Shia, vol 17, page 15. AlKhisal, vol 1, page 14.