The one who is an ascetic in the transient world is at ease and his heart and body are at ease, both in the world and the next life. However, the one who seeks that which is in the world (the material pleasures) - his heart and body will be fatigued and put through toil - both in the world and the next life.
On the Day of Resurrection, a nation shall be brought forth whose good deeds shall resemble mountains (in size), however they will be commanded to go to the Hell Fire.' It was said, 'O' Prophet of Allah! Did these people offer the Salat?'
The Prophet replied, 'Yes, they used to offer the Salat and they used to fast and they even used to stay up a portion of the night (in prayer)! However when anything of the material world was brought in front of these people, they followed it (and took it without regarding if it was permissible or impermissible).'”
In this tradition, the Noble Prophet (PBUH) gave admonition to a man and at the end of his warning, brought forth the issue of the material world and its dangers.
1. If we want Allah to love us, then we must seek that which is with Him. If we want the people to love us, then we must not look at what the people have - we must not look at the wealth of the people nor seek it!
What does the phrase, “…that which is with Allah” refer to?
The meaning of “…that which is with Allah” is His Divine Reward; close proximity to Him, and His blessings. Without doubt, if we request these from Him, then Allah will definitely love us.
However, we are told that when a person begins to show affection for another person due to the material pleasures which the person has (and that this person wants), then he should not pay any attention to such a person. Without doubt, the stingy person lives his life by being miserly and this negative trait would lead such a person to develop closeness to people who are not interested in the material world (to take what they have).
Without doubt, if a person wishes to protect his position, status and worth, then he must disregard that which the people have in their possession! Throughout the course of history, amazing events have taken place in these regards. We read stories of rulers who killed those close to them and have even heard of people who have killed their own brothers just to protect their reign!
For example when Sultan Muhammad Fatih, one of the ‘Uthmani (Ottoman) rulers became the emperor, he ordered all his brothers to be killed since he feared that they would be a threat to his rule! After the reign of Sultan Muhammad Fatih, it became the norm amongst the ‘Uthmani rulers to begin their reign by killing all of their brothers!
In relation to one of the Parthian kings, it is mentioned that when he reached to kingship, he first killed his father and thirty of his brothers! He then married his mother and although he spared the progeny that came forth from this union, he ended up killing his mother! This is the way the world is for those who worship it…
2. The person who does not pay attention to the material world will experience peace and comfort for himself, his body and soul, and those around him.
Having an intense attachment to the world will definitely lead to pain, suffering and toils, and as such, a person would, for example, not be able to have a peaceful sleep.
There are many people who, when they reach home in the evening from work, see all of the events which took place in the day and all of the transactions which they carried out marching in front of their very eyes. If they are able to sleep, they do not gain satisfaction from their sleep and if they can not sleep, then it is a night full of grief and sorrow - such people must take sleeping pills just to rest however still, their soul is continuously tormented!
However, one who does not give importance to the world is guaranteed to have a body and soul which are at rest and tranquil.
These Divine commandments are not simply points that have importance in the next life, rather, their rewards and punishments will be physically manifested while in this world as well.
Even if, may Allah protect us from such thoughts, there was no after-life, then it still would have been necessary to think about the implementation of these commandments for the life of this world and for the ease and comfort of our body and soul.
It is said that with the advancements in medicine, the number of physical sicknesses has been reduced. However the number of spiritual and psychological ailments are increasing day by day. Perhaps we will reach a day when the world, in our words, will reach to becoming a great big place of “دار المجانين” or the “Abode of the Insane Ones” and across the entire Earth, we may not be able to find one person at ease and free from any spiritual sicknesses!
The mental and psychological illnesses are increasing day by day and are all related to external factors. A person who has a strong affinity to the material world will see his soul being continuously tortured. Therefore, we must keep the following verse of the Qur’an in mind in relation to the issues of this material world:
لِكَيْلاَ تَأْسَوْا عَلى مَا فَاتَكُمْ وَ لاَ تَفْرَحُوا بِمَا آتٌيكُمْ “So that you may not grieve over what has escaped you (from the material word), nor be exultant at what He has given you…”
We must have firm faith and act according to this verse if we wish to be in spiritual bliss. Truthfully this verse of the Qur’an is the prescription for the health of our soul, and the asceticism which has been mentioned in these two lines of the tradition under review have actually been summarized in the verse of the Qur’an mentioned above.
The material life of the people of true faith is very good since they do not gain tranquillity through wealth, nor do they consider status in the society as that which brings them happiness.
As can be seen, there are people who have all of the material possessions of this life, however they are the worst off! They are constantly in anxiety and stress, and hope that no one takes what they have, nor tries to pull the wool over their eyes! Thus, these types of people are continuously in mental punishment and torture.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are those who do not possess much from this material world; however are the richest people in the entire universe! In this, the true meaning of Zuhd or asceticism is shown as this word does not mean that a person do not possess anything, rather, it means that they do not have an attachment to the material world.
After stating all of this, Abu Sa’id al-Khudri then noted that the Noble Prophet (PBUH) said that on the Day of Judgment, a nation shall be brought forth and will be ordered to proceed to the hell fire, where as they had good deeds on their record equivalent to the size of mountains!
The narrator of the tradition asked the Prophet (PBUH), “Did these people offer their Salat?” The Prophet (PBUH) replied, “Yes, they offered their Salat, fasted and in addition, they performed the recommended acts! They even stayed up in the night and performed the night Salat.”
Obviously, the companions were shocked as what could have led these people to the fire of hell? Their problem was, as the Prophet (PBUH)put it, when any issues dealing with the transient world came up, they did not pay any attention to the halal and haram (permissible and forbidden), and took whatever came to them!
The phrase used, “وَ تعبوا عليه” is a very meaningful expression. This phrase means that they were just like animals! When an animal sees food in front of it, it pounces on top of it, and these people were the same in relation to the affairs of this world!
When a person reads and reflects upon the verses of the Qur’an and the traditions and looks at them from the point of view of his own life and the history of humanity, he would see the truthfulness of the Prophetic tradition which tells us:
حُبُّ الدُّنْـيَا رَأْسُ كُلِّ خَطِيـئَةٍ .“Love of the material world is the precursor to all sins.”
and through this, he would definitely seek to become better acquainted with this issue.
The phrase “love of the material world” has a very deep meaning as the material world is not just limited to money and wealth! Sometimes for the love of status, love of a woman, and thousands of other “loves”, a person would submit himself (to his lower desires)! It is for this reason that the spring of all pillaging and plundering is the love of this material world.
These days, this issue has become such that we see that people no longer try to hide their bad actions. Rather, when they are asked, “Why are you committing all of these crimes,” the reply comes, “This is where our (material) benefit lies!” Thus, in order to for them to reach to their own personal benefit, they commit thousands of crimes!
However, if we were to ask those who are committing these atrocious acts and are referred to as superficial holy-people, spiritually rock-hard, devoid of Taqwa individuals why they are performing such deeds they would justify it through religious reasonings. However if they were to, just like the others say that, “We too have some benefit in this issue” then they would be much more honourable as in this instance, in addition to having love of the material world, there is also a show of pride and arrogance in them.
However when the self-proclaimed religious and holy people are asked about how a particular person is (who has this love of the world) he would reply to you, “Do not talk about these things, as the Islamic legislations have prevented us from speaking about other people in this way.”
However it would have been better for that person to tell others about the sins of the other person since by hiding this information, a person's imagination would begin to wander and he would begin to think of what kind of sins that person must have performed for it not to be permissible to speak about!
It is this point that the great teacher of Akhlaq (the Noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) has told us that, “This person thinks that he has not committed a sin, however in addition to backbiting he has also performed the sin of showing off!”!
 Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 74, pg. 186
 Surat al-hadid (57), verse 23